It appear to be a growing political battle within the family of the late former governor of Kogi State, Prince Abubakar Audu, ahead of the August 29 primary elections of the APC for the Kogi gubernatorial election.
While they all agree that Gov. Yahaya Bello should not get another chance for a second term, it is evident that they could not put forward a single force to checkmate him. Three members of the late Prince Audu family are already locked in a fierce contest to obtain the ruling party’s ticket ahead of the November 16 governorship election in the state.
The three family members of the late former governor who have indicated their interests to pick the party’s ticket include the eldest son, Mohammed Audu; his younger brother, Mustapha Mona Audu and a brother of the former governor, Prince Yahaya Audu.
Already, Mona Audu and Prince Yahaya Audu have picked their forms ahead of the primary while Mohammed Audu is most likely to pick his before the closing date of August 20. Daily Trust on Sunday reports that the APC’s nomination and expression of interest forms for the Kogi governorship election cost N22.5 million. This implies that the party would have at the end of the day raked about N67.5 million from the Audus family alone. Amongst other aspirants who have also bought the APC’s forms ahead of the party’s primary include incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello; a former Director General of NASRDA, Prof. Seidu Mohammed Ogah; Sports Administrator, Alhaji Sani Lulu Abdullahi and former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Jibrin Usman. Audu, who was the first civilian governor of Kogi State and APC flag bearer in the November 21, 2015 governorship election in the state died while coasting home to victory in the contest. He had polled 240,867 votes while Captain Idris Wada, the then incumbent governor, who contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scored 199,514 to come second. However, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the election inconclusive because of the margin of votes between the late Audu and Wada which was 41,353. Eventually, the APC settled for Alhaji Yahaya Bello as its replacement for the late Audu whose death became public shortly after the election was declared inconclusive. The sudden death of the political icon while on the verge of victory came as a rude shock to his immediate family, political family, friends and associates. Perhaps, the passion to reclaim the mandate of the late former governor who could not live to enjoy the fruits of his labour might have sparked high level interests amongst his immediate family members ahead of the November 16 governorship election. For now, it is evident there is a wide gulf as everyone feels he is best suited to fill the vacuum left by their torch-bearer. Besides, the alleged sidelining of the Audu’s immediate/political family by the incumbent governor who benefitted from the political struggles of the former governor is also said to be responsible for the level of interest being shown by the family members. The three Audu’s are also said to be leveraging on the strong political influence and goodwill of the late Audu to oil the wheel of their political ambitions. But the fact that three members of the Audu family are gunning for the APC governorship ticket from the incumbent has got many people talking. How the trio intend to actualise their tall political aspirations still remains a mystery. Many political observers in the state are of the view that the Audus should have presented one person and use the remaining resources to prosecute the family’s political aspiration. It is still not clear if there will be any political realignment amongst the Audus to perhaps, better their outing at the primary. The Audus have been talking tough and exuding confidence of emerging victorious to continue the vision of the late Abubakar Audu for Kogi State. They are particularly not happy that the incumbent governor who “inherited” their father/brother’s votes had allegedly failed the people of the state. Prince Yahaya Audu He is a brother of the late Prince Audu and he is said to be a strong brain behind some of the legacy projects and achievements recorded by the former governor while he was in saddle of the state. Although the 60-year-old United Kingdom-trained chartered accountant has not held any previous political position, he strongly believes he is best suited for the post. He contested for the Kogi East senatorial ticket under the platform of the APC during the last general election but couldn’t actualise that aspiration. On what prompted him to be governor, Yahaya said, “I want to say that Kogi State has arguably recorded the worst performance in terms of provision of infrastructure, welfare of workers and general governance in the present dispensation. “In fact, the performance of the present administration is so bad that a political analyst once described it as the “youngest political disappointment in Nigeria’s political history.” According to him, “As the people prepare to go to the polls in a few months to elect someone who would steer the affairs of the state for the next four years, there is a general consensus that there should be a new person who has a history of excellence and a clear vision of how to take the state from the dungeon and set it on a pedestal of recognizable development, tapping from the enormous resources of the state to restore it to its once enviable position. “I have the capacity to govern the state and have an unwavering loyalty to the masses that definitely guarantees a people-oriented and masses-focused administration in the state,” he said. Mohammed Audu Although he has not held any political position prior to this time, Mohammed said he had learned the ropes from his father and intends to surpass his achievements in the state. Mohammed Audu while speaking on his motivation for the Number One position of the state, premised it on alleged poor governance under the Bello-led government. “The decay in the system is very enormous. We moved from a situation where we cannot provide viable and quality infrastructure for the people to where we cannot pay the salaries of workers. “There are no more agricultural potentialities in the state and viable private sector. Everything seems very chaotic, every day you hear of protests, killings, kidnappings and suicide attempts. “There is no well-meaning person that will sit down and watch his people suffering and wallowing in abject poverty for no reason. The state in meant to be the richest in the northern part of Nigeria because we have abundant mineral resources of different kinds,” he said. Mohammed is however advocating the adoption of direct primary for the governorship election to allow all aspirants to test their popularity before the people. “I personally think that the present government is afraid of opening the process of selection and that is why they have chosen to go by the way of indirect primary,” he said. Mustapha Mona Audu For his part, the young Mona Audu has also boasted of wresting power from incumbent governor Yahaya Bello come November 16. Mona, like Mohammed has equally not held any political position before now but he is very confident of defeating Bello. His billboards, posters, banners and branded vehicles can be seen across Lokoja. He has also held rally in the state and has been granting series of press interviews regarding his governorship aspiration. In a recent interview, Mona said he prefers the indirect mode of primary and that he was sure of getting the ticket of the party against all odds. He said he has been touring various parts of the state on consultations with stakeholders and that the responses have been encouraging. According to Mona, he was in the race because of the high level poverty and underdevelopment the state is undergoing under the Bello-led government. “My message is simple; we are about to defeat him (Bello) shortly. Just a few weeks down the line (August 29) we are going to defeat him, like we defeated him the last time; so it is simple”, he said. But some pundits have argued that Mona was perhaps in the race mainly to perform the role of a “spoiler” ahead of the primary. According to them, Mona is being sponsored by one of the top contenders in the governorship race and that there could be likelihood of he stepping down prior to the primary election. For the Audus, it appears the die is cast and the August 29 primary will reveal what becomes of their political ambitions.
Credit: Daily Trust