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 KOGI GUBER: AUDU WAITS FOR WADA/ECHOCHO, OTHERS

FOR the aspirants and their supporters, it was the longest waiting of their lives and it was also their longest night even as the contest turned out to be a titanic one with 27 aspirants jostling for the Kogi State governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The APC governorship primaries in the state which held at the Confluence Stadium along Hassan Usman Katsina Road in Lokoja under the watchful eyes of Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, came with a lot of anxiety for the party and the aspirants.

Till the last moment, all but one of the aspirants stuck to their guns, refusing to bow to pressure to step down for one another. The aspirant that stepped down was Mr. Babatunde Irukera and the one absent was Otunba Lanre Ipinmosho.

For the winner of the contest, Prince Abubakar Audu, a former governor of the state, it was not an easy road to victory, especially having to battle 26 other aspirants to secure the party's nod to fly its flag in the November 21st governorship election in the state.

Prince Audu may have by his victory at the party primaries, crossed his first hurdle. He has also by his victory, re-confirmed the efficacy of his gargantuan political structure. This is the first time he would be contending with such relentless intra-party contest.

Accreditation of delegates commenced by 12 noon on Saturday, 29th August, 2015 and lasted till 6pm, while voting of votes commenced at 10.08pm and ended 2.43am on Sunday, 30th August, and sorting out commenced at about 3am. The total delegates were 3458 while those accredited were 3024.

The ex-governor secured a comfortable win over Yahaya Bello, polling 1,109 votes as against Yahaya's 703 trailing behind both aspirants was a senator in the 7th Republic, Nurudeen Abatemi, who polled 400 votes.

Other aspirants who made good showing at the primaries included, Alhaji Sanusi Abubakar, who polled 309 votes, Salihu Atawodi (183 votes) and Barrister James Ocholi (90 votes). Senator Alex Kadiri secured a vote.

The contest, no doubt, kept many of the aspirants on seat edge because victory for any of them seemed dicey until the ice was broken by the announcement of the result, which turned out to favour the former governor, throwing his supporters into wild jubilation.

Declaring the winner, the Electoral and Returning Officer and Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam El-Rufai, urged all the aspirants to put the election behind them and collectively work for the success of the party, stressing that there was no victor, no vanquished.

Reacting to his victory, Prince Audu said the victory is not personal, saying it is for the party and the people of the state.

He saluted the fighting spirit of his co-contestants and urged them to join him to deliver the party to Lugard House in the November 21st election, reiterating that if elected, he would build a new Kogi State that everyone would be proud of.

On his part, Alhaji Yahaya Bello congratulated Prince Audu on his victory and promised to work for the success of the party at the governorship poll.

Meanwhile, the People's Democratic Party (PDP) in the state has welcomed the choice of Prince Audu as the governorship candidate of the APC, saying that with the choice made by the APC, the election has already been won and lost.

The State Publicity Secretary of the party, Prince Bode Ogunmola, in a statement, remarked that the November 21st election is already a done deal for the PDP, expressing optimism that, "PDP will defeat Prince Audu at the poll again and again. It's a walkover for us".

He recalled that the PDP has since 2003, defeated the ex-governor, at least, four times and noted that the November election won't be an exception, adding that the PDP is already celebrating its victory.

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