Ocholi, Echocho, Yahaya, Faleke In Race To Replace Audu
With the coast now clear for the All Progressives Congress (APC) to use its discretion in nominating a suitable replacement for its late governorship candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu, based on the doctrine of necessity, indications emerged yesterday that the party may select its governorship candidate for the supplementary governorship election from among four choices.
LEADERSHIP had exclusively reported that the attorney-general of the federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) might consider the option of either going to Supreme Court for interpretation or invoking the doctrine of necessity and go ahead with the conduct of the supplementary poll after it declared the governorship election in Kogi State inconclusive.
By declaring yesterday that it will allow the APC to fill the vacuum created by the death of its governorship candidate in Kogi, it is obvious that INEC has heeded the call that the doctrine of necessity be adopted in the process on the grounds that the issue in Kogi is time-bound, since everything had been programmed by INEC to terminate at a specific time.
The incumbent governor and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate has to vacate office by January 27, 2016.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the party may pick from among James Ocholi (SAN), Isah Jibrin Echocho, Hon James Faleke and Alhaji Yahaya Bello as replacement for the late Audu.
While Faleke is the late Audu’s running mate who would have automatically become the governor if INEC had not declared last Saturday’s governorship poll inconclusive, Yahaya and Ocholi were aspirants in the August governorship primary of the APC. Yahaya came second to Audu in the keenly contested primary election.
Echocho was one of the aspirants in the governorship primary of the rival PDP but switched to the APC after losing to the incumbent, Governor Idris Wada.
In 2011, a high riding Echocho, a former Afribank chief, was primed to succeed former governor Ibrahim Idris after picking the ruling party’s (PDP’s) ticket but lost out in the power equation after the court extended the tenure of the then incumbent. When the next primary was held, Idris backed Wada against Echocho.
Ocholi, who contested against the late Audu in the APC governorship primary, is currently a member of the federal cabinet after President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him the minister of state for Labour and Employment.
Other aspirants who contested with the late Audu during the APC primary were Senator Alex Usman Kadiri, Hussein Idris Kashim and Alh. Sanusi Abubakar Aliyu (Gamji), Senator Nicholas Yahaya Ugbane; Sani Halilu Shuaibu; Suleman Baba Ali; AVM Saliu Atawodi;Muhammad Abdullahi; Senator Nuruddeen Abatemi Usman; the only female contestant, Princess Hadiza Ibrahim; Yakubu Mohammed, Rt. Hon. Clarence Olafemi; and Suleiman Ejeh Abutu.
Others included Sunday Ejibo; Otunba Suleman Lanre Ipinmisho; Dr. Tim Nda Diche; Habeeb Abdullahi Yakeen; Rotimi Yakub Obadofin; Babatunde Irukera; Ocholi James (SAN); Aliyu Zakari Jiya; Engr. Olushola George Olumoroti; and Dr. Onukaba Adinoyi Ojo.