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Senate mourns Audu: Wants KSU named after him

There was a paradoxical atmosphere of grief and glorious commemorations at the Senate plenary session on senate mourns auduThursday as it joined Kogi State indigenes and Nigeria as a whole in paying its respects to the former Governor of the State, Prince Abubakar Audu.

Prince Audu, who was also the All Progressive Congress (APC) flag bearer in the Kogi State gubernatorial elections last weekend, died on Sunday morning, barely a few hours after casting his vote and before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) could announce the final inconclusive results.

He has since been buried according to Islamic rites even though the cause of his death was never medically verified or publicly declared, with many sources pointing to cardiac arrest as the cause of his untimely death. He was aged 68.

Prince Abubakar Audu had twice served as Governor of Kogi State, first under the military administration of General Ibrahim Babangida between 1990 and 1992 and subsequently between May 1999 to May 2003, after Nigeria’s return to civil rule.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who hails from the neighbouring Kwara State, described Prince Abubakar Audu as a man whose greatest asset was his boundless love for the people of Kogi State, reflected by the roles he played and commitment to development and wellbeing at various times in the State’s administration, even when he wasn’t the governor of the State.

Saraki in response to a motion sponsored by Senator Abdulraman Abubakar (Kogi East) and 5 other senators urging the Federal and Kogi State Governments to immortalise Prince Audu by naming a National or Kogi State monument after him as a mark of honour.

Senator Abdulraman Abubakar recalled that the late Prince Audu had made valuable contributions to the Banking sector when he worked and rose to the rank of an Executive Director before he delved into politics, twice serving as the Governor of Kogi State.

Eulogies poured in from many senators who had known him personally and in the political circles. Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) poetically described the late Audu as a fallen ‘Iroko in Kogi State,’ irreplaceable enigma, colossus and political mathematician whose political sagacity led to infrastructural development and the betterment of the people of Kogi State. Melaye also lambasted the 11 billion naira fraud accusation levelled against the late Audu as myopic and parochial, citing that during Audu’s 4 year democratic tenure as the governor, Kogi State received 17 billion naira as its total allocation, thus making it unthinkable to embezzle such an amount of money while also establishing a university, building a stadium, road networks, social amenities and paying staff salaries all through. He moved that the Kogi State University (KSU) be named in Prince Audu’s honour.

Since the 8th Senate comprises of over a dozen former State Governors, there were a lot of tributes from many of them. Two former governors of Kano State, Rabiu Kwakwanso and Kabiru Gaya recalled their relationship with the late Prince Audu from their days in the defunct NRC and SDP political parties of the late 80’s and early 90’s, describing him as a man who was a link between the Northern and Southern Governors.

There were also encomiums from serving senators who were the former governors of Kwara, Nasarawa, Plateau and Akwa Ibom States.

The Senate observed a minute silence in Prince Audu’s honour at the end of the motion and agreed to send a high powered delegation, led by the Senate President himself, to condole with his family and the people of Kogi State.

Meanwhile, Senator Yusuf Abubakar of Taraba State was finally sworn in as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, replacing the dismissed Bashir Marafa. It should be recalled that the Court of Appeal had two weeks ago upheld the election petition tribunal’s sacking of Senator Bashir Marafa as a senator representing Taraba Central Senatorial District. Senator Yusuf Abubakar was a member of the All Progressive Congress (APC) while Senator Bashir Marafa belonged to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

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