Kogi Guber: Mixed Fortunes For Bello, Wada

LAGOS – While the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is still struggling to put its house in order for the governorship in Kogi state which is coming up next month, all things appear working for the good Governor Yahaya Bello, flagbearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as many of his erstwhile political foes are now queuing up behind him and urging their supporters to do same.

Shortly after the conduct of its governorship primary which was won by Engr. Musa Wada, the PDP was faced with the herculean task of searching for a political heavyweight that would lead the party’s campaign for the governorship election. It picked Senator Dino Melaye, lawmaker representing Kogi West Senatorial District as director-general of the PDP Kogi State Governorship Campaign Council.

However, while many may have considered it as an offer Melaye will jump at given his no love lost relationship and incessant criticism of what he considered the unpopular government of Yahaya Bello, Melaye surprised all by rejecting the offer.

The controversial senator who appears to have fallen out with the party hierarchy after losing out in the primary had earlier complained about the manner in which the primary which produced Wada was managed.

Wada polled a total of 748 votes to defeat his closed opponent Ibrahim Abubakar, who polled 710 votes. Wada’s elder brother and the immediate past governor of the state Idris Wada, came third with 345 votes while Dino Melaye polled 70 votes to emerge fourth.

“Let me state categorically that I have turned down the position of Director-General of the PDP Kogi State Governorship Campaign Council. I wish PDP all the best”.

“It is ridiculous to declare a final result of PDP Governorship primary election in Kogi State when my votes sorted out yesterday in 8 out of 10 ballot boxes are missing,” Melaye said.

Undaunted, the PDP turned to Ibrahim Idris, a former governor of the state but surprisingly, he also rejected the offer.

In a statement released by the former governor’s media office, Idris said he was not consulted before he was appointed Chairman of the campaign council.

According to the former governor, there was no correspondence, formally or informally, informing him of the appointment. Idris stated that he learnt about his appointment on the pages of the social media.

He argued that the leadership of PDP should have reached out to all stakeholders of the party before taking such crucial decision that will lead the party to victory instead of the haphazard approach that can cause the party needless embarrassment.

According to the former Governor, a lot of issues arising from the primary election are still unresolved as the aggrieved parties are in court to seek redress.

The ex-governor stated that he is out of the country on vacation and will not return any time soon. He wondered why the party did not seek his confirmation before going to the press, announcing his appointment to chair the campaign council.

Information made available few days ago has it that the party appears to have finally settled for the House of Representatives member representing Kabba/Bunu/ Ijumu federal constituency, Hon. Tajudeen Yusuf to lead the campaign, though it didn’t make it public.

However, for the PDP’s major opponent, APC and its flagbearer, Yahaya Bello, they have a reason to celebrate owing to the endorsements given by some erstwhile political foes, a move many believe will go a long way in shaping the outcome of the election scheduled for November 16.

First is Hon. James Faleke, a member of the House of Representatives representing Ikeja Federal constituency who was the running mate to the late Prince Abubakar Audu in the 2015 Kogi governorship election and has a good following in the state.

After the death of Audu and the emergence of Yahaya Bello as APC’s governorship candidate, Faleke was chosen to be his deputy but he rejected it and both of them have not been on talking terms since.

Few days ago, the picture of Faleke and Bello, together with his running mate, Chief Edward Onoja, taken together in Abuja, has gone viral.

Faleke said it was true that he had agreed to support Bello’s re-election bid, adding: “Yes, following the decision of the leadership of Audu/ Faleke group to work with the governor, and as loyal party men and women, I on behalf of the group, met the governor to chart the way forward and build a strong and united All Progressives Congress (APC), before the election.”

“We have put all issues in the past. I will be in a better position to always assist and advise the party and government in the state to execute people friendly programmes,” he said.

Faleke said since he had returned to Lagos, it would be bad of him not to align the members of the Audu/Faleke group with the government and the main politics of the state.

“It is, therefore, necessary as loyal party members to assist, by bringing the party faithful who have been with me through thick and thin in the last four years, to the governor.

“By God’s grace, we will arrange to hand them over at a future meeting, as soon as possible. Although I have no vote in Kogi, I have numerous followers in the state.

“Let us be clear that although I have no vote in Kogi State, I have massive followership and have a strong voice, which will be seen in the outcome of the elections,” he said.

Also Babatunde Irukera, who was the first runner-up in the APC primary election in Kogi State, at the weekend, asked his supporters to vote for the party’s governorship candidate, Yahaya Bello, in the coming governorship election.

This was made known to reporters by his ally and former aide to Governor Bello, Mal. Abdulmalik Suleiman. According to him, Irukera ordered his supporters to stop throwing tantrums at the party.

He said he is a national leader and a great believer in the party and will not support any action that will derail the victory of the party in the coming governorship election.

Suleiman added: “I respect Irukera so much. He values character over pedigree, and he hates cynics.

“He believes public service is noble and necessary. That one can serve with integrity and hold true to the important values. He is a principled and a straightforward politician that holds no ill feeling towards anyone. He listens to everybody’s complaints. Above all, he loves work and prays.”.

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