Vice presidency, Senate on the cards for outgoing governors
For state governors, who would be leaving office between now and May 29, 2023, the fear of swift loss in stature after attainment of great heights in politics has prompted them to commence moves on what next after office in order to remain relevant in the polity, FELIX NWANERI reports
Barely eight months to the 2023 general election, there are political maneuverings of different shades across the country as key political actors as well as gladiators’ perfect strategies to remain relevant in the political space. The elections are billed to commence with the presidential poll on February 25.
So, for elected political office holders, who would be seeking re-election, now is the time for building of political bridges, consolidation of strongholds and expansion of frontiers. It is however a different ball game for those who are on the last lap of their second term in office for positions that have constitutional tenure limit – the presidency and governorship.
Already, President Muhammadu Buhari has given a hint about his retirement plan. He said he will retire to Daura, his home town after he completes his second term in 2023.
“This is my second and final term, at the end of which I will, God willing, go to Daura and settle down,” he revealed during a meeting with some traditional rulers from across the country at the presidential villa in March, 2019. For the governors, 18 out of the country’s 36 would be leaving their respective offices between now and 2023.
They are Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Aminu Masari (Katsina), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa) and Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano).
Others are Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Darius Ishaku (Taraba), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Sani Bello (Niger), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Ben Ayade (Cross River).
The question over their next political move is: Having dominated the political landscape in their respective states, will they be heading to the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, which has become a nest for former governors, or the presidency, which has always been the target of most outgoing governors? Presently, 16 former governors are in the Senate.
They are Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Tanko Al Makura (Nasarawa), Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia), Sam Egwu (Ebonyi), Theodore Orji (Abia), Chimaraoke Nnamani (Enugu), Danjuma Goje (Gombe), Adamu Aliero (Kebbi), Kabiru Gaya (Kano), Ibrahim Shekarau (Kano), Gabriel Suswam (Benue), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto) and Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa). Abdullahi Adamu, a former governor of Nasarawa State who was the 17th on the list vacated his seat in March to become the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
No doubt, each of the second term governors will prefer to remain politically relevant by clinging to power in one way or the other, but politics, being the game of the possible, analysts are not ruling out a decline in the political fortune of some by the time they leave office.
This belief is predicated on the fact that there is always a precipitous loss in stature after attainment of great heights in politics either by one’s own doing or as a result of circumstance.
The story of some governors, who left office in 2019 after serving out the constitutional allowed two terms, comes handy. These former governors dominated the political landscape of their respective states, when they held sway and dictated who got what, when and how. But three years after leaving office, most of them have experienced the epic fall that usually come with attainment of great political heights, with only a handful still relevant in the polity.
Fayemi: Undecided after withdrawing from 2023 presidency
The Ekiti State governor will have his second term in office elapse on October 18, 2022. This means is that Fayemi, who doubles as the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), would be out office four months before the 2023 general election.
However, Fayemi’s next political move remains uncertain after he withdrew from to the recent presidential primary election of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to support the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who won the ticket. Fayemi, who withdrew from the 2023 presidential race at the venue of the APC special national convention, said he took the decision because age is still on his side.
His words: “I am prepared to sacrifice my ambition to be president of Nigeria.
I am a young man and I still have a lot of time ahead of me and one person I have worked with in the trenches of democratic struggles and in the cause of governing Nigeria side by side, shoulder to shoulder, my mentor, my leader, a supporter of mine and a great fighter for the unity of Nigeria that I will recommend to all my supporters and my delegates starting with the 48 delegates from Ekiti State alone and others from across the country is that you please accord me the respect to offer the support you are giving me to my elder brother, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I am not doing him a favour but doing a duty of care for Nigeria.”
As it stands Fayemi has not declared his next political move but there is no doubt that the Senate is out of the cards for him as he is not known to have declared interest or used a proxy to secure a ticket.
However, many believe that he will play a major role not only in the APC presidential campaign but Tinubu’s administration if he wins the 2023 presidential election.
Ayade: Settles for Senate after failed presidential bid
The Cross River State governor dumped the PDP through which he was elected governor of the South-South state for the ruling APC in May 2021.
However, his bid to fly the flag of the ruling party in the 2023 presidential election failed.
He was one of the aspirants, who vied for the APC presidential ticket but was only able to garner 37 votes out of the 2,203 votes cast at the party’s special national convention to elect its standard bearer. With his presidential ambition hitting the rocks, Ayade now has eyes set on a return to the Senate.
He represented Cross River North Senatorial District in the Red Chamber between 2011 and 2015, when he was elected as governor for the first term. The APC primary election for the Cross River North Senatorial District ticket was won by Ayade’s former Chief of Staff, Hon. Martin Orim, but a political arrangement has seen Orim handing the ticket to Ayade.
Tambuwal: Has his eyes on the Senate
The Sokoto State governor is poised to return to the National Assembly, this time the Senate after he withdrew from the PDP presidential primary to back former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the eventual winner of the contest. New Telegraph learnt that there was an arrangement before the PDP special national convention for the governor to return to the National Assembly, and this was the major reason why he withdrew from the presidential race.
To actualize the plan, Tambuwal secured the PDP ticket for Sokoto South Senatorial District through his former Commissioner for Land and Survey, Aminu Bodinga, who stepped down immediately after the party’s presidential primary election.
This paved the way for Tambuwal to emerge through affirmation in a fresh primary election and will slug it out with the incumbent senator representing Sokoto South, Mohammed Danbaba, who recently dumped PDP for APC, when he realised that Tambuwal will take the party’s ticket from him.
Most northern political leaders are said to be rooting for Tambuwal to return to the National Assembly for conceding to their plea to step down for Atiku in the interest of the North, and it is believed that his chances of emerging as the next president of the Senate if the PDP wins in 2023 are high having been speaker of the House of Representatives (2011 to 2015).
Ugwuanyi: Senate on the cards
It is clear that the governor of Enugu State will not retire from politics after his two-term of eight years as governor as the former three-term member of the House of Representatives would be contesting the 2023 senatorial election of represent Enugu North Senatorial District.
Speculations have been rife from his first term in office that Ugwuanyi will head to the Senate after his serving out his tenure as governor but there were those who thought then that the governor was eyeing the presidential or vice presidential slots depending on where the pendulum swings as regards zoning of the presidency within the PDP.
The governor, however, opted for the Senate when it became clear that the party was disposed to fielding a northern presidential candidate in 2023. As expected, there was no resistance from the incumbent senator representing Enugu North, Senator Chuka Utazi, is doing his second term in the red chamber and will easily give up the position for the governor.
Ikpeazu: Picks ticket for Senate
The Abia State governor has secured a ticket to contest for a senatorial seat in the forthcoming general election on the platform of the PDP. The Abia South Senatorial District seat, which Ikpeazu would be vying for is presently occupied by the Enyinnaya Abaribe, who recently resigned his position as Senate Minority Leader after defecting to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to square up against the governor in the election.
The duo hail from the same Obingwa Local Government Area of the state and there is no doubt that an interesting contest is in the offing given the circumstances that forced Abaribe out of the PDP.
The former Senate Minority Leader had intended to run for the governorship of the state on the platform of the PDP but IKpeazu opted for a former vice chancellor of Abia State University, Prof. Uche Ikonne.
Wike: Undecided after failed presidential bid
For the governor of oil-rich Rivers State, the build-up to the 2023 general election has not been the best of times for him. Wike contested and lost the PDP presidential primary but lost to Atiku.
He polled 237 votes against Atiku’s 371 votes in what many described as a keenly contested shadow poll. It was against the backdrop of his strong showing in the primary that many thought Wike would be handed the PDP’s vice presidential ticket. This was not to be as Atiku and the party’s leadership on Thursday settled for the governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa.
The question over this development is: Will Wike to rebel against the main opposition party given what he described as “sabotage of some southern governors,” which denied him the PDP presidential ticket and his inability to be considered as running mate even when he was said to have been the favourite? For now, Wike is keeping his next move to himself, but it is a matter of time before he makes it known.
The vociferous governor is not likely to quit politics after serving as governor for eight years, but developments in the days ahead will determine as the only option open for him is going to the Senate, where most former governors have found refuge.
Lalong: Senate on the cards
The Plateau State governor, who doubles as chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, intends to follow the footsteps of his predecessors by joining the league of former governors in the Senate at the end of his second term. Former governors of Plateau State since the return of democracy in 1999, Joshua Dariye and Jonah Jang ended up in the Senate after serving out their respective tenures and Lalong equally wants to be counted.
The governor has already picked the APC ticket to represent Plateau South Senatorial District in 2023 in line with the belief that he ensured that Mrs. Nora Daduut emerged late Senator Ignatius Longjan successor in the 2019 bye election to hold the seat in trust for him.
Ortom: Wants a senatorial seat like his predecessors
The Benue State governor will contest for the Benue North West senatorial seat to succeed the incumbent, Senator Emmanuel Yisa Orker Jev. Ortom is not the first former governor of the state, who would head to the Senate if he wins the election. Ex-Governor George Akume, first represented Benue North West Senatorial District before his appointment as minister. Another former governor of the state, Gabriel Suswam, is the incumbent senator representing Benue North East, and Ortom is bent on ensuring that he wears the same crown when he leaves office.
Umahi: Settles for Senate after failed presidential bid
The Ebonyi State governor now has his eyes set on the senatorial election after his failure to secure the presidential ticket of the APC although he hinted that he is likely to retire from politics during his defection from the PDP to APC in November 2020.
Umahi was then accused by the leadership of leaving the party through which he was elected governor twice because of his presidential but he dismissed the claim. However, it did not take long before it became clear that he would be vying for the presidential ticket of the ruling party.
But after losing the ticket to Tinubu, the Ebonyi State governor, who is the chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum, has picked his party’s ticket for the senatorial election. Umahi’s younger brother, Austin, had emerged as the winner of the APC senatorial ticket for Ebonyi South but he gave up the ticket as expected. This paved the way for a rescheduled shadow poll, which the governor won. This is not surprising as many political watchers believe that a senatorial seat would be his’ if he decides to join the league of ex-governors in the Senate given the goodwill he enjoys among his people.
Okowa: Running for office of vice president
The belief ahead of the PDP primary elections was that Okowa will pick the party’s senatorial ticket for Delta North for a possible return to the seat which he occupied before his emergence as governor in 2015.
The conviction was against the backdrop of Okowa’s running battle with the incumbent senator representing the district, Peter Nwaoboshi, which forced the latter to leave the PDP for the APC. Despite the postulation then, there was speculation that the Delta State governor was positioning himself to be running mate to any of the presidential aspirants on the platform of the PDP in 2023.
The conjecture turned to reality last week was announced by the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku, as his running mate for the February 2023 election. The former vice president, who explained why he opted for Okowa ahead of Governors Wike and Udom Emmanuel, said his vice president must fulfill the qualities to be president and one who could complement him as a president.
El-Rufai: Still playing the mind game
The speculation before now was that the Kaduna State governor will contest the 2023 presidential election. However, the governor put paid to the speculation, when he became one of the voices in support of power shift to the South. He, also, did not mince words, when he said that he would be too old to contest for the presidency in 2023.
Typical of el- Rufai, he walked his talk at the APC presidential primary by leading APC governors of northern extraction to ensure that a southerner emerges as the party’s presidential candidate. Although some sources are of the view that the governor’s support for a southern presidential candidate is because of his ambition to be vice president, developments in the ruling party indicate that the position may elude him.
However, politics being a game of the possible, nothing is foreclosed. Tinubu has submitted Kabiru Masari as his running mate to meet the deadline for submission of candidates for the 2023 elections according to the schedule by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) elapsed on Friday, but the belief is that he would be substituted. The question is: Will el-Rufai be the chosen one?
Ishaku: Vying for Taraba South senatorial seat
As expected, Governor Ishaku will be on the ballot as the PDP candidate for Taraba South Senatorial District in the forthcoming general election. The governor’s nomination was through a consensus arrangement candidate although party delegates still voted at a primary election where 158 accredited delegates cast their votes in a bid to avoid future litigations. He recorded 154 valid votes, while four votes were declared invalid.
Ishaku, who assured the people of Taraba South of purposeful leadership by changing the narrative at the Red Chamber when elected, had engaged the incumbent senator, Emmanuel Bwacha, in a running battle in the build-up to the primary elections.
Although the duo were silent on the reason for their fight then, it was clear that the governor wanted to move to the Senate after serving eight years in the state and that Bwacha had to vacate the seat for him. Expectedly, Bwacha initially resisted the move but with pressure from the governor, his resistance caved in. Consequently, the then Senate minority leader resigned membership of the PDP and joined the APC.
Badaru: Undecided after withdrawing from presidential contest
The Jigawa State governor dropped his presidential ambition, following agreement northern governors of APC extraction that the party should zone its ticket to the South.
Badaru did not stop at his withdrawal from the party’s presidential primary election, he threw his weight behind Tinubu and has been mentioned as one those being considered as the vice presidential candidate of the ruling party.
Bello: Senatorial seat on the cards
The Niger State governor initially appeared undecided over his next political move in 2023. Even when some campaign posters linked him to the presidential contest, he disassociated himself from them and joined the ranks of those who rooted for a southerner to succeed President Buhari.
However, his support was not without a caveat. He said anyone aspiring to become the next president should be ready to meet the people of North Central geopolitical zone and tell them what he has for the zone. He was then of the view that the zone has been short-changed since the return of democracy in 1999, despite playing major role to those that have emerged as presidents irrespective of their political affiliation.
While some opined then that Bello was positioning himself as a kingmaker, many said a senatorial seat is likely to be his fall back plan. This has played out with Bello’s defeat of incumbent Senator Aliyu Sabi to win the APC ticket for Niger North Senatorial District seat.
Emmanuel: Undecided after losing presidential and VP bids
The Akwa Ibom State governor contested the PDP’s presidential primary election but lost to Atiku. However, he was among those considered as running mate to the former vice president but he lost to his Delta State counterpart, Okowa.
For now, Emmanuel has not made public his next political move but a senatorial bid cannot be ruled out although he opted out of the contest for PDP’s ticket for Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District seat, which was won by a former member of the state House of Assembly, Ekong Sampson.
The belief is that a seat in the Senate will be an icing on the cake for Emmanuel, but it is left to be seen if Sampson would be substituted along the line for the governor to make it to the Red Chamber.
Ganduje: Forfeits senatorial bid but won’t retire from politics
The Kano State governor opted for a seat in the Senate when he realized that a northern presidential candidate for the APC was not feasible. Ganduje plotted to replace the senator representing Kano North Senatorial District, Barau Jibrin, relying on his control of Kano APC structure to secure the senatorial ticket.
His senatorial bid was however resisted by members of the party, who maintained that he cannot anoint his deputy as the governorship candidate and at the same time pick the party’s ticket for Kano North Senatorial District.
To avert throwing the party into crisis, especially with Rabiu Kwankwaso’s New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) waiting to cash-in on a possible implosion in the APC to take over Kano in the coming elections,
Ganduje quickly forfeited his senatorial ambition. However, with Tinubu’s emergence as the presidential candidate of the ruling party, Ganduje, who declared that he will not be retiring from politics in 2023, is said to be among those being considered as running mate to the APC national leader.
This will only materialize if the former governor of Lagos State settles Muslim/Muslim ticket, which most Nigerians have expressed resentment for.
Bagudu: Senate on the cards
The Kebbi State governor and chairman of Progressives Governors’ Forum (umbrella body of governors of APC extraction) never pretended about his senatorial ambition, when it became clear that his purported presidential ambition would be a hard sale given the push by APC members of southern extraction for their region to produce the party’s candidate for the 2023 presidential election.
Bagudu persistently maintained that as a pan-Nigerian political party, all Nigerians are free to aspire for any position in the APC, including the party’s 2023 presidential ticket but he joined his colleagues from the North to support the emergence of southern candidate at the presidential primary election.
He had before the shadow poll, secured the ruling party’s ticket for Kebbi Central Senatorial District seat.
A former governor of the state, Adamu Aliero, the present occupant of the seat, withdrew from the race some hours to the commencement of the primary election. Aliero later resigned from the APC and has since joined the PDP and would be squaring up against the Bagudu in the election having secured the ticket of the opposition party.
However, Bagudu, who recalled that he had won the PDP ticket for Kebbi Central Senatorial seat in 2011 but relinquished the mandate to Aliero believes that his performance as governor will speak for him during the election
Masari: May retire to private life
The Katsina State governor and a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, who presently holds sway in President Buhari’s home state, is not really looking at another office post-2023. So, he is likely to retire to private life by the time he leaves office on May 29, 2023.