2019: Governors Who want to be Senators

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About eight serving governors have indicated their interest to run for the senate in the 2019 general election

 

By Anayo Ezugwu

AS Nigeria prepares for the 2019 general elections, about eight serving state governors have declared their intention to contest the 2019 senatorial elections. These governors will complete the maximum two terms allowed by the Nigerian Constitution in 2019. As a result, they want to continue to serve their people at the Red Chambers.

The trend now in Nigeria is that governors see the Senate as the next destination after their second term in office. Many Nigerians are not surprised about the senatorial ambitions of current governors. They are not the first to do so. Neither will they be the last. Since Nigeria’s return to civil rule in 1999, the Senate has become an attractive destination for ex-military administrators, former governors and ministers. For many of these men who have practically spent a better part of their adult lives in the corridors of power at various levels, a seat at the hallowed chamber is the best way to remain relevant politically.

As it stands, about 15 senators in the Eighth Assembly of the Senate (2015-19) are former governors who have served one or two terms in their states. They are: Senate President Bukola Saraki (Kwara, 2003-2011); Theodore Orji (Abia, 2007-2015); Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom, 2007-2015); George Akume (Benue, 1999-2007); Sam Egwu (Ebonyi, 1999-2007); Danjuma Goje (Gombe, 2003-2011); Joshua Dariye (Plateau, 1999-2007) and Jonah Jang (Plateau 2007-2015).

The others are Bukar Abba Ibrahim (Yobe, 1999-2007); Ahmed Sani Yerima (Zamfara, 1999-2007); Rabiu Kwankwaso, (Kano, 1999-2003, 2011-2015); Adamu Aliero (Kebbi, 1999-2007); Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa, 1999-2007) and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto, 2007-2015).

As at today, the incumbent governors seeking Senate seat are as follows.

Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara State)

Ahmed has indicated interest to run for the Senate. He has obtained and submitted the nomination form to contest the senatorial election in Kwara South on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2019 general election.

Ahmed will be contesting against the current occupant of the seat, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, a fellow protégé of Bukola Saraki who has also picked up the nomination form to seek re-election under the platform of the PDP. The governor explained that his decision to run for Senate was in response to demands by his constituents and he has promised to provide them purposeful representation.

Since both the governor and the incumbent senator are loyalists of the Senate President who is expected to decide the contest, there is no telling who Saraki will favour. Should Ahmed make it, all three senators of Kwara State may be ex-governors if Shaaba Lafiagi of Kwara North Senatorial district also returns next year. Lafiagi was the governor of the North-central state in the short-lived Third Republic.

Abdul’aziz Yari (Zamfara State)

Governor Abdul’aziz Yari of Zamfara State wants to take the seat for Zamfara West from Senator Ahmed Yerima, former governor of the state. The governor announced his ambition to journalists in Gusau. He said the reason behind his decision was because of his interest in the legislative process and to serve his people.

Although, there has been no comment from Yerima who has served three terms in the Senate since the end of his governorship term in 2007, the lawmaker may seek re-election for a fourth term.

The emerging contest between Yari and Yerima is one observers would pay attention to, especially as the latter has long been considered the most influential politician from the north-western state.

Rochas Okorocha (Imo State)

Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State was one of the first governors to declare his senatorial ambition. In February, he said he will run for Imo West senatorial district in the 2019 general election under the platform of the All Progressives Party, APC.

Okorocha said it would be a disservice to the nation if he failed to contest considering his “wealth of experience” as a governor for eight years. The senatorial seat is currently occupied by Hope Uzodinma who was elected under the platform of the PDP before he defected to the APC. They have been at loggerheads as the lawmaker recently decried Okorocha’s desire to own the Imo State chapter of the party.

The senator also accused Okorocha of attempting to hand over his governorship seat to his chief of staff and son-in-law, Uche Nwosu. Uzodinma said he will “soon make a public declaration of his ambition for 2019.”

Should the lawmaker decide to return to the senate, the battle between him and the governor will be within the party as both politicians claim to have the upper hand in the state.

Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun State)

After Governor  Ibikule Amosun of Ogun State declared his ambition to run for the seat of Ogun Central Senatorial district in 2019, the APC Ogun State chapter resolved to produce consensus candidates for the National Assembly. The governor was soon named the party’s candidate for the Ogun Central senate race as he and ‘elders’ of the APC unveiled the consensus candidates for the National Assembly.

Amosun held the Senate seat between 2003 and 2007, ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2007 but was elected in 2011. Now at the end of his second term, he wants to displace the incumbent senator, Lanre Tejuoso, also of the APC.

If he succeeds in elbowing out Tejuooso, he will also have to battle Abisola Shodipo-Clark, the wife of Ijaw leader, Edwin Clark, who is running for the same seat under the platform of the African Democratic Congress, ADC.

Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo State)

The Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, who is serving his second term in office was elected senator on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, in 2003. He thereafter ran for governor in 2007 on the platform of the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party but lost the election to Adebayo Alao-Akala of the PDP.

In 2011, he defeated Alao-Akala and was re-elected for second term in 2015. Although Ajimobi once vowed not to seek political office again at the end of his governorship tenure, he recently indicated he has changed his mind.

An aide to the governor disclosed in February that constituents of the governor had pleaded with him to run for Senate and that “in the interest of good governance, he should be in the senate in 2019 by the grace of God.”

The governor will have to battle the current occupant of the seat, Soji Akanbi, for the Oyo South Senatorial seat. Should Ajimobi secure the APC ticket, he would have to battle candidates of the PDP and the ADC, two parties with significant following in the state.

Kashim Shettima (Borno State)

With his second term coming to an end, the political ambition of Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State seems to be headed towards the senate even though he had said he will further his studies at the end of his second term in office. It is, however, not clear if the governor will contest for the Borno Central senatorial seat or that of Borno North.

If he is running, he will have to face Kaka Garbai who represents Borno Central or Abubakar Kyari who represents Borno North in the Senate. Shettima has governed the state as an indigene of Borno Central but recent controversies in the politics of the state led to the discovery of Borno North as his real origin.

Senator Kyari, on the other hand, is said to be popular in the constituency and the state in general. Although Kyari has not disclosed his intentions for 2019, the Borno State Governor might have to give him the gubernatorial ticket to stand a chance of going to the senate.

Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa State)

Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State has also made known his senatorial ambition. Al-makura, who first won election as governor on the platform of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change, CPC, in 2011, in June announced he will run for the seat of Nasarawa South Senatorial District under the platform of APC.

To take the seat, Al-Makura will battle the incumbent from the PDP, Suleiman Adokwe, a third term senator. Political experts believe the governor’s chances of winning the senatorial seat are slim because the incumbent senator is well grounded in the constituency.

Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe State)

The battle for the Yobe East senatorial seat will be an interesting one. Governor Ibrahim Geidam, whose tenure expires in May 2019, already has eyes on the senate. The incumbent senator for the district, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, who is also a former governor of the state, is seeking re-election for a fourth term in the Senate.

The lawmaker was recently quoted as saying he is physically and mentally fit to contest again and that is what he will do. He also said he doesn’t see anyone as a threat and expressed optimism of securing victory in 2019.

Geidam attempted to contest for the Senate in 2003 but was denied by Ibrahim, his mentor and godfather.

However, political observers believe that the Senate was attractive to a lot of Nigerian politicians because of the freebies. David Alao, policy analyst and social commentator, said it was unfortunate that outside of politics, the Nigerian political elite had no other employment. Describing them as opportunists and parasites, Alao said if the political elites had interest in truly serving the people, it would have been a different scenario; however, this is usually not the case.

“The governor is definitely thinking of going to the Senate to retire. What did he forget there in 2007 that is taking him back? Has he not been in the corridors of power ever since? It is pathetic that in our country, these people are nobodies outside of politics because why should they always jump from one political position to another – without even providing the dividends of democracy for the people?”

Alao said it was time the youth organised a revolution to kick out those who had stayed in the corridors of power “for too long,” especially as they had not added the expected value to governance. “I can assure you, this country will continue to remain a joke with the Senate becoming a retirement home for governors. Look at Amosun; he was once a senator, then governor and now he’s going back to the Senate. Are there no other people in the state? Political recycling has led us to mediocrity as a people. Should we continue this way, Nigeria can never move forward,” he said.

– Sept. 28, 2018 @ 74:45 GMT |

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