For eight state governors on the last lap of their second terms, the fear of precipitous loss in stature after attainment of great heights in politics has prompted them to declare for the Senate in order to remain relevant in the polity, FELIX NWANERI reports
Less than six months to the 2019 general elections, 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 polls are billed to commence with that for the presidency and National Assembly on February 16, 2019, while the governorship, states Assembly and Federal Capital Territory Area Council elections will hold on March 2. It is against this backdrop that political activities have been revved of late as most elected public office holders, who would be seeking re-election, have not only stepped declared interests for the positions up for grab, but have gone ahead to purchase declaration of interest and nomination forms as well as commenced subtle campaigns in their bids to return to power. However, it is a different ball game for 10 state governors, who are on the last lap of their second terms in office.
Two of these governors – Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti) and Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), will be leaving their respective offices this year – October 16 and November 27, respectively. The remaining nine – Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), Ibrahim Shetima (Borno), Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Tanko Al-makura (Nasarawa) and Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) will bow out on May 29, 2019.
For these outgoing governors, the questions are: What are their next political moves after dominating the political landscape in their respective states in the last eight years? Will they be heading to the National Assembly, partic-ularly the Senate, which has become a nest for former governors, the federal cabinet as ministers or the presidency, which has always been the target of most outgoing governors? No doubt, each of the governors will prefer to remain politically relevant by clinging to power in one way or the other, but politics, being a game of the possible, analysts are not ruling out a decline in the political fortune of some them by the time they leave office.
This assumption 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. A justification of this postulation is the story of some former governors, who left office on May 29, 2015 after serving out the constitutional allowed two tenures. Having dominated the political landscape in their respective states, dictating who gets what, when and how, most of them have experienced the epic fall that usually comes with attainment of great political heights, with only a handful still relevant in the polity.
This perhaps informs why eight of them, Okorocha, Geidam, Yari, Amosun, Ajimobi, Al-Makura, Ahmed and Shettima have declared to contest for their respective senatorial districts seats in the forthcoming general elections. Should they succeed, that will swell the number of former governors in the Senate, which stands at 15 at the moment.
They include Bukola Saraki (Kwara), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Kabir Gaya (Kano), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Theodore Orji (Abia) and Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa). Others are Ahmed Sani Yarima (Zamfara), Danjuma Goje (Gombe), Bukar Abba Ibrahim (Yobe), Adamu Aliero (Kebbi), Sam Egwu (Ebonyi), Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara), Joshua Dariye (Plateau) and Jonah Jang (Plateau) and George Akume (Benue). Besides their senatorial ambition, which its battle, begins with their party men, some of them incumbent senators, who also want to return to the upper legislative chambers of the National Assembly, the outgoing governors are also burdened by succession battles in their respective domains. Ordinarily, that would not have been their yoke given that democracy grants liberty to the people to choose their leaders through periodic elections. But the undue advantage, which power confers on its wielders, especially in developing countries like Nigeria, explains why none of them is toying with the succession issue. At the moment, the governors are equally battling to have their cronies or even family members to succeed them.
The reason for this is not farfetched. Most public office holders are more disposed to those who will cover their tracks as their successors. Against this backdrop, the concept of the people determining who leads them through the ballot presently exists mostly on paper as leaders at the various levels of governance have always had hands in the emergence of their successors. While this practice was not prominent in the first and second republics, it has become synonymous with the present dispensation. Consequently, the Fourth Republic, which took off in 1999, has produced hundreds of political godfathers, who sit in the comfort of their homes to determine who gets what, how and when. But politics, being a game of the possible, the cozy relationship between these so-called political godfathers and their anointed ones hardly last.
In most cases, these anointed successors hardly settle in office before the “political romance turns sour.” Most times, the bubble is burst when the anointed successors try to do things on their own although there have been instances, where the beneficiaries were out to destroy their benefactors even when the latter had tried as much as possible not to interfere in the running of government.
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