About two weeks ago the All Progressives Congress, APC, cleared a total of twenty eight aspirants to contest its governorship primaries in Kogi State. Among the cleared aspirants is the APC leader in the state, Prince Abubakar Audu, who is taking another shot at Lugard House that he had earlier occupied on two different occasions.
The other aspirants cleared for the primaries include Alhaji Yahaya Bello Adoza; Senator Alex Usman Kadiri; Hussein Idris Kashim; Alh. Sanusi Abubakar Aliyu (Gamji); Senator Nicholas Yahaya Ugbane; Sani Halilu Shuaibu; Suleman Baba Ali; AVM Saliu Atawodi; Muhammad Abdullahi; Senator Nuruddeen Abatemi Usman; the only female contestant, Princess Hadiza Ibrahim; Yakubu Mohammed, a former acting governor of the state, Hon. Clarence Olafemi; and Suleiman Ejeh Abutu.
Also cleared for the primaries are Sunday Ejibo; Otunba Suleman Lanre Ipinmisho; Dr. Tim Nda Diche; Habeeb Abdullahi Yakeen; Rotimi Yakub Obadofin; Babatunde Irukera; Ocholi Enojoh James; Aliyu Zakari Jiya; Olushola George Olumoroti; and Dr. Onukaba Adinoyi Ojo.
Most of the cleared aspirants are politicians that have been described as “unstable” as they have records of defecting from one political party to the other at will. Most of the aspirants in this category were in the PDP and only defected to APC between the last quarter of 2014 and 2015. It is widely believed that these defectors did not join the APC for ideological reasons and because of their ambition, they nurse the fear that Governor Idris Wada will most likely pick the PDP. Some of them had earlier employed all sorts of strategies to discourage PDP from fielding Governor Wada, including writing a petition in September 2012 to former President Goodluck Jonathan and former national chairman of the PDP, Dr. Bamanga Tukur. The anti-Wada petition was jointly signed by Senators Alex Kadiri, Mohammed Ohiare, former Speaker of the state House of Assembly and former Acting Governor, Clarence Olafemi, former state PDP Chairman, John Odawun, Air Vice Marshall Salihu Atawodi (rtd) and former governorship aspirant, Dr. Adinoyi Ojo Onukaba. When it became apparent that PDP will not deny Wada opportunity to go into the primaries, they defected in droves to the APC.
It is equally believed that most of the APC governorship aspirants are merely in the race to get noticed by the national leadership of the party and President Muhammadu Buhari for possible juicy political appointments by the President.
In spite of the defection of the PDP members to APC, Prince Abubakar Audu still appears to be the candidate to beat in the APC governorship primaries. Here is a close-up of the front-runners for the APC governorship ticket in Kogi state.
Prince Abubakar Audu
Prince Abubakar Audu was twice the Governor of Nigeria’s Kogi state. His first tenure was from January 1992 until November 1993 and the second from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2003.
Prince Abubakar Audu, first Executive Governor of Kogi State was born on 27 October 1947, to the family of his Royal Highness, the late Pa Audu Oyidi, Orego Atta of Igala land and the paramount rule of Ogbonicha-Alloma in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State.
After obtaining his A- levels he had a stint as a bank worker before he proceeded to London from 1975-1978 where he studied banking and personnel management, obtaining professional qualification as a certified secretary; and a Fellowship of the Association of International Accountants of London, as well as the fellowship of the chartered institute of industrial administration of Nigeria.
Prince Audu spent a total of 25 years with the First Bank, formerly Standard Bank, where he served in different capacities at management levels until 1991. During this period, Prince Audu made history as the first black training officer for the bank and one of the first black senior management staff of Standard Chartered Bank in London and New York.
He was appointed Commissioner for Finance and Economic planning in the former Benue State in 1986 serving in this capacity for two years. When that council was dissolved, he went back to First Bank of Nigeria Plc as General Manager.
In 1991, Prince Audu was appointed Executive Director of FSB International Bank PLC before he was invited into politics to contest for the governorship position in Kogi State under the ticket of the National Republican Convention, NRC. He was sworn in on 2nd January 1992 as the First Executive Governor of Kogi State.
Prince Audu’s biggest selling point is that no governor in the state has been able to match his achievements in the state. Almost every infrastructure standing in Kogi state today has the touch of Prince Audu. The development of the state came to an end when he lost the election to Ibrahim Idris of the PDP.
Some of his major achievement includes the establishment of three different housing schemes for public officers consisting of over 1,500 housing units in Lokoja, the transformation of Lokoja township with asphalt road, street lights aesthetic roundabouts, the construction of inter-township and rural roads, dozens of electrification schemes and water projects, the founding of Kogi State Polytechnic, the establishment of a television station, radio station, both AM and FM, a state newspaper and the transformation of the colonial residence of Lord Lugard into an Ultra Modern Government House Complex, the construction of office blocks for ministries, the construction of shopping arcade complex to enhance commercial activities among others.
Also on his achievement card is the construction of the state liaison office in Abuja, construction of ultra modern stadium. He was instrumental to the establishment of Obajana cement factory, established Kogi State University Anyigba, construction of the five star confluence Beach Hotel, 250 units Housing Estate, a Sport Complex, a Specialist Eye Hospital and 25 other medical Institutions. Others are: a Special Government Girls Secondary School on Student exchange programme, 350 borehole schemes, 300 kilometers of township roads, the procurement of 100 transit buses and completion of 40 rural electrification projects. Prince Abubakar Audu’s problem that cost him his re-election bids is pride. Many Nigerians see him as a very pompous politician that is easily given to vanities. Among his “sins” was the renaming of the state university after himself. That decision has since been reversed by his successors.
Senator Nicholas Ugbane
Nicholas Ugbane was born on 23 December 1953 in Egume, in Kogi State. He gained a master’s degree in Business Administration (Finance) from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.
He went into active politics during the aborted third republic was elected to the Senate for the Kogi East constituency in 2003 on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP. In May 2006 Senator Ugbane got into the blackbook of some Nigerians when he supported the third term agenda of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to stand for a third term.
After defecting to the PDP Ugbane was re-elected into the Senate in 2007 and was member of some very important committees like the Public Accounts, Niger Delta, Independent National Electoral Commission and Aviation.
His name featured prominently during the power sector probe in the National Assembly as he was alleged to have interests in companies that won major contracts in the Rural Electrification Agency, REA.
Ugbane is one of the aspirants that believe Prince Abubakar Audu is over-rating his popularity and blasted Prince Audu when he (Audu) described himself as the Messiah of Kogi people.
Ugbane, who was four time commissioner of different ministries in Kogi state described Prince Abubakar Audu’s success while he was governor in Kogi state to a combined contribution and efforts of himself and some other commissioners in the state. He also said he was a foundation member the Obajana cement industry and worked out the plan as a state commissioner for commerce that led to what is known as the largest cement industry in Africa.
He has already made it clear that he is not in any way contemplating stepping down for any other governorship aspirant.
Clarence Olafemi is another defector from the Peoples Democratic Party. He came to national limelight in February 2008 when he was appointed acting Governor of Kogi State after the election of former governor Ibrahim Idris was annulled
Olafemi was born in the Mopa-Muro Local Government Area of Kogi State. He is a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
He was elected to the Kogi State house of assembly for the Mopamuro Constituency in April 2007 on PDP platform. In 2011 he was one of the aspirant for the PDP ticket for the 2011 Kogi State governorship elections.
Senator Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman
Another PDP defector is Senator Nurudeen Abatemi. He was a member of the immediate past 7th Assembly and the Special Assistant to the Ex-Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole. He was the youngest Senator in the 7the Assembly. He was born on May 6, 1971 to the late Alhaji Umar Abatemi-Usman, one-time deputy governor of old Kwara State.
He attended St. Louis Nursery and Primary School in Kano between 1975 and 1982 where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate. He proceeded to Government Secondary School, GSS Ilorin in 1982 to obtain his Secondary School Certificate. He holds a B.Eng in Agricultural Engineering from the Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile-Ife and Master’s degree in Water (Hydro and hydraulic) Engineering from the Ahmadu Bello University, ABU Zaria.
Abatemi-Usman has always maintained that mission in politics is to use his wealth of experience and contacts in the political and business arena to uplift the people of Kogi by influencing projects and stimulating industrialization.
He is one of the aspirants to watch as he is good at springing surprises, especially whenever he is underrated. Some people are still dazed by the manner he emerged PDP Senatorial candidate in 2011 after 13 political heavyweights. One thing going in his favour is that those clamouring for change, especially women and youths are rooting for Senator Abatemi-Usman.
Senator Alex Usman Kadiri
If there is one aspirant that strongly believed he has more experience to govern Kogi state than Abubakar Audu it is Senator Alex Kadiri. He effectively punctured the claims of Audu that most of the APC aspirants are school leavers that lack the experience to do the job.
He, like most indigenes of Kogi state is embittered by Audu’s pompous mien.
His words: “I personally believe that I have more experience than Abubakar Audu, he knows that.”
While lamenting that bad governance is the bane of development in the Confluence State, promised that if given the opportunity to serve, he doesn’t need more than four years to correct the anomalies.
“It is not my intention to hang on to the governorship of Kogi state more than four years,” he declared.
AVM Saliu Atawodi
Air Vice Admiral Saliu Atawodi (rtd) was born on the 4th of July 1952 at Idah General Hospital in Idah Local Government Area of Kogi State. He had his primary education at Ajaka/Idah and later attended the Nigerian Military School, Zaria from 1967-1971. Thereafter he joined the Nigerian Defense Academy in 1972 as a member of Regular Cadet Course 12. He was commissioned into the Nigerian Air Force as a Pilot Officer on 14 December 1974.
He attended the Primary Flying Training at 301 Flying Training School, Kaduna on the Bulldog Aircraft between 1973 and 1974 and thereafter proceeded to the Royal Air Force, United Kingdom for his basic and advance jet flying.
He became the first Nigerian to undergo advance fast jet flying course at RAF Valley, North Wales on the Hawker Hunter. Thereafter he attended the fast jet instructors’ course with the Pakistan Air Force, Risalpur. In addition, he obtained the prestigious Weapons Instructor Rating from the RAF Brawdy in South Wales in 1984.
He is a graduate of the Air War College, Karachi, Pakistan, an affiliate of the Karachi University, Pakistan.
Saliu Atawodi rose through various promotions ladder in the Nigerian Air Force to the last rank of Air Vice Marshal. He has several enviable military medals and decorations to his credit. He was also awarded the national honour, Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic, OFR in 2005.
Dr. Adinoyi Ojo Onukaba
Dr. Onukaba is yet another defector from the PDP. He is a renowned journalist, playwright, teacher and the formal Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s Spokesman between 2003 and 2005. He was also the Managing Director of Daily Times between 1999 and 2003.
He bagged his bachelor of Theatre Art degree from the University of Ibadan, Master of Art in Journalism from the New York University and his PhD in Performance Studies from the same university.
He hailed from Oboroke-Ihima in Okehi Local Government of Kogi State. He has shown interest on the governorship race twice on the platform of PDP but failed to win the party’s ticket.
Alhaji Yahaya Bello Adoza
Alhaji Yahaya Bello Adoza is also known with the name of his transport company, Fair Plus. He hailed from Agasa in Okene Local Government of Kogi State. He is an astute business man and the Managing Director of FairPlus International Ltd and also the Director of Kogi Youth Arise Forum.
He worked at the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission where he rose to the position of Assistant Chief Accountant.
Alhaji Adoza bagged his Bachelor of Accounting Degree from the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and Master of Business Administration from the same institution.
He is also a Chartered Fellow of Association of National Accountant of Nigeria (ANAN).