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Kogi 2019: Anxiety in Kogi APC Over Hon James Faleke’s Ambition

Though it was first heard in the realms of gossip being whispered silently across the length and breadth of Kogi state, observers of the politics of the state say it may be true that a member of the House of Representatives and running mate to late Prince Abubakar Audu in 2015 governorship election in Kogi State, Hon. James Abiodun Faleke, is desirous of contesting the 2019 governorship election.

And as talks about the alleged ambition spread, anxiety mounts within the ruling APC. This is because incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello has also declared his interest in seeking another term on the platform of the same party. Faleke, who currently represents the Ikeja Federal Constituency of Lagos State in the national assembly, is a frontline chieftain of the APC in Kogi state.

Believed to control the late Abubakar Audu's political family in the state, a contest for the APC governorship ticket between Faleke and Bello will be a fierce one and may further heat up the usually charged political atmosphere of the state. A running battle ensued between the camps of the two politicians following Audu's death in 2015 and the decision of the party to replace him with Bello over and above Faleke who was the deputy governorship candidate in the election.

It took a judgement of the Supreme Court in favor of Bello to lay the feud to rest but the political rivalry continued till date, resulting in the polarization of the ruling party into camps of the Governor's loyalists and Faleke's supporters. Several efforts to mend the broken fence by state and national party leaders have failed, leaving relationship between the two APC leaders strained.

"We heard about the ambition of Hon. Faleke. But before now, it was just as a rumor. Hon. Faleke didn't inform us that he will be running for governorship. Governor Bello, who is the leader of the party in the state, has declared his interest in a second term. But as it is now, with Faleke speaking openly about his 2019 plans, the party may have to prepare for a serious struggle for the ticket," a state official of the ruling party said on Thursday.

It was gathered that anxiety gripped chieftains of the ruling party during the week following Faleke's statement that he will rescue the state from bad administration in 2019. "Many party leaders and members have been asking questions about the statement credited to Faleke. Even top aides and associates of the governor have been anxious for more clarifications,' our source added.

Speaking at his country home in Ekirin-Ade in Ijumu local government council of the state on Christmas day while celebrating his birthday, the House of Representatives member berated the current administration in the state under Governor Bello saying never before has Kogi State witnessed a government as bad as what they are experiencing in this dispensation.

He said; "Never before had Kogi received the amount of money that we have received in recent months. I can tell you that since the present administration came on board, each Local Government in Kogi State has collected minimum of N2.1b from January to December. Unfortunately our people are still in abject poverty. Unfortunately our infrastructure are in complete decay; unfortunately salary has become a mirage; unfortunately Kogi State happened to be the first State that a civil servant on level 16 committed suicide. So many of our people have died since this administration came on board."

"We are saying that the Government must change for the better if it wants to continue to be in office because it is only by the will of the people. And when these people are not happy, it becomes a problem. I have heard the Governor Yahaya Bello compare himself to President Muhammadu Buhari and I have said it openly and I am saying it again that President Buhari, in character, behaviour, observance of religious ethics, conduct, relationship with people is the complete opposite of the Governor.

"When the President was the chairman of PTF, he had every opportunity to own petrol station all over the country but he did have one filling station; that is a man of character. Throughout his stay as PTF boss and as former military Head of State, he only owned one bungalow in his home town; a three bedroom bungalow, he never lived a lavished life. So if anybody says he is emulating the President, that person must be of good conduct, that person must behave like President behave in terms of payment of salary for workers."

Given an indication that he may have resolved to contest the party's governorship ticket with Governor Bello in 2019, Faleke added implored the people not to lose hop as, according to him, help is on the way. He urged the people to be prepared to use their votes to change the situation the state has found itself since 2015 when they have the opportunity to vote again.

"I will rescue Kogi state from bad administration in 2019. I assure you that change will come. I want to implore you; don't be afraid. we hear they have bought guns for their vigilante to intimidate people during election but God who made it possible for those guns to be manufactured will silence those guns at that time. I tell you on the election day, it is going to be your ballot paper and the voter's card; those are what will decide your future. If you want the situation to remain the way it is, the card is in your hand; if you want change, the card is also in your hand."

"When the President came on board, he gave all the Governors bailout to pay salary of workers. Kogi got N20b as the first tranche. Till today our people are still in abject poverty and Kogi is a civil service State. Hence, when the civil servants are not paid the petty traders would not have any business because their business depend on the salary of civil servants to survive. So it has a multiplier effect in the negative perspective," he said.

Faleke's outburst, which came few days after some chieftains of the party in Kogi west senatorial district announced their adoption of Governor Bello as the APC's sole candidate for the 2019 election, according to party sources, is already heating up the political atmosphere within the state. "Now, nobody is in doubt of the fact that the 2019 governorship contest within the ruling APC will be a tough one," an aide of the federal lawmaker said.

Led by Senator Smart Adeyemi, the APC Kogi west leaders said the zone is satisfied with the performance of Governor Bello and deserve to be re-elected. Speaker of the Kogi State House Assembly, Hon. Matthew Kolawale, called on all aggrieved members of APC in Kogi West to sheathe their swords and work together with Governor Bello to move the state forward. He assured them that APC has internal mechanisms to resolve all issues.

Kolawole, while moving the motion for the endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Yahaya Bello for second term in office, said "the two leaders, to the best of my knowledge have done well to be re-elected in 2019." The motion was seconded by the State Assembly Member from Ijumu Local Government Area of the state, Hon. Victor Omofaye. The motion was adopted by Senator Adeyemi.

In his response, Governor Bello said his adoption was not as important as the endorsement of President Buhari. "I am one of your own and you know what I have done and what I am still doing for the state.

Credit: Nation

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