A former governor of Kogi State, Prince Abubakar Audu, has declared his intention to contest in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the state. The announcement was greeted with delight by many who believe that Prince Audu is the best choice for the state at this time. Here are seven reasons why Audu should once more, occupy the Lugard House.
1. A charismatic leader: Prince Audu, no doubt, has charisma in excess. He commands the respect of his constituency and the attention of the country at large. He never goes unnoticed or gets lost in any crowd, regardless who else might be there. The position of a state governor is not suited to people of middling personality, otherwise, in this age of social media, the governor would end up being only a subject for ridicule and endless memes.
The people need to care enough about its leader to believe in his/her policies. A leader with a personality as Prince Audu’s is able to sell his ideas to the masses and galvanise same for developmental purposes, and he wouldn’t need to try so hard in doing so. In the condition that Kogi state finds itself, it is in dire need of an individual that embodies the authority of office of a state governor. The state could use some of his flair at this time.
2. He is a man of ideas: it takes a creative mind to bring about the type of development Prince Audu brought to Kogi in his earlier term as governor. He doesn’t just imitate existing projects in other states, he brings a fresh perspective to governance. Wherever there may be similarities with projects in other parts of the country, Prince Audu does his bigger and better. Kogi was a relatively young state and thus a fallow land when he became governor, but within a few years, he had transformed it into a hub for development.The good thing is, he promptly translates his ideas into palpable development. At a time when only a few, older states had their own universities, Prince Audu started and completed one of the most prestigious higher institutions in the country, the Kogi State University (KSU), within a year. For this, he is admired by his peers.
I remember, if only vaguely, that after the establishment of KSU, some of his contemporaries paid him courtesy visits to demystify the magic of setting up a university in such a short spate of time. Soon after, many state universities were established. This move by one visionary leader has gone a long way in solving the crisis of inadequate institutions of higher education in the country.
Given another chance, it can only be imagined the innovations Prince Audu would bring to the state.
3. A development enthusiast: records from his tenure as governor show that Prince Audu has a passion for the development of Kogi State. When top-level civil servants who came with their families from Benue and Kwara upon the creation Kogi states were squatting with friends, sleeping in hotels, offices, and even on the streets, Prince Audu, in no time built the extensive Lokongoma Phase 1 housing estate. More estates would follow before the end of his reign.
Over the course of his leadership of the state he founded KSU, Kogi Polythecnic, roads, electrification, Radio Kogi, Graphics newspaper, Stella Obasanjo Library, Confluence Beach Hotel; the list is indeed endless. With the zest with which he went about initiating and implementing projects, it might be said that he has a competitive streak that compels him to outdo his peers. He does things that others only dream of, thereby making governance look easy. It almost seems like he has a wand that he strikes to implement his ideas.
Sadly, the state has fallen into such a pathetic condition that the projects he implemented have been left to ruins, while new ones are hard to come by. His developmental strides, to say the least, have been reversed by subsequent incompetent administrations. Confluence Beach, built to enhance the tourism potential of the confluence of the Benue and Niger rivers, was abandoned, sold, and God what is happening there now; Lugard House is a shadow of itself; Lokoja township roads are full of potholes; and the library is better known as a choice venue for wedding receptions.
4. Non-tolerance for corruption: Prince Audu’s intolerance for corruption and indiscipline is known to all in the state. He is firm without being dictatorial. His commitment to accountability from stakeholders perhaps explains the speed with which projects were completed. Watching the Nigerian Television Authority, Lokoja, in those days, I remember a number of instances when Prince Audu would appear with a media crew at a project site unannounced, to the consternation of defaulting contractors. And he would not be hesitate to upbraid such contractors live on television. He demanded equal level of accountability and professionalism from civil servants.
He ensured that KSU was rid of cultists and their accomplices. To the shock of many, suspected cult members who were expelled in his time were reinstated by subsequent administration, thereby turning the school into a place for all sorts of nefarious acts.
At this time in Nigeria when the Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, known for his strong anti-corruption stance, is coming into power, it would be a blessing to have a person of Prince Audu’s orientation in charge of Kogi State as well.
5. Experienced Administrator: an experienced leader is needed to clean the mess in the state right now. Prince Audu, literally, has been tested and he is trusted. It is pertinent to mention, without delving into his biography, that Prince Audu is an accomplished entrepreneur, a seasoned banker, a former commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning in Benue State, and the first Executive Governor of Kogi State.
In the last decade, Kogi State has perhaps suffered the worst leadership in the country. At this time, the state needs a governor with the personality and ability of Prince Audu, to bring it up to the league of states to be reckoned with in the country.
To say the least, Prince Abubakar Audu is good for Kogi.
The opinions expressed in this article are entirely those of the writer.
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