One year after, Audu’s death still reverberates in Kogi
The sudden death of Prince Abubakar Audu, the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate in November 21st, 2015 governorship election in Kogi State just before the close of the exercise, has left a vacuum that is yet to be filled in the state, particularly in his eastern senatorial district.
The late flamboyant Audu, a rallying point for the state’s APC as well as the arrowhead of the leadership of the Igala race, was adjudged to be the most successful politician from his area.
And unlike other Nigerian politicians with the penchant for jumping the boat when their party loses an election, late Audu was consistent in sticking to his guns in opposition politics.
Audu rose to power on the platform of National Republican Convention (NRC) during his first coming in 1991 and later on the platform of the All Peoples Party (APP) in 1999. He was synonymous with opposition politics until the APC won the 2015 election.
An enigma even in death, Audu’s demise, while almost breasting the tape of gubernatorial victory in controversial circumstances, has left the APC in disarray and achieved the elusive power shift that he had earlier predicted after winning his party’s primary election.
As his followers mark one year anniversary of his death The Guardian takes stock of his promise to ensure power is rotated in 2019 and how his sudden death became the answer to that wish four years before the date he predicted.
His death has also dashed the hope of many supporters who laboured day and night to ensure that the APC took power from the PDP in the state and at national level who have been left in the cold by the new faces in authority.
Like Nostradamus, the man that saw tomorrow, Audu saw Kogi after he would have been no more, when he addressed the crowd in his primary election victory speech at the Confluence Stadium in Lokoja last year.
He said the issue of power shift could only be achieved through negotiation and not by violence adding that he was the only one that could be trusted to actualise that dream.
Audu commended his runner up, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, who would later benefit from his (Audu’s) demise, for his spirit of sportsmanship and his doggedness in the contest.
Speaking further on Bello, Audu said, “With him, after four years I can go and rest,” adding that he was proud of Bello because he would be a reliable successor.
Bello who spoke on behalf of all the other contestants said they actually wanted a generational change but since the leader had won they would wait for the next four years.
According to him, “We craved for generational change today under our great party and under a transparent and very free and very fair process we have a winner of the contest.
“By the special grace of God we shall work in harmony with APC because it is a great party we shall continue to be together to ensure that victory is ours on the 21st of November this year. We wish that our leader would carry all of us along and together we shall send PDP out of Kogi.”
He congratulated Audu whom he referred to as father and leader believing that “after the next four years he will remember that he had his son of high character and probity who was ready to take over from him by the special grace of God.”
The four-year plan has turned to be the very tenure Audu was gunning for and in the wisdom of APC his wish was accomplished.Earlier during the zonal rally for Kogi West at the demonstration Primary School ground in Kabba, the late APC leader reiterated his determination to be the first to actualize the process that will ensure power is shifted to either Okun or Ebira land in 2019 if he was elected. He stated that the Igalas had benefited enough adding that it was time to allow their other brothers have a taste of power.
He went down memory lane to recall the brotherhood that the three senatorial districts shared in the old Kwara State where they lived together for 75 years when none could aspire to be governor. Audu indicated they tasted the bitter taste of marginalization.
The late APC candidate also recalled the sojourn of the Igalas in Benue where they were also denied the opportunity to lead the state describing it as very bitter experience, which he said, should not be meted out to other people.
According to him, “In 2019 Okun or Ebira man would rule the State because if I talk to the Igalas they would listen, but if Governor Idris Wada talk to them they would not listen, if former Governor Ibrahim Idris talk to them they would not listen but if Buhari talk to them they would listen but not Jonathan.”
Audu, who performed his franchise despite hid failing health hours before he died, had a style of politics that recognised hard work and individual contribution to the success of the polls.
Hence many of his supporters disposed of their possessions (Houses, cars and landed properties) to raise money for the campaigns with the hope that they would be compensated with one appointment or the other. His demise has dashed all that hope and expectation as many of them have been reeling in pains of what they termed monumental lost.
A new Pharaoh that does not know Joseph in on the throne and many of those who worked for the APC victory are no longer in political reckoning. A former Acting Governor of the State, Clarence Olafemi who spoke on the issue said, “Honestly the death of Prince Abubakar Audu is still haunting Kogi State and it is haunting Kogi APC. He was a very unique rallying point for us.”
He said Audu has remained the governor that has developed the state with commitment citing the Kogi State University that has been named after him as his legacy and many achievements in road construction and housing estates.
Olafemi however expressed concern that many of those who laboured for the victory of the party have been left in the cold. He said Bello must, as a matter of urgency, attend to the issue to accommodate the aggrieved supporters of the late Audu.
According to him, most of the supporters of the governor enjoying the spoils of office today worked for Bello at the primary but as soon as he lost the primary they left for the PDP.
Audu had recorded many firsts in his political life; he was the first executive Governor of the State, when he won election in November 1991 on the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC). He was subsequently sworn in January 1992.
When democracy was re-introduced in 1999, Audu, now with the All People’s Party (APP), was elected again with over 700,000 votes and was sworn in on 29 May 1999 as the 2nd Executive Governor of the state.
In Death Audu was also a subject of controversy as he was rumored to have resurrected after almost 20 hours of his demise. There was jubilation in Lokoja by his supporters over rumors that he had suddenly “resurrected.”
He was so larger than life that his followers believed he could not have died just like that. They perceived him as a demi-god that can turn around any situation hence the jubilation that trailed the rumour.
After Audu’s demise, the APC settled for Yahaya Bello, the first runner up in the primary election, rather than his running mate, James Abiodun Faleke. Hence, like a prophet, his prediction came to pass albeit four years earlier as Bello, after a long litigation that got to the apex court, now sits comfortably as the governor of Kogi State.
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