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Kogi guber: Group sends SOS to Abuja on mode of primary

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Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello. Photo/Twitter/LugardHouse

The race for the Kogi State governorship election is generating interest and intrigues. As the state’s primary election draws near, fresh matters are occurring everyday.

The Kogi elders and some stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had asked the Adams Oshiomhole-led national executive committee to completely deny Gov. Yahaya Bello the party’s ticket.

The latest was a call on the leadership to adopt direct primary, as Bello was believed to be in charge of a factional exco of the party, capable of ensuring victory for him, if the indirect primary was implemented.

Before the ink went dry on that call, the state APC Exco had approved indirect primary for choosing the governorship candidate.

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While the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is silent on who its flag bearer would be, aside zoning its slot to Kogi east district, opposing members of the APC are at daggers drawn as to the method of selecting the flag bearer.

While the ding-dong on whether to use direct or indirect process to select the flag bearer, the party national leadership has said it was yet to come up with modalities for the primary, fixed for some time in August.

The national Secretariat of APC had adopted the indirect primary in some states in the just concluded general election. Preparatory to the general election, APC national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said the party opted for the direct primary to boost internal democracy.

He said: “We also note that direct primary is free from the vices associated with the indirect primary. Direct primary cannot be manipulated. It is not prone to corruption. We want to grow democracy. We want the party members to have ownership of the party. We want to give our members a sense of belonging.”

The APC Constitution may have tacitly recognised the three modes by which the choices can be made. These are consensus, direct and indirect primaries.

As the scenario unfolds, a coalition of APC support groups and Kogi Save Our Souls group have called on President Muhammadu Buhari and Oshiomole to save Kogi State from sinking further, by adopting the direct primary for selection of the party’s flag bearer.

Addressing a protest in Lokoja recently, the groups’ leaders, Mall
Abubakar Tanko and Suleiman Aliyu, who claimed to be pioneer party members in their different speeches, called on the President and the National chairman to adopt direct primary to ensure emergence of a credible flag bearer, saying the state party leadership under Governor Yahaya Bello has failed the people and the party. Therefore, only a credible election, devoid of manipulations, would help the party to maintain the lead in the next election.

In his reaction, the Director General on Media and Publicity to the
Governor, Kingsley Fanwo, said the governor as a party man and a foundation member, was willing to work with any decision arrived at by the party.

He explained that the Governor was familiar with the party’s Constitution and the need to wait for party leadership to discuss the modalities for the primary.

However, Tanko and his groups insisted that the people were dying from lack of payment of salary and pension, and that aside lack of physical development, bad roads, poor hospital services and sorry state of schools, workers and pensioners were living in penury.

He was of the view that allowing Governor Bello to manipulate the primary through indirect means would spell doom for the party. He warned that only a primary reflecting members’ wishes would be acceptable to the group.

They also stressed that only a direct primary election would enable party members elect the candidate of their choice, who would take care of their needs and wipe away their sorrow.

They said: “We know Buhari to be a man of integrity and Oshiomhole a man of his words and compassionate. We need someone who will emulate them, in terms of road construction, provision of water and the improvement of basic education, among other projects that have direct bearing on the people.

“The protest has become necessary because we have called on the national body severally to come to the people’s aid to no avail. So, we decided to organise this protest to vent our anger and call the party elders’ attention to the ills of the present government…”

They noted that the governor and his cronies, whom they said had amassed enormous wealth, would subvert the people’s wishes through vote buying, if the indirect approach was adopted.

Interestingly, while the Lokoja protest was going on, another anti-Bello protest was also taking place in Abuja. The message was the same. Bello must be stopped from flying APC ticket.

But those in the Governor’s camp have argued that APC could only win the November governorship election with Bello as the standard bearer.

They said the results of the Presidential, National Assembly and state Assembly elections in the state was an indication that Bello is very much in charge of the political pitch in the state.

But Fanwo, while describing the group as hired protesters from Abuja, said: “We won’t comment on anyone who is paid to do any protest. It is their choice to protest. Kogi people don’t protest to elect leaders. They vote. And in February and March, they exercised that right to show their confidence in the leader of the party in the state.

“Governor Yahaya Bello has performed well, and we are confident his mandate will be renewed in November, by whatever method adopted by the party leadership. More sponsored protests are expected by desperate politicians, who supported PDP in February and March, but now want to be APC flag bearer…”

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