-Lawyers disagree over INEC’s decision
Yahaya Bello, who was declared the governor-elect of Kogi State by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday, December 5, 2015, after the supplementary election, will certainly become Nigeria’s youngest governor when sworn in, in January 2016.
But that is if his emergence as governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) is not nullified by any court of competent jurisdiction in the land. Barring that nullification, Mr. Yahaya Bello will remain the youngest governor in the country for four years.
He was 40 on June 18, 2015. As at today, the youngest governor in the country is Professor Benedict Bengioushuye Ayade of Cross River State, who was 46 as at May 29, 2015, when he was sworn in as the governor of the state.
His emergence followed the saying of William Shakespeare that “some are born great, some achieve greatness, some have greatness thrust upon them.”
Yahaya Bello had greatness thrust upon him when Abubakar Audu, the APC governorship candidate in the Saturday, November 21, 2015, governorship election died suddenly on Sunday, November 22, 2015, after leading in the election with 240,861 votes to that of his closest rival, Idris Wada of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), 199,514 votes and INEC declared the election inconclusive.
Bello, who came second in the APC primary election which produced Abubakar Audu, was now nominated to replace Audu in the supplementary election which was fixed for Saturday, December 5, 2015.
He won the supplementary election with 6,885 votes which when added to late Audu’s votes of 240,561 gave him and APC a total of 247,742 votes.
While Idris Wada’s 5,363 votes when added to his early 199,514 votes gave him and PDP a total of 204,877 votes. He was thus declared the governor-elect of Kogi State, making him the youngest ever to rule the state and the youngest in the country.
Yahaya Bello was born on June 18, 1975, in Agassa Okene Local Government Area of Kogi State. He was the last of six children of Mr. Ochi Ipemida Bello and Hawa Oziohu Bello.
He had his primary school education at the LGEA Primary School, Agassa Okene, Kogi State and his secondary education at Government Secondary School, Suleja, Niger State, where he finished in 1994.
He did his A’ levels examination at Kaduna State Polytechnic, Kaduna and his university education at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he studied Accounting and graduated in 1999. He is a chartered fellow of Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN).
He started his working career at Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), where he also did his National Service in 2002. He rose to become the Assistant Chief Accountant of the federal agency before he left to establish his own private enterprise which revolved around stock trading, oil and gas, finance, transportation and real estate.
His foray into politics started with the APC presidential primary election where he was a strong supporter of Muhammadu Buhari who he gave his delegates to.
His first attempt at an elective office was the APC, Kogi State primary election in which he came second. But fortune has now smiled on him with the death of Abubakar Audu.
KOGI IMPASSE: WHAT LAWYERS SAID
Certainly, it is not yet uhuru in Kogi State, despite the declaration of Mr. Yahaya Bello as the governor-elect.
His supposed deputy governor-elect, Mr. James Faleke has declined that position. Rather, he wants to be declared the governor-elect of the state because the supplementary election which made Bello the governor-elect of the state did not change much of the votes he and Audu garnered in the initial poll.
The PDP candidate in the election and the incumbent governor of the state, Captain Idris Wada is also saying Bello cannot inherit the votes of late Abubakar Audu. That the 6,885 votes he (Bello) garnered at the supplementary election cannot be compared to 204,877 votes he scored in total.
He is also heading for the court to ask it to declare him the winner of the election.
ENCOMIUM Weekly asked prominent lawyers what is the position of the law in these entire impasse. Here is their opinion on the issue.
‘It is right in the face of the law’ – Muiz Banire, SAN
We couldn’t get Mr. Muiz Banire, SAN, on phone but he responded to our text message.
Why do you think so. Sir?
You will hear at the tribunal.
Are you standing in for any of the parties?
Yes. The party.
Does that mean you will go against Hon. James Faleke’s stand?
Is he not APC member?
But he is against the party’s stance and even rejected to stand as running mate to Bello.
Not to my knowledge. Speculation.
‘No inheritance in election matters’ – Yusuf Alli, SAN
There is no inheritance in election matters. It is not a family matter between father and son. The moment INEC called for replacement of Abubakar Audu, it should have ordered a fresh election. Bello has no business in inheriting Audu’s votes.
So, you are saying INEC was wrong in declaring Yahaya Bello the governor-elect?
That is my stand.
What do you make of James Faleke’s argument?
He has his own lawyers to defend him. I cannot speak for him.
‘INEC is right’ – Fred Agbaje
Was INEC right in declaring Yahaya Bello the governor-elect of Kogi State?
INEC is perfectly right. Both under the electoral law and the constitution, INEC is perfectly right. Don’t forget that Bello participated in the primary. Those who are clamouring that the deputy governor, James Faleke should be declared governor don’t know much about electoral and constitutional laws.
Faleke did not contest as a governorship candidate in the first place. His nomination form read deputy governorship. He filled the form for deputy governorship. How can you now convert him to governor?
He would have been convertible if the election had been concluded and the governorship candidate died. He could become the governor then. But the election was not concluded.
But they are saying INEC was wrong not to have declared the election concluded in the first place?
It is only INEC that can declare an election concluded or not. Since it has declared the election inconclusive, you cannot question its power to do so.