The All Progressive Congress (APC), has settled for Alhaji Yahaya Bello as her new candidate for the Kogi State governorship supplementary scheduled for December 5, 2015.
Bello, who hails from Kogi Central, was the runner-up in the APC governorship primaries that where late Audu emerged.
Audu was leading the election with atleast 41, 000 votes before he died last weekend. It was also gathered that the party retained Hon. James Abiodun Faleke as the running mate for the new candidate.
The decision to pick Bello will come a huge blow to supporters of Prince Mohammed Audu, the eldest son of the late Audu, whose candidacy was propped up by leaders of the APC in Kogi East.
It was learnt that Mohammed Audu was dumped by the party so as not to play into the hands of political opponents, who could easily upturn the entire governorship poll in the state in court.
It was also gathered that the APC leaders felt there was no way Mohammed Audu could be fielded as a compromise candidate since he was never a candidate in the primaries and there was no time to conduct a fresh primary with the supplementary poll a week from now.
A source in APC said: “Our leaders met and after consultations reached a conclusion on the choice of Yahaya Bello from Kogi Central as the party’s governorship candidate to substitute the late Prince Abubakar Audu.
“The leaders arrived at the conclusion because Bello was second to Audu at the validly conducted governorship primaries of the party. Instead of running into crisis with fresh primaries, the party opted to dust up the result of the previous one which was witnessed by INEC.
“A letter, signed by the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, on the choice of Bello has been submitted to the INEC on Friday”.
Asked of other factors that informed the choice of Bello, the top APC leader said: “Our leaders bought into the idea that Faleke is strange to the politics of the state, having had most of his political career in Lagos. They felt it is better for him to learn the ropes in the state before becoming a governor.
“They also argued that the choice of Bello will ensure power shift in the state and since the Ebiras were behind Audu, it won’t be difficult to foster understanding between Kogi East and Kogi Central Senatorial Districts.
“Do not forget that Kogi East had already produced the minister from the state.
“Another important factor is that some of the 91 polling units where elections were cancelled are in Kogi Central, and it will be easier to mobilize the electorate in the district to get the required votes to defeat the PDP candidate, Governor Wada.”
“There was also some conspiracy behind the refusal of the ticket for Faleke. Some presidency forces stamped their feet that he must not be allowed to step into Audu’s shoes because of internal power struggles in APC.
“I won’t give you names but the forced were more powerful than Oyegun and other NWC members”.
On why the Kogi East APC’s clamor for the eldest son of the late Audu was ignored, the source said: “Our leaders were guided by Section 141 of the Electoral Act. If we choose him, the entire election will be voided.
“The section says: ‘An election tribunal or court shall not under any circumstance declare any person a winner at an election in which such a person has not fully participated in all the stages of such election.
“We love the Audus but we cannot take such a big risk. If Wada and PDP go to court, they will win against Mohammed Audu”.