Indigenes of Kogi State watched in amazement on Wednesday as its fourth democratically elected governor, Yahaya Bello, was sworn in without a deputy.
Mr. Bello was today inaugurated amid pomp and ceremony by the Chief Judge of the state, Nasir Ajana, who administered the oath of office and oath of allegiance on him.
Mr James Faleke, who was nominated by the All Progressives Congress to be Mr. Bello’s deputy, made real his threat not to present himself for swearing in with the governor.
He was conspicuously absent at Wednesday’s ceremony, and no replacement was announced at the event.
The legal implication of that arrangement remained unclear Wednesday.
It is the first time in Nigeria’s political history that an elected governor would be inaugurated without a deputy.
Kogi state had made history late last year when a leading governorship candidate, Abubakar Audu, died before the conclusion of the governorship election, throwing the state into a constitutional logjam.
Mr. Bello was picked by the All Progressives Congress to replace its late candidate, Mr. Audu, but Mr. Faleke objected to the party’s decision and approached the election tribunal in the state asking it to declare him governor-elect.
He contended that the election had been won and lost before Mr. Audu died and that he (Faleke) should have been pronounced governor-elect.
Mr. Faleke has repeatedly claimed that he was not consulted or taken into confidence by anyone regarding the choice of Mr. Bello as Mr. Audu’s replacement.
He was also quoted in various reports as expressing suspicion that the party was planning to announce his replacement on the grounds that he absconded from Wednesday’s inauguration.
In an article on elombah.com, Mr Joe Igbokwe, APC Publicity Secretary Lagos State stated that while the System have decided to swear in Mr Bello, he saw “a travesty and an aberration” in the development.
Arguing that Alhaji Yahaya Bello never won the governorship election in Kogi State, Mr Igbokwe stated that “the late Chief Abubakar Audu/ James Abiodun Faleke won the November 21, 2015 Governor election fair and square before Audu’s death in the early hours of Sunday, November 22, 2015.”
Those attending Wednesday’s inauguration include the National Chairman of the APC, John Odigie-Oyegun as well as the governor of Nasarawa state and the Minister of Communication Technology, Adebayo Shittu.
The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, was represented by Kabir Gaya, a senator and former governor of Kano.
The Senator representing Kogi East, Dino Melaye, who gave the welcome address, said Wednesday’s inauguration was historic because “a minority is now the governor of Kogi state”.
He pledged that Mr. Bello would not disappoint the people of the state and called on all aggrieved people to unite and cooperate with the new governor for the sake of Kogi state.
However, Mr Igbokwe stated “a combination of ethnic politics, Primordial sentiments, and fear of the unknown led APC Kogi and APC National to do the unthinkable by pushing Alhaji Bello who lost the primaries, and may not have supported the APC candidate in the cause of the elections proper to steal the mandate won by Prince Audu and James Faleke in a keenly contested exercise fraught with excruciating pains , doubts, apprehension, anxiety, fatigue, panic and unease.”
“Faleke did not partake in the primaries. Now do Deputy Governors take part in Primaries? This is the absurdity that led to the emergence of an interloper and intruder, Alhaji Bello.”
Mr Igbokwe stated the Supreme Court of Nigeria will overturn today’s swearing in when Faleke gets to the apex court.
“That Faleke refused to accept the poisoned chalice as deputy governor should serve as a signal to the interlopers and intruders in Kogi that Wednesday event is not the end of the matter,” Igbokwe wrote.
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