A group, Kogi East Youth Front, has accused a governorship aspirant in the state, Yahaya Bello, of plotting to sabotage the election of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Abubakar Audu, in the November 21 election.
It said the petition by Mr. Bello to the Kogi State Governorship Congress Appeal Committee seeking to replace Mr. Audu as the governorship candidate, was unnecessary because he had not been proven guilty.
Mr. Bello, an Ebira in the central senatorial zone, who came second in the August 29 APC governorship primary, recently asked the party in the petition to disqualify Mr. Audu for allegedly stealing N10.9 billion of state funds when he was governor between 1999 and 2003.
The former governor was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in 2013 for the alleged embezzlement of public funds.
In a statement on Sunday by its President, Abimaje Ocheni, and Secretary, Grace Ebune, the KEYF, which described itself as a group within the APC, alleged that the sustained crusade mounted by Mr. Bello to snatch the ticket would fail because Mr. Audu was the choice of the party members in the state.
It regretted that the aggrieved aspirant was trying to reverse the victory of the former governor even when a change of candidate was now statute barred.
“All the propaganda of Audu stealing N11 billion and promising to return it can be traceable to this fellow obviously working with the enemies of the candidate,” the group said.
“It was this same fellow who is behind the party’s appeal committee’s recommendation asking for the disqualification of Audu on the ground of corruption even when he has not been convicted of anything.
“Even while it is clear that this fellow cannot get anywhere, he is unrelenting. It is therefore open to conclusion that he is playing the same ethnic card against Audu.”
The group also said there were evidences that some members of the APC in the central senatorial district where Mr. Bello hails from had been playing ethnic card to frustrate the party’s victory at the poll.
It lamented that the plot became so pervasive that the party’s rally in the district was largely boycotted by its members from there.
It said, “There are very disturbing evidence that a section of our party members acting an ethnic script are trying to pull back a moving train. Regrettably, this section, specifically the Ebiras of the Central Senatorial District, is deviously scheming under a diverse agenda to reverse all the advantages of our great party in the state.
“Ever since the resounding victory of Prince Abubakar Audu, the Adoja Attah-Igala, at our party’s primary election, members of the APC family from Kogi Central have not been at ease.
“First it was alleged that the sudden realisation that the combined votes of their candidates who were the first, second and third runners-up surpassed that of Adoja ignited a fresh sense of micro nationalism propelled more by regret than reason.”
The group also alleged that the choice of James Faleke, an Okun-Yoruba from the western senatorial district, as a running mate to Mr. Audu had also been tribalised.
It said it was not true that the APC governorship candidate entered a secret pact with the Okun people to cede power to them after his tenure.
It however argued that in the spirit of justice and fairness, the Okuns deserved to produce the next governor and not the Ebiras.
“The Ebiras have already previously enjoyed the position of governorship in a democratic arrangement in the person of Adamu Attah of blessed memory in the old Kwara State,” the group said.
“However the closest the Okuns have come to the revered position is deputy, first by Chief Sam Akande and now Architect Yomi Awoniyi.
“But even in this regard the Ebiras have produced deputy governors in Kogi State for a total period of 13 years – 1999 to 2012 in the persons of Chief Patrick Adaba (1999 -2003) as Audu deputy, and Philip Salawu who was deputy to Alhaji Ibahim Idris (2003 -2012).
“The tenure of the Okuns as deputy cumulatively amounts to only five years. Chief Sam Akande as Adoja’s deputy (1992 -1993) and Awoniyi (2012 – 2016).”
The group appealed to Ebira members of the party to rise above ethnic sentiments and work for the success of the party and its candidate.
It warned that in the event that Mr. Audu emerged victorious in the coming election, they (Ebiras) should not expect any special treatment.
It added, “Perhaps we need to repeat the apt words of our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, in the event that the Ebiras are unable to purge themselves of this hatred for our candidate and it ends up reflecting in the pattern of voting: ‘we cannot ignore the majority who vote for us to pander to the wishes of the minority who voted against us’.
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