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Lessons from Audu’s sacrifice for power shift



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Lessons from Audu’s sacrifice for power shift

By John Akubo, Lokoja
published in the Guardian on the 18 December 2015  

JUST like the Holy book acknowledged the power of the tongue and its efficacy in making spoken words living words, the late All Progressives Congress (APC) Candidate for the November 21st Governorship Election for Kogi State, Prince Abubakar Audu may have actually paid the supreme sacrifice for power shift to be actualized.
Whether it was a campaign of gimmick or that born out of genuine intention to assuage the frayed nerves of the people of Kogi West and Central senatorial districts over their long standing agitation for them to be given a chance to lead the State, it was actualized in his death.
Audu never spared any opportunity at his rallies across the two senatorial districts to drum home his determination to be the first to make power shift possible.
Though the leaders from the two districts took Audu’s promise as a story to be told to the marines because of his antecedents some were still hopeful.
It is not news that Kogi East dominated by the Igala speaking ethnic extraction have been calling the shots and clinging to power since the creation of the State for which Audu was the greatest beneficiary.
Audu had recorded many firsts in his political life; he was the first executive Governor of the State, when he won election in November 1991 on the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC). He was subsequently sworn in as the first executive governor of Kogi state in January 1992.
In 1998, democracy was re-introduced and Audu, now with the All People’s Party (APP), 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.
Hence during the zonal rally for Kogi West at the demonstration Primary School ground he reiterated his determination to be the first to actualize the process that will ensure power is shifted to either Okun or Ebira land in 2019 if he was elected. He stated that the Igalas had benefited enough adding that it was time to allow their other brothers have a taste power.
He went down memory lane to recall the brotherhood that the three senatorial districts shared in Kwara State where they lived together for 75years when none could aspire to be Governor. Audu indicated they all suffered marginalization together the taste of which was very bitter for all then.
The late APC candidate also recalled the sojourn of the Igalas in Benue where they were also denied the opportunity to lead the State describing it as very bitter experience, which he said, should not be meted out to other people.
According to him, “In 2019 Okun or Ebira man would rule the State because if I talk to the Igalas they would listen, but if Governor Idris Wada talk to them they would not listen, if former Governor Ibrahim Idris talk to them they would not listen but if Buhari talk to them they would listen but not Jonathan.”
However he indicated that the issue of power shift can only be achieved through negotiation and not by violence.
As if tailoring his energy towards the vexed issue of power rotation when he won the primary election, during his acceptance speech he praised the runner up Alhaji Yahaya Bello (now his replacement and Governor elect) for his spirit of sportsmanship and his doggedness in the contest. This may have confirmed Bello’s standpoint when he said his emergence was an act of God.
Audu had quickly embraced and interacted with Bello who he said impressed him a lot. This was happening when more than 20 of the 27 other aspirants who contested the primary along with him left the Confluence stadium even before the final results were declared.
Speaking further on Bello, Audu enthused “I stay with him after four years I can go and rest. He said he was proud of Yahaya Bello adding that he would be a reliable successor.
Bello who spoke on behalf of all the other contestants said they actually wanted a generational change but since the leader had won they would wait for the next four years.
According to him, “We craved for generational change today under our great party and under a transparent and very free and very fair process we have a winner of the contest.”
“By the special grace of God we shall work in harmony with APC because it is a great party we shall continue to be together to ensure that victory is ours on the 21st of November this year. We wish that our leader would carry all of us along and together we shall send PDP out of Kogi.
He congratulated the winner whom he referred to as father and leader believing that after the next four years he will remember that he had his son of high character and probity who was ready to take over from him by the special grace of God.
The four years plan has turned to be the very tenure Audu was gunning for and in the wisdom of APC his wish was almost being accomplished even though the rival Peoples Democratic Party see the victory as a pyrrhic one.
But the Governor-elect in the just concluded Kogi State Governorship election Alhaji Yahaya Bello had explained why he accepted to replace the late candidate of APC, Prince Abubakar Audu as act of obedience to party supremacy even as he insisted Falake’s position, as running mate was not affected.
Bello who spoke to newsmen in reaction to his victory as the winner of the supplementary election said Faleke remains the deputy Governor-elect, as the position was never vacant. In his words, “The former candidate of the party died. INEC requested the party to substitute, and I was chosen to fill the gap. The space of the running mate was never vacant, so if I am chosen to run on that platform, I don’t think I have any choice.
“So if I respond to run on that platform, I don’t think I have any choice but to respect the decision of the party.” Bello said his reaction to the results was that of ecstasy and jubilation. However he said the jubilation was low keyed because of the loss of late Prince Abubakar Audu whom he described as their great leader even as he prayed for his soul to rest in peace.
On those who might refer to him as Governor-elect of supplementary election he said as a party man who was chosen by the party, “All votes cast in the election are for the party. “So I cannot be said to be a governor of a supplementary election.”
He said he had a blueprint in line with the party manifesto to put the state on developmental map adding that he will make sure that there was justice, fairness and equity in the distribution of resources across the state.
To clear the air on insinuations that he worked against the success of the party he said, “I never worked against the party. It is a party I labored for. It is a party I spent fortune on. It is a party I spent a lot of time building.”
He said his emergence came from the fact that he was runner up in the primary saying that after the death of their great leader, it was just normal for the party to return to the party and pick the runner-up, stressing: “I am happy with the choice of the party.”

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Flood disaster: Kogi braces for another round of misery




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Flood disaster: Kogi braces for another round of misery

By John Akubo, Lokoja

Many victims of the 2012 flood disaster in Kogi State who are experiencing another round of displacement are apprehensive over a possible repeat of 2012 scenario, when many partås of the state and country were ravaged by floodwater.

As the ominous signs crystalise, the apprehension is palpable in the state because the tributaries of most small rivers in the northern axis, empty themselves into the River Niger and Benue at the confluence, in Lokoja.

At least 623, 690 displaced persons were accommodated in 87 camps across the state during the last flood disaster. And six years after, the continuous rise of water levels is forcing many residents that live close to the riverbanks to relocate as their houses are already submerged.

According to the Executive Secretary, Kogi State Emergency Management Agency, Alhassan Ayeggba, by the last count, about 45, 000 persons have been displaced, and are camped in various IDP camps across the state, aside from those who elected to put up with their relatives.

The absence of health facilities at the different camps, is already posing dire medical challenges to the IDPs who need medical attention. But matters recently got worse with the birth of three babies at the Koton Karfe IDP camp. Ayishat Zakeriya from Adamogu Community delivered a baby boy; Maryam Ishaq from Akpaku Village delivered a baby girl, and Sakinat Musa, also from Akpaku Village delivered another boy.

However, many in the state fear that the damage this year may be worse compared to that of 2012 should Camerounian authorities discharge water from the Lagdo dam.

At the moment, according to Ayegba, “the water level is 10.30 metres, and this has exceeded the normal level. The situation in Ibaji Local Council is worse as there are no high lands in the area, hence the people have been advised to move to the IDP Camp at Idah

The Secretary to the State Government Ayoade Arike Folashade, who was at the camp on a routine visit, donated food items, and cash to the victims and mothers of the newborn babies, as well as, commended them for the courage they displayed in the face of obvious challenge.

A youth leader at the camp, Abubakar Isah, appealed to the government to assist them as they have lost all their crops to the flood, while the meagre assistance they have received from public-spirited individuals “translates to a few bags of rice and cartons of Indomie Noodles.”

Seidu Akowe, a victim of 2012 flood disaster at the Lokoja IDP camp, was forced out of his home at midnight six years ago without picking any property. This time around, he said he moved to the IDP hostel in Lokoja when his house was overtaken by floods to avoid losing all his belongings.

Another victim, Hajia Meimuna Akawo, who recalled that in 2015, many organisations were showing support to displaced persons in camps, said this time around, apart from very few individuals, including the Commissioner for Environment, Sanusi Yahaya, who gave them two bags of rice and water tanks, the IDPs were starving.

She also said the sanitation situation has become deplorable, even as she fears the outbreak of an epidemic.

Lending credence to the people’s fears of a likelihood of the 2012 flooding, NEMA’s Director of Planning, Research and Forecasting, Mr. Vincent Owan, while on a recent visit to the state advised residents of flood plains to immediately move upland or to the state’s IDPs hostel at the Flood Estate, built by the Governor Idris Wada-administration.

According to him, “My first impression is that the flood situation is quite devastating for the fact that all the indices that manifested during the 2012 flood disaster are here with us today, except for the release of water from the Lagdo dam. Most of the people that have been affected by the flood today have been relocated to higher grounds particularly the IDP hostels at the former Governor Wada Flood Housing Estate.

“We are going collaborate extensively with Kogi State government to ensure that displaced persons are well catered for. I have communicated with the director general of NEMA, and very shortly you will feel the presence of the agency in the state,” the NEMA chief stated.

He also called on the state government to ensure that SEMA discharges its statutory function before seeking external help.

“When incidents like these happen, state governments just run cap-in-hand to the Federal Government for assistance, but the Federal Government wants to see what the state has done before calling for external support.

“Once the Federal Government sees what the state has done and the efforts put in place, it will say okay, having seen what has been done in the face of the challenge that you are facing, which is beyond your coping capacity, the Federal Government will then come in with full force to support you.

According to him, SEMA should never be the type of government agency that should be running around looking for operational vehicles to use when emergencies occur, “and that is why we call for functional state emergency agencies that are fully empowered to ensure that they carry out their statutory responsibilities.”

The Environment Commissioner, Yahaya, who noted that the water level was not receding, equally appealed to residents of “flood-prone areas to move to higher grounds immediately because we don’t know when the water from the Lagdo Dam would be released. When it is released the situation may be worse than the 2012 flood disaster.”

The Director of Engineering Hydrology, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NHSA), Abuja, Clement Nze, who recently described the state as the “headquarters of flood in Nigeria,” said the meeting of two major rivers to form a confluence in the state makes the flood disaster in the state worse when it happens.

While on an assessment tour of areas so far affected by flood in the state, Nze said the state’s peculiar disposition was the reason why the agency was more interested in what is happening in Lokoja.

“We are measuring downstream of River Niger and River Benue and taking the reading there everyday to make comparisons with the past.

“On September 29, 2012 it was 12.84m and we have about three more weeks to September29, 2018. So, if the rise continues as it is going now, the situation might be worse. Yesterday, the difference between the water level to the highest in 2012 was 2.7m, today it has narrowed to 2.59m, tomorrow it might be 2.5m moving to meet up with the value of 2012 that was so critical 12.84m,” he said.

He recalled that in the Nigerian Meteorological Agency Seasonal Rainfall Predictions release in March this year, the agency said “that the earliest time rain will seize in the northern part of Nigeria, including Sokoto and Katsina is September 28, which means we still have about three weeks or thereabouts of rainfall, but in the southern coastal cities it would be around December.”

“Going by this record and most of the flooding that occur between July, August and September, the period of heavy rainfall in the northern parts of Nigeria is here. We are expecting that the rains will continue and the water levels will continue to rise.”

“The safety net that we have now is that Camerounian authorities have not released any water from the Lagdo dam yet,” he stated, adding that the flooding that has been taking place in Adamawa, Benue, Taraba are caused by water from rivers in Nigeria because there are many of them that are feeding into River Benue and River Niger.”

Called from the Guardian

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CAN in Kogi joins national protest




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CAN in Kogi joins national protest

The day of prayer and protest declared by the national the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) was observed in Kogi state yesterday.

Though the protests were marked in low key as it was restricted to each churche premises in the state, members displayed placards to express their displeasure with the ongoing killings across the country.

The leadership of CAN in the state had written to the blocks in the chapter on the mode that the protest was expected to take.

The Kogi state chairman of th body Bishop John Ibenu, told newsmen after the protest in his church in Lokoja, that the protests were peaceful in the state.

He however said there was the need for the federal government to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission over the menace of herdsmen attacks in the country.

Ibenu said, “It is a national day of prayer and protest, Christians don’t protest, if we have to that means the issues have reached the peak, we spent time to pray for the nation and Kogi state and also for the future, Kogi state CAN in obedience to the directive of national CAN observed the day in our church premises

“In the process of protesting we should also keep the peace and stability of the nation and that is why we said it must be within the church premises because we want to do the best that we can to bring down the tension number two we want governance to go beyond promises tp practicality.

“The killings have continued unabated and it has been taken to the church, there were no grasses for cattles to eat in the church when the Fulanis invaded the church and killed worshippers, so what has started on the farm came to the village and has entered the church.

“Government must act to make sure that this was not something aimed at the church but started in the farm, we are being proactive by calling for attention before it degenerate, we do not want to be pushed to a point where we will start using the pulpits to tell everyone to look for available arm to defend themselves”.


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NAOS Election:Jacob emerges new President




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NAOS Election:Jacob emerges new President

Comr. Abraham Damilare Jacob, a student of Kogi State University (KSU), an indigene of Mopa-Amuro Local Government Area of Kogi State, has been elected as the National President of the National Association of Okun Students (NAOS) 2017/2018 Session.

The election which was conducted during the National Association of Okun Students 2017/2018 National Convention on Sunday in Aiyekunle-Gbede, also produced other National Excos of the association in a free, fair and peaceful environment.

A statement by the Secretary of the Electoral Committee, 2017/2018 NAOS National Convention, in Lokoja, Comr. Prime Abubakar, said that the NAOS 2017/2018 National Convention was a huge success.

“As a law abiding citizens of Okun Nation, we followed due process as regards the earlier announced security threat alert from the Chief Security officer of Ijumu Local Govnment (Host Local Government).

“This caused a little set back as against the planned time for the Convention, as the Electoral Committee, The President and Senate President had to put in the necessary measures for a free, peaceful and fair Convention/Election Process.

“We appreciate all delegates who represented each Local Government Areas for their cooperation and resolution to remain Law abiding as they all exercised their fundamental right to cast their votes.

“Distinguish Naosites both at home and diaspora, permit me to introduce the 2017/2018 National Excos of Okun Students:

“National President- Comr. Abraham Damilare Jacob, From Mopa-Amuro Local Government and a Student of Kogi State University; National Senate President- Comr. Oloruntoba Mosses Juwon from Kabba/Bunu Local Government.

“National General Secretary- Comr Aiyenigba Mercy from Ijumu Local Government

“National Deputy Senate President – Comr. Leke Nihi also from Ijumu, a student of Federal University of Technology Minna.

“All other offices will be announced in due time just before their official inaguration”,
Abubakar said.

He appreciated the presence of all Past National Presidents and Senate Presidents, all representatives of National Youth Council of Nigeria, National Association of Kogi State Students, and all other stakeholders, who had ensured maximum decorum and due process was followed.

In his acceptance speech, the President-elect of NAOS, Comr. Abraham Damilare Jacob, said: “I must as an individual return all glory and thanks to God almighty for granting me the victory”.

Jacob expressed appreciation to His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, and the Speaker Kogi State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. (Prince) Matthew Kolawole.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on youth Empowerment, Sports and Student’s Affairs- Hon. MD Eseyin, Hon Taufiq Isa, the Administrator of Ijumu LGA, who doubled as Kogi ALGON Chairman, other LG Administrators from Mopamuro, Yagba East, Yagba West and Kabba-Bunu respectively.

He also thanked all the royal fathers from Okun Land, for making sure they had an enabling and peaceful environment for a wonderful election amidst all forms of perceived security threats.

He added: “You all have proven that Just like Kogi State is a home of peace, Okunland will always remain a peaceful land.

“NAOS is an association which serves as the umbrella that covers positive benefiting interests of Okun students, as it is enshrined in her constitution. Hence, the protection of the objectives, mission and visions’ statements becomes highly paramount.

“I promise I will not be part of those sugar-coated mouth leaders who will promise heaven and earth, but yet will never make a move to fulfil any. I do not believe in promises that are obviously mirage.

“I have stated clearly in my manifestos that I am only bringing Positive Rebirth, Reformation and Redefinition into NAOS. We can be sure of having Accountability, Credibility, Transparency, and Fair representations achieved as well .

“NAOS is not a one man business and as such, it requires the efforts of all and sundries. Therefore, all hands must be on deck if we must give a positive rebirth, reformation and redefinition of her purpose of existence.

“I want to seize this opportunity to appreciate all NAOSITES and other stakeholders, who gave me their support and encouragement across the length and breath of the state during the course of this struggle.

“I want to leave you at the bench of being the judge to judge me by my activities and achievements at the course of the commencement of our administration immediately after inauguration.

“May I state it categorically that Okun students will always stand firm to protect the interest of the state in as much as it will accelerate the development and growth of the state.

“We are responsible students, we must always be ready to be responsive to the state just like the state must also become responsive to us at our point of needs.

“The unity and progress must and will always remain our chants”.

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