By Ahmed Rufai Isah
Few days back, I read an article that was dedicated to attacking the person of Prince Abubakar Audu, the APC flag bearer in the coming elections in Kogi State. I thought of writing a rejoinder immediately but decided against it. Why write a rejoinder when I can write a different article, to enlighten people and dispel the falsehood that many deliberately fabricate against Abubakar Audu? Before the APC primaries and after it, many of such articles aimed deliberately at misinforming the public got enough credence on social media. I finally decided to put pen to paper because the incessant attacks have clearly gotten out of hand, and all it takes for falsehood to prevail over truth is silence.
Prince Abubakar Audu was born in 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. His impressive educational career saw him travel to London, where he studied banking and personnel management. Subsequently, the young Prince delved into administration and the history of his administrative career marked him out as an astute and efficient administrator. For about 25 years, he held different high ranking positions in different financial institutions, where he left his indelible blueprint of excellence. This excellence was to take him to the position of commissioner for finance and economic planning in 1986 in the old Benue state.
He later emerged as the first democratically elected governor of Kogi State and although he was governor for about a year before General Ibrahim Babangida annulled the elections, his full test as an administrator came between 1999 and 2003, after the return of democratic governance.
When he was elected governor of Kogi State in 1999, Nigeria’s experience with democracy was still at infancy. That notwithstanding, when Abubakar Audu came in as governor what he achieved is still unmatched in Kogi State till date. His four years as governor saw Kogi come to life; the first task he embarked upon was to improve the state of intra-state roads. Everyone who knew Kogi then would know how difficult it was to connect Kogi East, West and Central. The only road was the one through Okene which was in very bad shape. Audu Abubakar saw to the construction what is today known as the Ganaja road, which connects Kogi East and Kogi Central. He also saw to it that the previous roads that were in bad shape were all upgraded. This step improved by almost 60%, the state of business among the people of the state.
Furthermore, Abubakar Audu turned his attention to a sector that needed urgent attention. The educational sector at that time was on its knees, as primary and secondary education was so poor to the extent that students could not communicate in proper English. A relative of mine who visited us after her Senior Secondary School Examination couldn’t communicate in English.
Those who had the means to, sent their kids to other states to acquire education. By the end of Audu’s four year term, new primary schools and secondary schools had emerged in almost all the communities in the state. Schools that were in bad shape were renovated, with new blocks of equipped classrooms constructed. He also established the Kogi State University, bringing higher education to the doorstep of the indigenes. The institution was, at that time, ranked amongst the best new universities in Nigeria.
As a result of all these and many more of his commendable initiatives, Kogi State opened up to new businesses, more employment opportunities for young people, growth for small scale businesses, and became a destination for investors. It is important to mention that Abubakar Audu’s business connections help secured one of the largest investment in the history of the state – the Dangote cement factory. The siting of the cement factory in the state did not only create jobs for young people, but also helped in further developing host communities and satisfying consumer needs.
On infrastructure, Abubakar Audu also established three different housing schemes for public officers consisting of over 1,500 housing units in Lokoja, and successfully transformed the Lokoja township with asphalt roads, street lights, aesthetic roundabouts, and the construction of inter-township and rural roads, with over 75 electrification schemes and 50 water projects.
To add to his long list of achievements, he ordered the construction of a new stadium, saw to the establishment of Kogi United Football Club, oversaw the completion of the famous Confluence Hotel, established the Kogi State Polytechnic, then television and radio stations (both AM and FM), and a state newspaper.
In spite of all these, many have resorted to attacking his person and rubbishing his achievements. In recent times, many of such people have taken to social media to carry out their despicable campaign of calumny against Prince Abubakar Audu. As data from the last general elections suggest, more young people have abandoned political apathy and have increasingly become politically enlightened. Thus, many of such people intend to poison the minds of young Kogi indigenes to score political points.
Hence, they have tagged Audu Abubakar alongside Ibrahim Idris and Idris Wada as incompetent administrators. This is not only fallacious, it is also alarming. Anyone who has followed the political development of Kogi State closely without the intention to misinform the public, would agree that it is the two other governors who have entrenched mediocrity in the state. In their twelve years of failure, infrastructural facilities have continued to decay, the standard of education has nosedived, healthcare facilities have suffered from lack of care and unemployment has greatly increased.
To drive home the point, many have resorted to describing the state as a failed state. Recently, a friend described Wada as a governor who lacks vision and celebrates paying salaries as achievements. Unfortunately, even at that, he fails as Kogi is among the twenty four states owing salaries. It was these same governors who started the marginalisation of students from other parts of the state, especially students from Kogi West.
Abubakar Audu is a man who loves education. The truth to this is there to be seen by all. It was during his time as governor that the first university was established, alongside a polytechnic and primary and secondary schools witnessed tremendous improvement and during his tenure, there were no complaints about marginalization.
I write this because it is only fair to correct the impression people have of him. Many people who don’t even know the man personally have called him arrogant, vindictive and pompous, but it clear that this can all be attributed to the negative press he has suffered. Most who sell this name-calling narrative to the public are his political opponents and people who have no regard for laid down rules, and they continue to do so simply because they have no achievements to campaign with.
The truth must be told and this narrative must change. The PDP and their goons on social media continue with this campaign of calumny but just as they proved to have no plans or intentions of developing Nigeria while in charge of our nation’s resources, the PDP leaders in Kogi have also proven that they are clueless as to how to develop the state. It is imperative that the people of Kogi State key in to this message of change, and elect the leader who has displayed the zeal and commitment required to restore Kogi to its rightful place.
That Prince Audu means well for Kogi is not in dispute, and as his previous tenures show, he has what it takes to do right by the people too. His allegiance is to the good people of Kogi state, and no amount of falsehood being peddled about him can wipe his achievements off the pages of history. It is important to seek facts and tell the truth, because only then can honour and dignity be maintained.
The writer, Ahmed-Rufai, tweets via @sir_ruffy
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