The Kogi polical saga has shown no sign of abating despite the presentation of certificate of return to the winner of the election, Alhaji Yahaya Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lokoja on Wednesday.
The Deputy Governor-Elect, Hon. Abiodun Faleke, who is doing everything within his advantage to protest the nomination of Bello as replacement to the late Prince Abubakar Audu, was absent.
First, Faleke wrote a letter to the Independent National Electoral, INEC protesting Bello’s nomination, declining to be running mate to him. He has told everyone who cares to know that he never was running mate to any other person other than the late Prince Abubakar Audu.
Faleke’s return to the floor of the Green Chambers of the National Assembly signalled a near dead end to his ambition of becoming the deputy governor of the state, thus, only a few were surprised that he failed to turn up to pick his certificate of return.
Certificate of return
Many reasons have been adduced for why Faleke has declined to be running mate to Yahaya Bello. One, Faleke felt INEC erred by not declaring Audu the winner of the election before his death, a situation which would have made him the beneficiary of Audu’s demise.
Also, Faleke felt he is a superior to Yahaya Bello politically and therefore, cannot be running mate to the latter.
But beyond the ego and the bitter acrimony, political pundits believe that while Faleke and Bello are the masquerades on the dancing floor, the drum beaters are no doubt, President Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom.
While Buhari is keen on Yahaya Bello, Faleke has always been the political godson of Tinubu.
The 2019 battle: Bookmakers are already beating their chest that Buhari is poised to contest the 2019 presidential election, except if ill health stops him.
The Northern Cabal in the presidency and in the political camp of the president are beginning to view Tinubu’s influence as a threat to the president. Tinubu is known to be in firm control of the Southern caucus of the party. A shrewd politician that he is, Jagaban is believed, could be well positioned to take his influence into the North should Faleke become governor of Kogi State.
The managers of the former Lagos governor believe that Tinubu is capable of taking control of the North Central. Having Faleke as Kogi governor will no doubt pave the way for an Asiwaju Empire in the North Central. Therefore, Tinubu may consider the battle as his personal political battle to capture the Northern Caucus of the APC.
It is still unclear what Tinubu wants in 2019, but whatever it is, Buhari is effectively playing the political chess to confer the domination of the party by its national leader.
Will APC remain the same after this saga?
Questions have been asked about the possible health of APC after the ongoing saga, which pitted powerful forces against one another. The National Working Committee (NWC) of the party has been torn between the interest of the president and the interest of a man who had been the rallying point of the opposition in Nigeria.
Another non-pushover in the party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has not been actively involved in the party’s activities of late. Known to have a lifelong ambition to rule the nation, Buhari quickly put Atiku to check by scuttling his ambition to become the chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees by appointing Pastor David Lawal from Adamawa State as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Sources within the party indicated that both Atiku and Tinubu are on the same page on the Kogi saga.
On the home front, the APC is no less divided in the state along ethnic lines.
A former member of the Kogi State House of Assembly from Kogi East,who craved for anonymity, told Vanguard that Kogi East APC had resolved not to have anything to do with Bello’s governorship.
“We have had a meeting of the Kogi East caucus and have resolved not to participate in Yahaya Bello’s governorship. As far as we are concerned, the national leadership of the party didn’t handle the issue well and it remains unacceptable to us”.
Also, Faleke is also attempting to pull away some Okun political leaders from the Bello arrangement. However, he is not achieving the desired result as many Okun leaders and people believe fervently in the power shift project. To them, power must shift away from Kogi East.
The Kogi East people are yet to come to terms with what is fast becoming popular in the state as “Total Power shift”. As things stand, the Igalas are expected to fight tooth and nail to retain power beyond 2015.
The solidarity of the Ebiras and the Okuns during the certificate of return presentation to the governor -elect pointed to something: That the ethnic minorities in the state are prepared for power shift and will do anything to protect the Bello governorship.
To another school of thought, APC may lose Kogi if they fail to close ranks against the seeming advantage PDP might derive from their division.
A close friend of Faleke, who craved anonymity told Vanguard that Faleke’s fears may be beyond playing second fiddle to Yahaya Bello.
“Faleke is a gentleman and should not be seen as someone fighting his party. His fears are beyond being deputy to Yahaya Bello. He doesn’t believe the emergence of Bello will survive legal hurdles and he is being mindful of losing everything.
“What if he submits himself for the swearing in on January 27 2016 and APC loses at the tribunal? Remember, he would have resigned his membership of the House of Representatives. What we are telling him is to fight on in court and refuse to make himself available for swearing in.
“However, nothing is yet decided. There is intense pressure on him to save the party from further embarrassment. The whole problem was a creation of Audu’s death”.
Bello’s body language
During the certificate presentation at the INEC office in Lokoja, Yahaya Bello radiated confidence. The Governor-Elect didn’t show signs of being rattled by the undercurrent politics and tension within the party.
He is no doubt, enjoying the support of the people, NWC and the State Executive Committee.
Addressing the audience who witnessed his certificate of return presentation, Bello said he was ready to address the ethnic and religious division in the state as well as deliver good governance to the people.
Yesterday, the political saga that was opened with the death of Prince Abubakar Audu stretched further with the removal of Rt. Hon. Momoh Jimoh as speaker of the House of Assembly.