Image: Alhaji Yahaya Bello who was eventually adopted by APC caucus
In what was an unprecedented event in the annals of Nigerian politics, the Kogi State polls which held last week threw up a number of legal and constitutional issues on which path or option was best to resolve the logjam in the interests of all parties involved.
However, let me blame the framers of the 1999 constitution and past National Assemblies which had in the past been amending the constitution for not being proactive enough to have envisaged such an event. We largely are reactive and we wait for every thing to happen before we make amends even when we have the experiences of other nations with us.
Yes, we Nigerians are largely wary of death or its mention, nevertheless, can we imagine what we could have avoided, the needless tension and the numerous court cases that may arise owing to the claims of all parties involved, if only we had been more proactive.
All the same, the die is cast and the best we can do is to unknot the whole tangle.
The first option will be to declare, James Faleke the running mate to Audu as APC’s candidate and selecting a new running mate. This is because the duo of Audu and Faleke did run on a joint ticket and to ask for a new nomination would be an attempt to overhaul an electoral process with legal implications.
The people of Kogi voted for the duo of Audu and Faleke thus to import another person towards the end of the process is an electoral somersault!
A walk down history will further buttress this line of argument as valid.
In 1999, the duo of Atiku Abubakar and Boni Haruna were elected as Governor and Deputy Governor respectively of Adamawa State, one would remember that Atiku went on to become running mate to General Obasanjo allowing Boni Haruna, his running mate to succeed him as governor elect and went on to become governor of the state.
At that point in time the Supreme Court did hold the view that, “if a person duly elected as Governor dies before taking and subscribing the Oath of Allegiance and oath of office, or is unable for any reason whatsoever to be sworn in, the person elected with him as Deputy Governor shall be sworn in as Governor and he shall nominate a new Deputy-Governor with the approval of a simple majority of the House of Assembly of the State”.
However, the pitfalls in this argument will be that unlike the Atiku/Haruna scenario, the Audu/Faleke ticket cannot lay claim to such privileges as Audu was never declared as Governor-Elect neither was Faleke declared as Deputy-Governor- Elect.
Again, it is said that for one to emerge as governor he must have participated in all the processes that lead to it. Faleke did not participate in the primaries that produced Audu.
The clamour for Muhammed Audu too is quite strong; after all he is the scion of the late Audu and should be nominated to inherit the votes of his father. I know that by virtue of being Audu’s first son, he is by our culture and norms the first partaker of his father’s estate, but I did not know that the ticket of the APC for the Kogi guber polls too was also part of Audu’s estate!
Perhaps Kogi State had become a monarchy, with a number of ruling houses, and this time it was the turn of the Audus. The APC may owe it as a duty to preserve the memory of Audu and his struggles for a better Kogi and Nigeria but there are better ways to do this than to turn Kogi into a chattel of the Audus.
Another option would be to field the runner up in the primaries that produced the late Audu. This would be in the person of Alhaji Yahaya Bello, a well-established businessman/cum investor. Bello had in that primaries notched a total of 703 votes, dislodging a number of heavyweights like Ugbane, Abatemi Usman, James Ocholi and Alex Kadiri to come a close second to the veteran in the late Audu.
Should Bello be nominated, the APC may be banking on section 33 of the 2010 electoral act which makes provision for the substitution of a candidate should he die before the election. Now, a number of pundits may argue that Audu died during the elections not before, but in all fairness Bello’s nomination will be the best option as it tends to fulfil all righteousness and does not weaken the party’s stake in the polls.
The last option would be to declare the incumbent, Governor Wada as winner but that my friends would be a mockery of common sense and should not even feature as an option at all!
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