At the recently-held Kogi State APC gubernatorial primaries, a man who is described by many Kogites as a great grassroots mobiliser and who also happens to be a former governor of the state, Prince Abubakar Audu, emerged as the gubernatorial candidate. Subsequently, after much suspense, he announced his running mate – Hon. James Abiodun Faleke, a legislator representing a constituency in Lagos State.
This article seeks to summarise their profiles in furtherance of the aim of getting to know our (prospective) leaders.
Prince Abubakar Audu
Prince Abubakar Audu was born on 21st 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 education began at the N.A. Junior Primary School, Alloma, and later N.A. Senior School, Ankpa, from where he proceeded to Dennis Memorial School, Onitsha. He attended the Jos Commercial College, from where he obtained “O” and “A” level certificates, then proceeded to study Banking and Finance in London from 1975-1978. Prince Audu is a member of the following professional bodies; the Corporation for Certified Secretaries, the Association of International Accountants, London, the Chartered Institute of Industrial Administration, Nigeria. He was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Houdegbe North American University, Republic of Benin.
Before venturing into politics, he worked for over two decades in the banking sector. He spent 25 years with First Bank (formerly Standard Bank), where he served in different capacities at management levels between 1966 and 1991. He was the first black training officer for the bank and one of the first black senior management staff for Standard Bank in London and New York.
In 1986, he was appointed as Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning in the old Benue State. He held this position for two years, then returned to First Bank as a General Manager.
In 1991, he was appointed Executive Director of FSB International Bank Plc, before he was invited into politics to contest for the governorship positon in Kogi State on the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC). He won the election in December 1991 and was sworn in on 2nd January, 1992 as the first Executive Governor of Kogi State. This first tenure was abruptly ended after 22 months by the military intervention. He was again elected in 1999 when the country returned to democracy, and achievements recorded while he was in charge of the affairs of Kogi state cut across several areas, including housing, roads, social amenities like water and electricity, education and healthcare.
His administration is credited with the provision of 1500 housing units in Lokoja, the transformation of Lokoja Township with asphalt roads, street lights, the construction of inter-township and rural roads, dozens of electrification schemes and water projects. Other achievements include the establishment of a polytechnic and a university, a television and radio station, a state newspaper, the transformation of the colonial residence of Lord Lugard to an ultramodern government house complex, the construction of office blocks for ministries, and he also pioneered the construction of the first modern state liaison office in Abuja.
Prince Audu also took steps to invite investors to harness the many solid mineral potentials that exist in the state, one of which included making significant progress towards the establishment of the Obajana Cement Factory, which currently provides thousands of jobs in the state.
Other landmark projects include the Confluence Beach Hotel, a sports complex, a specialist eye hospital and 25 other medical institutions, a Special Government Girls’ Secondary School (which was, at that time, on a student exchange programme), hundreds of borehole schemes and 300 kilometres of township roads, among others.
Although he was a governor on the platform of an opposition party, the ANPP, he was declared the best performing governor in Nigeria during the 1999-2003 dispensation of the PDP-led Federal Government by Professor Jerry Gana, who was then the Minister for Information and National Orientation.
Hon. James Faleke
Hon. James Abiodun Faleke was born on 25th December, 1959 in Ekinrin Adde, Ijumu Local Government of the old Kabba province, a Yoruba speaking area of Kogi State, where he had his primary and secondary school education. He attended the Abdulazeez Atta Memorial College, then proceeded to the Kaduna Polytechnic, from where he obtained a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Purchasing and Supply Management with Upper Credit in 1986. Here, he received the Best Student Award.
Hon. James Abiodun Faleke was posted to Lagos State for his NYSC program in the 1986/1987 service year, and served at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, his place of primary assignment (PPA).
As part of his service to the community, he provided waste bins to assist with waste collection and management in Ikeja LGA during his service year in 1987, and thus got a letter of commendation from the Local Government. This was, perhaps, a sign of things to come, as he would later become an elected Chairman of Ojodu LCDA of Ikeja Local Government Area.
In furtherance of his education and professional career, he obtained a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) with Management as his field of specialization from Imo State University, Owerri. He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS), London, and the Institute of Public Administration (IPA).
From 1986 till date, Faleke has worked in different management capacities of procurement, clearing and forwarding, warehousing, distribution and construction. In 1986/87, he worked as the Purchasing Expediter in National Orthopaedic Hospital in Lagos State, and as a Material Manager at Kayo Foods Limited, Ilupeju, also in Lagos State. He then went on to serve as the Purchasing, Clearing and Distribution Manager and Commercial Manager at Tate Industries PLC, Purchasing Manager at Air Liquid PLC, Purchasing Manager at Aluminium Manufacturing Company of Nigeria (ALUMCO) PLC, and finally, as a Commercial Manager at Crown Agents Ltd. from 2000 to 2003.
He was also the Pioneer Executive Secretary of Ojodu LCDA from November 2003 to April 2004, and was elected as the Executive Chairman of the LCDA in 2004. He held this position until 2011, serving for two terms, and doubled as the Chairman of Conference 57, the body of Local Government Chairmen in Lagos State (from 2006-2011). During this period, he also featured on the state’s Electoral Reform Committee and the Governor’s Advisory Committee.
In 2011, he was duly elected to represent the Ikeja Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives and served as chairman of the House Committee on Anti-Corruption, National Ethics and Values, and as a member of several other committees, including those on Public Procurement, MDG’s, Interior, Public Accounts, Science and Technology, and the House Committee on the Petroleum Subsidy Probe.
He also proposed a number of bills, including the NYSC Act Amendment Bill, which proposed life insurance coverage for NYSC members, a bill prohibiting the sale and use of military uniforms due to the attendant security risks and, still focusing on the nation’s security challenges, he sponsored another motion on the need to shut over 1,400 illegal border routes to curb insurgency.
Hon. James Abiodun Faleke was also the Lagos State coordinator for the Buhari/Osinbajo campaign from December 2014-April 2015.
The major source of criticism regarding the ticket has been the choice of Faleke as the running mate; while some claim that being a “naturalised Lagosian”, he would not have a proper grasp of Kogi state politics, the fact remains that the administrative and legislative experience he has garnered both as an LCDA chairman and as a legislator can and will translate into purposeful leadership if the duo are elected into Lugard House come November 21. If anything, the fact that he is a son of Kogi state who has attained such heights in another state of the federation is enough evidence of his leadership acumen, and the progressiveness of the party to which he belongs – the APC.
Excelling somewhere other than the place of one’s birth should be a source of commendation, rather than something to be condemned for.
As Kogi decides, the rest of the country waits with bated breath; Prince Audu is not without his share of criticism but his record in the state remains unmatched. As Kogi – a state blessed with abundant resources – remains stuck in time, frozen at the same spot for the past twelve years, with decaying infrastructure and woeful tales of bad governance, will the people opt for the party with Change as its slogan, or will they choose, instead, to remain in the cold comfort of an umbrella so torn that it shields them from nothing?
Rinsola Abiola is a youth representative on the APC’s Board of Trustees and the Acting President of the APC Young Women Forum (APC-YWF).
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