KOGI: AUDU BECKONS
'Today begins the realization of our dream that has been nurtured for many years,' Prince Abubakar Audu two time Governor of Kogi State said penultimate Monday as he bid bye-bye to the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, the platform upon which he rode to occupy the Government House in Lokoja in 1999. His attempts in 2003 and 2007 to use the same platform to establish an encore were frustrated by the stiff machinery of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. His claims of fraud in the two defeats in the hands of outgoing Governor Ibrahim Idris were denied by the courts.
Audu was the first civilian Governor of Kogi State who is well remembered for his visionary instincts in infrastructure development. His first term in office which was nevertheless cut short by the Sani Abacha intervention in 1993 is not counted under the present two-term limit for Governors.
It is perhaps his consideration that his dream for Kogi State remain unfulfilled that has made him to remain a political factor in the Confluence State.
Even while his dreams for Kogi have remained unfulfilled, Audu's hope have been compounded by the collapse of the bed upon which he has been hatching his dream as he revealed that Monday.
'ANPP which I am a founding member of is having epileptic problems taking a step forward and nine steps backward, from nine states to three now. I feel that is not good enough for our people,' Audu said at a mammoth rally in Lokoja where he finally switched over to the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.
Until the event of Monday July 11, 2011, Audu was the governorship candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, in the state, for the March 2012 gubernatorial poll.
He was undoubtedly the single entity upon which the once formidable party was built on in Kogi State. It was as such not surprising that as he bade bye-bye to the party many of the party's enthusiasts and leaders went along with him.
Leading the throng that followed him on that day was the ANPP Chairman, Alhaji Yahaya Faruk apparently leaving the party as an empty shell. Also present were Audu's designated running mate on the platform of the ANPP for the aborted 2011 gubernatorial election, Dr. Moses Wokili. The election was aborted following the controversial court judgment extending the tenure of the Idris administration to 2012.
The election now scheduled for possibly next March could now have Audu flying the flag of the ACN which has lately become the nation's strongest opposition party.
Remarkably, also present at the reception for Audu were two of the governorship aspirants on the platform of the ACN, Chief Rotimi Obadofin and Alhaji Zakari Jiya.
On hand to welcome him into their fold was the ACN national chairman, Chief Bisi Akande who led a strong entourage that included the party's national leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former Governor Segun Osoba of Ogun State, former Governor Niyi Adebayo of Ekiti State, ACN Deputy National Chairman, Mr. Boss Mustapha, National Secretary of the party, Senator Lawal Shuaibu, National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the State Chairman of ACN, Alhaji Hadi Metoh among others.
The ex-governor, while expressing that the party which he was decamping from was heading into oblivion, bemoaned the woes of the PDP-led government in Kogi State. In concord with this, several dignitaries who spoke during the occasion decried the issue of the underdevelopment of the state, by the incumbent PDP administration.
The reality on the ground, they expressed, was that the state is battling with a chronic case of lack of infrastructural facilities and a negligent attitude towards the maintenance of the few existing ones. So, the speakers concluded unanimously that the PDP has no business occupying the Lugard House beyond March 2012. Prince Audu who was pained by what he said was the sad turn of events in the state painted a gory picture of stagnancy in the state and expressed disappointment that there were no new things added to the state in terms of infrastructural development, eight years after he left the office of governor.
Agreeing with him Tinubu, described the performance of the PDP government as dismal and he opined that the country has been facing infrastructural decay in the education, power, health and agriculture sectors.
'PDP government has shown Nigerians their failure for not providing basic infrastructure to the people. Electricity is the most important discovery, a propeller of every nation, yet, we cannot enjoy it. Isn't this enough to send them packing?' he asked.
Tinubu, while challenging the youths to mobilize for Audu's candidature in the forthcoming election, vowed further that the ACN will not only take over Kogi but will also take Benue and Kwara states in the near future.
Charging the electorate to be conscious and ready for the battle ahead, he said, 'but we cannot take over verbally. We have to use our strength and efforts to claim these states and to save the people and the state from total collapse.'
The climax of the event was the handing over of the ACN manifesto and constitution as well as the symbol of the party to Prince Abubakar Audu by the National Chairman.
ANPP Chairman, Alhaji Yahaya Faruk, Audu's running mate, Dr. Moses Wokili, ACN Deputy National Chairman, Mr. Boss Mustapha, National Secretary of the party, Senator Lawal Shuaibu and National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed amongst others.