Lessons from Audu’s sacrifice for power shift
Whether it was a campaign of gimmick or that born out of genuine intention to assuage the frayed nerves of the people of Kogi West and Central senatorial districts over their long standing agitation for them to be given a chance to lead the State, it was actualized in his death.
Audu never spared any opportunity at his rallies across the two senatorial districts to drum home his determination to be the first to make power shift possible.
Though the leaders from the two districts took Audu’s promise as a story to be told to the marines because of his antecedents some were still hopeful.
It is not news that Kogi East dominated by the Igala speaking ethnic extraction have been calling the shots and clinging to power since the creation of the State for which Audu was the greatest beneficiary.
Audu had recorded many firsts in his political life; he was the first executive Governor of the State, when he won election in November 1991 on the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC). He was subsequently sworn in as the first executive governor of Kogi state in January 1992.
In 1998, democracy was re-introduced and Audu, now with the All People’s Party (APP), was elected again with over 700,000 votes while his opponent hardly recorded 50% of the vote cast. He was sworn in on 29 May 1999 as the 2nd Executive Governor of Kogi State.
Hence during the zonal rally for Kogi West at the demonstration Primary School ground he reiterated his determination to be the first to actualize the process that will ensure power is shifted to either Okun or Ebira land in 2019 if he was elected. He stated that the Igalas had benefited enough adding that it was time to allow their other brothers have a taste power.
He went down memory lane to recall the brotherhood that the three senatorial districts shared in Kwara State where they lived together for 75years when none could aspire to be Governor. Audu indicated they all suffered marginalization together the taste of which was very bitter for all then.
The late APC candidate also recalled the sojourn of the Igalas in Benue where they were also denied the opportunity to lead the State describing it as very bitter experience, which he said, should not be meted out to other people.
According to him, “In 2019 Okun or Ebira man would rule the State because if I talk to the Igalas they would listen, but if Governor Idris Wada talk to them they would not listen, if former Governor Ibrahim Idris talk to them they would not listen but if Buhari talk to them they would listen but not Jonathan.”
However he indicated that the issue of power shift can only be achieved through negotiation and not by violence.
As if tailoring his energy towards the vexed issue of power rotation when he won the primary election, during his acceptance speech he praised the runner up Alhaji Yahaya Bello (now his replacement and Governor elect) for his spirit of sportsmanship and his doggedness in the contest. This may have confirmed Bello’s standpoint when he said his emergence was an act of God.
Audu had quickly embraced and interacted with Bello who he said impressed him a lot. This was happening when more than 20 of the 27 other aspirants who contested the primary along with him left the Confluence stadium even before the final results were declared.
Speaking further on Bello, Audu enthused “I stay with him after four years I can go and rest. He said he was proud of Yahaya Bello adding that he would be a reliable successor.
Bello who spoke on behalf of all the other contestants said they actually wanted a generational change but since the leader had won they would wait for the next four years.
According to him, “We craved for generational change today under our great party and under a transparent and very free and very fair process we have a winner of the contest.”
“By the special grace of God we shall work in harmony with APC because it is a great party we shall continue to be together to ensure that victory is ours on the 21st of November this year. We wish that our leader would carry all of us along and together we shall send PDP out of Kogi.
He congratulated the winner whom he referred to as father and leader believing that after the next four years he will remember that he had his son of high character and probity who was ready to take over from him by the special grace of God.
The four years plan has turned to be the very tenure Audu was gunning for and in the wisdom of APC his wish was almost being accomplished even though the rival Peoples Democratic Party see the victory as a pyrrhic one.
But the Governor-elect in the just concluded Kogi State Governorship election Alhaji Yahaya Bello had explained why he accepted to replace the late candidate of APC, Prince Abubakar Audu as act of obedience to party supremacy even as he insisted Falake’s position, as running mate was not affected.
Bello who spoke to newsmen in reaction to his victory as the winner of the supplementary election said Faleke remains the deputy Governor-elect, as the position was never vacant. In his words, “The former candidate of the party died. INEC requested the party to substitute, and I was chosen to fill the gap. The space of the running mate was never vacant, so if I am chosen to run on that platform, I don’t think I have any choice.
“So if I respond to run on that platform, I don’t think I have any choice but to respect the decision of the party.” Bello said his reaction to the results was that of ecstasy and jubilation. However he said the jubilation was low keyed because of the loss of late Prince Abubakar Audu whom he described as their great leader even as he prayed for his soul to rest in peace.
On those who might refer to him as Governor-elect of supplementary election he said as a party man who was chosen by the party, “All votes cast in the election are for the party. “So I cannot be said to be a governor of a supplementary election.”
He said he had a blueprint in line with the party manifesto to put the state on developmental map adding that he will make sure that there was justice, fairness and equity in the distribution of resources across the state.
To clear the air on insinuations that he worked against the success of the party he said, “I never worked against the party. It is a party I labored for. It is a party I spent fortune on. It is a party I spent a lot of time building.”
He said his emergence came from the fact that he was runner up in the primary saying that after the death of their great leader, it was just normal for the party to return to the party and pick the runner-up, stressing: “I am happy with the choice of the party.”