For state governors, who would be leaving office between 2022 and 2023, when the next general election will hold, the fear of precipitous loss in stature after attainment of great heights in politics has prompted them to commence moves on what next after office in order to remain relevant in the polity, NewTelegraph reports
Less than two years to the 2023 general election, 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 next elections are billed to commence with the presidential poll on February 18. So, for elected political office holders, who would be seeking re-election, now is the time for consultations, building of political bridges, consolidation of strongholds and expansion of frontiers.
It is however a different ball game for those who are on the last lap of their second terms in office for positions that have constitutional tenure such as that of the president and governors.
Already, the President has given a hint about his retirement plan. He said he will retire to Daura, his home town after he completes his second term in 2023.
“This is my second and final term, at the end of which I will, God willing, go to Daura and settle down,” he revealed during a meeting with some traditional rulers from across the country at the presidential villa in March, 2019. For the governors, 19 out of the country’s 36, who are on their second term, would be leaving their respective offices between 2022 and 2023.
They are Willie Obiano (Anambra), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Aminu Masari (Katsina), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa) and Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano).
Others are Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Darius Ishaku (Taraba), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Sani Bello (Niger), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) and Ben Ayade (Cross River).
The question over their next political moves is: Having dominated the political landscape in their respective states for more than six years, will they be heading to the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, which has become a nest for former governors, or the presidency, which has always been the target of most outgoing governors? Presently, 16 former governors are in the Senate.
They are Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Ibrahim Gaidam (Yobe), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Tanko Al Makura (Nasarawa), Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia), Sam Egwu (Ebonyi), Theodore Orji (Abia), Chimaraoke Nnamani (Enugu), Danjuma Goje (Gombe) and Adamu Aliero (Kebbi), Kabiru Gaya (Kano), Ibrahim Shekarau (Kano), Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa), Gabriel Suswam (Benue) and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto).
No doubt, each of the second term governors will prefer to remain politically relevant by clinging to power in one way or the other, but politics, being the 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 position 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 assumption is the story of some former governors, who left office in 2019 after serving out the constitutional allowed two terms. These former governors dominated the political landscape in their respective states, while they held sway and dictated who got what, when and how.
But, just two years after leaving office, most of them have experienced the epic fall that usually come with attainment of great political heights, with only a handful still relevant in the polity. Besides their next political moves, the governors are also burdened by succession battles in their respective domains.
Ordinarily, that would not have been their yoke given that democracy grants the people, the liberty to choose their leaders through periodic elections, but because of undue advantage, which power confers on its wielders, especially in developing countries like Nigeria, most leaders do not toy with the issue of their succession.
Fayemi: Between presidency and vice presidency
The Ekiti State governor will have his second term in office elapse on October 18, 2022, and the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced June 18, 2023 as the date for gubernatorial election in the state.
What this means is that Fayemi, who doubles as the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), would be out office for four months before the 2023 general election.
There are fillers that the governor is interested in 2023 presidency and a pointer to this, are declarations by some of his aides and supporters that he has what it takes to lead the country and their claim that no the Ekiti State governor has an unblemished record as governor and Minister of Solid Minerals Development.
The Caretaker Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State, Barr. Paul Omotoso, at a recent political function in Ayede Ekiti, Oye Local Government Area of the state, expressly stated that members of the party will compel Fayemi to contest the 2023 presidency if he refuses to join the race.
Some of Fayemi’s loyalists and aides, who have also spoken in the same vein include the Caretaker Publicity Secretary of APC in the South-West and a former Deputy Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Hon. Karounwi Oladapo as well as the chairman of Ikere Local Government Area of Ekiti State, Hon. Femi Ayodele.
Ayodele had in August last year, sponsored Fayemi’s 2023 presidential campaign poster on the social media, while Karounwi on several occasions, has spoken about the salient qualities of Fayemi that make him suitable for the Office of the President.
But the Ekiti State House of Assembly through a unanimous vote, suspended council chairman over what the state lawmakers describes as unsolicited and unauthorized publication. Fayemi, also in a statement, denied knowledge of the presidential campaign poster.
Besides the speculated presidential ambition, Fayemi is also said to be eyeing the vice presidency. “We know the gimmicks of the governor; his plan is to become vice president and that is why he is the darling of the North. You can see his attitude to the South West Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA), a group pushing for the candidacy of the APC National Leader and the governor’s benefactor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
“Fayemi should be at the forefront, championing Tinubu’s candidacy, but ambition will not allow him. He wants a northern presidential candidate, so that he could be his running mate,” one of SWAGA’s coordinators said.
Ayade strategises for a return to the Senate
The Cross River State governor recently dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) through which he was elected governor of the South-South state for the ruling APC at the federal level. His reason for decamping goes beyond having a hand in who becomes the next governor of the state as he surely has an additional intention to vie for Cross River North Senatorial District seat in 2023.
The intrigues that followed the northern senatorial bye election in December last year remains a pointer to the governor’s body language as 2023 approaches. After the death of Senator Rose Oko earlier in 2020, a subtle move to plant Dr. Stephen Odey, who until then was the chairman of the Cross River State Universal Basic Education (SUBEB), began.
The governor did everything, including spending resources to ensure that Odey fought the member currently representing Ogoja/Yala in the House of Representatives, Hon. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, to a standstill. As the battle raged, pundits said that for the governor to come all out to install Odey, who has severally acknowledged being Ayade’s proxy, shows that he is interested in the Senate.
As loud as this rumour is, the governor has not come out to debunk it, thus giving verve to the humming noise. Although Odey is still in the Senate while the battle for the seat continues in the court, the belief is that Odey will vacate the Senate seat for the governor and assume another role, possibly as running mate to whoever would be flying the APC governorship flag in the state.
Tambuwal: To take another shot at the presidency
The political climate in Sokoto State, the Seat of the Caliphate is gathering momentum occasioned by uncertainties and permutations.
However, analysts have focused on the trend of events trailing the next move of Governor Aminu Tambuwal, whose second term ends on May 29, 2023.
Though the governor continues to keep his 2023 plan to himself, his visits to some eminent Nigerians, including ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo; erstwhile Senate President, David Mark and a former Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Danjuma in August last year, speaks volume of his next political move.
The visits were then viewed as part of his strategies to test the political waters before launching his 2023 presidential bid. Tambuwal is not a fresher to the presidential race. The first time he came close to joining the race was in 2014, when some Northern political leaders muted the idea of drafting him into the 2015 presidential contest.
It was reasoned then that Buhari should not contest the poll in order to make way for a younger person from the region. While the proposal failed and Tambuwal contested for the governorship of Sokoto State and won, his name popped up again ahead of the 2019 elections.
The former Speaker of the House of Representatives, who was first term governor then, left APC for PDP and contested for its presidential ticket, but lost to a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar. He was, however, handed the party’s governorship ticket and got reelected for a second term. Ahead of the 2023 general election, Tambuwal is being urged to take another shot at the presidency.
Those propping him believe that his candidacy will not only enjoy the support of the North, but other sections of the country. They said that the Sokoto State governor was able to build political bridges between the North and the South, while he wasspeakerof theHouseof Representatives.
Tambuwal is also said to be in the good books of most Northern traditional leaders as well as amenable, which is one of the qualities, the region’s political leaders are insisting that a candidate must have to enjoy their support. However, there are those who believe that Tambuwal’s eyes are really on the vice presidency.
The speculation in Sokoto is that the governor is likely to dump the PDP for APC at the twilight of his tenure to pair with a southern presidential candidate. This assumption is hinged on the zoning arrangement, which may see power shifting to the South although Tambuwal will have the likes of Borno State governor, Babagana Zulum to contend with if he settles for the APC option.
Should the presidential and vice presidential bid fail to fly, Tambuwal, according political observers, will settle for the Sokoto South Senatorial seat on either of the two major political parties (APC and PDP).
Ugwuanyi: Senate as best bet
It is clear that the governor of Enugu State will not retire from politics after his two-term of eight years as governor.
However, the former three-term member of the House of Representatives is keeping his next political move to his chest. Speculations have been rife right from his first term in office that Ugwuanyi will head to the Senate but there those who think the governor is eyeing the presidential or vice presidential slots depending on where the pendulum swings as regards zoning of the presidency within the PDP.
There was also a time it was highly speculated that Governor Ugwuanyi may decamp to the APC.
This conjecture is as old as the governor’s stay in office and still subsists even as there has not been any official repudiation of such speculation by the governor or his aides. Should the governor decide to go to the Senate, many political watchers in the state believe he would have little or no resistance.
Already the senator representing Enugu North Senatorial District, where Ugwuanyi hails from, Senator Chuka Utazi, is doing his second term in the red chamber and will easily give up the position for the governor.
It is also believed that the people of Enugu North would also want to pay the governor back in goodwill for the projectshe has attracted to the district as well as empowerment of thepeopleof theareaasidefromthepowerof incumbency of a sitting governor.
Ikpeazu: Uncertainty over political future
Unlike his predecessors, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s next political move is unpredictable.
From his body language and nuance, Ikpeazu has not betrayed any link to his next political step after 2023. As it stands, even mind readers will have a huge task to unmask and predict even with the remotest accuracy what the governor wants to do after leaving office as governor.
Willthegovernortakeashotatthepresidency given South’s clamour to produce the next president or would he replace Senate MinorityLeader, EnyinnayaAbaribeasAbia South senator?
No one can tell. Ikpeazu appears to be occupied with and committed to the present responsibility that he obviously thinks it is a distraction to desire anything else.
When a group from Umunneato Ngwa recently threw the ball of retaining the governorship seat, the governor quickly warned that he would not condone such stampede.
He was categorical that as governor of Abia, he is committed to providing good governance to every part of the state. However, at another forum, Ikpeazu declared, if my people want me to serve in another capacity, it is for them to decide.
Against this backdrop, the insinuation is that the next political move is not foreclosed but open to the will and choice of the people. In the characteristic political rhetoric of the Nigerian politician, the comment is veiled in ambiguity.
Some believe it is too early in the day to unfold the ambition beyond 2023 as it is wiser to watch events in order to avoid any regrettable political miscalculations.
To some observers of Abia politics, IKpeazu seems to be foot dragging because it would be suicidal for him to openly declare interest in Abaribe’s seat.
“It is not going to be easy for anybody, even the governor, to displace the Senate minority leader, unless he relinquishes the position willingly or by concession and compromise.”
“Even at that, it will not be easy for the governor because he and Abaribe are from the same Obingwa Local Government Area.
Other parts of Abia South will certainly protest, and if the principle of equity, justice and fairness is to be respected, then you will agree that it is not politically correct,” analyst said.
Wike: Playing the mind game
Since 1999 to date, the Rivers State governor has had a very impressive political career.
From emerging as the council chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area to appointment as Chief of Staff to then Governor Rotimi Amaechi and later as Minister of Education during the Goodluck Jonathan administration, there is no indication that Wike will quit politics after serving as governor for eight years.
So, as 2023 draws nearer, it is very likely that Wike will improve on his impressive political career by either going totheSenate, where most former governors have found refuge.
In a recent interview, he said he was not contesting the presidential election even though nothing prevents him from doing so. It would be recalled that the Rivers State governor had during the build up to the 2019 general election, supported Governor Tambuwal to clinch the PDP presidential ticket, Atiku eventually won.
The belief in some quarters is that the Wike/Tambuwal political romance is still intact and that the Rivers State governor to pair withy his Sokoto counterpart if the latter picks the PDP presidential ticket.
While this permutation is subject to the party’sdecisiononwhereitsticketgoesto, Wike is keeping his next move to himself, but it is a matter of time before he makes it known.
Lalong: Senate on the cards
There are indications that the Plateau State governor and chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, intends to follow the footsteps of his predecessors by joining the league of former governors in the Senate at the end of his second term.
It is a known fact that former governors of Plateau State since the return of democracy in 1999, Joshua Dariye and Jonah Jang ended up in the Senate after serving out their respective tenures.
Apparently toeing this line, New Telegraph reliably gathered that Governor Lalong has indicated interest to represent Plateau South Senatorial District in 2023.
Further investigation revealed that it was against this backdrop that Lalong, who supported late Senator Ignatius Longjan in 2019, stood his ground to ensure that Mrs. Nora Daduut was elected during the December 2019 bye election to fill vacant seat Analysts believe that Senator Daduut is holding the Plateau South Senate seat in trust for Lalong although there are other strong feelers that the governor is bidding for the vice presidential slot should the zoning of the presidency favours the southern part of the country.
Ortom: No going back with senatorial bid
The Benue State governor is making moves to contest for the Benue North West senatorial seat to succeed the incumbent, Senator Emmanuel Yisa Orker Jev. Ortom is not the first former governor of the state, who would head to the Senate if his plan sails through.
Ex-Governor George Akume, first represented Benue North West Senatorial District before his appointment as minister.
Another former governor of the state, Gabriel Suswam, is the incumbent senator representing Benue North East, and Ortom is bent on ensuring that he wears the same crown when he leaves office.
Senator Jev, before now, was seen as a major threat to Ortom’s ambition, but he is said not to have only bowed out of the race, but declared that those speculating a frosty relationship between him and the governor over the senatorial seat come 2023 would be disappointed.
“I heard the speculation on social media and elsewhere that the governor and I will fight in 2023 over the Senate seat. I think people will be terribly disappointed if they are expecting a fight between me and the governor. We will be close allies until the end of our tenure,” Jev said.
New Telegraph gathered that Governor Ortom my kick-off his Senate campaign by October this year as his campaign posters recently flooded strategic positions across Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
The posters, which were powered by a group, Diversity Managers Club, were seen at the major roundabouts in Makurdi, including the Wurukum and High Level roundabouts and other areas.
The group stated that it is backing Governor Ortom for Senate because of his stance on ranching, which led to enactment of the anti-open grazing law in the state. Reacting to the development, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ortom, Mr. Terver Akase, said since it was the wish of the people, therewasnoway hisprincipalcould stop them.
“It is the peoples’ wish, so the governor won’t stop them. He finds such outings as well wishes. GovernorOrtomhasamandatetogovernBenue in the remaining two years and at the moment, that’s where his focus is.” Akase said.
Umahi: Yet to decide on next move
The Ebonyi State governor has not declared the position he will be contesting for in the 2023 general election, but he had hinted that he is likely to retire from politics during his defection from the PDP to APC in November last year. However, his loyalists and some political pressure groups within and outside the state have been rooting for him to take a shot at the 2023 presidency following his performance as governor.
Among those rooting for the governor, who is the chairman of South East Governors’ Forum to join the presidential race include local government chairmen in Ebonyi State as well as members of the state executive council.
They have not been have marketing Umahi in the social media but have been holding rallies to sensitize the public on his performance and the need for him to be elected president of the country.
Despite all these, Umahi has kept his next political move to himself and has not accepted to run either for the presidency, vice presidency or for the Senate. But political watchers believe that a senatorial seat would be all his’ if he decides to join the league of exgovernors in the Senate given the goodwill he enjoys among his people.
Okowa: Plots a return to the Senate
Although speculation is rife that the Delta State governor is positioning himself to be running mate to any of the presidential aspirants on the platform of the PDP in 2023, it is also a known fact that there is a running battle over his bid to replace the senator representing Delta North Senatorial District, Peter Nwaoboshi. Okowa represented the district between 2011 and 2015 before he contested for and won the governorship of Delta State.
And Nwaoboshi, who saw the handwriting on the wall immediately Okowa was reelected in 2019, recently left the PDP for the APC to secure a ticket to run for the Senate or pair the party’s governorship candidate. As it is, the coast appears clear for Okowa toreturntotheSenatebutitwouldbetooearly for his camp to roll out the drums for celebration given that politics remains a game of the possible in which it is not over until it is over.
El-Rufai: Mulls vice presidential bid
The speculation before now was that the Kaduna State governor is scheming to succeed President Buhari. However, the governor put paid to the speculation, when he became one of the voices in support of a southern presidency in 2023. He, also, did not mince words, when he recently said that he would be too old to contest for the presidency in 2023.
However, sources in Kaduna State told New Telegraph that the governor’s support for a southern president might also be because of his ambition to be vice president. The governor’s position may have been informed by the belief that a northern president after eight years of Buhari’s presidency under the platform of APC is unlikely to fly.
“Governor el-Rufai has never hidden his ambition to partake in the politics of the centre after his tenure as minister of the Federal Capital Territory.
If you remember, he told us at a time that it was President Buhari, who made him to contest for the governorship of Kaduna State. “He is someone that would always want to be at the centre but after Buhari’s eight years, it would be somehow for anyone in the North and in the APC to start talking about being president.
So, it is logical for many of the politicians to support a southern president and position themselves for the vice presidency. That is what many of them are doing and el-Rufai is not an exception. “He has said that he would not even stay in Kaduna after his tenure, so the issue of Senate will not arise.
The next possible ambition for him would be that of vice president and continue to work towards the next election,” a source within Kaduna APC revealed.
Ishaku: Eyes Taraba South senatorial seat
A battle of wits has started in Taraba State over who will represent the southern senatorial district of the state in 2023.
The incumbent senator, Emmanuel Bwacha, who is also the Senate Deputy Minority Leader, is in daggers drawn with the state governor, Darius Ishaku, who is said to be eyeing his (Bwacha) seat. Ishaku and Bwacha are from the same federal constituency of Takum/Donga and Taraba South Senatorial District.
While none of them has spoken about 2023, the brickbats between their supporters on the social and traditional media, has unveiled where their respective interests lie. Of course, the political calculations are also clear enough to be seen.
If the governor wants to move to the Senate after serving eight years in the state, he may need Bwacha to vacate the seat for him. Expectedly, that may not come with ease owing to the political potency of the Senate Deputy Minority Leader.
Already, there are loud discussions within thestatethatsenatorBwachamaybegunning for governorship seat after previous failed attempts.
However, the ditch between him and hisgovernorshipambitionisthesenatorialtie he has with the outgoing governor. For many of the governor’s supporters, Bwacha has overstayed his welcome for the southern senatorial seat after taking it 2011.
They also believe that the governor has done enough to move to the Senate. Governor Ishaku was a minister during former President Goodluck Jonathan administration. On the other hand, those around Bwacha averred that the governor has failed to appreciatethesenator’slargeheart.
Theyclaimedthat thegovernorwasagreenhorninpoliticswhen he vied for the Taraba plum seat in 2015 and that it was on the back of Bwacha’s structure that he rode to government house.
As it stands, political analysts in the state are tipping Senator Bwacha to move to the APC but it is not clear whether he will vie for the senatorial seat again or defy zoning persuasion to contest for the governorship seat.
Badaru: Keeping Senate cards close to his chest
When the Jigawa State governor lamented recently that the lingering crisis in the state chapter of the APC may cost the party victory come 2023 if it goes unchecked, political analysts averred that the governor is feeling the pitch already.
Already, theremovalof thethenstatechairperson, HabibuSara, followingtheparty’scaucus meeting, which was held at the government house, has enmeshed the party in crisis.
It was learnt that Sara was removed for allegedly shifting loyalty to the leader of a factional group of the party, Sabo Nakudu, a serving senator for Jigawa Central. Badaru, it was gathered, is playing his cards close to his chest as he is said to be interested in producing both his successor and also move to the Senate. But how feasible these tricky double tasks can be is in the belly of time.
Bello: Senatorial seat in the offing
The Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani Bello may appear undecided over his next political move in 2023, but one thing seems certain: He is not one of those eyeing the presidency.
Bello, is the chairman of North Central Governors’ Forum, had not only disassociated himself from campaign posters linking him to the 2023 presidency but joined the ranks of those rooting for a southerner to succeed President Buhari.
However, his support is not without a caveat. He is of the view that anyone aspiring to become the next president should be ready to meet and tell the North Central what he has for the zone. He said the zone has been short-changed since the return of democracy in 1999, despite playing major role to those that have emerged presidents irrespective of their political affiliation. No doubt, Bello is positioning himself as a kingmaker but a senatorial seat is likely to be his fall back plan.
Emmanuel: Bothered about succession battle
But, while his colleagues are jostling to cling to power beyond 2023, the Akwa State governor seems more concerned about who succeeds him.
Against this backdrop, he is insisting on a successor, who will continue with the good works and remarkable developmental stride in the state.
However, a seat in the Senate may be the icing on the cake for the Akwa Ibom State and a bid for that will surely receive the blessing of his people.
Ganduje: Between presidency and Senate
The Kano State governor, who seems to have realized that a northern presidential candidate for the APC is likely to be resisted by members of the party in the southern part of the country may have settled for the vice presidential slot.
However, he is also tinkering with a senatorial bid as the option of running with Tinubu should the former governor of Lagos State pick the APC presidential ticket will see the party presenting a Muslim/Muslim, which most Nigerians are likely to oppose. Findings by New Telegraph revealed that Ganduje, who recently declared that he will not be retiring from politics in 2023, is making plans to replace the senator representing Kano North Senatorial District, Barau Jibrin.
Though Senator Jibrin is said to have what it takes to give the governor a run for his money, Ganduje is relying on his control of Kano APC structure to secure the senatorial ticket. He is also said to be making plans to position the lawmaker for the governorship although they hail from the same senatorial district.
Bagudu: Presidential ambition not in doubt
There is no pretense that the Kebbi State governor, who is the chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF), has his eyes set on the presidency.
Bagudu has persistently maintained that asapan-Nigerianpoliticalparty, allNigerians are free to aspire for any position in the APC, including the party’s 2023 presidential ticket. While he premised his position on the provisions of the party’s constitution and the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, many however say that his 2023 presidential ambition is the underlining factor.
Obiano, Masari: May retire to private life
For Governor Willie Obiano, who would be leaving office early next year, his main focus at the moment is ensuring that his party, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), retains the Anambra government house, and may be thereafter, retire to private life.
The same scenario seems to be playing out in Katsina State, where Masari, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives holds sway. The governor of the President’s home state is not really looking at another office post-2023.