I will be the first person to make power shift a reality in Kogi State. And by the grace of God, in 2019, we will have either somebody from Okun or Igbira to be the governor of Kogi State in the process of making real our drive to embark on power shift… “Well I have gone to Igalaland told them that this is the last time an Igala will be a governor until after we have completed the circle of rotation… After 2019, we will hand over to our brothers. This is because if you are eating sugar alone while others are watching, you are creating problem for yourself.”
Those were the words of Abubakar Audu, a man who was heading to become the governor of Kogi State for a record third time. In an interview he granted shortly after he emerged victorious in the governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress, he spoke passionately about the need for power to shift to another ethnic stock, outside the majority Igala, in a heterogeneous Kogi State.
Audu was the first civilian governor of the state, when he became governor at the difficult era of General Ibrahim Babangida’s queer transition programme, in which the civilians ruled the states while the military ruled the federal level, as a sort of homegrown diarchy. Again, at the inception of this democratic dispensation in 1999, Audu returned as governor, a position he lost four years after. Thrice he made fitful attempts to return as governor, thrice he failed.
He though remained a committed party man as he started out from the All Peoples Party, which later transmuted to the All Nigeria Peoples Party, but he did not join the Congress for Progressive Change of General Muhammadu Buhari, as it then was. Instead, he floated along with Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s initial Action Congress of Nigeria, which eventually dissolved into the mega party, All Progressives Congress.
Audu, in struggling to contest the fourth time and seize power from the Peoples Democratic Party, became sympathetic. He felt that it was high time power changed from the dominant Igala group to either Ebira or Okun, which had not produced a governor. Curiously however, rather than step down for any of these minority groups which he empathised with, Audu, felt their chances would by his emergence be shifted to 2019, after he would have served out a tenure of four years. But that was not to be.
Midstream in the governorship election, where he was coasting to victory, he suddenly died, putting an eternal end to a dream. His kinsmen in Ogobonicha, Ofu Local Government area, were more than dazed. Another opportunity to produce a governor was lost. But in all, the Igala people grieved the most as one of their sure hopes of producing a governor had been eclipsed. They are thus left with the incumbent Governor Wada Idris of the PDP who is also an Igala man.
Assuredly, with the already declared results of the November 21 governorship election, Governor Wada is now on a cliff-hanger, as it would take a miracle of sorts, for him to triumph in the supplementary elections. According to results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission, the late Audu scored 240,867 votes while Wada garnered 199,514; with the margin of votes between Audu and Wada only 41,353. This is against the backdrop of the fact that the total number of votes cancelled to make the poll inconclusive was 49,953. So, simple arithmetic indicates that APC holds the ace in the December 5 supplementary poll, depending on how the party handles its fortune in the choice of its successor to Audu, the man who brought the party very close to victory.