Senator Smart Adeyemi, one of the aggrieved aspirants in the aftermath of the April 14 governorship primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi State, has come under severe pressure from party stalwarts to consider a ceasefire.
The development followed the judgment of the appeal court, Abuja last Friday, which dismissed appeals by Adeyemi and another aspirant, Abubakar Achimugu, seeking to nullify the primary election of the APC which produced Usman Ododo as the party’s flagbearer for the November 11 governorship election.
Notable political actors in the ruling party within and outside Kogi State reportedly met with Adeyemi in Abuja “to press him to let bygones be bygones”.
A source in the APC national secretariat hinted yesterday that the move was part of renewed reconciliatory efforts to start a result oriented public engagement, and to look into areas where there seems to be problems.
He said the national leadership of the APC under the new national chairman, Abdullahi Ganduje was leaving no stones unturned to avoid uncoordinated and disjointed approach to the campaigns leading to the off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States thereby ensuring victory for the party in the three states.
“One of the major areas of concern that the party was looking to nick in the bud are the cases in court by Senator Smart Adeyemi and another aggrieved governorship aspirant, Abubakar Achimugu in Kogi State”, the source noted
It will be recalled that Ododo was declared winner of the direct primary election of the APC held across Kogi state on April 14 2023.
According to Patrick Obahiagbon, Secretary of the Kogi APC primary election committee, Ododo scored a total of 78,704 votes to win the primary election with a wide margin while defeating six other contestants, including Adeyemi who got 311 votes.
But Adeyemi and four other aspirants had argued that no primaries of the APC worth that name took place anywhere in the state. They insisted the result displayed by the electoral committee merely allocation of votes.
Adeyemi had approached the federal high court, Abuja insisting that the primary election, which produced Ododo ran foul of Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution and also contrary to Section 29 and 84 of the Electoral Act, as well as Article 20 of the APC constitution.
However, on August 18, the Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of Justice James Omotosho of the Federal High Court in Abuja delivered on July 12, which had held that the appellants did not prove their allegations that Ododo was not lawfully nominated by the APC.
It was gathered that the latest move to reconcile Adeyemi and Ododo was informed by Adeyemi’s recalcitrance even after the appeal court judgment. Adeyemi was said to have told his lawyers to proceed to the supreme court.
According to a source close to Adeyemi, “Appeal Court has ruled and as a democrat and law abiding senior citizen, the Distinguished Senator Smart Adeyemi welcomes the decision of the appellate court. But the appeal court is not the final arbiter (in this case). Don’t forget that Nigerians have witnessed instances where cases were lost at the high court and at the appeal court but the decisions of the lower courts were overturned by the supreme court. So, without hesitation, he has told his lawyers to prepare to proceed to the apex court. However, as we speak, political actors within and outside Kogi chapter of the APC continued to mount pressure on him not to proceed to the supreme court.
“Twice, different groups loyal to Ododo camp met with the Distinguished Senator where he was pleaded with, to sheathe the swords and instead back the Ododo candidacy in the overall interest of the party, which he has remained a loyal member. However, I can tell you for a free that it is still a matter that has not been resolved yet”.
The source recalled that five aggrieved aspirants had challenged the outcome of the Kogi APC primaries, namely Adeyemi, Achimugu, Murtala Ajaka, who is currently governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Shuaibu Audu, who is now minister of solid minerals and Prof Ikani Ocheni, immediate past minister of state, labour and employment. He noted that while Ajaka has since dumped the APC for SDP, Shuaibu got compensated with ministerial of steel development appointment.
He continued, “The distinguished Senator is not asking for any compensation but let the other party accept that they wronged him, even if he is not in court.
“I can tell you categorically that Senator Adeyemi bears no grudge against Ododo and Governor Yahaya Bello who was his benefactor. He simply is pursuing a legitimate course that will outlive this current political season. We are all living witnesses to what happened during the primaries. The question is what is the need to make 17 aspirants purchase nomination and intent forms, spend money on structures and campaign knowing fully well that it was a no contest.
“Secondly, he is not letting go of the fact that he is in politics for the betterment of his people in Kogi West who he represented in the Senate for three terms of 12 years. He is aggrieved at the total exclusion of Kogi West in the calculations of APC. The governor’s non-adherence to the power shift arrangement to Kogi West after eight years of Kogi Central has not gone down well with the Okun people and Senator Adeyemi shares the pains of his people. Another area of concern raised by him is that while Ododo from Kogi Central has the governor’s ticket of the APC, his running mate mate, Salifu Oyibo was picked from Kogi East, while Kogi’s ministerial slot also goes to Shuaibu Audu from Kogi East. So what comes to West? These are questions begging for answers. It is not about the personal interest of Smart Adeyemi”.