The death of Kogi State governorship candidate, Abubakar Audu, has put the nation at crossroads. It is a case that defies cogent legal interpretation such that application of logic seems the best way of solving the conundrum.
The nation is trapped in a constitutional snare; and the more it wriggles to free itself, the more the noose tightens around the nation’s head.
INEC is to the rescue as it applies its fingers to unwind the trap. The decision was more logical than legal. INEC’s deft fingers are obviously “arresting the situation”.
The death of Abubakar Audu at the time Kogi electorate had almost elected him as governor, has majorly raised questions, several questions, than answers.
Should a dead candidate be declared winner in an election? Where in the constitution that substitution of candidate is allowed midway into election – or even when the election is declared inconclusive? Will the inconclusive election still continue if all the candidates were shot dead at the polling stations? Since INEC ordered that election be continued where it stopped, will someone (whoever APC produces to replace Audu) be allocated votes cast for a dead man? Would INEC abruptly stop the election from going on if a candidate slumps and dies at the polling center?
Both sides of the case can be argued for or against with equal plausibility.
Well, let us close this “logical chapter” and open a “political chapter” in search of the solution to the crisis.
It is normal in Nigerian politics for a family member of a deceased politician to be picked as either a replacement of the deceased or that of someone replacing the deceased. Yobe State governor, Ibrahim Geidam, picked late Mamman Ali’s brother to be his deputy when Governor Mamman Ali died in January 2009. There are many of such examples in states and National Assembly.
Audu died, and was buried with a bouquet of promises and aspirations, with a dream of shifting power to the people of Okun or Igbira, who never produced governor since the creation of the state in 1991.
In the last interview he granted PREMIUM TIMES after winning the primary election, Audu traced the political history of the state, making resolve to solve the political crisis related to power shift.
“My contention,” Audu said, “is that since I was privy to that agreement (reached on power shift). I will be the first person to make power shift a reality in Kogi state. And by the grace of God, in 2019, we will have either somebody from Okun or Igbira to be the governor of Kogi State in the process of making real our drive to embark on power shift…
“Well I have gone to Igalaland and told them that the last time an Igala will be a governor until after we have completed the circle of rotation is 2019. After 2019, we will hand over to our brothers. This is because if you are eating sugar alone while others are watching, you are creating problem for yourself. If you share it with your friends or neighbors, that will generate a lot of peace. But I do not know whether it is the fault of the elite or whoever is responsible. They are always saying ‘power shift, we either do it now or never.’ That generated a lot of friction among brothers and sisters, which should not be the case. I have promised them and it’s only me who can speak to the Igala community and they will agree…” he said.
While INEC provides the logical solution, the political solution to this crisis is for the APC fulfill Audu’s dream by producing late Audu’s deputy, James Faleke (an Okun man), as governorship candidate, with Audu’s son, Mohammed, as the deputy governorship candidate.
Shouldn’t this be the best way to stop Faleke from going to court, quench the simmering power-shift fire and also appease Audu’s legion of supporters?