The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has said the party will not back down on its decision to substitute its late candidate for Kogi State governorship election, Prince Abubakar Audu with Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
Rising from a close-door meeting with aggrieved party members from Kogi East senatorial district on Thursday at the APC headquarters, Oyegun told journalists that it would not be right for the leadership to take a decision and later turn it down.
The meeting was summoned in a bid to settle differences which arose in the aftermath of the death of Audu on November 22.
Odigie-Oyegun said: “I don’t think that it is right to think that the National leadership of the APC took a decision and thereafter turned its back, we will not do that. We guarantee that the political family that has lost its leader will participate effectively in the unfolding events in the next few weeks.
Odigie-Oyegun explained that the decision to pick Yahaya Bello (now governor-elect) to contest the supplementary election was the best option in order to avoid legal pitfalls.
He assured the Audu political family that they will play important roles in the political arrangements in the state.
“I expect and hope that consultations at various levels are going on. So that if there is a gap, we at the National Headquarters know what step to take to correct the situation before it becomes a problem.
“We took the decision in a circumstance that someone was bound to get offended. And we were very conscious of the very peculiar circumstance of a group that was on the doorstep if victory. So in the circumstance, we did what we interpreted legally as the best way out of the jam we were in, always having our eyes on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and what they may likely bring up in court.
On Yahaya Bello’s Selection, Oyegun said the party had to make, hard choice in order to meet INEC’s request to replace the late Prince Abubakar Audu.
“Which one can we defend better if they go to court. That was the basis of our decision. But of course it created understandable anguish.
“So what we are trying to do is to say we know you are badly bruised, we hope tempers are cooling down. We hope we can now talk about the next steps that will restore some semblance of normalcy all over Kogi State.
“In politics, everybody works for his own inheritance. It is not passed on from father to child. Of course the father can help the child no question about that. The child can benefit from the father’s influence, personality and the rest. But he has to earn it. Politics is not an inheritance.
“All we want is some semblance of normalcy, reconciliation. So if meeting with the core group before the larger group, will help that, we are up for it. We must act fast and quick because the process of putting things together post January is already underway. We want to be able to stand together as a party as guarantors of the Abubakar Audu political family. Time is not in our side,” he said.
The Kogi State APC Chairman, Haddy Amefuo said, the leaders from the zone has decided to stand by the decision of the party’s leadership and close ranks.
Oyegun said another meeting between the APC leadership and “core” members of the Prince Abubakar Audu political family will hold on a yet-to-be-announced date,” he said.
Those expected at the meeting are Professor Daniel Isah, Director General, Prince Abubakar Audu Campaign Organisation and zonal Vice Chairman of the APC; Mohammed Audu, son of the late aspirant; former Minister, Humphrey Abba amongst other leaders of the ‘core’ group.
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