Prince Abubakar Audu was the first executive and a two time Governor Kogi state, Nigeria. His first tenure was from January 1992 until November 1993 and the second from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2003. While seeking re-election on the platform of Nigeria’s ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), he died due to a heart attack shortly after the election was declared as inconclusive by the electoral body on 22 November 2015.
Abubakar Audu, was born on 24 October 1947, to the family of his Royal Highness, the late Pa Audu Oyidi, Orego Atta of Igala Land and the paramount ruler of Ogbonicha-Alloma in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State.
He started his education at the then N.A. Junior Primary School, Alloma, and later N.A Senior School Ankpa, from where he proceeded to Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha. He later transferred to the Jos Commercial College where he obtained both the GCE O and A level certificate.
After a stint as a bank worker, Prince Audu later proceeded to London from 1975-1978 where he studied banking and personnel management, obtaining professional qualification as a certified secretary, and as a Fellow of the Association of International Accountants of London, as well as fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Industrial Administration of Nigeria.
Audu’s banking career lasted for a total of 25 years, which he spent with First Bank – formerly known as Standard Bank. Here, he served in various capacities at management level until 1991. He also made history as the bank’s first training officer of African descent and also as one of the first black senior management staff of Standard Chartered Bank in London and New York. In 1991, he was appointed Executive Director of FSB International Bank PLC
His journey into public service began in 1986 when he was appointed as Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning in the Old Benue state. He served in this capacity until 1988 when the cabinet was dissolved. He then returned to Fist Bank of Nigeria PLC as a General Manager.
In August 1991, Kogi state was created from parts of the old Benue and Kwara states. This coincided with one of Nigeria’s many previous encounters with democracy, and Audu, being part of those who had advocated for the creation of the state and a notable son of the soil, was invited to contest for governorship position of the newly created state. He contested on the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC) and won the election held in November, 1991. He was subsequently sworn in as the first executive governor of Kogi state in January 1992.
In 1998, democracy was again re-introduced and Audu, now with the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), was elected again with over 700,000 votes while his opponent hardly recorded 50% of the vote cast. He was sworn in on 29 May 1999 as the 2nd Executive Governor of Kogi State.
His socio-economic contribution in the state is to date a point of reference to the generality of the people and many aspiring leaders. Some of his major achievements during his brief first term of office include 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 roads, street lights, aesthetic roundabouts, the construction of inter-township and rural roads, over 75 electrification schemes and 50 water projects.
Other include 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 as the new state had no office accommodation, the construction of shopping arcade complex to enhance commercial activities, among others.
He also pioneered the construction of the first ultra modern state liaison office in Abuja. His administration also built an ultra modern stadium and a five star hotel in Lokoja, the Confluence Beach Hotel.
Audu also took steps to woo prospective investors to harness the numerous solid mineral potentials in the State. The big prize was the establishment of Obajana Cement Factory. The project, which was on going before he left office, attracted the support of the United State Government. During the visit of former President Bill Clinton to Nigeria, the State Government signed the agreement with the US Trade Development Agency (TDA) for a grant to finalize the feasibility work on the project. The cement project is now operational.
The establishment of a state university, Kogi State University Anyigba, is another testimony to the vision and resourcefulness. The foundation stone was laid on 30 November 1999, when former President Olusegun Obasanjo, visited the state. About a year later, the President returned to Anyigba during a state visit to commission the University complex. According to a report of a visitation panel to the university from the Nigeria University Commission, the institution was then described as the fastest growing university in the country. The university received tremendous international support, which included an affiliation programme to Morgan State University Baltimore. Also, seven visiting professors from various universities in the United States were at the university to review its curriculum and align it with their own universities and prepare the students for exchange programme to give the university an international acceptability.
Prince Audu completed several landmark projects within four years. They include: 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.
He was also named the best governor in the 1999-2003 dispensation, despite being a governor on the platform of the opposition, ANPP.
A highly traveled politician, Prince Audu brought so many honors to the country through his personal relationships with foreign statesmen. It is known that he enjoys a very intimate relationship with the former British Prime Minister, Mr. John Major. In 1993, he and the member of his family were special guests of the British Prime Minister at No 10, Downing Street where he hosted them to a State Banquet. Also in 1993, His Excellency attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Cyprus. His connection with the international community saved Nigeria during the heady days of Shonekan administration from economic embargo.
In December 1999, he was on the delegation of President Olusegun Obasanjo during the State visit to Germany. On every account, Prince Audu who maintains a good circle of friends across the country is by every judgment a great patriot, visionary, humanist and nationalist. The outstanding achievements of Prince Abubakar Audu have been acknowledged by several organizations within and outside Nigeria through awards and honours presented to him.
When Prince Audu left office in 2003, he was charged by Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), with corruption. This case has been on for twelve years and many say it was coined as an attempt by the then ruling PDP to smear Audu’s image, especially in light of the achievements recorded during his tenure.
He has responded to these allegations, stating that while he was governor, the state received less than N400million as monthly allocation, and that it would have been impossible to embezzle the N12 billion that the agency claims he did when he received less than N19 billion in total, yet embarked on many projects.
The Agency has also changed the figure he allegedly embezzled over the years; previously, they stated N1 billion, later N4 billion, and now, N12 billion. Audu has also described the EFCC case as being politically motivated.
Prince Abubakar Audu emerged as the candidate of the APC at the August 28th Kogi State gubernatorial primary election. Subsequently, he announced James Abiodun Faleke, a legislator, as his running mate.
Prince Audu died of a heart attack on 22 November 2015, shortly after INEC announced the Kogi State Gubernatorial Election as inconclusive. He had recorded more votes than his opponent in the elections but due to the dilemma created by his sudden death, his Party APC, chose the runner up of the Primary Elections (Yahaya Bello) as the candidate to replace him for the inconclusive elections.