For Hon. Segun Olulade, who is representing Epe Constituency 2 in the Lagos State House of Assembly, the situation that is playing out in Kogi State after the just concluded governorship election in the state, is an indictment of the Independent National Electoral Commission and the present government in the country. In this interview with Mr. Olulade, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Health, the lawmaker argued that the running mate to late Abubakar Audu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abiodun Faleke should be sworn-in as the next Governor of the state.
What is the situation in Kogi State now?
I want to thank the Almighty God and the people of Kogi State on the November 21st Governorship election that held in the state. We said the election would be the best that Nigeria would organise in terms of the peaceful conduct of the people of the state. I would say the election was a litmus test for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to perform their duties as an unbiased umpire, but they goofed. INEC betrayed the trust that Kogites had in them by not declaring the original winner of the election as at when due.
Why did you say that?
The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria talks about who wins an election and who does not win and the All Progressives Congress (APC) fulfilled that through Audu Abubakar/Abiodun Faleke ticket. You would note that in the election, the APC had 25% of the votes in all the 21 local governments in the state, which is part of the criteria that is necessary to make you a winner and the second is having the highest number of votes, which the APC fulfilled by leading the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with over 41,000 votes. But, suddenly INEC decided to betray the trust of Kogites and Nigerians in general. If there is anything that I would say is a big minus for this government, that thing is elections. The two elections they have conducted so far were not properly done and that is unfortunate. I mean the elections that were held in Kogi and Bayelsa States because INEC did not perform as expected, they failed Nigerians. They did not do their homework properly. It is unfortunate that we have a new INEC that is different from that of its former chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega and they have failed, it is unfortunate.
Talking about the Bayelsa election, INEC could say they were not in-charge of security
…INEC cannot exonerate themselves from security, they are the ones conducting the election, they must make adequate preparations. People were talking about the Kogi election, which I witnessed, that there were seven policemen in each polling booth, I disagree because there was nothing like that.
I think the Electoral Act says once someone does not participate in the party primaries he could not be a party’s candidate and Abiodun Faleke did not participate in the primaries. How come he now wants to be Governor?
The issue of participating in primaries is clear, Abiodun Faleke participated in the primaries technically. The constitution is clear on who could participate in a governorship election. There is a constitutional provision that the governorship candidate of a party cannot go into the election without a running mate. By virtue of appointing him as his running mate, Audu had authenticated Faleke. You cannot separate Audu from Faleke because he could not participate in the election alone. He needed to present somebody as his running mate and it means he would be there, when he is not available. He is somebody who could represent him, when he is not there. Now that Abubakar Audu is late, he has transferred that right to Faleke and so technically he has participated in the election. This is a constitutional provision. So, if Audu and Faleke went into the election together and they won the election, why couldn’t the INEC announce them as winners.
But it seems it is the APC that does not want to present Faleke as its Governorship candidate
…I would not also agree with you on that, out of 25 members of the state executive of the APC in Kogi State, 19 of them supported Abiodun Faleke, so you cannot say it is the party. But some powerful people within and outside the party are behind the whole thing, influence could come from anywhere. It is a dangerous terrain that we are entering as a political party and for our democracy because the moment that is authenticated, then there is trouble for us in this country, it is a dangerous thing. I must salute the courage and doggedness of Faleke, I must salute the people of Kogi State for defending their mandate. If Faleke had done otherwise, then he would have betrayed the trust Audu bestowed on him, and the trust bestowed on him by Kogites that gave him such a high number of votes.
But some people believe that if Faleke is that popular there would have been violence in Kogi State after the declaration of Yahaya Bello as the winner of the election. It seems there is a relative peace in the state now, what is your take on this?
Peace where, we are sitting on a keg of gun powder. They are not taking to violence because they are more matured and they are law abiding citizens. The people of Kogi have decided to embrace peace and we must not take it too far.
Do you see Faleke becoming the Governor of the state later?
Definitely, he would be Governor, there is no doubt about that.
Governor Idris Wada of the state has vowed to challenge the whole thing at the election tribunal as he is claiming that he should be declared the winner of the election since his major opponent, Abubakar Audu is dead. Do you see him triumphing?
Idris Wada is a joker and he can say that due to what is going on wthin the APC and what INEC has done. Also, I beg to disagree with the Attorney General of the Federation for coming out to make that comment at that particular period, which is why we feel the leadership of INEC should be queried. They are an independent body, so they should not have entertained such a suggestion. A lot of us fought for this democracy, so we cannot allow it to be truncated.
We don’t even know if Abiodun Faleke is still the Deputy Governor elect of the state or not. Can you clear the air on that?
They are using the name of Faleke to legalise their illegality. How could you say Faleke, who has written that he would not be deputy governor would serve in the position. Why don’t they go for another person. You cannot force Faleke to be the Deputy Governor of someone he does not believe in. By virtue of the constitution of Nigeria, it is the responsibility of a governorship candidate to pick his deputy and it is the prerogative of the person to accept or reject the nomination. The moment the man said he did not want to be part of the illegality, they could have gone for an alternative. How could you give over 200,000 votes to someone, who has less than 7,000 votes?
This is something that has not happened before, what do you think can be done to rectify the situation?
I heard people saying that Faleke is disobeying the supremacy of the party. Yahaya Bello did not recognise the supremacy of the party, when Abubakar Audu won the primaries in a clear election, a free and fair process. Bello left the party and he didn’t participate in the campaign. I was fortunate to be involved in the campaign. I can tell you that Bello did not participate in the process after losing the election. I once asked the late Abubakar Audu about how we could win Yahaya Bello back to the fold, he said that Bello had made up his mind not to support us. I even met with some PDP members, who told us that Bello was working for them. This was seen clearly in his polling booth, it was seen clearly in his ward, and even at his local government level, APC lost in those three areas.
So, why did your party now present such a person at the supplementary election?
That is the moral question every right thinking Nigerian should ask those, who pushed him forward. If anybody in Kogi should betray Audu, it is unfortunate. That is why I must commend Faleke for standing for what is right. My feeling is that INEC decided to rob a dead man, they are trying to rob someone, who won an election and could have said ‘I won an election even in death.’ Now some people are ganging up against a dead man, it is unAfrican, it is unfortunate. Africans don’t rob a dead man, which is what some people are now doing.
With the division in APC, don’t you think the court could order a fresh election due to all these crises and APC could lose?
The court cannot call for a fresh election as it would amount to waste ot tax payers’ money, which is what INEC has done with the supplementary election. If for any reason, the law could take its cause. Let us get the interpretation of the law, let’s see what the Supreme Court would say at the end of the day and everybody should abide by the ruling. If this is allowed to go, one day somebody would win an election and because somebody does not like his or her face, they would say the registered voters are less than those who has the right to vote and the election would be cancelled. I don’t want to agree that the APC is divided, we are not divided. If we are doing something and our mantra is change, then we must change. We are not zombie in any way.