What is Abubakar Audu’s legacy for Kogi state?

Almost Governor of Kogi State, Abubakar Audu’s death has been met with disbelief and shock around the country. Ventures Africa spoke to residents from Kogi state concerning this tragedy and here’s what they had to say about the death of Prince Audu and how his almost victory could address the reality of recycling politicians in Nigeria as an obstacle to growth and infrastructural development.

Audu was once a developer

During his tenures as governor in pre-democratic and democratic dispensations, the late Abubakar Audu was actively involved in the infrastructural development of Kogi state. According to the state Treasurer of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the state, Hon. Adesayo Ismail, his successors were unable to accomplish as much as he could as the first democratically elected governor of the state. One of his major achievements was the socio-economic development of the state capital, Lokoja, which is a sharp contrast to the rest of Kogi state in terms of infrastructure.

“As a Kogi state indigene, I am hurt by this. We have been hoping that Prince Audu would come back and continue to develop the state. He was governor from January 1992 to November 1993 and also under the democratic dispensation from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2003. During this time, Audu was a major driving force for the development of the state to its current level. No other governor has been able to match his performance, it is so unfortunate and sadly, represents a bleak future for us.”

“The governors who have held the reins in the state have really not been able to perform as well as he did, in his time. There are a few areas I can give you proof on this – he completely transformed Lokoja, the state capital and put certain essential infrastructure in place like electricity and access to clean water. Also, he was a key part of the establishment of the Kogi State University, located in Anyigba. If only he had stayed alive, I believe he would have done more for the state” said Ojoma Akor.

Some suggest Audu would have been more of the same

However, some people do not share the same sentiments as Ojoma Akor. Just before she moved to the United States of America, an Ebira native, Mrs Abegunde lived in Kogi state and is a bit skeptical on the view that Audu would have turned the fortunes of the state around. Lokoja is a link road between North Central and the South-South, so a lot of Nigerians travel through Kogi by road. Testimonies from several of these road users, usually consist of accusations as to how the locals do not necessarily value development. This is because they display an aversion to advancement through their mannerisms and how they relate with tourists and travellers.

“While Prince Audu was alive, Kogi state was in shambles, all the governors have come and gone, yet the state has seen no real development. I believe this is proof of the fact that Nigerian politicians do not really care about the masses except when it benefits them. When Audu won the APC primaries, several people were excited about the future, we heard several promises based on his past tenure as governor of the state.”

“Granted, he achieved a lot then, but we are speaking from a general perspective now, what is the mentality like in Kogi? Do the people really want development? Are they open to new opportunities to progress? It is not about Audu or any other governor that comes in, it is about the mentality of the people towards development. Also, why can’t we have someone who hasn’t ruled before? Are there no young people from Kogi who can deliver the people from the shackles of underdevelopment?” said Elizabeth Abegunde.

Audu was loved by his people

Alero Richards witnessed the tragic reactions to Audu’s death, first hand. Despite hailing from another state, her work and vocational endeavor gave her the opportunity to be in Kogi state when it happened and here’s what she was able to tell us.

Like all other states in the federation, Kogi state accommodates both members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) as well as workers. For some of these visitors, Audu’s death made them realize just how much he was loved by his people. He may not have been a perfect politician, but prior to his death, several Kogi statesmen showed their support for him. When he died, they also mourned him, honoring his memory.

“Moving to Lokoja, the state capital, was a far cry from Lagos where I used to live because the city is very serene. However, yesterday, the news came in first on social media and many found it hard to believe. I had to wait to confirm from the online Vanguard newspaper at about 8:50 pm.”

“From that point on, it was endless screams and lamentations from my area of residence – the GRA (Government Reservation Area). One thing that struck me as a new resident, is the fact that Kogi state people loved the late Audu and wanted him to be their governor once again, it’s all evident in the way people wear a look of mourning now” said Alero Richards.

Audu was not the right man for the job 

For this last local, Audu’s death however unfortunate, may be a pointer to a truth that others are not willing to consider just yet, which is that he was not the right fit for the job. One explanation postulated on this is his tribalistic tendencies, which is not the trait of a true statesman. But in the true sense of it, is any Nigerian a true statesman?

“I empathize with Audu’s unfortunate demise. There is no denying the fact that he was a well-liked politician by some in the state. This, however, is the era of inclusion and Audu did not have that mindset. He favored tribalism in his policies, they would only benefit the Igala people.”

“What about the plight of the Ebira and Okun people and even the visitors amongst the Kogi people?  It is not a character that should be a part of a socially progressive leader, his demise is proof that someone else is meant to be the governor of the state, however sad that makes me. Here we see an overturn of fortunes as an INEC card reader rejected Governor Idris Wada’s print just days ago, yet it was Audu who died even before the election results became conclusive” said Mairo Suleiman.

Despite claims by Miss Suleiman that the late Audu Abubakar was tribalistic, the Treasurer, APC, Kogi state, Hon. Adesayo Ismail, in a chat with Ventures Africa, said Audu made sure he included everyone from Kogi West, Kogi East and Kogi Central in all his policies. According to him, Audu’s desire to include everyone in his politics play is something that other politicians within the APC are incorporating in their playbook.

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