LABARAN TIJANI, who has been on the campaign train of the All Progressives Congress, APC and its candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu looks at the chances of the party ahead of the November 21 governorship election
The heat of politics is hitting hard on the people of Kogi State as governorship election is two days ahead. The contestants and their supporters are not leaving any stone unturned in order to achieve victory at the polls. So, political rallies and campaigns have virtually taken over activities in major cities and villages across the state, as gladiators, contestants and supporters canvass for votes from the electorate with all manners of tricks.
As this political drama unfolds in the confluence state, one camp that has been receiving serious attention from members of the public within and outside the state, since the battle to occupy Kogi Government House, Lokoja peaked is the campaign of the All Progressives Congress, APC and its candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu.
Arguably, Kogi State politics without Prince Abubakar Audu is dull and drab. The fact remains that the heat of politics being experienced today in the state is just because Prince Audu is in the race. Since he lost out in his bid to revalidate his mandate in 2003 governorship election, Prince Audu has not relented in his efforts, anytime opportunity came by. In 2007, re-run of 2008 and 2012 governorship election, Prince Audu made an attempt, but failed to get the nod of the people. He has always said that his woes at the polls had been orchestrated by the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP rigging machinery.
As his campaign train berths in the towns and cities across the state, canvassing for votes, he never ceased telling the people his story and the need for the people to give him the last chance to fix the state for the better. “When I was in office between 1999 and 2003, we received monthly allocation of N350m, about N16.8bn for the entire four years of my tenure.
“With this, we paid all salaries and did infrastrutural development and built institutions, like Kogi State University, Anyigba, Kogi State Polytechnic, Lokoja, establishment of workers village via building of estates in the capital city, Lokoja, establishment of Graphic Newspapers, Television station, Radio station and Obajana cement company, among others”, he said.
He added that in 2002, the federal government instituted a panel to evaluate and reward performance. “Out of 12 awards for the 36 state governors, I won seven. I was later dragged before the ICPC, CCB, CCT and EFFC”, he said.
He added that the EFFC took him to seven courts, four in Kogi and three in Abuja, saying, “in each of these cases, they would pull out before the judgment is passed, and later go back to frame new figures when next I would be arraigned. I was first accused of stealing N1.5bn, N4bn, N8bn and now N11bn. All these cases come up during election periods.
“How could my administration have achieved all we did with less thanN6bn, if N11bn was missing?”, he argued.
The APC candidate who said all his works as then state governor were verifiable appealed to the electorate not to be deceived by the propaganda machinery of his opponent in the coming Saturday election, saying, “it is in on record that the PDP led government has received about N550bn and yet the state is lying prostrate.”
While Prince Audu said he would declare state of emergency on the decaying infrastructure in the state, if he wins the gubernatorial contest, he assured workers of no retrenchment, even as he promised to pay all the arrears of the salary owed them by the present administration. These and the promise to assist to shift power to other zones of the state are his policy thrust which formed the kernel of his campaign slogan and which he preached across the three senatorial districts of the state.
The APC candidate campaigns and rallies caused uneasiness in the camp of his opponent in the race as incidents of defections into the party featured prominently in all the 21 councils of the state. For instance, the PDP gubernatorial aspirant, Jibrin Isah Echocho who lost to Governor Idris Wada in the party primaries collapsed his political structure to APC as he decamped with supporters and coordinators to the party. Also, the political structure of Senator Smart Adeyemi led by Hon Fetti Dada, a former chairman of Ijumu local government area defected at Iyara last week Thursday to APC, though without the senator.
In the same vein, grassroots mobilisers of PDP in the clout of council chairmen, councilors, Special Advisers, Special Assistants, Senior Special advisers/assistants, ex-commisioners and chieftains of PDP defected en-masse from the party to APC in all the rallies across the state. Notably among them are, Hon Duro Meseko, who represented Kabba/Bunu federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Mustapha Alladey, ex-lawmaker, Simon Achuba and Barrister Yakubu Yunusa, former deputy speaker and ex-majority leader respectively in the Kogi House of Assembly, Barrister Halima Alfa, ex Sure-P Director and member of PDP Board of Trustees and Barrister Humphrey Abbah, ex-Minister of Police Affairs, among others.
As the rate of defection into the APC continues to swell the ranks of the party, and with tumultuous crowd greeting its rallies, it may not surprise political watchers and observers, if the party creates an upset in the Saturday election.