DEATH, that common leveler of both the rich and the poor, the righteous and the wicked, has done it again.
It has deprived Abubakar Audu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the inconclusive election of Saturday, November 21, 2015, in Kogi State from making history.
If Abubakar Audu had not died and the election was concluded and he was declared winner, he would have made history as the first Nigerian to be elected governor of a state for three times.
The late Audu was the governor of Kogi State in the moribund Third Republic between 1990 to 1993. He contested and won the election on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP).
He was the governor of the state between 1991 and 1993 when his tenure was cut short by late General Sani Abacha military coup of November 1993.
Again, in 1999, he was back in Lugard House (Government House, Kogi), as the governor of the state after winning the governorship election on the platform of All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP).
He was there till 2003, when he was defeated by PDP candidate. He was again defeated both in 2007 and 2011 by PDP candidate. Now, in 2015, when he was coasting home to victory with a clear lead in 16 local governments of the state’s 21 local governments, death came calling on Sunday, November 22, 2015, and denied him a place in Nigeria’s history and probably Guinness Book of World Records.
HOW HE DIED
An unconfirmed source had it that Prince Abubakar Audu, the APC governorship candidate in the Saturday, November 21, 2015 governorship election in Kogi State, has been having problems with his health even before the electioneering campaign started but that he has been managing it.
But his heath situation became worse on Friday, November 20, 2015, a day before election when he complained of body pain and slight fever while travelling to his country home in Ogbonicha in Ofu Local Government Area of the state.
The driver had to park to get him water to drink before continuing with the journey. His health situation, however, by the next day, Saturday, November 21, 2015, the day of the election worsened. Palliative measures were said to have been put in place to prepare him for the election.
After the election, he was said to have retired to his bedroom and medical personnel were brought in to take care of him. His situation, however, did not improve until Sunday, November 22 morning when he was said to have given up the ghost.
He was buried on Monday, November 23, 2015 at exactly 2.00 p.m in his hometown, Ogbonichu.
Amongst dignitaries present during his burial are Senator George Akume, Senator Abdulkadir Kure, former governor Lucky Igbinedion, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and Senator Dino Melaye.
WHAT LAWYERS SAID
‘INEC should conduct a fresh election’ – EBUN OLU-ADEGBORUWA
An election was conducted on November 21, 2015, to determine and elect the governor of Kogi State. For that election, the two major candidates were the incumbent governor, Captain Idris Wada of the People’s Democratic Party and Mister Abubakar Audu, of All Progressives Congress.
The election was eventually declared inconclusive by INEC, although Audu was leading on the votes counted, at the time.
Suddenly on Sunday November 22, it was announced and confirmed that Audu had died.
The combined effect of Sections 181, 221 of the 1999 Constitution and sections 33 and 36 of the Electoral Act is for the INEC to conduct fresh elections. Since results had not been declared officially and no clear winner had emerged before the death of Audu, his ticket cannot be swapped with somebody else, notwithstanding that he ran a joint ticket with his deputy then.
From these sections, it is clear that the death of a candidate before the result of the election is officially announced and declared, is to abort that election. It terminated the process completely. In the eyes of the law presently, the Kogi State Governorship election is inconclusive and aborted; it is inchoate and nobody can claim to derive any benefit therefrom.
The confusion, needless litigation and controversy that may trail the substitution or otherwise of Mister Abubakar, are better avoided. And there’s no way the People’s Democratic Party or Captain Idris Wada, can claim any benefit under such circumstances.
While I sympathize and commiserate with the Audu family, the people of Kogi State and Nigeria, the current incident has thrown up a big challenge for the National Assembly and the General Buhari Administration, to execute a holistic programme for the urgent reform and overhaul of our electoral system, as promised during the campaigns.
I therefore call upon INEC to prepare to conduct fresh elections in Kogi State, within fourteen days hence.
‘The deputy should now be the governorship candidate’ – ADINDU UGWUZOR
My own opinion is to the effect that the deputy governorship candidate should take over. He should now be the governorship candidate of APC, while the party nominates another candidate to be the deputy governor.
That is the way I see it. Yes, an election has been held but unfortunately the election was declared inconclusive. Because, if the election had been conclusive and the winner declared that yesterday evening automatically their right would have crystallized and Section 181 would have applied out-rightly. But now that the election is inconclusive and a supplementary is to be held. That supplementary election will date back to Saturday (November 21, 2015) election. Until that one is done that the election is concluded.
But the question is, is the governor and deputy governor the same? The voter given to the governor is it given to him separately from the deputy governor? No. The governor and the deputy governor are one and the same. My take is based on Section 185 of the constitution.
That section says, “A candidate for the office of the governor of a state shall not be deemed to have been validly nominated for office, unless he nominates another candidate as his associate or running mate for the office of the governor who is to occupy the office of deputy governor.
That means without nominating a deputy governor, a governorship candidate is not qualified to contest. So, the governor and the deputy are the same. The worry is that he has not been duly declared winner. But election has held, he is coasting to victory already. Now to say that election will go (cancelled) and that the deputy who was jointly nominated together with the governor by the party should now not inherit what has been given to his party, will not be the appropriation of the law.
Why would the deputy governorship candidate be taken as an outcast because the governorship has died?
Ordering for a fresh election and going through rigours of primary elections of the party will create a vacuum when the tenure of the incumbent expires.
Already, there is a result at hand where they are leading by over 41,000 votes and that supplementary is taking whoever wins. At any rate that election is supplementary, the PDP candidate is still there.
Looking at the position of nomination of the governor and his deputy governorship candidate being one and the same for the purpose of that election, then the deputy governorship candidate should be allowed to take over as the governorship candidate.
‘He should be substituted’ – EMEKA ETIABA (SAN)
My opinion is that what has happened now was never envisaged by either the Constitution or the Electoral Act. Section 36 of the Electoral Act says in a situation where a nomination has been completed but poll has not taken place and a candidate dies, the election will be postponed until the candidate is substituted.
But the scenario is different from this one. Election has held and has been declared inconclusive. The final results has not come out before the man died. In this scenario, what we can do is to lash on the doctrine of necessity which enables us to think beyond the box and seek for solution that will be very close to what the existing laws has said concerning surrounding circumstances.
The best thing to do in this circumstance is to allow APC to substitute the dead candidate and election will hold in 14 days. By so doing, the transition plan will not be affected.