The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has said the party will not hesitate to find a replacement for the Kogi State Deputy Governor-elect, James Faleke, if the need arises.
Odigie-Oyegun said this in response to questions from newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday.
He explained that as a political party, the APC was saddened by the sudden death of Abubakar Audu, its original standard bearer in the Kogi State governorship election but that it had to move on.
Faleke had on Tuesday announced that he would not be available for the inauguration as a deputy governor.
He told reporters in Kabba, “I will not disappoint (the late) Prince Abubakar Audu. I, James Abiodun Faleke, will not be there for the swearing-in if we don’t finish the case before January 27, 2016.”
But the party chairman noted that it was to be expected that his key loyalists, who like most people were in grief, would be interested in things being done in a certain way.
He said, “However, the reality on ground may not favour that line of thinking hence the party had to look at the safest and reasonable way to handle the emergency foisted on it by a situation which the Nigerian constitution never envisaged.”
As to whether Faleke would be sanctioned for announcing his withdrawal from the supplementary election without recourse to the party, Odigie-Oyegun said it was too early to say because it might not be auspicious at this time to go through that route.
He said, “On the Faleke issue, it is rather a straightforward and easy issue. We have replaced a governorship candidate, if the need arises and subject to what the law says, we will also get a deputy governorship candidate but we will cross those bridges as they arise but they have not arisen yet.
“As a political party, we simply understand the frustration that emanated from the death of the late Prince Abubakar Audu, however, it is normal for us to accommodate the immediate reactions coming from the people involved.
“They were at the gate of victory but was shut at their faces because of the unfortunate death of their mentor (Abubakar Audu) who would have been our governor in the state.
“So, a lot of things which normally we would not have accepted happened but we have to accept them. Wielding the big stick in a situation like this might not be appropriate but there will be a timeline to it, enough will be enough at a certain time.”
As to whether Faleke would be sanctioned he said, “All I will say is that we should not jump the gun.”
He expressed the party’s preparedness to defend the mandate won by its candidate in Kogi at the tribunal.
“Those who feel aggrieved; it is for them to call to question whatever they feel aggrieved about and we are going to meet them on those grounds.
“For us in the APC, Kogi is a settled issue, if you want to go to the tribunal, we’ll meet you there, if you want to go to court, we’ll meet you there,” he said.
In response to a question on the position of the party to the Bayelsa governorship election, Odigie-Oyegun said, “I’ll say we are far from being satisfied (with the conduct of the poll) but INEC has made a pronouncement and you can’t get them to take it back unless you go to court, so we are waiting for the processes to be concluded but I must say we have a lot of reservations about what has gone on up to this present moment.”
According to him, the party’s reaction to the situation will be different if it wins, adding that it will be different if the outcome goes contrary to its expectation.
He used the opportunity to express regret over the killings that trailed the pro-Biafran protests in the South-East.