Thursday, December 10, 2015

We'll Substitute Faleke If Need Be, Says APC

Bello gets certificate of return
Party expresses dissatisfaction with Bayelsa poll
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has said it may be constrained to replace its deputy governorship candidate in the recently concluded Kogi State governorship poll if the need arises.
The party also expressed its dissatisfaction with the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to cancel the poll in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area in Bayelsa State, effectively rendering the governorship election inconclusive.

In an apparent reaction to the resolve by Mr. James Abiodun Faleke to boycott the swearing-in of the governor-elect, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Oyegun, said if all reconciliatory efforts fail, the party would have no alternative than to seek for his replacement.
Faleke, a member of the House of Representatives who resumed at the House this week, was conspicuously absent when Bello was presented his certificate of return as the duly elected governor of Kogi State by INEC in Lokoja yesterday.

Addressing journalists at the party’s national secretariat yesterday in Abuja, Oyegun said the leadership of the party understood the frustrations most of the stakeholders in the Kogi governorship tussle encountered due to the sudden demise of its late governorship candidate, Alhaji Audu Abubakar, and as such was ready to allow things to simmer.
“On the Faleke issue, it is rather a straightforward and easy issue. We have replaced a governorship candidate. If the need arises and subject to what the law says, we will also get another deputy governorship candidate but we will cross that bridge when we get there, but the need had not arisen yet,” he said.

Oyegun however said that the party was still pursuing dialogue to settle all the differences and to accommodate the interests of the aggrieved stakeholders of the party in the state, with a view to achieving full reconciliation before the handover of power in January.
He said: “As a political party, we understand the frustration that emanated from the death of the late Prince Abubakar Audu. It is normal for us to accommodate the immediate reactions coming from the people involved.

“They were at the gates of victory but this was shut at their faces because of the unfortunate death of their mentor (Abubakar Audu) who would have been our governor in the state, so a lot of things which normally we would not have accepted happened.
“But we have to accept them so long as everybody would simmer down as time passes. Wielding the big stick in a situation like this might not be appropriate but there will be a timeline with which to sort this out; enough will be enough at a certain time.”
While defending the party’s choice of Bello as Audu’s substitute in the Kogi supplementary election, Oyegun said the leadership had to take the option that provided the best answer in line with the constitution and the Electoral Act.

Speaking on the decision of INEC to cancel the poll in Southern Ijaw and to declare the Bayelsa governorship election inconclusive, Oyegun said the party was not particularly satisfied with the conduct of the poll.
“We are unhappy that the results from the most populous voting areas which is a stronghold of the APC had to be cancelled and rendered the elections inconclusive.
“All one can say at this stage is pronouncements have been made. As a party, we will be patient, we will give them the benefit of the doubt and will go on whenever the election for Southern Ijaw is slated,” he said.

Oyegun also clarified that the federal government has not withdrawn the subsidy on petrol.
Speaking on the reports on the government’s budget highlights for 2016, which was released on Tuesday, Oyegun said there was nothing to indicate that the administration was in a hurry to jettison the subsidy very soon.
He said if any policy was in that direction, the government would make sure that it follows it up with adequate measures to cushion the effect on the masses.
“You do not know yet, even I do not know what is contained in the budget. So what is covered or what it does not cover, we do not know because it is still in various stages of construction.
“Whether subsidy goes or stays is an intricate and major issue. If it has to go, the government will have to introduce palliatives to cushion the effects on ordinary Nigerians.

“Anyway, eventually subsidy will have to go but we have not reached that stage yet because you cannot just wake up and announce that subsidy has been removed without putting an adequate programme in place to cushion the negative aspects that may be involved,” he explained.
His comments on the Kogi and Bayelsa elections, as well as the clarification on the retention of fuel subsidy occurred just as Bello was presented with a certificate of return as the duly elected governor of Kogi State.

The certificate was presented by the INEC chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmud, at 4.05 pm at the commission’s office in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital.
The chairman, who was represented by his national commissioner, Prof. Anthonia Taye Simbine, said the exercise was in conclusion of the governorship election in accordance with Section 75(2) of the Electoral Act.

The section, he said, prescribes for the issuance of a certificate of return to the winning candidate of a political party in a governorship election within seven days of the conclusion of the election.
Faleke was however not present to receive his certificate of return as the deputy governor-elect.
Responding, Bello acknowledged the role and contributions of everyone, particularly that of the late Audu, whose death led to his emergence as his replacement as the APC candidate.
He noted that the shoes Audu left behind were too big for him to wear even as he called for a minute’s silence in memory of the departed leader.
While appealing for calm and understanding, Bello said he was not unaware of the acrimony thrown up by his emergence, but promised to work tirelessly to unite all factions that have emerged due to Audu’s passing.
This Day.

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