It is mixed fortune for Third Republic governors, who were sacked on November 17, 1993 by late General Sani Abacha-led junta. Twenty-four years after their exit from office, some are still relevant in the polity, while others have gone into political oblivion. TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE reports
It is 24 years that the Third Republic was aborted by former Head of State, General Sani Abacha, who took over power from the Ernest Shonekan-led Interim National Government (ING) through a coup.
Third Republic was aborted following the controversy that trailed the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election by then Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida.
The annulment of the election, which many people believed was won by the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Bashorun MKO Abiola, threw Nigeria into confusion and there were several protests across the country by pro-democracy activists to ensure that Babangida reversed his decision, but he did not.
The protests over his refusal forced him to ‘step aside’ from Aso Rock to pave way for an Interim National Government led by Shonekan.
Thirty governors have been sworn in before then (January 2, 1992) on the platform of the SDP and National Republican Convention (NRC), but about two years later, Abacha overthrew the government and sacked all the elected civilian governors and replaced them with military administrators.
During their tenure, the Third Republic governors dominated the political landscape in their respective states dictating who gets what. But like a thief in the night, they were caught unawares when the Third Republic was aborted, dashing the hope of politicians and public office holders as well as the aspiration of millions of Nigerians.
Twenty-four years after leaving office, a lot had happened to the ex-governors. While a handful of them are still relevant in the polity, dictating the tune at party level and corridors of power, most of them have experienced the epic fall that usually come with attainment of great political heights.
Out of the 30 governors that served in their respective states between January 2, 1992 and November 17, 1993, one-third of them have died, while two-third are alive. Those who have passed on are Akpan Isemin (Akwa-Ibom), Moses Adasu (Benue), Felix Ibru (Delta), Evan Enwerem (Imo), Mohammed Dabo Lere (Kaduna), Abubakar Audu (Kogi), Michael Otedola (Lagos), Musa Inuwa (Niger), Isiaka Adeleke (Osun) and Kolapo Ishola (Oyo).
While the likes of Audu (Kogi), Olusegun Osoba (Ogun), Jolly Nyame (Taraba) and Bukar Abba Ibrahim (Yobe) had the opportunity of returning to the government house in the Fourth Republic, which started on May 29, 1999, some of the Third Republic governors, who aspired for governorship seats were unlucky as their aspiration hit the rock after some attempts.
For Maina Lawan (Borno), Ibru (Delta), Enwerem (Imo), Kabiru Gaya (Kano), Shaaba Lafiaji (Kwara), Adeleke (Osun) and Ibrahim (Yobe), they were lucky to make it to the Senate, which has become a meeting point for ex-governors. Some of the former governors have also been given opportunity to serve as ministers, ambassadors and presidential aides. The list includes incumbent Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonaya Onu (Abia), former Special Adviser to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo on Political Matters, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife (Anambra); former Minister of Industry, Fidelis Tapgun (Plateau) and former Minister of Works, Yahaya Abdulkarim (Sokoto).
One of the former governors – Chief John Odigie-Oyegun (Edo) is presently a national chairman of the ruling party – All Progressives Congress (APC), while three others; Okwesilieze Nwodo (Enugu), Onu (Abia) and Clement Ebri (Cross Rivers), were one time national chairmen of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) and Progressive People Alliance (PPA), respectively.
Among the 30 ex-governors, only Odigie-Oyegun and Onu are holding key positions in the present dispensation, 24 years after they left office as number one citizens of their states.
Onu: Minister of Science and Technology
Onu, who hails from Uburu in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, was born on December 1, 1951. He was the first executive governor of Abia State and governed the state on the platform of NRC. Since he left office, Onu has remained a voice to be reckoned with in Nigeria politics.
He was in opposition party for many years before his party – All Progressives Congress (APC) took over the mantle of leadership from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the 2015 general elections.
Onu was the National Chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples
Party (ANPP) for many years until its merger with other opposition parties; Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) to form the APC on July 31, 2013.
As one of APC’s leaders, he played crucial roles in ensuring the party’s success during the 2015 general elections. And considering the roles he played during the polls, he was appointed Minister of Science and Technology by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Michika: Retires from politics
Abubakar Saleh Michika, born in 1941, was the first civilian governor of Adamawa State. He governed the state on the platform of the NRC.
In the present Fourth Republic, Michika was among those who showed interest to run for the governorship seat of the state.
In October 2002, Michika was a strong contender to become the ANPP candidate for the Adamawa governorship but the ambition did not see the light of the day. In 2005, former President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him as the chairman, Governing Council of the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi.
After the aborted Third Republic, he pitched his tent with ANPP (1998 to 2006) ACN (2006 to 2009), CPC (2009 to 2013) and is presently one of the leaders of APC in Adamawa State though he has retired from active politics due to age.
Isemin: Died in 2009
Akpan Isemin is among the Third Republic governors who have passed. Born in 1939 in Mbioto, Etinan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Isemin, who held the traditional title of Obong Ikpa Isong Ibibio, one of the most important traditional titles amongst the Ibibio nation, was the first civilian governor of Akwa-Ibom State and he governed the state on the platform of NRC.
Having distinguished himself in office during the aborted Third Republic, Isemin at the start of the present Fourth Republic in 1999, sought election as Akwa Ibom governor running on the platform of All Peoples Party (APP) but he lost to Obong Victor Attah of the PDP.
His aspiration of becoming a senator in 2003 on the platform of ANPP also hit the rock. After failing to realise his ambition on the platform of opposition parties, the former governor joined the then ruling party, PDP. Isemin died on June 23, 2009 at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital.
Ezeife: Playing the role of a statesman
Ezeife remains a vocal elder statesmen and a chieftain of apex Igbo body, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, who has remained consistent in progressivism. Born at Igbo-Ukwu, Anambra State on November 20, 1939, Ezeife governed Anambra State on the platform of SDP from January 1992 to November 1993.
He did not attend secondary school, but taught himself through correspondence courses, qualifying for university admission and later became a graduate up to the point of obtaining a masters and later PhD degree in 1972.
In the present Fourth Republic, he was appointed presidential Adviser on Political Matters to President Olusegun Obasanjo. Since he left office, he has always being vocal on issues of national interest.
Mohammed: Party leader
Alhaji Dahiru Muhammed, who was born on September 24, 1942 in Deba, then in Bauchi State and now Gombe State, was elected governor in 1991 on the platform of NRC.
The Wazirin Deba’s achievements as governor included construction of hospitals, including the Alkaleri General Hospital and Primary Health Centres at Dambam, Zambuk, Bambam and Burra, and the foundation for the Gombe Referral Hospital.
After the aborted Third Republic, he became a member of the Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN), and assisted Danjuma Goje, a former Gombe State governor in winning the 1998 senatorial election during by the Abacha regime.
Moses Adasu: Failed to returned to govt house
Rev. Fr. Moses Adasu, who was born on June 12, 1945, became governor of Benue State on January 2, 1992 on the platform of SDP. Adasu, who hailed from Shangev-Tiev District of Konshisha Local Government Area of Benue State, was the second civilian governor of the state.
He was appointed a member of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) in January 2001, but later resigned to re-contest for the governorship seat in the Fourth Republic.
He contested on the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD) and lost to then incumbent governor, George Akume of the PDP.
In September 2004 he was head of one of the National Convention Committee for the AD, after a factional split in the party caused by the return of former chairman Ahmed Abdulkadir. Adasu died on November 20, 2005.
Lawan: Served in the Senate
Maina Lawan, who governed Borno State in the aborted Third Republic, was born on July 12, 1954. He is one of the former governors, who later served in the Senate.
Prior to his emergence as governor in 1991 on the platform of the SDP, he was a member of the House of Representatives between 1979 and 1983.
Lawan was senator-elect under UNCP in the aborted transition of General Abacha in 1998.
As a popular politician in his state, Lawan was elected senator again between 1999 and 2003 on the platform of PDP and while in the Senate, he was the Senate Deputy Majority Leader.
Lawan’s ambition to return to the Borno government house in 2003 was truncated as he failed to secure the PDP’s governorship ticket.
In April 2007, he ran for the Senate again on the platform of ANPP and was elected for the Borno North district.
He served in the Sixth Senate as the Minority Leader. He also won the hearts of his constituents as they returned him to the Senate during the 2011 elections.
Clement Ebri: Ex-PPA chairman
Ebri was at the helms of affairs in Cross Rivers State on the platform of NRC during the aborted Third Republic.
Before becoming governor, Ebri, who was born on December 11, 1952 in Mkpani, Yakurr Local Government Area of Cross River State, was elected into the 1989 Constituent Assembly.
His plan to return to the government house in 1999 did not see the light of the day. He contested the 1998 All Peoples Party (APP) governorship primaries to fly the party’s flag in for Cross River State for the 1999 elections after the return to democracy, but came second.
He later served as chairman of the Presidential Review Committee to examine the 1999 constitution.
Prior to the 2007 general elections, Ebri in 2006 left the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) to become a founding member of the newly founded Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) and later became its national chairman.
He later led the party into the Government of National Unity (GNU) under late President Umaru Yar’Adua. He resigned his position as PPA chairman in 2008 and left the party on account that he was stepping aside from politics.
Felix Ibru: Died in 2016
Olorogun Felix Ibru of the Ibru dynasty of Agbarha-Otor in the Ughelli North Local Government Area in Delta State was sworn in as the first civilian governor of the state on January 2, 1992 and left office on November 17, 1993. Born on December 7, 1935, Ibru governed the state on the platform of SDP. His political activities began during the aborted Second Republic in 1983, when he unsuccessfully contested for a seat in the Senate. He emerged as first executive governor of Delta State in 1992 and later won the 2003 senatorial elections for Delta Central. Ibru died on March 12, 2016 at the age of 80. Until his death he held the position of President General of the Urhobo Progressive Union (UPU).
Odigie-Oyegun: APC’s national chair
Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was the governor of Edo State during the Third Republic and chieftain of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) during the June 12, 1993 presidential election annulment struggle. Oyegun, born on August 12, 1939, retired from the civil service as a permanent secretary before becoming governor. He was active during NADECO’s struggle against the military junta and was among those who fought for return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999. He became a leader of the ANPP and later defected to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which is one of the legacy parties of APC. On June 13, 2014 Odigie- Oyegun was elected as national chairman of the party and since then, he has been steering the ship of the ruling party.
Nwodo: Ex-PDP chairman
Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, born on July 28, 1950 in Nsukka was elected governor of Enugu State in January 1992 on the platform NRC. The medical doctor turned politician returned to politics in the present Fourth Republic as an active member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He served as the National Secretary of the PDP between 1999 and 2001. In 2010, he was elected national chairman of the party.
Enwerem: Ex-Senate president
Enwerem, who was born in Ikeduru, Imo State on October 29, 1935, governed his state on the platform of NRC during the aborted Third Republic. Prior to his emergence as governor, Enwerem served as chairman of the Nigerian Airports Authority between 1980 and 1983. He was elected into the Senate in 1999 to represent Imo East Senatorial Zone on the platform of the PDP and became the first Senate president in the Fourth Republic on June 3, 1999. Enwerem did not hold the post of Senate president for long before he was removed from office on November 18, 1999 over allegations that he falsified his name. Despite his removal, he remained a member of the Senate until 2003. He passed on August 2, 2007.
Kudu: Former youngest governor
Ali Sa’ad Birnin-Kudu was the executive governor of Jigawa State on the platform of SDP between January 1992 and November 1993. He made history as the youngest elected governor in the Third Republic. Birin-Kudu later contested as the gubernatorial aspirant of the National Democratic Party (NDP). Lere: Died in 2002 Alhaji Mohammed Dabo Lere, born on March 15, 1940, was elected governor of Kaduna State on the platform of NRC. In 2001, he led supporters of General Babangida in the North for the presidency. He reportedly died of stroke in Abuja on February 18, 2002 at age 64.
Gaya: ex-Senate Deputy Minority Whip
Senator Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya, an architect turned politician served as Kano State governor in the Third Republic. Born on June 16, 1952, Gaya was a member of the National Caucus Committee for the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP) and was later elected Kano State governor between in 1992 and 1993 on the platform of NRC. He ran for the 2003 governorship election on the platform of the National Democratic Party (NDP), but his aspiration did not see the light of the day. He was later elected to the Senate in 2007 and re-elected in 2011 on the platform of ANPP to represent Kano South in the Red Chamber. Gaya was the Senate Deputy Minority Whip from 2007 to 2011. He was also elected vice president of the inter-parliamentary union (IPU) for Africa at the 135th General Assembly of the union in Geneva, Switzerland October 2016.
Barda: ex-deputy chair of ACF
Alhaji Sa’idu Barda was elected on the NRC platform as governor of Kastina State in January 1992. He later became leader of the United Nigeria People’s Party (UNPP). In January 2003, as chairman of the UNPP primary convention, Barda announced that Senator Jim Nwobodo would be the party’s candidate in the April 2003 presidential election. Barda became the deputy chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) in 2010.
Musa: Lost bid to return to govt house
Alhaji Abubakar Musa was elected Kebbi State governor on the platform of the NRC, holding office between January 1992 and November 1983. Before joining politics, Musa was Director of Customs. In June 2002 he was elected National Treasurer of the then newly formed National Democratic Party (NDP), but he later defecated to the PDP. His intension to return to office in 2003 hit the rock as he lost the election to the then incumbent, Adamu Aliero, who contested on the platform of the ANPP.
Audu: Died in middle of victory
Prince Abubakar Audu, born on October 24, 1947 is the only person that has governed Kogi State in two different republics. His first tenure was from January 1992 to November 1993 during the Third Republic and the second from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2003 in the present Fourth Republic. Audu’s sojourn into public service began in 1986, when he was appointed as Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning in the Old Benue State.
He served in this capacity until 1988, when the cabinet was dissolved. In August 1991, Kogi State was created from parts of old Benue and Kwara states and Audu emerged the first executive governor of the state on the platform of NRC. He was elected again on the platform of ANPP and sworn into office on May 29, 1999. He lost his re-election bid in 2003 and 2007 to Ibrahim Idris, who won on the platform of PDP. In 2012, Audu again contested against Wada of the PDP and was defeated again.
His hope of becoming a governor in 2015 ended on a sad note as he died of heart attack on November 22, 2015, shortly after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the Kogi State gubernatorial election as inconclusive. As APC governorship candidate, he was leading with wide margin before his death.
Lafiagi: Serving senator
Alhaji Sha’aba Lafiagi was elected governor of Kwara State in January 1992 on the platform of the SDP. Lafiagi was a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP. In February 2009, he was appointed chairman of the National Sugar Development Council. He led the planning committee for the April 20, 2009 Special National Convention of the party. In April 2011, he was elected senator to represent Kwara North senatorial district.
Otedola: Died in 2014
Sir Michael Otedola, born on July 16, 1926 at Odoragunsin in Epe Local Government Area, governed Lagos State during the Third Republic on the platform of NRC. A former reporter and later sub-editor at The Guardian and The Times in England, he became Information Officer in the Western Nigeria government in 1959. In 1961 he moved into public relations, working for Western Nigeria Television/Western Broadcasting Service (1961-1964) and Mobil Oil Group of Companies (1964-1977), continuing as a consultant to Mobil after leaving the company.
After leaving office as governor, he continued his career as a writer and consultant, holding positions on the boards of various businesses. He died on May 5, 2014. Inuwa: Failed to return to power Dr. Musa Inuwa was governor of Niger State from January 1992 to November 1993 on the platform of NRC.
He was of Kanbari extraction from the Kontagora zone of Niger State. In the present Fourth Republic, he attempted to return to the government house, but couldn’t get enough votes to be elected. He ran for Niger State governorship during the April 2003 elections on the ANPP ticket, but came third after Abdulkadir Kure of the PDP and Mustapha Bello of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP). In December 2006, he was made Commander of the Order of the Niger. He died on January 16, 2010 at age 62.
Osoba: Returned to govt house
Chief Olusegun Osoba, a veteran journalist and former Editor of the Daily Times of Nigeria, was Ogun State governor during the aborted Third Republic. He was born on July 15, 1939. He was elected on two different occasions as governor of Ogun State; first from January 1992 to November 1993 on the SDP platform and second in 1999 on the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD). He lost his reelection bid to Otunba Gbenga Daniel of the PDP in 2003.
Osoba has remained a voice to be reckoned with in Nigeria politics since the aborted Third Republic. He was among NADECO and Afenifere chieftains, who fought the military to stand still during the annulled June 12 elections. Since he left office, Osoba has been in the progressive camps and he is one of the leading voices in South-West politics. He was one of the delegates to the 2014 National Conference. He is currently a chieftain of APC.
Olumilua: Party leader
Bamidele Olumilua was elected governor of Ondo State in 1992 on the platform of the SDP. He joined the PDP in 1998. He was one time the chairman of the Christian Pilgrims Board. He was one of the founding members of the Action Congress (AC) formed in 2006, which later became ACN and one of the legacy parties that formed APC.
Adeleke: Died in 2017
Senator Isiaka Adeleke, born on January 15, 1955 was the first civilian governor of Osun State, which was carved out of the old Oyo State. During the aborted Third Republic, the businessman cum politician, against all odds emerged the SDP candidate and won the general election.
After the dissolution of the republic, Adeleke pitched his tent with the opposition group, Afenifere, but later switched to join Democratic Party of Nigeria. In 2007, Adeleke was elected senator for Osun West on the platform of the PDP and was returned to Senate in 2015 on the platform of APC. He died on April 23, 2017. Before his death, he was seen as one of the major contenders for Osun governorship seat in 2018.
Ishola: Died 2011
Chief Kolapo Olawuyi Ishola was elected governor of Oyo State on the platform of the SPD and he held office holding between January 1992 and November 1993. While in office, he established the Oyo State Post-Primary Schools Teaching Service Commission and founded the School of Science, Pade. Ishola died in his sleep in the early hours of Tuesday, August 9, 2011 in Ibadan at age 77.He was a member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) before his death.
Tapgun: Ex-Minister of Industry
Fidelis Tapgun was elected governor of Plateau State during the aborted Third Republic on the platform of the SDP. After the country’s return to civil rule in 1999, he was appointed Ambassador to Kenya in 2000 and Permanent Representative of the Nigerian Mission to the United Nations Environment Programme in February 2001. He was a chieftain of the PDP and Director-General of the Obasanjo-Atiku Campaign Organisation during the 2003 general elections.
Tapgun was appointed Minister of Industry on July 7, 2005 and in January 2007 he became a Minister of State in the newly combined Ministry of Commerce and Industry. In February 2010, he was appointed co-chairman of a 15-member committee set up to find an enduring solution to the constant crises in Jos, Plateau State.
George: Politically active
Rufus Ada George, born on July 11, 1940 at George-Ama, Okrika, is the second civilian governor of Rivers State. He was elected on the platform of NRC. He was an accountant with Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria from April 1972 to December 1979, before he left to join the Rivers State government. Under the administration of Chief Melford Okilo, he was the Secretary to the State Government and had held other positions including Director- General, Works Directorate and Director of Tribunals and Enquires. After the return to democracy in 1999, Ada-George became a leader of the ANPP.
Abdulkarim: Ex-Minister of Works
Malam Yahaya Abdulkarim, born on August 21, 1944, was elected governor of Sokoto State in 1992. He governed the state on the platform of the NRC. Prior to his emergence as governor, he worked with the civil service of the then North-Western State as a teacher. He later held various positions before retiring in 1989 as Director-General in the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning of Sokoto State.
After the return to democracy in 1999, he became a power broker in the Zamfara State chapter of the PDP. In September 2002, Abdulkarim was appointed to a sub-committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission to monitor a multi-billion naira developmental project that had been launched in the nine oilproducing states. He was appointed Minister of State for Works in Obasanjo’s cabinet in July 2005 and was later promoted to Minister of Works, when the then substantive minister, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe,quit office in 2006. He was unable to realise his gubernatorial aspiration on the platform of the PDP during the April 2007 elections in Zamfara State.
Nyame: Served another two terms
Jolly Nyame, born on December 25, 1955 in Zing Local Government Area of Taraba State, was the governor of the state during the Third Republic. He was elected on the platform of SDP. In 1999, he returned to the government house and served for two consecutive terms of eight years between May 29, 1999 and May 29, 2007 on the platform of the PDP.
Ibrahim: Ex-governor, now senator
Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim was Yobe State governor from January 1992 to November 1993. Prior to his emergence as governor, he worked as a civil servant in Borno State before he was appointed as Commissioner for Works. In December 1991, a few months after Yobe State was created, Ibrahim contested and won the gubernatorial election under the banner of the SDP. He returned to power in 1999 as he was elected governor on the platform of APP and was re-elected in 2003 as part of the four incumbent ANPP governors who retained their seats. In 2007, Ibrahim was elected to the Senate for Yobe East senatorial district and since then he has remained in the Senate having won the 2011 and 2015 elections.
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