Senator Philips Tanimu Aduda crashed out of the race to retain the sole Federal Capital Territory (FCT) senatorial seat, which he has occupied since 2011.
He was among the victims of the Labour Party (LP) tsunami in the February 25 election, which threw up some surprises in form of victories and defeats.
LP had an amazing outing. In the presidential poll, the party scored 6,101,533 votes, placing its candidate, Peter Obi, in third position. LP won in 12 states, including Lagos, the stronghold of the APC candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
In the parliamentary election, LP also secured over 20 seats in the National Assembly.
For FCT’s lone senate seat, incumbent Senator Aduda – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate and FCT indigene – was defeated by Ireti Heeba Kingibe, LP’s candidate.
The Returning Officer for the FCT Senatorial election, Prof Sani Saka, said Ireti scored a total of 202,175 votes across the five area councils where results were declared to emerge the winner.
Aduda came second with 100,544 votes, while Mr Angulu Dobi of the All Progressives Congress (APC) came third with 78,905 votes.
Prof Saka explained that the problem with the Bwari result that was earlier cancelled was rectified and the result was certified as valid.
He, however, said that the result for Abaji remained cancelled because of over-voting.
Aduda’s 20-year lawmaking career ends
Aduda is the longest-serving lawmaker to represent the FCT at the National Assembly.
Born in Karu, FCT Abuja, Aduda attended Government Secondary School Gwagwalada (1983–1987) and Kaduna Polytechnic (1987–1990) his secondary education.
The lawmaker obtained a Diploma in Social works and social development at the University of Jos (1990–1992) and then proceeded to the Federal Polytechnic Bida, Abuja Campus (1993–1997) where he gained a Higher Diploma in Public Administration.
Aduda was first elected as a Councillor, Karu Ward, in 1996 and later elected twice as a member of the House of Representatives for AMAC/Bwari federal constituency in Abuja between 2003–2011. In the Green Chamber, Aduda served as Chairman of the House Committee on Federal Capital Territory, and member of other committees.
He switched to the Senate in 2011 and since then, he has been occupying the sole FCT seat in the Red Chamber, where he served as Chairman Senate Committee on Power, Senate Minority Whip, and now Senate Minority Leader.
However, Aduda’s defeat in the 2023 parliamentary poll was surprising as the senator is seen as the mouthpiece of Abuja natives, who had for long been complaining of marginalisation and poor representation at the federal level despite hosting the country’s seat of power.
In the Red Chamber, the senator often raised the issue of exclusion of FCT indigenes in federal appointments like ministerial and ambassadorial nominations.
“We don’t get so many of these things, but the small ones that we have are about to be taken away which should not be so,” he had said while protesting against the non-inclusion of FCT natives in the appointment of non-career ambassadors by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2020.
He said the only FCT indigene currently serving as a non-career Ambassador in Sierra Leone, Hafiz Obada, was not re-appointed.
Aduda had petitioned the Senate in July 2019 over the non-inclusion of a ministerial nominee from FCT.
He said his constituents were surprised that no nominee representing FCT was on the list presented to the Senate for screening and confirmation by President Muhammadu Buhari.
During the last constitution review exercise in the National Assembly, Aduda lobbied his colleagues to support two FCT-related bills.
However, the two bills seeking mayoral status and a ministerial slot for FCT were rejected during voting on the report of the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution.
As Aduda prepares to exit the Senate, it remains to be seen if his successor would match or even beat his records in terms of providing quality representation for FCT natives and residents at the federal parliament.
Who is Ireti Kingibe?
Ireti is the former wife of one-time Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babagana Kingibe.
Born on June 2, 1954, Ireti is the younger sister to Ajoke Mohammed, the wife of former Nigeria’s Head of State, General Murtala Muhammed.
She schooled in Queen’s College in Lagos, Washington Irving High School and the University of Minnesota, United States, where she bagged a degree in Civil Engineering.
Ireti worked as a Quality Control engineer with Bradley Precast Concrete Inc. from 1978 to 1979.
She left to join the Minnesota Department of Transportation Design unit, where she worked as an engineer between 1979 and 1991.
Ireti served as a Project Supervisor for the Directorate of works at the Nigerian Air Force station in Ikeja, Lagos between 1981 and 1982, after completing the mandatory one-year National Youth Service programme.
She entered partisan politics in 1990 when she joined the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP). She was appointed as the Adviser to the party’s national chairman.
In 2003, she ran as a senatorial candidate for the All Nigeria Peoples Party in the Federal Capital Territory election.
Ireti defected to the PDP in 2006 and in 2014 joined the All Progressives Congress (APC).
She joined Labour Party in 2022 and became the FCT senatorial candidate for the 2023 general elections.
‘My plan for FCT’
Ireti said she joined the senatorial race to bring credible and quality representation to the residents of the FCT.
“I am bringing a credible representation; I am not going there to put anything in my pocket. At my age, I have everything that I want. I am not trying to move to a better house, but I want to give back to the society that has been good to me.
“I didn’t join politics for anything other than improving the country and the people. A nation and a government are judged by the well-being of the people, that is what determines success,” she said.
Ireti said her major focus in the parliament as an FCT senator would be to tackle the infrastructural imbalance in the territory and ensure the issue of insecurity is addressed.
“FCT, except for Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), is primarily agrarian, but because of insecurity, nobody can go to the farm. Even if there is insecurity in the land, FCT is the capital. With a little bit of effort, we should be secured in the FCT, but we are at the point where nobody can go to the farm.
“I feel that there is a lack of will to fix insecurity, and what I am bringing to the FCT is goodwill, determination to work, sincerity, integrity and honesty. The things I cannot do, I will tell FCT residents that I cannot do it,” she noted.
She said the residents of the FCT do not feel the presence of the government due to poor representation at the National Assembly.
“I am running because I can see a great lapse and lacuna in the representation of the FCT. I have lived in the FCT since 1988.
“Senatorial seat is the highest elective office in the FCT and the senator works closely with the Minister of FCT to represent the people and also take care of the FCT infrastructure.
“The Senator is also there to keep an eye on the needs of the people because he is representing them.
“If you remove Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse, Wuse 2, Central Business District, and Airport Road from FCT, there is nothing left; development is zero. You cannot go to Nyanya and see any decent road, nowhere has water, and nowhere has light.
“In FCT, we don’t have water. Usuma Dam and Jabi Lake were created just to provide FCT with water but infrastructure has to be put in place for water to go to the communities.”