By Henry Umoru, Boluwaji Obahopo & Kingsley Fanwo
LOKOJA — THE deputy governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, James Abiodun Faleke, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have pooh-poohed the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s declaration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello of the APC as winner of the Kogi State governorship election.
Governor Idris Wada, who contested on the platform of the PDP and Faleke, who was running mate to deceased APC’s standard bearer, Prince Abubakar Audu, are separately laying claims to the governorship position.
Specifically, Faleke, who opposed the Saturday supplementary election on the grounds that the APC won the November 21 election and he should have been declared the governor-elect in the absence of Audu, yesterday, rejected the deputy governor-elect position and is expected to head to the Appeal Court this week to challenge the refusal of the Federal High Court to abort the supplementary poll.
On the other hand, the PDP said INEC’s declaration of Bello as governor-elect was a waste of time because in the absence of Audu, its candidate, Wada scored the highest number of votes and ought to have been announced as governor-elect.
INEC returned Bello as the winner of the Kogi State governorship election, yesterday morning having polled 247,752 votes to beat Wada, who scored 204,872 out of a total accredited voters of 526,389.
This is the second time in the history of the state that an incumbent will be defeated. Late Prince Abubakar Audu of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, was defeated in 2003 by Ibrahim Idris who contested on the platform of the PDP.
Declaring the result, the state returning officer, Prof. Emmanuel Kucha, who is the Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, said: “Alhalji Yahaya Bello having scored the highest votes and satisfied the law is hereby declared winner and returned elected.”
The candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Dr. Philip Salawu Omeiza, came a distant third with 8,761 votes.
A breakdown of the result of the supplementary election shows that APC secured 6,885 while PDP scored 5,363 out of the 12,000 plus votes cast.
The results of all the 22 parties that participated in the election are as follows: Accord 206; AA 120; ACD 480; AD 168; ADC 707; APA 995, APC 247,752; APGA 1040; CPP 608; DPC 465; DPP 469; I’d 179; KOWA 136; LP 8761; NCP 531; NNPP 290; PDC 895; PDP 204,877; PPA 3048; PPN 239; SDP 90 and UDP 107.
I won’t be deputy to Bello — Faleke
However, James Faleke, who said he has not given up on his struggle to be named governor- elect said he is refusing the deputy governor slot given to him.
Faleke, who spoke through his Media Assistant, Duro Meseko, said: “No one can force him (Faleke) to be deputy to Yahaya Bello. We are ready to pursue this case to a logical conclusion.
“Being a member of a party does not mean that we cannot fight for our rights, if they are trampled upon. The result of Saturday’s supplementary election has further confirmed our earlier position that we won the first election.”
Faleke, through his lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN has perfected plans to file an appeal before the Appeal Court in Abuja today to challenge the ruling of the Federal High Court.
The Audu/Faleke Campaign Organisation said that the final result declared by the INEC has vindicated its early claims that the election of November 21, 2015 was already won by the Audu/Faleke joint ticket and should have been declared as such.
The group which expressed disappointment in the handling of the election by INEC described the supplementary election as a complete waste of tax payers money.
Director Media of the organisation, Duro Meseko, who made their position known in a statement in Lokoja, yesterday, said: “The result of the supplementary election declared by INEC shows that the APC pulled 6,885 votes while PDP scored 5,363 votes, making a total of 12,248 votes. This is a far cry from the 49,353 registered voters that INEC claimed to have based its decision to declare the election inconclusive.”
Also, the state PDP rejected the declaration of Bello by INEC as the governor-elect.
Publicity Secretary of the party, Bode Ogunmola, said aside rejecting the conduct of the supplementary election, the party found INEC’s pronouncement on the election ‘laughable’
Ogunmola said: “For INEC to have said Bello scored the highest votes when all he garnered at the supplementary election was just little above six thousand, shows that INEC has derailed in its constitutional duties. He (Bello) did not score the highest votes, someone else did, and the person has died. INEC pronouncement is an aberration. We are definitely going to challenge the outcome of the election at the appropriate quarters.”
Declaring Bello gov-elect alien to constitution, Electoral Act — PDP
The national leadership of PDP, on its part, berated the INEC for declaring Bello as winner of the polls after the supplementary, saying the action was completely impractical and alien to the nation’s constitution and the Electoral Act.
According to PDP, it was simply a waste of time and resources for INEC to have conducted the supplementary election and declared Bello winner because he did not participate in the overall election, adding that it was also a ridiculous shadow-chasing on the part of the electoral umpire.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, the PDP while insisting that Governor Idris Wada of the PDP remains the winner of the Kogi State governorship election, accused the INEC of conducting the Saturday’s election to satisfy President Muhammadu Buhari.
Metuh said: “INEC, in the bid to satisfy the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC Federal Government, succeeded only in making a mockery of itself and the entire electoral process, by trying to illegally install an individual who, apart from not being a valid candidate, scored, under his name, a paltry 6885 votes in the so-called supplementary election as against the 204,877 votes polled by the PDP candidate, Governor Idris Wada in the overall election.
“The declaration by INEC that one Yahaya Bello polled the highest number of votes is an embarrassing travesty of the nation’s democracy and electoral process. Not only that this individual is not in anyway a valid candidate in the election, he also did not score the overall votes declared against his name by INEC and cannot be declared winner under any circumstance within the provisions of our laws.”
Insisting that Wada remains the winner of the polls, PDP charge its members and supporters ‘’to remain calm and resist all provocations from the APC, which is now seeking the opportunity to trigger violence in the face of their misfortune, especially as the law will soon take the centre stage, right the wrong created by INEC and declare Governor Wada winner.”
I’ll hit the ground running — Bello
Meanwhile, Bello has promised to hit the ground running as soon as he is sworn-in as governor of the state on January 27, saying his administration will reorganize the civil service to make it more efficient and productive.
In an interview with pressmen in Lokoja, Bello pledged to make the civil service contribute effectively to his economic plans for the state.
The governor-elect also promised to immediately ensure massive industrialization to create employment for the teeming populace in the state. He reiterated his determination to attract giant industries to the state to tap the abundant resources and possibilities in the state.
The accountant-turned-politician identified solid minerals, agriculture and tourism as the key economic drivers that can take the state to the next level.
Okene shuts down as gov-elect visits Ohinoyi of Ebiraland
Meanwhile, Bello’s visit to the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, yesterday, caused a momentary pause in the life of the city as thousands of residents trooped out to the streets to welcome and celebrate their hero. Bello hails from Agassa in Okene.
What was meant to be a quiet visit to the palace of the respected royal head of the Ebira nation, was hijacked by the people to welcome home the man whom they described as a “jinx breaker.”
Thousands of jubilant Okada riders, taxi operators and market women came out in their numbers to celebrate the man who will become the first non-Igala to rule Kogi State since the creation of the state in 1991.
The jubilant crowd were heard chanting “Adoza, the glory of Ebiraland” in their local language. It took almost an hour for the convoy of the governor-elect to navigate through the crowd to the palace of the Ohinoyi.
At the palace, the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, Dr. Ado Ibrahim, urged Yahaya Bello to make the Ebira nation proud by being a good governor. He said the entire Ebira nation was behind him.
Responding, Bello thanked the royal father for his royal blessing, saying his emergence is a blessing to his throne. He promised to use his position to project the quality of Ebira people to the world.