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2023: Succession rumbles in A’Ibom, Delta, Kano, 9 other states

Although the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is yet to blow the whistle for commencement of campaigns, the political space is abuzz with talks on who will succeed 12 governors whose tour of duties end on May 29, 2023. Going by the 1999 Constitution, they are no longer eligible to contest for the same office again as they will be serving out their two terms.

 

They governors include Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto, Abdullahi Bello of Niger, Nasir El – rufai of Kaduna, Abdullahi Badaru of Jigawa, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi and Darius Isiaku of Taraba. Others are Simon Lalong of Plateau, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom, Ben Ayade of Cross River, Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia and Samuel Ortom of Benue states.

 

As it has always been, scheming and maneuvers are underway on who succeeds the incumbents. While some have anointed their choices, others are yet to do so as they have told whoever cares to listen that only God would choose for them. This has led to rumbles not in a few states. Nevertheless, the race on who becomes the governor is really on.

 

13 aspirants line up for Emmanuel’s seat

 

In Akwa Ibom State, the political climate is already abuzz with talks, scheming and preparations for the 2023 elections. As at the last count no fewer than 13 aspirants from both the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress(APC) have indicated interest to become governor.

 

They include a former executive vice chairman of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, Mr. Udom Inoyo; two serving federal lawmakers, Hon. Onofiok Luke, Senator Effiong Bob and Senator Bassey Albert Akpan. Others are a former governorship candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Mr. James Iniama and two serving commissioners in the Emmanuel’s administration, Mr. Akan Okon and Pastor Umo Eno.

 

An international business tycoon, Mr. Akan Udofia, is also in the race. Unconfirmed reports have it that the National Secretary of the APC Caretaker Committee, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, will throw his hat into the ring once again in his many attempts to be governor of the state.

 

 

However, while they and their acolytes are grouping and regrouping to strategize on how to succeed Mr. Emmanuel, one major determining factor is who will emerge as the new tenant of the Hilltop Mansion is the ability to continue the governor’s agenda.

 

A group of clergymen by name ‘Fathers of Faith, led by a former prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, His Eminence Sunday Mbang, is on a serious campaign to sensitize Akwa Ibom electorate against voting for anybody related to cultism. Already, there is a peace crusade sweeping across every nook and cranny of the state and it is being championed by a movement known as Maintain Peace Movement.

 

Many see the MPM as a political machinery of Governor to pick his successor in 2023. The chairman of the MPM is the National legal adviser of the PDP, Mr. Emmanuel Enoidem. Chapters of the movement have been inaugurated in almost all the local government areas of the state. State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Iniobong Ememobong, explained that the governor is very passionate about maintaining peace in the state because without it, the state cannot make progress and achieve its laudable goals.

 

He said: “The Maintain Peace Movement is a crusade aimed at ensuring that the peace enthroned by His Excellency Governor Udom Emmanuel is sustained after he leaves office in 2023.

 

Delta: PDP, APC in battle royale

 

More than seven aspirants, among them appointees of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State have signified their interest to succeed their principal.

They include former Commissioner for Finance and Chief of Staff, respectively, Olorogun David Edevbie; former Commissioner for Works, Olorogun James Aguoye and Senator James Manager. In the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Deputy Senate President, Chief Ovie Omo-Agege has also shown interest.

 

The rumbles led to distractions within the administration of Okowa, which made him to dissolve his cabinet and appoint fresh Commissioners and Special Advisers. The governor, who said he wanted to finish strong on his ‘Stronger Delta’ mantra, dropped all those who have ambition to succeed him to go and face their aspirations

 

. There are indications that the age-long zoning formula among the three senatorial districts of the state may suffer because it is an unwritten gentleman agreement.

 

Okowa pointed in this direction recently when he said “it is about what is fair, equitable and just. It’s only God that knows who will be governor after me. I don’t know who God will bring. I know God will take the decision of who will be governor.

 

“But at a point in time, we will sit down and look at issues to find out what truly should be fair and just. As to where the governorship ticket is going, I think you should pray and ask God to reveal to you.”

 

This soon triggered another round of pandemonium within the rank and file of party members in the state. This almost severed his political affinity to the former governor of the state, Chief James Ibori, whose senatorial district (Delta Central), where Edevbie, Aguoye, Chief Kenneth Gbagi, Omo-Agege and a host others, come from.

 

But there is still uneasy calm within the PDP caucus in the state, as every inner member is yet to understand the body language of the governor. Besides the larger senatorial zoning, macro-zoning factor may take center stage within the Delta central to favour some aspirants.

 

This is not to say the fire-force of Omo-Agege will not still play out within the district, especially as he wields not a few influences within the two rival parties in the state.

 

It’s consensus in Kano

 

The ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in Kano is planning to adopt a consensus for choosing its governorship candidate for the forthcoming election, the State Party Secretary, Zakari Sarina, has said. In an interview with Sunday Telegraph, Sarina said: “We are going for a consensus candidature. However, we are not closing the door against anyone who has contrary views against our arrangements because we are talking about democratic norms and values here.”

 

But even with the full knowledge that over 15 aspirants have signified their intentions to go for the exalted seat, Zakari Sarina, warned: “We can stop anybody from campaigning or doing things that would jeopardize the peace Kano enjoys and distract Governor Ganduje from completing the projects he has embarked upon.

 

“We are going for consensus as a family. Remember that is what we are doing even at the party levels, in order not to destroy the union and formidable force we have built overtime, but that is also not against anybody who wishes to take a shot at the election, because stopping him would be abusing the principles of fairness and democratic values.”

 

Ganduje had insisted that he has not anointed anybody as his successor, adding that, “in Kano, history has shown that you don’t impose candidate on the people. “Our guiding principles remains allowing anybody who feels he has what it takes to contest for the governorship election to do so without unnecessarily blackmailing him or denying him his democratic rights”.

 

However, despite the positions of the governor and his party, many have already taken to the streets to test their popularity. Prominent among them are: Senator Barau Jibrin, the just retired director Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Inuwa Waya; Deputy Governor Nasiru Gawuna; the State Commissioner for Local Governments, Murtala Sule Garo.

 

Lalong yet to anoint successor, targets Senate

 

Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State has left people guessing about his successor even as he targets the Senate. In doing this, he is only following in the steps of his predecessors who retired to the Senate after their two terms tenure. Nevertheless, if the zoning arrangement operating on the Plateau is anything to go by, the odds are in favour of the Central Senatorial District which comprises five local governments – Kanam, Kanke, Pankshin, Mangu and Bokkos Local Government Areas.

 

The ruling All Progressives Congress(APC) is not short of aspirants as frontline runners include the serving Senator of the Zone, Senator Hezekiah Dimka; serving Benue State INEC Resident Commissioner, Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda; Comptroller of Custom, Mr. David Dimka (rtd) and former Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Jos, Professor Dakas Clement Dakas (SAN).

 

Others include are former APC State Chairman, Hon. Latep Dabang; former Commissioner of Information, Dr. Patrick Dakum and the Lalong’s Deputy, Professor Soni Tyoden. Even at that, Sunday Telegraph’s checks showed that Lalong is yet to indicate his interest in anyone of them as his successor, but they all believe that they will have his blessings. It is a known fact that all the elected Governors of Plateau State since the return of democracy in 1999 ended up in the Senate after finishing their tenure in the state.

 

Sunday Telegraph reliably gathered that Lalong has indicated interest to retire to the Senate come 2023, to also represent the Plateau Southern Senatorial District and complete the representation of Governors in all the three Senatorial Districts from 1999.

 

However there are feelers that Lalong, who doubles as the Chairman Northern Governors Forum, has the interest of being the Vice President of Nigeria if the zoning of the Presidency favours the Southern part of the country.

 

Meanwhile the Acting APC Chairman in the State Hon. Fanmak Enoch, told Sunday Telegraph in Jos that APC is a credible party that doesn’t believe in imposition of candidates and there will be nothing like anointed candidate of the governor, but all the aspirant will be given free opportunity to campaign.

 

Situation fluid in Ebonyi

 

Governor Dave Umahi has not anointed his successor but many prominent politicians in the state are scheming to replace him in 2023 when he will complete his second term.

 

The governor has severally said in public functions that God will choose his successor as according to him, he was more interested in developing the state than who would be his successor in 2023 governorship election in the state.

 

Among those said to be eyeing the number one seat in the state in 2023 are the Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, Senator Obinna Ogba; a member of House of Representatives, Hon. Anayo Edwin Nwonu representing Ezza North/Ishielu Federal Constituency; his Abakaliki/ Izzi federal constituency counterpart, Hon. Sylvester Ogbaga; Chairman Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Chief Elias Mbam; Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Kenneth Ugbala;

 

Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Francis Ogbonnaya Nwifuru; former Minister of State for Health, Chief Fidelis Nwankwo; 2015 Labour Party governorship candidate in the state, Chief Edward Nkwegu; two term Senator in the state, Julius Ali Ucha; former Secretary to the State Government, Professor Bernard Odoh; member representing Ezza South constituency in the state House of Assembly, Hon. Chris Usulor among others. Investigations by Sunday Telegraph revealed that these politicians are of the APC and PDP, the two dominant parties in the state.

 

Of all the these persons, only the member representing Ezza North/Ishielu Federal Constituency, Hon. Anayo Edwin Nwonu has publicly declared interest to contest the election while others have not. The state governorship position operates on rotation (zoning).

 

 

The state operates on two power blocs: Abakaliki bloc and Afikpo bloc and has three senatorial zone; North, Central and South. The two blocs and three zones will be completing the position in 2023 when Umahi will be completing his tenure. All the politicians angling to succeed Umahi are from Abakaliki bloc, that is Ebonyi North and Central zones which means that the zone may likely produce Umahi’s successor in 2023 governorship election.

 

Zoning argument dominates in Enugu

 

Succession bid in Enugu State has taken the form of zoning argument rather than on any particular individual successor. Enugu like other states of the federation has three senatorial districts.

 

They are: Enugu West, Enugu East and Enugu North (Nsukka) senatorial districts.

 

The current governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is from Enugu North; his predecessor, Sullivan Chime is from Enugu West, while the governor before him, Chimaroke Nnamani hailed from Enugu East senatorial zone

 

While the proponents of zoning argue that the next governor should come from Enugu East; those who, though not against zoning out rightly, but on the side of equity, argue that since the rotation had gone round, any zone between East and West can produce Ugwuanyi’s successor.

 

They argued that prior to 1999; the people of Enugu East and Enugu North senatorial districts had dominated the governorship seat of the state under old Anambra State.

 

They named the former governors like Senator Jim Nwobodo and Chief C. C Onoh (Enugu East) and Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo (Enugu North). A number of people that cuts across Enugu East and Enugu West districts are however said to be jostling for the governorship position subterraneously.

 

But Governor Ugwuanyi has yet to openly show preference to any particular individual Feelers however indicate that the governor might prefer that his successor comes from Enugu East district. This is going by minirallies being organised by the government appointees and political office holders close to government. Meanwhile, the rally at Awgu LGA, zonal headquarters, Enugu West Senatorial District turned out to be controversial.

 

This was because National Assembly members from the zone stayed away from the rally. They are: former deputy senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and serving senator representing the district; deputy minority leader and member representing Awgu/Aninri/Oji-River federal constituency, Hon Tobi Okechukwu, and member representing UDI/Ezeagu federal constituency, Hon. Dennis Oguerinwa. Enugu West senatorial district is made up of five local government areas of Awgu, Aninri, Oji-River, Udi and Ezeagu.

 

Aside from the absence of the political leaders of the zone from the rally, another unexpected drama happened during the rally at Awgu. Senator Ben Collins Ndu set the stage by reading out a document, which he claimed was written and signed sometime in 2013 where they agreed to zone the governorship seat to Nsukka in 2015.

 

Senator Ndu said that there was a purported understanding that after Nsukka, it would be Enugu East next. This position rankled many who disputed the existence of such document. Such group insists that the claim of zoning agreement since the return to democracy in 1999 never happened.

 

Wike keeps them guessing in Rivers

 

As far as the 2023 governorship election is concerned in Rivers State, the candidate that will pick the ticket of the PDP remains a top secret unlike some states where the governors have openly endorsed a successor. Governor Nyesom Wike has openly advised the state’s various tribes eyeing the governorship seat to work very hard to get it, rather than relying on his endorsement or support.

 

Nobody knows for sure the candidate he has in mind, but according to some party insiders, the governor does not believe in the upland/ riverine dichotomy that is being advanced by some, especially those from the riverine communities that are opposed to another upland governor after former governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, and now Wike. In an interview recently, the governor was categorical that nobody can handpick or impose his successor.

 

But according to sources, the governor appears to have bias for former deputy speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Austin Okpara, based on his pedigree, experience and the statesman-like disposition he brings to the table when the occasion demands it. In the past six years, whenever the governor has a serious engagement within and outside the state, Okpara is almost always among the very few that the governor invites.

 

Another candidate that might get the PDP ticket according to party insiders is Dr. Tammy Danagogo, the amiable Kalabari politician, who served as sports minister during the Jonathan administration.

 

He comes across as a hard-working and vibrant politician who in the last six years has been instrumental in the actualization of the “New Rivers Vision” which Wike centres his developmental programme on. Wike could use Danagogo to solve the riverine/ upland dichotomy puzzle if the All Progressives Congress (APC) decides to field a candidate from the riverine area to counter Wike if he truly stays true to his indifference to the riverine/upland sentiment.

 

Kebbi: Leaders kick against Malami

 

Party elite in Kebbi State have kicked against the choice of Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami (SAN), as the anointed candidate to succeed Atiku Bagudu as the governor. Prominent among them is former governor and Bagudu’s predecessor and serving Senator, Adamu Aliero. This has polarized the ruling APC in the state.

 

The party is polarized between Bagudu and those rooting for Malami, while Aliero heads another camp which wants to install its own candidate as well. Other aspirants are Senate leader, Senator (Dr.)Yahyah Abubakar; President Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Dr. Nasir Idris, former NDP Gubernatorial candidate, Sahlisu Nataro Issa; Senator Bala Ibn Na Allah and Kabir Tanimu (SAN). From PDP is General Bello Sarki Yaki (rtd), Abubakar Wudus, a former HoS from People Redemption Party (PRP).

 

This came to the fore recently during the Local Government and State congresses of the APC in the state. Chairman Board of Trustees of Kebbi State Chapter of the APC, Alhaji Sani Zauro Hukuma Zannan Gwandu, announced that Malami is the anointed candidate as Atiku Bagudu will hand over to Malami at the end of his tenure.

 

Zannan Gwandu made it known at the Birnin Kebbi Local Government Congress of the party in Birnin Kebbi, added that the decision to hand over Malami was informed by his excellent performance both at the state and the national levels.

 

“Governor Bagudu has assured us that Mallami is the best candidate that will succeed him, and we are also in support of him for that because Malami has done a lot to the people of Kebbi State. However, this did not go down well with other aspirants who also have their eyes on the exalted seat.

 

A chieftain of the party and former gubernatorial candidate of NDP, Hon. Issa Nataro, said the APC in Kebbi should respect the wishes of the members by allowing them to vote for their choice.

 

He said: “Party members from Zuru, Yauri, Argungu and Kebbi Central must be given a level playing field, to contest any position without intimidation. Threatening and forcing individuals on the party will not be acceptable to us. We are ready to fight the injustice.”

 

No clear view of Ayade’s successor yet in Cross River

Currently, the Cross River State is calm as there has been no mention (openly or discreetly) of the successor to Governor Ben Ayade. Although it is a general belief that the governor is desirous of handing over to someone close to him, he is currently turning his attention to ensuring that his camp in the All Progressives Congress (APC) leads the party at the state level.

 

However, before now, some of the names bandied as his successor included the current Commissioner of Finance, Mr. Asuquo Ekpenyong and Prince Bassey Otu. But since the court removed his proxy, Stephen Odey, the governor has been disappointingly quiet.

 

Situation still hazy in Katsina

 

In Katsina State, the situation is still hazy if what Governor Aminu Masari said not long ago is anything to go by. At a stakeholders meeting in Katsina, the one – time speaker of the House of Representatives in uniquivocative terms stated that he was not preparing any candidate to succeed him.

 

He said: “Where has it ended well between the anointed successor and his predecessor?”

 

For him, he is done with politics after May 29, 2023 as he is not contesting for any office as his brother governors do – retire to the senate. He would rather retire home in order to concentrate on his Foundation which is engaged in charity to help the less privilege and orphans.

 

However, some of his lieutenants such as the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Alhaji Mustapha Mohammed Inuwa, whom a group has been campaigning for on the social media, may enjoy Masari’s support.

 

Others are of the view that Masari’s loyal deputy, Mannir Yakubu, should step into his principal’s shoes since the governor is serving his last term and he should reward his loyalty.

 

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