The refusal of the All Progressives Congress, APC’s, erstwhile deputy governorship candidate in the last election in Kogi State, Mr. James Faleke, to be the running mate to the new candidate, Yahaya Bello, in this weekend’s governorship supplementary election has put his party and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in a quandary. As at last night, Vanguard learnt that Faleke’s name was still penned down as the APC’s deputy governorship candidate despite his repudiation of his nomination as running mate to Yahaya Bello. Vanguard learnt that INEC was procedurally incapable of acting on the letter submitted by Faleke to withdraw himself from the supplementary election as running mate to Bello, indicating that his name is still penned as running mate to Bello.
Faleke had on Tuesday written INEC demanding the removal of his name as the running mate to Alhaji Yahaya Bello in this Saturday’s supplementary election. Having earlier written the commission and consequently filed a case at a Federal High Court, Abuja requesting to be declared as governor-elect, Faleke had also rejected the option of being Mr Bello’s running mate. Vanguard checks revealed that Faleke’s second letter to the commission is defective on the grounds that only his party has the locus standi to present such letter to INEC. Section 35 of the 2010 Electoral Act(as amended) states that: “A candidate may withdraw his candidature by notice in writing signed by him and delivered by himself to the political party that nominated him for the election and the political party shall convey such withdrawal to the commission not later than 45 days to the election.” Aside from the 45-day timeline which has elapsed, the APC as at press time was said to have continued mounting pressure on Faleke to withdraw his threat to quit the party.
Contacted on the issue, National Chairman of the party, Chief John Oyegun, told Vanguard that negotiations were still ongoing. Mr. Bello’s adoption at the meeting of the National Working Committee of the party followed the death of the former governorship candidate, Abubakar Audu, on November 22. The party immediately forwarded his name to INEC as replacement for Mr. Audu and that of Mr. Faleke as his running mate. However, when contacted on phone, Director in charge of Voter Education, Publicity, Civil Society and Gender Liaison, Mr. Oluwole Osaze-Uzi said he could not confirm INEC’s receipt of the letter. He said if the letter gets to INEC, the commission would look at it and know how to go about it before Saturday’s polls. In Kogi, speculations are rife that should Faleke make good his threat to quit the party, Bello would choose his long-time ally, George Olumoroti as his running-mate.