By James Ibechi
At the time when long distant trek has become the order of the day in the country — just to identify with politicians and their electoral victories — such that to do otherwise is misconstrued as one does not belong in this era, I will have no option but to join the league of the political trekkers who have already made history in the business.
In my case, I am going to trek for the sake of the former governor of Kogi State, Prince Abubakar Audu. I will trek from Lagos State to Lokoja, kogi State, for the Prince of the Niger, if the Kogi people see reasons in this piece to persuade to join the governorship race, to vote and return the ex-governor to power in the forthcoming state governorship election. But if the write-up fails to achieve this desired effect it still will not feel bad with me, knowing that, though I am not an indigene of that State, yet I have studied the political developments of the confluence state before, during and after the advent of Prince Audu, and have not withheld my honest advice and best recommendations from the Kogi voters, based on my appraisal of his performance and what he represents in Kogi people’s lives.
They may be the ones who will have themselves to blame in the event of their failure to do the needful -return Audu to Kogi Government House, for the state’s prosperity to be guaranteed.
However, the question I guess that must be agitating the minds of the readers is why rooting for Prince Audu again? The answer can be gleaned as followed.
Historically, Kogi has been governed by different regimes and people have had cause to compare and contrast the successive administrations all along.
Recall that Prince Audu was the first civilian governor of the state; he had a two-year shot before late Gen. Sani Abacha, a former Head of State, shutdown the civilian administration in the country and sent all governors packing.
Nonetheless, Prince Audu’s ephemeral stay in office as Kogi State’s helmsman was significant as he had laid the foundation for the rapid development and transformation of the state.
A true Prince in Kogi, the man had vision for the collective prosperity of the state and was working wonders until the military junta stopped him in 1999 when Gen. Abdusalam Abubakar administration brought back civil rule, by organising elections.
Prince Audu offered himself for service again. The Kogi people, who have already discovered the genuine interest of the former Governor to serve them, roundly welcomed and voted him en-masse. He defeated his opponent by a landslide and then resurfaced the state’s latent potential for development.
No sooner had he been sworn in than the Prince started putting his footprints positively across the state. With the meager allocation from the federation account, Audu built one of the best state universities in the country. The citadel of leaning is still a reference point till today. It was during his tenure that the state poly was also built, leaving no one doubt as to his intention to set Kogi on his road to his finest moment.
Parts of his monumental achievement were the establishment of the five-star hotel, Lokoja, which is only being neglected by the successive administrations, and the Kogi State Cement, which later metamorphosed to Dangote Cement at Obajana.
The man Audu, a detribalised Nigerian and strong believer in even development of Kogi State, constructed and rehabilitated no fewer than 2500 kilometer of roads across the state vis-à-vis other diverse impacts and people-oriented programmers.
All the aforementioned achievements by Prince Audu are no mere propaganda but verifiable in the state as enduring testimonials of his almost peerless good governance.
Before I am accused of patronage of Prince Audu, those who are familiar with recent developments in Kogi will earnestly ask for the return of his glorious days.
Paltry as the funds available to him was he excelled among his peers and successors who had more than 200 percent of what was accruable to Prince Audu then.
One may ask, if Prince Audu is as good as being portrayed this analyst, why was he rejected at the polls in his subsequent bids to govern the state? The answer is not for-fetched. It is a machination of collective conspiracy of his distracters within and outside the state. They are haters of progress. It is the handiwork of a cabal who are self-serving and anti-developmental, a sentiment typified in his philosophy of pro-poor.
Indeed, Prince Audus rising profile needed checking if some persons were to have things their way. These public enemies who ganged up against him were afraid for themselves but ended up endangering the entire people of Kogi. Obviously, their comfort is the misery of kogi people today.
The Kogi former governor has been accused of being arrogant. To the contrary, Audu is far from being arrogant. He’s however a proud Prince. His critics have failed to distinguish between arrogance and pride; why arrogance is a vice, pride is a virtue. We should not forget the aristocratic background of the Prince, he is high-born and so there are certain compromises which do not sit well with his nobility.
If he has some traits of nobleness in him, he should be tolerated. The former governor hates the habit of god-fatherism. He is no godfather to anybody nor wants to be a godson to anybody. This trait is what his enemies hate and are wont to use to keep him down at all cost.
They once set the EFCC to humiliate him. Since his travails with the EFCC, Audu has not been pinned down to any corruption, he walks tall and confident because his mind dwells on the higher purposes.
Comparatively, Prince Audu towers above all those who have governed the state in terms of physical concrete achievements. Do not vilify the proud Prince of Kogi state. He is a man who deserves kudos for his landmarks in the state.
Truly, Prince Audu, the Adu-oja ede, the Prince of the Niger and the conscience of the Igala people, is a man to look up to. Come the next election, if he is persuaded by this write-up and offer himself for people service again and wins, I will honor him by trekking from Lagos to Lokoja.