Abubakar Audu’s many problems
Abubakar Audu conceived of a cement factory in Obajana. It is to his credit that the idea was taken over by the industrialist, Aliko Dangote and today Obajana Cement is one of the biggest cement companies in the world. But people conversant with the Audu persona recall how the former governor allegedly bagged cement from another company outside the state with Obajana Cement’ printed on it and brought same to the Lokoja Township Stadium for launching with fanfare. This was at a time when not a single tree had been uprooted from the site where Obajana Cement was supposed to be located.
Some of Audu’s electoral burdens have psychological foundation.
During his two previous adventures in power, he ruled like an emperor and saw the state as an extension of his fiefdom. He was notorious for his pomposity and outright disdain for others. As a governor, lesser human beings including his commissioners and other top functionaries of government cringed in his presence. They dare not sit whenever the emperor was on the throne. People were just expected to crawl before him and to obey him.
The prince of the Niger and the Benue was most insensitive to the people he led. He talked down on people, At the height of his rule, Audu boasted that his party, the then Nigeria People’s Party, NPP would rule the Confluence State for a minimum of 25 years. However, the people’s verdict was louder. In the 2003 governorship election, Kogites rejected him as king when they voted for a politically neophyte Ibrahim Idris. Four years later, Idris repeated his humiliation. Again, in 2011, the humble pie was forced down the throat of Audu.
The former banker also carries a deeper sorrow from his sojourn in Lugard House. He is thought to have also helped himself from the common till. His knack for development came with a big price for the communal purse. He was accused of stealing about 12 billion Naira from the state’s revenue. Audu dribbled the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC for years until its operatives waylaid and caught him on a street in Jos, the Plateau State capital. He was handcuffed and subsequently arraigned at a court in Lokoja. Proceeds from his looting spree were said to have been used to acquire eye popping property in Potomac USA, Dubai, Abuja and other places. He is still standing trial over the matter.
Has the former governor learnt his lessons? Not likely. Two weeks ago, while returning from a trip abroad, a large number of supporters were mobilized to Jama’ata bridge where they waited several hours for Audu. The long wait was said to have taken a toll on the health of an aged man who collapsed and was rushed to a nearby hospital for revival. Recently, a reporter was reprimanded for having the effrontery to sit on the dining table in Audu’s Ogbonicha country home.
Audu is a notable politician with insatiable thirst for power. He is a man of uncommon taste for development. He is the father of Kogi State. He likes to be seen as the symbol of Kogi’s development. But he has the tendencies of misappropriating state funds as is evidenced by his travails at the EFCC.
Usman Mohammed, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, LapaiNiger State, 07060815443, usmanmohammed117@ gmail.com