Kogi guber: Sons of former governors strive to revive fathers’ political base

Mohammed Audu

The sons of two former governors of Kogi State have declared interest to contest the November 16 governorship election in the state.

One of them, Abubakar Idris, whose father, ex-governor Ibrahim Idris ruled the state for nine years, is hoping to fly the ticket of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP), while Muhammed Audu, son of the late Prince Abubakar Audu, a two-time governor and the acclaimed winner of the 2015 governorship election, but died shortly before declaration of the results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is running on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

This development had added an interesting dimension to the gubernatorial race in the state.

While Muhammed Audu feels his late father’s political family has not been fairly treated by Governor Yahaya Bello, who inherited Audu’s votes, others within the group are said to believe that, if the group must regain relevance, another neutral person from the group should be made to take a shot at the governorship position, rather than any of the late Audu’s biological children.

Already, two sons of the late Audu are in the race. The other one is Mustapha Mona Audu.

Observers are wondering whether the former governors’ sons are trying to create dynasties or worse still, struggling to make the state Governor’s office an inheritance.

But speaking recently in Lokoja, Muhammed Audu noted that his interest in the governorship position has nothing to do with making it an inheritance. And not only did he promise to lead the state to prosperity, where infrastructure and human capital development would be given top priority, he also tried convincing the people that his ambition had nothing to do with his late father being a former governor.

Speaking at a media parley, organised by the Kogi State Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), recently, Muhammed stressed that the people of the state had suffered enough under the current administration, and should therefore be given a respite.

He noted that the selection process that threw up Bello, after his father’s demise was faulty, hence the urgent need to salvage the situation.

Admitting that it was not a right as the son of a former governor to contest for the position, he, however, said as a young man, his ambition was to impact the state and the people, just like his father did.

He said: “The processes of election does not give room for dynasty. It is the people that can decide who becomes the next governor of the state. But I have decided to make myself available for the selection process for the election.

“The state has gone through a very high level of decay. We are trying to manage and prevent its complete breakdown….”

He promised to tackle challenges confronting every aspect of the state’s development, including prompt payment of salaries and pensions, as well as rehabilitation of roads, infrastructure, and agricultural development.

Similarly, the son of former Governor Ibrahim Idris came under heavy criticism, with some even alleging that his father was trying to achieve a third term in office.

A PDP member from the Eastern senatorial district, Shaibu Adejoh, said it was immoral for Ibrahim to nominate his son for the election, after spending nine years as governor.

He accused Idris of manipulating the last PDP congress in his favour, to give his son undue advantage at the primary.

According to him, the move would be vehemently resisted, as it was capable of undermining the party’s electoral fortunes.

Some party members also claimed that the senior Idris wanted the Engr. Uhuotu-led executives returned because of his son’s ambition. This, another member confided, was already causing serious disaffection among the aspirants, particularly between Idris’ camp and that of the immediate past Governor, Capt. Idris Wada, who is also in the governorship race.

Although none of them was willing to speak on the matter, some party stakeholders said the activities of the two former Governors were capable of doing collateral damage to the already low rating of the party.

Abubakar Idris, however, described his ambition as personal and self-driven, and that it was not meant to strengthen his father’s political dynasty.

Saying he was proud of his father’s legacy, based on his ‘unparalleled achievements office,’ Abubakar, who spoke through his Media Campaign office, said: “The Confluence State’s political barometre is on the rise. This is hardly a surprise, as the state is in frenzy over the governorship election, scheduled to hold on
November 16…

“It is in that light that one must view the verbal tirade by one Alhaji Kamarudeen Adesoji against the person of former Governor Ibrahim Idris and his son Abubakar Ibrahim going viral on the social media.

“In that article, which started as a satire, but ended as a tragedy,
Kamarudeen accused the former Governor of nepotism, maladministration and is unhappy about his son’s gubernatorial hopes.”

In the said article, Adesoji had accused the older Ibrahim of imposing his son as House of Representatives member and Idris Wada as governor. He also accused Ibrahim Idris of being the arrowhead of every imaginable evil in the state and even blamed him for the leadership failure of both Wada and current Governor Bello.

But Abubakar argued that being the son of a former governor was not enough to prevent him from aspiring to the Governor Office, which was as a result of his “desire to contribute to the development of his fatherland.

“Let it be known, however, that, as that does not run foul of the provisions of our laws, or contradict any moral, cultural and religious principles of our fabrics, no tactics will harass or intimidate him out of the governorship contest.”

He explained that his mission was altruistic and self-conceived. And that his vision was to provide the drive for all Kogites to join hands in rescuing “our state from clueless leadership and drastic disintegration…”

But Abubakar has been trying to refute this allegation at every opportunity. Only recently, he again reiterated in Lokoja that his father was not behind his political ambition, and was not bent on imposing him on the people.

“This is an issue that has been over-flogged,” he said. “At this stage in my life, there is no way my father will impose me on our people. The fact is that I’m eligible to vote and be voted for. Does the Constitution permit me to run for any elective position? Do I have the educational qualification and requirement to contest? Do I have the capacity, credibility to run for the Office of the Governor?

“If the answer to all these is yes, then I don’s see any reason people would think or say that I am being imposed on people by my father or anyone else…”

On why he was running for the governorship position, he said the state had been derailing from set developmental goal. So, he was on a rescue mission.

Reacting to the recent screening by some Igala elders in Kogi East, where he was screened out, Abubakar said the elders had the right to do what they deemed fit.

He said: “With regard to the Igala elders, I come from a place where we don’t disrespect elders, regardless what their decision might be, even though I have my own personal reservations. But I for one will stay focused and continue with my dream of coming to rescue the state from hopelessness. To the best of my knowledge, the party has not disqualified me in any way…”

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