As the clock ticks towards the 2023 elections, some governors who are completing their second terms next year have commenced moves to switch to the federal parliament, a place tagged as retirement home for state chief executives.
Since the beginning of the Fourth Republic, it has been a common practice among governors to retire to the National Assembly as senators after serving out their second term.
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Former governors who are now serving as senators are Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia North), Theodore Orji (Abia Central), Gabriel Suswan (Benue North East), Kashim Shettima (Borno Central), Sam Egwu (Ebonyi North) and Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu East).
Others are Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central), Rochas Okorocha (Imo North), Ibrahim Shekarau (Kano Central), Ibrahim Gaya (Kano South), Adamu Aliero (Kebbi South), Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa North), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun Central), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto North), Ibrahim Gaidam (Yobe East) and Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa Central).
On the other hand, many lawmakers had also switched from the legislature to the executive as governors.
Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed (Bauchi), Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Hope Uzodinma (Imo), Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina) and Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto) are former federal lawmakers currently serving as governors.
Currently, some serving senators are at loggerheads with their state governors, who are planning to return to the Red Chamber in 2023. Many of them currently represent senatorial districts of their governors.
Recently, at a valedictory session to mark the exit of three members of the upper chamber, some lawmakers expressed concern that the “rate of turnover” in the Senate was becoming worrisome as many of them may not return.
Here are some governors who are scheming to replace their senators in 2023.
Simon Bako Lalong (Plateau)
Lalong is first among the second term governors to pick expression of interest and nomination forms to contest the Plateau South senatorial ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The senatorial seat is currently occupied by Nora Ladi Daduut, who was elected to the Red Chamber after the death of Ignatius Longjan.
Serving commissioners from Plateau State raised N60million to purchase the forms for Lalong, according Yakubu Datti, the chairman of the Commissioners Forum of Plateau State.
He said the commissioners took the decision to honour their principal based on his numerous achievements and contributions to the state, and that the Senate position would enable the entire country to benefit from his leadership potentials.
Muhammad Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa)
As Governor Badaru rounds off his second and final term in office come May 29, 2023, his next political move has become the subject of discourse in the state’s political circle.
While the governor had kept the issue close to his chest, some of his loyalists had linked him to a possible race to the Senate.
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that the governor’s decision to move to the Red Chamber of the National Assembly was taken during a high-level meeting which took place last week Friday shortly before the governor travelled to Saudi Arabia on lesser hajj.
Should the governor decide to run for Senate, he would have to contend with the incumbent senator representing Jigawa North West, Abdullahi Danladi Sankara, who chairs the Senate Committee on Information.
Samuel Ortom (Benue)
Ortom, in early March, declared his interest to contest the Benue North West senatorial seat currently occupied by Senator Emmanuel Orker Jev.
Ortom said he made the move after a series of consultations with his kinsmen, telling them that he had finally been convinced that God had confirmed to him to contest the election.
Few weeks after his declaration, elders from the Masev, Ihyarev and Nongov Development Association (MINDA) in Benue State presented Peoples Democratic Party (PDP’s) expression of interest and nomination forms for the Senate race to the governor.
Political watchers in the state had predicted that Senator Orker Jev and the governor would soon fall apart over the latter’s move to replace the lawmaker in the Red Chamber.
But Jev said those speculating frosty relationship between him and his governor over the senatorial seat would be ‘terribly’ disappointed.
David Umahi (Ebonyi)
There were reports weeks ago that Umahi had dropped his presidential ambition to contest the Ebonyi South senatorial seat in the 2023 general elections. But the governor dismissed claims through the state’s Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Uchenna Orji. In a statement, he described the claims as falsehood peddled by political charlatans.
After declaring his presidential bid, Umahi has been battling to save his governorship seat after a court order sacked him and his deputy from office over their defection from the PDP to the APC.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja held that their defection was unconstitutional, and that they not only jettisoned the PDP, but also the votes that guaranteed their re-election.
However, a Court of Appeal in Enugu upheld Umahi’s position as governor, stating that his defection was constitutional, though immoral.
Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta)
Okowa, who vacated the Delta North senatorial seat after one tenure in 2015 to become governor, is yet to publicly declare his intention to return to the Red Chamber after completing his second term in 2023, but feelers from the state indicate that the governor is planning to switch over to the parliament.
The reported move had set Okowa against his successor, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, who is serving his second tenure and would want to continue in 2023. Determined to retain his Senate seat, Nwaoboshi, after falling apart with his governor, dumped the PDP for the APC.
Earlier this month, the Delta governor had said his next political move would soon be made public after consultation with stakeholders.
Reacting to speculations that Okowa had procured the PDP nomination and expression of interest forms for senatorial election, his Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu, said it was within his boss’s constitutional right to return to the Red Chamber.
Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu)
Coast became cleared for Governor Ugwuanyi to move to the legislature in 2023 as the lawmaker representing his Enugu North senatorial district in the Red Chamber, Chukwuka Utazi, announced that he would not run for the senatorial seat.
Utazi, while addressing the delegates of the PDP from the senatorial district, said he decided not to contest to pave the way for the smooth emergence of Ugwuanyi as Enugu North senator in the 10th National Assembly.
“We will follow our brother and leader. We are going to be behind you, and pray that God would guide you to take this decision,” Utazi assured the governor, amid jubilation.
Darius Dickson Ishaku (Taraba)
Governor Ishaku has also commenced scheming to replace the senator representing his Taraba South senatorial district, Emmanuel Bwacha.
The frosty relationship between them forced Bwacha out of the PDP. The lawmaker said he left the party to escape the “apparent persecution” by his governor, whom he accused of being against his political progress.
“I have not made a public declaration about becoming a governor but there have been innuendos and insinuations. People have also been putting pressure on me to run for governor. And I overheard someone say that the only condition for me to sit with him (Ishaku) is if I would drop my gubernatorial ambition,” the lawmaker had said on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme.
Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto)
Tambuwal is a frontline presidential aspirant of the PDP. However, there are speculations in the state that his plan B is to contest the Sokoto South senatorial election in the event that he loses the party’s presidential primary.
There are insinuations that the governor had asked one of his commissioners, Aminu Bala Bodinga, to buy the PDP form for Sokoto South senatorial zone.
According to political watchers in the state, the governor took the decision because it would be easier for him to ‘retrieve’ the ticket from Bodinga than from Senator Ibrahim Danbaba, who is currently representing the senatorial district in the red chamber.
Danbaba, who was elected on the platform of the PDP, announced his defection to the APC on Wednesday, and many in the state linked his move to the governor’s purported political calculation.
Pundits said that even if Tambuwal got the PDP ticket for the Senate, it would not be an easy sail for him because the zone remains a strong hold of the APC.
In 2019, the Sokoto South senatorial election was won by the APC candidate, Abubakar Shehu Tambuwal, but the seat was given to the PDP candidate by the court on technical ground.
Also, all the members of the House of Representatives from Sokoto South are members of the APC with the exception of Balarabe Kakale, who is representing Bodinga, Dange-Shuni, Tureta federal constituency. He also got the seat through the court.
By Abdullateef Salau (Abuja), Mohammed Abubakar (Dutse) & Abubakar Auwal (Sokoto)