As the race to wrest power from the All Progressives Congress government in Kogi State gathers momentum, opposition parties in the state have agreed to work together to produce a consensus candidate that can stop the APC candidate, Usman Ododo, from replacing the outgoing governor, Yahaya Bello.
This was even as they debunked speculation making the round that the Gabriel Aduku committee mandated with the task has adopted an unpopular candidate in the race.
The development is coming barely a week after the shooting incident between the security details of the Kogi governor and the convoy of Social Democratic Party candidate, Murtala Ajaka.
Addressing journalists at a joint media parley, three Kogi East governorship candidates asked Nigerians to dismiss the rumour that the committee has anointed a candidate, adding that talks are still ongoing.
The trio were candidates of the Labour Party, Barrister Okeme Adejoh; his counterpart in the Young People’s Party, Dr Sam Omale and All Progressives Grand Alliance candidate Kingsley Ilonah.
Omale said, “We are here to brief you on what has been happening among the Kogi East governorship candidates. This press conference is necessitated by the fact that we are getting all kinds of endorsements from various conflicting committees.
“I just want the public to know that we have not arrived at any consensus candidate for now. We are still working on it. Consensus candidates will be done when we present people to the apolitical independent committee that has verifiable criteria to select one of us. We agreed in our last meeting yesterday that the list of candidates contesting from Kogi East (Igala) should be reduced to three that will be presented to that committee.
“But we want to announce once again that no candidate has been endorsed on a consensus basis yet. We also want to reiterate that consensus will not be sacrificed on the altar of incompetence, money, injustice and lack of fairness.”
Adejoh, on the other hand, called for calm, saying they are hopeful of producing the best candidate for the state when the selection process is completed.
He said, “We agreed on the need to have certain criteria in place before having a candidate that will represent our people. We just want everybody to be calm. Governance has to do with competency. It has a lot to do with someone who has the ability to lead and, by God’s grace, we will come out with a formidable force that will serve the good people of Kogi State.”
The APGA candidate also confirmed that though four out of eleven candidates jostling to be adopted as consensus have dropped out of the race, they are hoping the committee won’t settle for a mediocre individual.
Ilona also confirmed that they have been asked to prune the list of candidates to three.
He said, “We were asked to present three names of candidates to the Gabriel Aduku committee which we assumed is the umbrella body for all the groups coming together to adopt a consensus.
“Yes, we know the Igala people are the majority in Kogi but I don’t think because it is enough reason for us to want to produce a mediocre as our candidate. We should not just abuse the people of Kogi thinking because Igala people are in the majority, we should just produce or elect a mediocre governor.
“Unfortunately, we did not agree on the criteria to be used to arrive at a consensus candidate. And because we did not agree, the meeting was inconclusive. But we were surprised to hear in the news yesterday evening that some persons had stepped down and someone adopted. We want to use this to clear the air that nobody has been adopted. At the same time, we welcome the idea of people stepping down for one of the candidates. It will make the task of arriving at consensus candidates easy so that we can reduce the number of contestants to one or two people.
“So out of 11 candidates, four have stepped down leaving us with seven. From what we have heard, more people are still going to step down. In fact, we realised many of those people stepping down didn’t buy form and didn’t even contest the primary election.
“So they didn’t spend much. But what is more important to us is to ensure that we produce the best candidate at the end of the day.”