The Prince Abubakar Audu They Don’t Know, By Odaudu Joel Minister
Myriad of publications have kept reverberating in the national dailies and buzzing on the online media with respect to the panache and leadership style of the former governor of Kogi State, Prince Abubakar Audu while he superintended over the affairs of the State as a governor between 1999 and 2003, and his intention to contest the gubernatorial election which comes up on 21st November, 2015. I have so far, kept a dignified silence in the face of the spurious allegations by some political saboteurs; outright lies, libelous and traducing publications by bellicose political contenders; the manifold insolent cum disparaging posts and comments on Facebook by combative “power shift” agitators; gross inexactitudes by ample prevaricating pundits; the politically sterile vote of no confidence and “Pull him down” (PhD) syndrome by ostensible “party elders”; all the skeptics and sponsored phony groups; the legion of muckraking and pestle-wielding critics in the opposition, and the band of mudslinging commentators across all Kogi online fora.
I am always reluctant to responding to the sundry chair critics because it will appear as if one is making attempt at shoring up an image that is not deserving of it. However, my silence seem to have given these “know all” captious analysts and mudslingers the leeway to publish whatever falsehood they could cook up in their devious minds and serve their concocted fables to the unsuspecting and credulous members of the public.
Before I proceed, I wish to categorically state here that this article is not aimed at laundering an image since it does seem the image had been soiled, tainted, and bested by wrong doing in any form. However, it is principally designed to make concerned indigenes of Kogi State, stakeholders, and the watching public cognizant of the fact that Prince Abubakar Audu, while a governor, did a great good for the people of Kogi State as captured by this maxim by Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States of America: “A simple and proper function of government is just to make it easy for us to do good and difficult for us to do wrong.”
Needless to say, Prince Audu was the first democratically elected governor of Kogi State who contested and won the gubernatorial seat on the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in 1992 but his administration was cut short by the late General Sani Abacha’s military coup which aborted Nigeria’s Third Republic. This gargantuan political gladiator rebounded into the political milieu during the Fourth Republic in 1999, contested and won the gubernatorial election on the platform of the now defunct All Peoples Party (APP).
From the grapevine, I have heard copious lies and a number of pernicious adjectives used to qualify the person and governance style of Prince Abubakar Audu. Some say he is arrogant, so haughty to the extent that if you wish to see him, you will have to put off your shoes and crawl on the floor from some kilometers away before you get to him. Some people would say you don’t dare sit on the chair when Audu sits on a chair – yours is to sit on the floor. Others perceive him to be tribalistic. Some would even say he is an oppressor who put the squeeze on his subordinates. All these idiosyncrasies ascribed to the Prince of the Niger (though ridiculous), is sheer misconception, the height of mendacity, and flawless improbability. Prince Audu is pompous? How? When has it become a crime to blow one’s trumpet after accomplishing a feat? Any moment Prince Audu attempts to enumerate his achievements on any occasion that warrants it, his critics misconceive it as arrogance. Any moment he visits project sites and upbraid erring and indolent contractors, they will say Audu is rude and wicked. The perception and attribution of Audu being tribalistic remains groundless and indefensible given the equitable manner his developmental projects were spread out and allotted to each of the three senatorial districts mutatis mutandis. Whenever he takes the positive practical step of having his subordinates be at the right place at the right time to do the right thing, his action is being misconstrued by the indolent and those who malinger as oppression. What about the trumped up buzz by some perfidious contenders that he fleeced millions of naira from some APC contestants before giving them tickets to contest on the party’s platform?
To say the least, those who dislike and upbraid Prince Audu do so the grounds of his perceived individual flaws and not in anyway for non-performance while in office. All these misconceptions and the song and dance about the nature and character of Audu does not in any way justify the unnecessary sponsored protests and agitations from some trepidatious co-contestants and sponsored groups requesting Audu to drop his gubernatorial bid. Some party stalwarts and acolytes kick against his ambition and asking him to pull out of the race to enable them gratify and actualize their microscopic political landscape agenda — the Dekina Agenda, Kogi Central Agenda, and Kogi West Agenda. Others say Audu should go fly a kite with respect to his gubernatorial bid because they want a christian governor in Kogi this time around. Moreover, some even opine he drops his governorship ambition on the grounds of old age! All these are improbable criticisms and implausible excuses which are not potent enough to abate Audu’s momentum and political success at the polls come 21st November, 2015.
I wish to acquaint those with the “old age” mentality that Audu’s mental faculty, perceptive, sensitive, and articulate reasoning remains sound and superlative even at 68! In my own estimation, the basis for all these agitations should be non-performance, cluelessness, dull and lethargic leadership which is not the case with Audu. As can be widely attested to, Prince Abubakar Audu, irrespective of his age, possess the merit, competence, and capacity to return as Kogi’s next governor.
By and large, the Prince Abubakar Audu I know, strictu sensu, is not just an embodiment of simplicity and humility, but is quintessential of an affable, empathetic, compassionate, and strong-willed personality with a greater vision. He is a man who has penchant for human and structural development, and with a strong desire to salvage Kogi State from its current deplorable condition. The Prince Audu that I have have met and interacted with ample times is an assiduous and ironclad personality who is richly endowed with all the desiderata for good governance and development.
As we already know, during the intervals Prince Abubakar Audu superintended over Kogi State as governor, he made monumental landmarks in virtually all sectors particularly in the area of housing, electricity, roads, education, and healthcare services. Kogi State and its people indubitably witnessed and enjoyed their finest and peerless season of infrastructural development. Georges Pompidou (1914 – 1974), French President said, “A statesman is a politician who places himself in the service of the nation while a politician is a statesman who places the nation at his service. Prince Abubakar Audu placed himself at the service of Kogi State by embarking on super-colossal projects which midwifed both human and structural development in the State. The State-owned Polytechnic (Kogi Poly) is Audu’s feat. Kogi State University which today, has produced multifarious superb graduates into the Nigerian social formation is Prince Abubakar Audu’s tour de force. The ever functional Obajana Cement Company is his exploit. Besides the aforementioned enterprise, substantial housing schemes for public officers comprising over 1,500 housing units designed to be effortlessly acquired by civil servants in Lokoja, The 5-Star Confluence Beach Hotel, the transformation of Lokoja township road with asphalt, street lightening and artistic roundabouts, FM Radio Station, The Graphic Newspaper, Modern State Library, and myriad of other laudable projects were all developmental projects courtesy of Prince Abubakar Audu.
However, it is so sad that most of the key estimable projects that Audu initiated during his tenure as governor has been abandoned and left to rot by successive administrations that came after him. The elegant Kogi State University now looks crude, faded and untidy, and being afflicted with incessant strikes consequent upon Kogi government’s nonchalance towards the institution. I could remember the magnificent Confluence Beach Hotel in Lokoja hosted 109 Nigerian Senators and about 50 Diplomats when the National Assembly held their first retreat. But today, the same hotel is no longer worthy of accommodating ordinary local government councillors and has become a home of rodents consequent upon its current battered and shabby state. Occupants of Lokongoma Phase 1 and Phase 2 Housing Units can confirm the fact that the presence of government is no longer felt in those housing units as it has been left in a state of decay. As a matter of fact, if it is possible for one to remove Audu’s projects from the present day Lokoja, the Kogi State Capital will look like nothing better than densely populated village!
Kogi State at the moment is just like a sick patient lying in coma. She needs a doctor with the medical expertise and experience to proffer the panacea to her severe ailment. The alarming degree of economic and socio-political devastation in Kogi today requires a pragmatic, focused, audacious, and visionary leader like Audu to salvage it from its present predicament. Bringing on board any political neophyte at the moment will do the State no good. Prince Audu stands tall among all those vying for the number one seat in Lugard House.
To wrap it up, Prince Abubakar Audu remains the man with an unrivaled administrative gravitas; the political gladiator and emancipator with the democratic finesse and managerial acumen needed to revive, rehabilitate, restructure, and reposition the structurally decayed, economically morbid and politically crippled Kogi State.
Odaudu Joel Minister, the President and National Coordinator of Confluence Rescue Mission (COREM) wrote from Abuja.