By Clifford Ndujihe, Henry Umoru, Simon Ebegbulem, Chidi Nkwopara, Emman Ovuakporie, Dayo Johnson, Demola Akinyemi, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Aliyu Dangida & Ebun Sessou
LAGOS—THE polity was awash with tributes, yesterday, for the first civilian governor of Kogi State, Prince Abubakar Audu, who died on Sunday. Before his death, Prince Audu, who contested last Saturday’s governorship election on the plank of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was on the verge of being elected for the third time as governor of Kogi. He was leading his closest challenger, Governor Idris Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, with over 40,000 votes until the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared the polls inclusive and said there would be supplementary elections in 59 polling units which have 49,000 registered voters.
Audu’s death, which has created a constitutional crisis because the Constitution and the Electoral Act did not envisage that a candidate could die during an election, also threw the nation into mourning.
I’m devastated – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, expressed shock over the news of Abubakar Audu’s death, saying he was personally devastated by the sad development.
President Buhari, who is currently attending the Third Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Tehran, Iran, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, described Audu as a talented politician, a loving family head and a respected community leader.
“He was immensely courageous. President Buhari condoles with the family of the late governor, the government and people of Kogi State as well as all our party members, men and women who stood with Audu in his bid to return as governor. He ran as the favorite in the election as the early results have clearly shown.”
Audu was a visionary leader – Saraki
Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, said Audu’s death is painful and shocking.
Senator Saraki in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, expressed deep sadness on receiving the news of Audu’s death and condoled with the immediate family of the deceased, the government and people of Kogi State and the national and state executives as well as members of the APC over the irreparable loss.
He recalled the tenacity of purpose and unwavering loyalty of the deceased who he said remained committed to the course of his people and his party to the very last moment of his life.
Saraki said: “He was selfless, steadfast and patriotic in his services to the people of Kogi State and beyond. He was a visionary and patriotic party faithful. All his life time, he lived for the people. His death is extremely painful but we cannot question the will of the Almighty Allah in the present sorrowful circumstances.”
APC has lost a strong pillar – Dogara
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, described Audu’s death as sad and shocking. Also, the Deputy Speaker, Sulaiman Lasun, said the death of the Kogi strong politician was a rude shock.
In a statement issued by Dogara’s Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, the Speaker said the news of Prince Audu’s sudden death came to him as a shock.
Lamenting that the APC has lost one of its strong pillars who helped built the party in Kogi state, Dogara said Audu’s death is ’a major setback for the APC family but as people of faith we cannot question the work of the almighty God who gives life and only Him can take it away.”
Dogara regretted that Audu could not live to celebrate the imminent victory of the APC in the governorship election for which he was the leading candidate.
“Prince Audu was a dogged fighter, grassroots mobilizer, leader and politician par excellence whose influence transcends the frontiers of Kogi State,” he said.
Also, Lasun, in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary, Mr Wole Oladimeji said Prince Audu was a true party man who fought till the last breath to see that APC is rooted in Kogi State.
It’s a monumental loss –PDP
The National leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, said it is shocked by the news of the sudden death of Audu.
“At this critical moment, the PDP refrains from comments on the conduct of the election. That is not important now. What is important at this point is the sanctity of human life. Our deepest thoughts and prayers go to the family of Prince Abubakar Audu and indeed, the APC fold.
“On this note, the Acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, charges all PDP members in Kogi and across the nation to keep Prince Audu, his family and loved ones in their prayers, as we mourn with them and the people of Kogi State over this monumental loss.”
Audu’s death a rude shock — Oshiomhole
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State also described the death of Prince Abubakar Audu as a rude shock.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Peter Okhiria, the Governor said: “I received with shock, the sad news of the death of Prince Abubakar Audu, candidate of our great party in the Kogi State gubernatorial election. I was with Prince Audu just a few days ago, at the mega rally of our great party, where we marketed our party’s manisfesto to the electorate and he looked hale and hearty as he dished out his plans to restore the glory of his state.
“His death, coming just as we were getting ready to celebrate his unassailable lead at the polls, is a sad reminder on the transience of life. There is no doubt that Kogi State has lost a gentleman, a certified performer whose legacies as a first-term governor remain unmatched in the state. Even as we mourn his untimely death, we are consoled that he made quality contributions to the development of his state and lived a life worthy of emulation.”
It’s a lesson for all – Okorocha
Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, said he was shocked by “the sudden death of Prince Abubakar Audu because it happened when no one expected it.”
In a press statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Samuel Onwuemeodo, the governor said: “The death of the APC governorship candidate in Kogi State came when no one expected it, but God knew why he allowed it to happen few poles to his coming back as the Executive Governor of that state”, adding however that the death of the Prince should be a solid lesson for everybody, irrespective of his status in life. It should also be a lesson to all of us to appreciate our limitations as human beings. We are all pencils in the hand of the Creator.”
Govs Ortom, Ahmed, Mimiko, Abubakar speak
Also, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant, Media, Terver Akase, sympathised with the APC family in the country and Kogi State in particular over what he describes asan irreparable loss.
He says the late Prince Audu was a development-oriented man who was committed to selfless service and was loved by his people as shown in the results of previous elections and last Saturday’s polls so far announced. He added the late Prince Abubakar Audu who served meritoriously as finance commissioner in the old Benue State was an astute progressive throughout his political career.
Kwara State Governor, Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed, described the demise of Audu as painful and very shocking.
“It is particularly painful that Nigerians, especially the people of Kogi State have lost the services of Alhaji Abubakar Audu who was on the verge of being re-elected as the governor of Kogi State, going by the results of the election declared so far by INEC. It is however note worthy that the political history of Kogi State will be incomplete without a chapter on the contributions of Late Abubakar Audu to the democratic and infrastructural development of Kogi state”, Ahmed said.
To Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, “the former Governor’s death is most unfortunate and the day of his death will remain the darkest in the history of Kogi State.”
In his condolence message issued in Akure by the state’s Commissioner for Information, Kayode Akinmade, the governor said news of Audu’s death came to him as a rude shock because no one would have envisaged that the late politician would not live to witness the end of the election proceedings.
Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Bello M. Zaki, condoled the entire people of Kogi State, all supporters of APC in the country and the entire nation over the loss of Prince Audu.
Badaru described the death of Prince Audu, who served twice as a governor of his state, as a great loss not only to the people of Kogi but also to the entire nation in general.
Olajumoke, Oshun mourn
Senator Bode Olajumoke, a member of the Board of Trustees BoT of the PDP , condoled with the government, the people of Kogi and the family of the former governor and prayed that the soul of the former governor rest in peace.
A member of the Lagos State House of Assembly and Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Moshood Oshun, said the death of Audu is a huge loss to the APC and younger politicians.
“It is a personal loss to me. Former Governor Audu had a lot of experience that young politicians had continued to tap on for great success. Our dear party saw him as one who would make us proud and he did during the election.”
He showed he had a grasp and mastery of the political environment in Kogi winning 16 local government areas with his running mate, Hon. James Faleke. This tragedy will hardly be forgotten especially when it came at a time we would have joined him and Hon. Faleke in celebrating a worthy success,” Oshun said.