Controversies are trailing the moves by 17 outgoing governors to install their successors ahead of the governorship primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Daily Trust reports.
Reports from the affected states revealed that the moves by the governors to force their anointed candidates on their parties have caused discontent in both APC and PDP in the states.
No fewer than 201 aspirants have picked the forms of the ruling party to contest its governorship primaries, which was yesterday rescheduled to Thursday, May 26.
For PDP, 145 contenders have purchased the forms to participate in the governorship primaries scheduled for Wednesday, May 25.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would conduct the governorship election in 2023 for 29 of the 36 states of the federation. The remaining seven states are now off-circle elections.
Cutting across the two parties, the governors, Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ben Ayade (Cross River), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa) and Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), have raised tension in their bids to clear the coast for the emergence of their preferred candidates as flag bearers of their parties.
Other second term governors enmeshed in the battle to install their successors include Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto) and Darius Ishaku (Taraba).
Unlike the 17 governors, 11 governors who are in their first term including Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa), Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), Babagana Zulum (Borno), Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq (Kwara), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Mai Mala Buni (Yobe) and Bello Matawalle (Zamfara) are scheming to retain their seats beyond May 29, 2023.
El-Rufai’s Uba Sani
El-Rufai may have steered the hornet nest by his recent decision to endorse Senator Uba Sani (APC, Kaduna Central) as his preferred candidate for the state governorship election.
El-Rufai’s decision though not entirely surprising, came after other aspirants had expended resources to purchase the N50m governorship form in a bid to replace him at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House.
Pundits within the APC in Kaduna say though the governor was still in control of the party, his decision had caused some ripples.
A former member of the House of Representatives and gubernatorial aspirant of the APC, Alhaji Sani Mahmud Sha’aban, described the governor’s action as an abuse of democracy.
Sha’aban, whose son Turad is married to President Muhammadu Buhari’s daughter, Hannan, said he was the first to purchase the form and expressed optimism that the president and the national leadership of the party will not accept dictatorship.
Unending uproar over Ortom’s Uba
In Benue State, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Titus Uba, has been anointed by Governor Samuel Ortom to succeed him in office. It is believed that Uba was not the initial candidate of the governor, even though they had a cordial relationship.
Ortom was, however, said to have keyed into the idea of Uba allegedly sold to him by the National Chairman of the PDP, Dr Iyorchia Ayu and has since mandated his aides to queue behind his favoured candidate or be fired.
The preference for Uba has caused no small disaffection among other aspirants as well as some supporters of the PDP in the state.
Some of the aspirants have embraced the governor’s anointed candidate while others are too fearful to react against Uba’s emergence but there are few who have left the party on account of the development or waiting to contest the primaries.
Crack in Akwa Ibom
It is a similar scenario in Akwa Ibom State as the PDP has been polarised over the governor’s decision to endorse Pastor Umo Eno as his successor.
Governor Udom Emmanuel said he chose Umo Eno as his successor on the conviction that he would continue with his developmental strides in the state, describing him as “A highly respected person with enormous capacity”.
However, other aspirants from Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District who the 2023 governorship zoning arrangement favour insisted that as bonafide members of the party, they have the right to vote and be voted for.
One of them, Senator Bassey Akpan, who is the Senate Committee Chairman on Petroleum (Upstream), has alleged that Governor Emmanuel had an unwritten arrangement to hand over power to him as governor in 2023.
Umahi’s Nwifuru fuels crisis in Ebonyi
The anointed candidate of Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State for 2023 elections is the Speaker of the state house of assembly, Francis Nwifuru.
However, the endorsement has caused a serious division not only between the blocks of old and new APC members in the state but among the Izzi clan where the speaker hails from.
Daily Trust learnt the old members who felt that they were edged out have petitioned the national leadership of the ruling party, seeking for their prompt intervention.
Gawuna’s selection in Kano tears APC apart
In Kano, issues associated with the endorsement of the Deputy Governor, Nasir Gawuna for the gubernatorial ticket of APC by the Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje-led party stakeholders, have led to the exit of many stalwarts of the party including a former Governor of the state, Ibrahim Shekarau.
With Shekarau joining Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso in NNPP, the political equation in the state has been altered. NNPP is gaining ground in the commercial centre of the country amid fears that anything can happen in 2023.
Many members of the state house of assembly have dumped the APC and the hitherto leading opposition PDP in the state.
While Ganduje had made many concessions including dumping his senatorial ambition, it is too early to hazard a guess where the pendulum would swing in the state in 2023.
Anxiety as loyalists await Badaru’s endorsement
In Jigawa State, the apparent lack of clear direction from the Governor, Muhammad Badaru, who is statutorily the leader of the party in the state, on who succeeds him at the end of his tenure in 2023 has created anxiety among party supporters.
Daily Trust gathered that the peace of the graveyard was accentuated by the governor’s repeated previous public assurances of non-interference in the selection process of who succeeds him.
At least, nine persons have so far picked and returned the governorship nomination and expression of interest forms in the party. Three of the nine are from Hadejia zone; two from Birnin Kudu, one from Dutse Jigawa Central Senatorial District; one from Kazaure and one person from Gumel.
Malami’s withdrawal paves way for Idris
In Kebbi, the Deputy President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nasiru Idris, appeared to be the most favoured candidate in the APC.
The sudden withdrawal of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami from the governorship race seemed to have paved the way for Idris to be the anointed candidate as there are indications that the governor has thrown his weight behind him.
The Senate leader, Dr Yahaya Abdullahi and Abubakar Garry Malami, are two other contestants that Idris would likely slug it out with them. A former governor of the state, Senator Adamu Aliero is said to be the chief promoter of the senate leader.
Ayade, Wike, Bello keep aspirants, others guessing
The governors of Cross River, Rivers and Niger States are keeping aspirants and other stakeholders guessing days to their parties’ primaries.
There is no clear indication that Governor Ben Ayade has pin-pointed any one of the 17 aspirants yet as his possible successor. Four of the aspirants have reportedly been shortlisted by former Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba’s committee set up by APC in the state.
In Niger State, Daily Trust gathered that the Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello has no preferred successor as multiple sources close to the governor and key contenders told our correspondent that he had already informed the aspirants that he would not interfere in the choice of the masses.
However, some of the contenders said it is too good to be true considering that no governor will take the risk of not playing a key role in deciding who succeeds him.
Suspicion in Rivers
The issue of who is the endorsed candidate of Governor Nyesom Wike for the 2023 governorship election in Rivers State has raised tension among the stakeholders of PDP in the state.
All but one of the 17 candidates who bought their expression of interest and nomination forms scaled through the screening.
Only Dr Farah Dagogo, the member representing the Bonny/Degema federal constituency in the House of Representatives was not cleared because he did not present himself for the screening.
The lawmaker reportedly went to the South-South PDP secretariat, the venue of the screening to participate in the exercise but was arrested by the police because he was declared wanted by Wike, for allegedly hiring cultists to disrupt the state and National Assembly candidates’ screening held a day earlier.
While some said Wike was threatened by the profile of the lawmaker, others said nobody can tell who his preferred candidate among the 16 cleared is.
It’s a direct assault on democracy – Kari
Commenting on the development, an associate Professor of Political Sociology, University of Abuja, Dr Abubakar Umar Kari, said the so-called endorsement by some governors constitutes a direct assault on democracy and negates the principle of choice, which is one of the pillars upon which the very edifice of democracy rests.
“Only the people or, in the instant case, party members, have the right to decide who should be a candidate for election in accordance with the extant rules (the 1999 Constitution, the Electoral Act 2022 and the constitutions of the parties).
“It’s quite unfortunate that governors have appropriated and arrogated to themselves the power to decide who should vie for what position in the parties. This is tantamount to governors placing themselves over and above the people – this is antithetical to democratic norms and best practices,” he said.
On his part, Barrister Abdullahi Yusuf said the governors were being “clever by half.”
He said “Those of them who endorsed their favourites think they would continue to have their way in the affairs of their state and this is a gross error considering previous contraptions in many states.
“And for those who are playing to the gallery, they are actually confused and this is most likely because they promised many people and they are finding it difficult to choose one,” he said.
“Above all, Nigerians should be allowed to choose the best candidates even though I have a feeling that some of the upcoming political parties would launch surprises if they play their games very well because Nigerians are looking for alternatives,” he added.
By Ismail Mudashir (Abuja), Lami Sadiq (Kaduna), Hope A. Emmanuel (Makurdi), Abubakar Akote( Minna), Nabob Ogbonna (Abakaliki), Iniabasi Umo (Uyo), Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt), Aliyu M. Hamagam (Birnin Kebbi), Clement A. Oloyede (Kano), Eyo Charles (Calabar) & Mohammed Abubakar (Dutse)