AUDU’S DECISION TO QUIT POLITICS:
After successive electoral loses which I will rather refer to as electoral misfortunes, my then political friend, Late Prince Abubakar Audu decided to quit politics. He went to America after the lost court case with the determination in his heart. He was an entrepreneur and an investor with foresight, why would he not devote enough time to his entrepreneurial spirit, he reasoned.
But I will in a political wilderness! I was threading a political path, supporting someone I trusted to implement my blue print for Kogi State and all of a sudden, the vision fizzled out with his decision to quit politics. I was not having a fall back option on anybody probably because of my limited knowledge on the people within the political space. The only person my hope was hinged upon decided to quit politics! How would I move forward to actualize my objective? I was in a state of dilemma indeed!
I decided to trace the Prince to his Glen Road Potomac residence, Maryland in the United States to try to convince him not to quit politics. I spent some days with him in his residence before moving back to Jacksonville, Florida, my usual place of abode. My joy knew no bounds when the Prince heeded my advice which I considered as a mark of humility on his own part and an honour extended to me.I returned back to Nigeria to start another round of subtle ward-to-ward and developmental campaign in earnest in Kogi Central in preparation for another gubernatorial election that was still far away.
HOW I BECAME DEPUTY TO THE LATE AUDU:
The 2011 general elections came and by this time all the political heavy weights in Kogi Central had decamped from ACN to PDP but the ANPP was still intact and even became stronger. I did not rest in campaigning in Kogi Central even after the Audu lost the court case in the election that Ohiare was involved. As the election drew near, Audu approached me to be his Deputy and again I rejected the offer on the ground that I was sticking to the agreement we had at Obonicha on the very first day that I met with him.
I called the meeting of my supporters and tasked them to nominate one among them who I would present to Audu as his Deputy for his consideration. In unanimity, they insisted that I should rather take up the position, with a singular reason that anyone so chosen among them would at the end disappoint the group and ended up being at loggerhead with me. They cited the animosity that existed between Phillip Salawu and the Late Senator Ahmed to buttress their point.
They threatened to abandon me for another leader if I refused to be the Deputy to Audu. They were in politics for personal and community gains which they thought I could provide on equitable and fair basis if and when in power according to their reasoning. When I saw that my supporters were adamant with the attendant danger of abandoning the ship for another leader, I had no option other than to reluctantly take up the post as Deputy to Audu. Audu was pleasantly surprised when my supporters met and told him of my readiness to become his Deputy. Effectively, I had become the Deputy and was only waiting for official procedure of primary where Audu would be affirmed as the flag bearer of the ANPP.
It was at this stage that I registered with ANPP as a member and subsequentl yregistered as a voter. All this while, I was neither a member of any political party nor a registered voter! We went for primary affirmation and Audu emerged as the flag bearer of the party and my name was thereafter submitted to and accepted by INEC as Audu’s Deputy after going through all the formalities.
OUR CAMPAIGN TRAIL TO KOGI WEST & KOGI EAST:
Before the decampment of politicians from other parties, the major campaign works were already done. These people decamped just few weeks to the election. My ward campaign tour in the 57 wards in Kogi Central became a standard for the ANPP to copy and the late Prince implored me to replicate same in the other two senatorial districts of the State.
A tour campaign committee headed by my humble self was created by Prince and he released the funds for the ward-toward campaign in both the Western and Eastern Senatorial districts. I never touched the money released, rather another person was given the responsibility to hold, disburse as might be necessary and then accounted for the cash at the end of the campaign. All the expenses for the campaign were from the funds released by Prince EXCEPT my personal expenses (hotel and feeding) which were directly borne by me. Just like what my supporters &I did in Kogi Central, the committee gathered and talked to people in all the 96 wards in Kogi East and 85 wards in Kogi West senatorial districts.
We spent more than three weeks in the campaign trail before returning back to Lokoja. The members in the committee were very dedicated, selfless and wining the elections informed their personal sacrifices in one form or the other. These included Hon Yakubu Anape from Ankpa who was also spending his money to the people as the assured Senatorial candidate, respected elder statesman Dr. Imam from Kogi West, another respected elder Dr. David Attah from the East, the then party state Chairman and others too numerous to mention here including women. You people made the campaign a huge success and you were the real heroes and heroines! These ward-to-ward tours together with my deputy governorship to Audu, made me to cultivate political friendship across the three senatorial districts of the state, an asset I still cherish till date.
DECAMPMENT OF POLITICIANS TO ANPP:
Many politicians who could not secure tickets for election decamped to ANPP after they failed in the PDP primary. These included the then sitting Senator Ohize, Halims from Kogi East, Attai Idoko, Dino Melaye, Hon. Enesi, and others. They were given automatic tickets by Prince Audu to contest the elections.
I did not entirely agree with what Audu did. Like the case of Honourable Yakubu Anape of Ankpa who was a member of my committee that toured the whole wards in Kogi East. Yakubu Anape was introduced to the people as our Senatorial Candidate and was later dropped for Atai Iddoko for political expediency without minding the attendant political injuries to the gentle man! My private protest went unheard. I warned my party not to be introducing aspiring candidates to the people except we were sure they would never be dropped to avoid afflicting collateral damages on their personalities and integrity.
WHY I INSISTED TICKETS SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN TO OHIZE & ENESI:
I came into politics for the sole reason of the emancipation of the poor and to create enabling environment for individuals to grow according to their own God given gifts without having to lobby anyone, especially the talented, educated but jobless youth. A society that is driven by the rule of law which places all citizens under its umbrella irrespective of their social, political and financial status; where women are treated as equals to the men and the rights of the children are guaranteed.
A society where the elderlies, those vulnerable, the weak, socially disadvantaged people, the physically challenged and the less-privileged are assisted by the state through some kind of social welfare program coupled with their possible engagement on suitable work/trade to enable them live like human beings, and yet without sacrificing their human dignity through promotion of laziness and their perpetual dependence. There is a need to strike a balance! These lofty dreams would certainly be a mirage in the absence of peace. Kogi Central had the ignoble reputation of being a hotbed of violence and the so-called ‘thugs’ who called themselves freedom fighters were the masters of the society, sponsored by politicians across party divides.
I reasoned that since development and emancipation of the poor would be elusive as long as violence persisted, I therefore, devised a strategy never to support anyone with antecedence of violence for any elective position. I thought that the power and influence of such people to sustain violence would be highly depleted if they were kept out of the corridors of power as long as violence persisted in the society. This strategy became my operational PRINCIPLE not subject to negotiation. To me, political parties are formed to serve the interests of the society and not the other way round!
My misunderstanding with Prince started when he wanted to give tickets to certain people I considered morally ineligible to contest elections in ANPP. These people were principally my Late In-law Ohize and Enesi of Adavi. Most of their supporters wrongly thought I hated the two personalities and I wondered why they could not understand my simple logic!
My opposition to their tickets was absolutely fearless, unambiguous, open, sustained with all vehemence and clearly known to them and their supporters. My main reason of opposing their tickets was partly the same reason I did not support my Cousin Ohiare when he wanted to contest against Audu for governorship. So, the adopted principle was without any sort of malice but purely for the societal interests even at my own political detriment and set back! But who cares!!
I took time to explain to Audu the basis of my objection. Instead of faulting my reasons with countersuperior reasons, he just declared: “I use my veto power to give them the tickets” and my reply was “consider the National Assembly elections lost in Kogi central because I will certainly work for other candidates to achieve my objective of eliminating violence. Kogi East cannot be relatively peaceful and then you will expect me to spend my time and money to sustain violence in my own area.”
The Prince did not only gave them the tickets, they were also given free reign by Audu to replace many candidates who had already secured tickets in our party with their candidates even for the State Assembly elections without the consent of the legitimate candidates! These candidates were INEC recognized and substitution clause was being invoked by the party to make the changes possible. I think politics should be played with some level of morality! They could be changed to win election but it should be with their absolute consent accompanied with tangible promises and credible compensation packages.
THE INTERVENTION OF HIS MAJESTY OHINOYI & THE LATE ETUDAIYE:
Audu enlisted the intervention of my most respected uncle and king, the Ohinoyi and the late respected leader Etudaiye. The Ohinoyi called me on two different occasions andspoke with me. On the very eave of the election proper, His Majesty called my group and that of Enesi to his palace and instructed me and my supporters to work for Enesi and Ohize. What I told His Majesty and Etudaiye was like this:
“Sir with all due respect, why do you think I hate Enesi and Ohize. You people are creating problems between Ohize/Enesi and I. You can only settle people who are quarrelling. Ask them if there exists any quarrel between us. Most of you (popular elders)could not stay in Ebirraland for the fear of being killed. Many houses were burnt and the number of orphans and widows increased. Many promising young people were deceived into violence and generations were lost through such violence. The step I am taking is purely in societal interest and I have no house at home that can be burnt and no members of my immediate family can be killed as all of us don’t stay at home.
I believe no development is ever possible in the midst of violence. I see this election as a rare and great opportunity to secure peace by excluding from governance anyone who ever participated in violence for whatever reason, knowing that power is a great tool that can be deployed for institution of peace or violence. This is the ONLY reason that informed my decision about them and it has become my guiding principle. Ohize and Enesi are just unfortunate that they are victims of this principle. I could have acted precisely in the same manner even if you people or my biological parents were involved. I am voting against violence and NOT against anyone as a matter of principle.
I am too small to disobey your instruction but precious lives are involved in this matter and I want to be convinced with superior reasons why I should change my decision. I want to be convinced why the basis of my decision is wrong. The target is not the personalities involved. The same reason partly informed my decision not to support Ohiare, my cousin when he was to contest election against Audu to govern the state. How can one ever imagine that I can hate even my own relation or in-law or anyone for that matter except that I am constrained to have the societal interests supersede that of anyone including me.
You need to know that I recognize and appreciate Ohize as one of the best Chairmen that ever superintended Okene L.G.A. in terms of infrastructural development. After he left the government as the Local Government Chairman, I went to his house to appreciate him for his achievements but he was not at home. That is to say that I have no any personal quarrel with him. Whatever step I am taking is to make sure that peace returned to Ebirraland and I feel the best method is exclusion of people identified with violence from governance for the time being. This principle will not have any basis for application if the next election takes place when violence is consigned to history and in such circumstance, I can work for them.”
At the end of the discussion, I was not equipped with superior reasons by anyone that could have made me to jettison my decision. From the palace, I summoned my supporters to Hill Top Hotel and counselled them on the need to vote for Deen for Senate and Abdulrahman for House of Rep. I called Abdulrahman who I never met in my life before then to introduce him to my supporters. I could not get hold of Deen(someone I had never met in life by then) and yet I told my supporters to vote for him. These two people won their elections.We did not vote for these persons, we only voted against violence or voted for peace and they were just fortunate to be the beneficiaries.
This narrative remains what it is, a historical narrative. It is never designed to paint anyone in bad colours or apportion blame for any past events. Neither is it designed to dress anybody in good attires. The people referred to here are great leaders in their own rights and might have been victims of power play and took the actions they took for self-defence or self-survival. Whatever the cause might be, it is not up to me to judge anyone but at the same time, I think my right to choose a particular action to solve a peculiar problem ought to be equally respected and not judged with harshness.
There are pertinent questions that may be racing through the minds of the readers: Does that mean Moses Wokili will never support anyone in any election whoever had hands in violence? Why was Moses Wokili “rude” to elders as represented by Ohinoyi and Etudaiye by not heeding to their instructions? Goods questions! You are in order to have entertained such puzzles in your mind.
If there is currency of violence at any period of election, I will certainly not support any violent person for the simple reason that such person if elected will be so equipped with power, money and influence to sustain his violent instincts. BUT in a period of peace, the only consideration for my probable support is the person’s inclination to development as might be proved by his past performance and antecedents, even if the person had violent records in the past. This is because in as much as the person will bring development, it will be difficult for him to enact violence because the society has already embraced peace and will reject violent offers from the elected person.
In time of peace, on the basis of objectivity and just for illustration purposes, people like Karaku and Ohize (who had never once been my political friends) can earn my support (if the persons contesting against them in my party are not better) because these two former Local Government Chairmen performed exceptionally well in terms of infrastructural development even when the revenue was low and in the midst of violence. It is most unfortunate that the period Ohize got ticket in our party against my counsel, was at the period when violence was high and the prospect of continuation of violence was almost certain if any of such leaders got elected.
Answering the second question, I was never and will never be rude to my elders because it is contrary to the way I was brought up by my parents. To me, rudeness is not defined by polite decline to carry out instructions that I humbly consider to be potentially injurious to the society. People who know me will confess that I still kneel down to greet those older than me despite the fact that I have become an elder by all African standards at age 58 years. I was in politics spending my hard earned money to achieve my objectives for the society. I did not collect any dime from anyone and I consider it unfair principally to my God, conscience and the society if I should engage actions that are detrimental to the interests of the society.
Rudeness has no place in my life. What I wanted were just simple superior reasons to knockout the basis of my decision which were not forthcoming from those who wanted to “settle me and Ohize/Enesi” when no quarrel ever existed between us! To me it is better to displease myself and any individuals in the world than to displease my God, conscience and the general society! It is my candid opinion that what I did is not regrettable and it was in the interests of even those who thought I worked against them. If violence continued unabated, who could guarantee that the people couldn’t have been consumed by the inferno of violence?
As I always say, I am not a politician in the Nigerian sense of it because you can always rely on my words and promises and I will never change on any agreement that I may have with anybody. Predictability which is absent in the life of politicians is very much my own virtue. If you want us to start a political journey, let us spell out and mutually agree on the terms at the beginning and you will always find me constant on all issues so agreed upon. I am not and will never be a chameleon or vanish into thin air when you need me most along the turbulent journey infested with political lions and boars!
MY MONETARY CONTRIBUTION IN THE 2011 GENERAL ELECTIONS:
All other elections were held except that of gubernatorial election which the court postponed for another one year on the ground that the then Governor Ibro had an extended tenure of one year. The court injunction came just few days to the election. Despite my awareness as the Deputy to Audu, that the gubernatorial election would not be taking place, it did not stop me from pursing my vision for the society. For that election alone, I contributed N30m cash which Prince mandated me to dedicate to Kogi Central, out of which N3.5m was given to each person from Kogi Central that contested in the National and State Assembly elections except Ohize and Enesi which I refused to give. It was a contribution to whatever budget they might have budgeted for their individual elections. Other logistics for the elections were taken care of by me.
MY RELATIONSHIP WITH ACN:
Before the next gubernatorial election, virtually all the ACN political heavy weights in Central like the late Senator Ohize, Senator Ohiare, Hon. A. K. Salihu, Hon. Sule Kokori and others were no more with ACN. All of them decamped to PDP while Audu was in court in the failed election where ANC and ANPP formed an alliance with the sole purpose of defeating the PDP. That was after Ohiare was the Deputy to Audu and before I became Deputy to Audu. ACN became an orphan over night with virtually no sponsor of their activities. This led to my romance with ACN party with Alhaji Hadi Ametuo as the State Chairman and I consequently became one of the sponsors of their activities in Central.
As another election was approaching, there were only two strong parties in Kogi State then, namely the PDP and ANPP as a result of the decampment of the political prominent figures in ACN to PDP. Alh. Hadi Ametuo was the State party Chairman of the ACN and a man from Kogi Central. I was romancing with ACN for strategic political reasons so as to have leverage on them for possible support for Audu.
THE NEAR DECAMPMENT OF ACN TO ANPP IN KOGI CENTRAL:
Using my leverage on the Kogi Central ACN, I convinced many of the party officials from Central with the exception of few of them like the State Chairman, the need to decamp from their party to ANPP. The objection of Hadi and a few other party officials was understood. For him to decamp as a State Chairman of a party to another party where he was not sure of becoming the State Chairman was clearly appreciated. I mobilized multitude of Kogi Central ACN members to Obonicha to pay allegiance to Audu and where majority expressed their readiness to decamp to ANPP. It was a mammoth crowd indeed! Some especially among the ACN officials objected to the decampment but rather suggested an alliance but majority were ready for outright decampment. The ACN in Kogi East was ready to decamp enmass.
DECAMPMENT OF ANPP TO ACN:
A Divine insight which dictated that Kogi State ANPP should rather decamp to ANC aborted the earlier arrangement. My earlier efforts to make ACN decamp to ANPP were based on physical analysis of events. I personally believe that one needs in all human endeavours, Divine insights for direction on sensitive and crucial matters of life, instead of human decision premised on analysis of physical events using physical senses.
I went to Prince Audu and sold the idea of decamping to ACN. Apart from being a Divine insight, I reasoned that though ACN was near extinction in Kogi State, it commanded more acceptability nationwide and populated by more political heavy weights at the national level than ANPP at that time. The Prince reasoned with me and we decided to decamp to ACN. I wish to debunk one notion about the late Price that he was cocky and would not listen to people or suggestions. I wish to differ! He would change his decisions if only you were able to proffer superior arguments, especially if his interests would be served and goal achieved. The case of changing party which was initiated by me and accepted by him is a pointer in this direction.
In any case, the Late Prince and I went to meet Asiwaju Tinubu and finalized our decampment to the party and from there went to the village home of His Excellency Bisi Akande for the same purpose. I wish to say that the ANPP State party officials were lividly angry with me accusing me of the brain behind Audu’s decampment to ACN. Some of the ANPP officials understandably did not decamp as they were bound to lose their party positions.
At the time of decampment, Audu was one of the most important financiers of ANPP at the national level and of course the ‘owner’ of ANPP in Kogi State. With the decampment, the ANPP at the national level was tragically weakened and wounded while ANPP in Kogi went into coma. To me, the soul and the spirit of ANPP decamped to ACN with Audu, leaving the empty shell body of ANPP hanging out there. Therefore, if the present APC is majorly a marriage between ACN and ANPP (CPC was an offshoot of ANPP); and Audu carried the soul and spirit of ANPP to ACN with his decampment, can it be arguably concluded that the spirit and soul of APC was borne the very day Audu decamped to ACN, only that the amalgamation was not christened ‘APC’ on that day? Could it be also reasoned that the strategic decampment of Audu to ACN was so injurious to ANPP that it was only a matter of time for ANPP to merge with ACN? Just thinking aloud!
THE WRONG TIMING OF DECAMPING TO ACN:
When God gives instruction, it will be with details for obedience, in most cases without reasons adduced. I told the Late Price that the timing of the decampment would be just before the next election (say one to two months to the elections) and must never be at any other time. He made a tragic mistake by taking immediate steps to decamp. I could hardly finish my discussion with him before he took his phone and called Asiwaju Tinubu and Bisi, the then National Chairman of ACN of our intention to decamp to their party! I knew with the steps taken we had already disobeyed God and no disobedience could lead to success! I was not happy!! You will know more in this regard in part 4.
Well, we had rightly joined ACN but at a wrong time. The party at the State became a serious threat to the ruling PDP. Every major political event in the state that could sway the voting pattern of the people were in favour of ACN while acrimony and strife was brewing within PDP state government and the relationship between the government and workers was at the lowest ebb. The party became strongest when many PDP stalwarts like Dino Melaye, Attai Idoko, Halims, and many others who failed in their primaries decamped to ACN with the hope of securing ACN tickets to contest.The Late Senator Ohize and Enesi were implicitly still in ACN with the decampment of Audu to ACN. Indeed ACN from physical analysis was the party to form the next government in Kogi State. But alas, the dream crash landed due to acts of providence if I may proffer. See you in the next part!
PART 4 AND OTHER PARTS TO CONTINUE ……………. (My being Dropped as Deputy to Audu while in ACN, Audu’s visit to my house in Kaduna for reconciliation, subsequent huge failure from the expected electoral victory, my contest for the 2015 Senatorial election, my parting ways politically with the Prince before his most unfortunate death, your probable questions, reasons for the narratives etc).
https://web.facebook.com/moses.wokili ( to read parts 1 & 2)
– Dr Moses Wolkili