By Kingsley Fanwo
LOKOJA — Prince Abubakar Audu bestrode the political landscape of Kogi State from its creation in 1991 till his death yesterday when he was about to make it a triple as governor of the Confluence state.
Born 68 years ago into a royal family in Ogbonicha, Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State, the late politician showed signs of greatness at a tender age. His late father, HRH Pa Audu Oyidi, Orego Attah of Igalaland was the paramount ruler of Ogbonicha-Alloma.
Prince Abubakar Audu was the first elected governor of Kogi State in 1992 on the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention. He was responsible for the laying of the infrastructural foundation of the state. He was responsible for the establishment of the Kogi State University, Kogi State Polytechnic, Kogi State Broadcasting Corporation and many other institutions in the state. His first spell as governor ended with General Sani Abacha’s dismantling of the structures of the Third Republic on November 17, 1993.
In 1999, Audu contested and won the governorship election for the second time on the platform of the defunct All Peoples Party, APP having defeated the late Arc. Stephen Olorunfemi of the People’s Democratic Party. He was a politician cherished by the Igala people of Kogi State.
His bid for re-election was truncated in 2003 when he lost to PDP’s Alhaji Ibrahim Idris. The 2003 loss heralded a chain of loses in 2007, 2008 and 2011. He was cruising to victory in his sixth governorship contest conducted on Saturday, against the incumbent governor, Capt. Idris Wada. Audu was believed to have died yesterday morning before the election was declared inconclusive yesterday evening.
Prince Audu was a charismatic and flamboyant leader who was never afraid of confronting authorities in his lifetime. For many years, he was the leader of opposition politics in Kogi State, sinking his resources into nurturing parties such as the National Republican Convention, the defunct APP, the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN and lately, the All Progressives Congress. He will be sorely missed by the political community in the confluence 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 first two stints in 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.
Others include the founding of Kogi State Polytechnic, the establishment of a television station, radio station (both AM and FM), a state newspaper, 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.