The first executive governor of Kogi State, who promised to transform the state should he was elected as the governor once again, sent his supporters, admirers, friends and families into mourning when victory was within.
The APC candidate from the majority Igala ethnic group, who took to his grave his unfulfilled agenda, during his campaign for the election said “Let me make my three-point agenda known to the people of the state because I want to be held responsible for my word later when I gain power. First, I will make sure that power shift becomes sacrosanct. I will be the first governor to change power in the state. I must honour my agreement that after my full tenure I will ensure power rotation either to Kogi West or Kogi Central.”
“I will declare state of emergency on the critical sectors of the state especially in the infrastructural sector. Shortly after I won my party primary, I took a trip outside the country where I met international business organisations, who by now are just waiting for me to be sworn in so that they can come and invest in critical sectors of the state.
“Lastly, the welfare of the people of the state remains a priority to me. Let no one deceive you, I have nothing but the best interest of the people at heart” he said.
The deceased, who was optimistic and confident of victor while casting his vote at polling unit 2, ward 10 at Ogbonicha in Ofu local government area of the state, began his political career in 1986 when he was appointed as the commissioner for finance and economic planning of the old Benue state.
He served in that capacity until the cabinet was disbanded, two years later. When Kogi was carved out of Benue and Kwara states, Audu contested for the governorship, won and was sworn in as the first elected governor of the state in January 1992.
He remained in charge of the state until the military interregnum of 1993. When democracy was restored six years later, he contested on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and won but his bid to return to the Lord Lugard House, as the government house of the state is known, suffered a setback in 2003. He lost to Ibrahim Idris of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who spent two terms and handed over to Idris Wada, his brother-in-law. He was about trouncing the incumbent PDP governor, Wada when he was cut short.
The incumbent governor, however declared three days holiday in the State to mourn the APC gubernatorial candidate.
The 2015 gubernatorial election held in Kogi State on November 21 was declared inconclusive by Independent Electoral Commission, INEC after discovering that thing did not go well in some polling stations in State.
The late Audu garnered 231, 863 votes as against the 199, 514 votes scored by his closest challenger, Ibrahim Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The election process, contrary to antecedents, was said to be peaceful as the electorates were casting their vote without any itch. Though, the machine, during accreditation, in some areas did not work fine but the polling officials in places like those made use of the manual method
Late Abubakar Audu’s Life, Education and Achievement
Prince Abubakar Audu, first Executive Governor of Kogi State was born on 27 October 1947, to the family of his Royal Highness, the late Pa Audu Oyidi, Orego Atta of Igala Land and the paramount ruler of Ogbonicha-Alloma in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State.
He started his education at the then N.A. Junior Primary School, Alloma, and later N.A Senior School Ankpa, from where he proceeded to Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha. He later transferred to the Jos Commercial College where he obtained both the GCE O and A level.
After a stint as a bank worker, Prince Audu later proceeded to London from 1975-1978 where he studied banking and personnel management, obtaining professional qualification as a certified secretary, and as a Fellow of the Association of International Accountants of London, as well as fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Industrial Administration of Nigeria.
Audu’s banking career lasted for a total of 25 years, which he spent with First Bank – formerly known as Standard Bank. Here, he served in various capacities at management level until 1991. He also made history as the bank’s first training officer of African descent and also as one of the first black senior management staff of Standard Chartered Bank in London and New York. In 1991, he was appointed Executive Director of FSB International Bank PLC.
Audu’s sojourn into public service began in 1986 when we has appointed as Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning in the Old Benue state. He served in this capacity until 1988 when the cabinet was dissolved. He then returned to Fist Bank of Nigeria PLC as a General Manager.
In August 1991, Kogi state was created from parts of the old benue and Kwara states. This coincided with one of Nigeria’s many previous encounters with democracy, and Audu, being part of those who had advocated for the creation of the state and a notable son of the soil, was invited to contest for governorship. He contested on the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC) and won the election held in November, 1991. He was subsequently sworn in as the first executive governor of Kogi state in January 1992.
In 1998, democracy was again re-introduced and Audu, now with the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), was elected again with over 700,000 votes while his opponent hardly recorded 50% of the vote cast. He was sworn in on 29 May 1999 as the 2nd Executive Governor of Kogi State.
His socio-economic contribution in the state is to date a point of reference to the generality of the people and many aspiring leaders. Some of his major achievements during his brief first term of office include the establishment of three different housing schemes for public officers consisting of over 1,500 housing units in Lokoja, the transformation of Lokoja township with asphalt roads, street lights, aesthetic roundabouts, the construction of inter-township and rural roads, over 75 electrification schemes and 50 water projects.
Other include the founding of Kogi State Polytechnic, the establishment of a television station, radio station (both AM and FM), a state newspaper and the transformation of the colonial residence of Lord Lugard into an Ultra Modern Government House Complex, the construction of office blocks for ministries as the new state had no office accommodation, the construction of shopping arcade complex to enhance commercial activities, among others.
He also pioneered the construction of the first ultra modern state liaison office in Abuja. His administration also built an ultra modern stadium and a five star hotel in Lokoja, the Confluence Beach Hotel.
He also took steps to woo prospective investors to harness the numerous solid mineral potentials in the State. The big prize was the establishment of Obajana Cement Factory. The project, which was on going before he left office, attracted the support of the United State Government. During the visit of former President Bill Clinton to Nigeria, the State Government signed the agreement with the US Trade Development Agency (TDA) for a grant to finalize the feasibility work on the project. The cement project is now operational.
The establishment of a state university, Kogi State University Anyigba, is another testimony to the vision and resourcefulness. The foundation stone was laid on 30 November 1999, when former President Olusegun Obasanjo, visited the state. About a year later, the President returned to Anyigba during a state visit to commission the University complex. According to a report of a visitation panel to the university from the Nigeria University Commission, the institution was then described as the fastest growing university in the country. The university received tremendous international support, which included an affiliation programme to Morgan State University Baltimore. Also, seven visiting professors from various universities in the United States were at the university to review its curriculum and align it with their own universities and prepare the students for exchange programme to give the university an international acceptability.
Prince Audu completed several landmark projects within four years. They include: 250 units Housing Estate, a Sport Complex, a Specialist Eye Hospital and 25 other medical Institutions. Others are: a Special Government Girls Secondary School on student exchange programme, 350 borehole schemes, 300 kilometers of township roads, the procurement of 100 transit buses and completion of 40 rural electrification projects.
He was also named the best governor in the 1999-2003 dispensation, despite being a governor on the platform of the opposition, the ANPP.