Nigerians are still in shock over the sudden death of Prince Abubakar Audu, the All Progressive Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate in last Saturday’s gubernatorial election.
The APC candidate who was leading the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate who is also the incumbent governor of Kogi State, Gov. Idris Wada, appeared hale and hearty when he came to vote in a convoy of Escalade cars in his Ogbonicha, Ofu Local Government Area on Saturday.
Audu who arrived at the polling unit around 1.40 pm walked briskly to the polling area and was quickly attended to by the electoral officers even as retinue of women sang his praises.
He granted waiting journalists a very brief interview during which he complained about reports of snatching of ballot boxes he said he heard was taking place in some polling units.
He immediately entered his car to go back to his sparkling white expansive mansion which was less than 500 metres away from the polling unit.
But this magazine gathered that Audu’s problems started after he had exercised his franchise.
Sources told this magazine that the Ogbonicha Prince fell ill at home, about seven hours after he voted.
At a stage, he started vomiting blood. It was learnt that he was stabilised Saturday night by doctors around him.
It was also learnt that by this morning, his condition took a turn for the worse. He first suffered a minor stroke and a massive stroke followed.
When his condition worsened, his friends started making arrangements to transfer him out of the country through an Air Ambulance. The arrangement was still on when the 68 year old man died.
Sources said the former governor died around 3.10 pm on Saturday, the same time tension over the result of the election in which he was the major candidate was at its peak.
The election was finally declared inconclusive by the electoral commission soon after his death.
Audu’s death on Sunday has put a final stop to what many have described as his perpetual ambition to be the numero uno in Kogi State.
The deceased participated in all the gubernatorial elections held in the state in his lifetime. Hence, his opponents derisively referred to him as a perpetual gubernatorial aspirant.
His political opponents said this was borne out of his arrogant believe that he was the best for the state.
The late Ogbonicha Prince is known for his flamboyance as reflected in the design of his attires and sprawling residences in Lokoja, his village and in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory.
Audu’s contributions to the infrastructural development of Kogi state during the two times he governed the State, according to analysts was responsible for the massive votes he got across the 16 out of the 21 local government of Kogi in last Saturday’s election.
Perhaps, it was in recognition of this that his opponent in that election also swiftly declared seven days mourning for him.
He was born 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.
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.
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 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, he was said to have 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 the 2nd of January 1992 as the First Executive Governor of Kogi State. It was in this capacity that he transformed the infrastructural landscape of Kogi State.
Within the 22 months lifespan of that administration, and his second coming as governor in 1999, he was said to have put in place monumental landmarks in virtually all sectors, particularly in the area of housing, electricity, roads, education, and health care services.
Prince Abubakar Audu contested and was rigged out in the 2003 Kogi State gubernatorial elections. 2003 is generally acknowledged in Nigeria’s history as the beginning of a period of fraudulent electoral process carried out by the then PDP-led federal government.
In 2007 when election bells rang again, Prince Audu went to the polls, and was again defeated by massive electoral fraud committed by the then incumbent – Ibrahim Idris. Prince Abubakar Audu went to the Election Tribunal who nullified that election, and ordered fresh elections.
Again, Prince Abubakar Audu contested against Ibrahim Idris, and again, was defeated by a fraudulent electoral process.
In 2011, Audu again contested against a new comer to the turf, Captain Idris Ichalla Wada, and again Audu was defeated by another election fraught with fraud.
Prince Abubakar Audu emerged as the candidate of the APC at the August 28th Kogi State gubernatorial primary election. He was coasting home to victory, but INEC in its wisdom ruled the election inconclusive.