As the November 11th gubernatorial election in Kogi State steadily approaches, the All Progressives Congress (APC), currently in power, is grappling with a deepening crisis stemming from post-primary election disputes. The internal mechanisms designed to resolve these conflicts have so far failed to yield positive results, according to reports by Ralph Agbana.
The crisis has been exacerbated by the recent actions of Senator Smart Adeyemi and Abubakar Achimugu, who filed separate appeals with the Supreme Court last week, challenging the nomination of Usman Ododo as the party’s candidate. This unexpected legal maneuver has caught many party loyalists off guard, as they had hoped for a resolution following reconciliation attempts led by party leaders in the state. The ongoing dispute is seen as a potential impediment to the unity needed for electoral victory.
Despite Governor Yahaya Bello’s inauguration of a campaign council aimed at mobilizing voters across the state, the party remains divided along various fault lines. Notably, other political parties’ candidates, such as Senator Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. Leke Abejide of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Murtala Yakubu Ajaka of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and Olayinka Braimoh of the African Alliance (AA), are closely watching the APC’s internal struggles, hoping to capitalize on any potential fallout.
Interestingly, both Abejide and Ajaka have previous affiliations with the APC, further fueling speculation that they may attract disgruntled APC members if the party fails to resolve its internal issues before the election.
Former Kogi State House of Assembly member, Hon. Nathaniel Taiwo, expressed regret that the disputes escalated to the Supreme Court, attributing the crisis to Governor Bello’s failure to engage in widespread consultations before endorsing Ododo as the party’s candidate. Taiwo emphasized the potential detrimental consequences of these Supreme Court cases on the party’s electoral prospects and called for the national APC leadership, under Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, to intervene and amicably resolve the matter.
The selection of a candidate from Kogi Central, rather than Kogi West, where Governor Bello hails from, has further exacerbated tensions within the party. Critics argue that this decision disregards principles of fairness, equity, and justice, especially considering Governor Bello’s eight-year tenure.
On the contrary, Dr. Tom Ohikere, a supporter of Ododo’s candidacy, praised Governor Bello for his leadership and the party’s success in the state. He believes that Ododo’s candidacy offers the best chance for the APC to secure victory and continue the state’s development. Ohikere highlighted Ododo’s role in crafting a 32-year development plan for the state during his tenure as Auditor General for Local Governments, adding optimism about Kogi’s future progress under his leadership.
Ohikere acknowledged that political differences and interests exist within the APC but stressed the importance of unity and adherence to the will of the party in the upcoming election. He expressed his commitment to party cohesion and reconciliation efforts.
In his suit, Senator Adeyemi raised questions about the legitimacy of the primary election results, citing irregularities and a disproportionate allocation of votes to Ododo. He called for the nullification of the direct primary election and the organization of a fresh primary using various methods, including direct, indirect, or consensus voting.
Achimugu, on the other hand, contested Ododo’s qualification, alleging improper resignation and continued salary receipt from the government. He argued that Ododo’s resignation was invalid, as it should have gone through the Civil Service Commission and been submitted to INEC and the party.
While some aspirants have withdrawn their petitions in the interest of the party, Adeyemi and Achimugu remain steadfast in their legal challenges. Governor Bello’s efforts to foster reconciliation and welcome former PDP members into the APC have created a dynamic political landscape, but it remains uncertain whether these developments will be enough to secure victory in the upcoming election.