Only Few of Us From Lokoja Were Loyal to Prince Abubakar Audu in 1992 – NUJ Vice Chairman

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Comrade Abubakar Sule Hussain is a journalist and unionist. He is the current Vice Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Kogi State Council. Comrade Abubakar bares his mind on how the late Prince Abubakar Audu was convinced in 1991 to join politics and Audu’s reign as commissioner for finance in the old Benue state.

Excerpt:

Since when did you know the late Prince Audu?

I got to know about the former Governor between 1987 to 1990 when he was commissioner for finance in the old Benue state. As at then, I was staying with my uncle, late Alhaji Mohammed Sanusi, who was appointed as the commissioner for local government and chieftaincy matters in the same cabinet.

Our official residence was adjacent to that of Prince Audu, in the same commissioners quarters in Makurdi. Prince Audu was never a rubber stamp commissioner but a super commissioner. Other appointees in the administration of the Military Governor Jonah Jang takes instruction from him. He was the closest ally of the Jang right from Benue to the time of his death. I have known Audu as far back as 1987, before creation of Kogi state. The younger brother of the then Auditor General, Mr Dan Ameh, who is a senior nurse at FMC Lokoja can testify to this.

Prince had always been loved by the people from his old days in Benue state, especially for the road construction he influenced in the current eastern senatorial district of Kogi state while serving as commissioner. That gave him an edge over other people seeking to be governor when Kogi was created.

How did Prince Audu emerge as the first civilian governor of Kogi State?

It is a good story but long to narrate. In brief; when the state was created in 1991, I became the public relations officer (PRO) of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in Lokoja local government area. Mr Emmanuel Benjamin, now a senior staff of INEC, was the state PRO andAlhaji A.K. Mohammed was the state secretary. Alhaji Musa Etudaiye was the state chairman. These were my bosses and they deserve my everlasting respect.

Prince Audu’s emergence as governor was not turbulent as expected because the opposing party, Social Democratic Party (SDP) was in crisis over who picks its governorship ticket unlike NRC that was very peaceful in the choice of candidate to contest the gubernatorial election. When the NRC stakeholders considered the array of weak aspirants contesting the seat, the elders inaugurated a committee to look inward for a competent and sellable candidate. A delegation of five wise men were sent to meet with Prince Abubakar Audu to persuade and woo him to accept to contest the governorship seat under the platform of NRC, even though Audu was then the Executive Director of FSB Bank in Abuja. The delegation to Prince Audu returned with a positive report after two visits to him. There was jubilation everywhere in the city of Lokoja and in the eastern part of the state.

The first coming of Audu saw we the youth mobilized to Jamata to receive the expected candidate of our party. That was the beginning of mobilizing crowd to Jamata to welcome personalities into Lokoja town.

 

However, only a few of us, youths from Lokoja were loyal and committed to Prince Audu in 1992.

How did Audu emerge?

Prince Audu won as the first executive Governor of Kogi state with overwhelming votes spread across the state. The opposition SDP was enmeshed in crisis over who picks the ticket. There were stories of attacks, acid bath and other terrible things that distracted their general campaigns, while Audu’s NRC was busy campaigning and had an easy ride to victory.

What happened after Prince Audu’s victory in 1992?

Many of our people who knew Audu never doubted his capability and competence. The party was very proud of having him as governor. He surprised everybody, including those in the opposition (SDP) and many defected to NRC, but the military coup in 1993 terminated the administration that was generally loved by Kogi citizens.

Again, in 1998, the political horse trading started and myself, FAB Amuda Dan Sulaiman and some few youth initiated a movement, ‘Kogi Earnestly Ask for Prince Audu’s Return’, and we printed several posters and leaflets. We established a news magazine called ‘Kogi Watch’ to propagate Audu’s return to power and God answered our prayers, he won in 1999.

Who in Kogi today has similar traits as Prince Audu?

The chairman, Kogi State ALGON, Alhaji Taufiq Isa. I served Prince Audu since the creation of Kogi state and know much about him. Alhaji Taufiq Isa is obviously versed ‘Auduism’ and has adopted his style to succeed in politics.




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