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Governors Eyeing Senate in 2023

Ayade, Ikpeazu and Lalong

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last Wednesday, in accordance with the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general election, released the final list of candidates nominated by the 18 political parties for national elections covering one presidential constituency, 109 senatorial districts and 360 federal constituencies.

INEC scheduled the general election to hold in two phases, beginning with national elections (Presidential and National Assembly) on Saturday, February 25, 2023 and state elections (Governorship and State Houses of Assembly) on Saturday, March 11, 2023.

It has become the norm for state governors to move to the Senate after serving a second and constitutional last term. This has come under criticism from political analysts and watchers of political developments, who believe that people who have served as governors and most of them entitled to severance allowances and pension should ordinarily retired to their homes or aspire to occupy a higher position rather than return to the Senate to earn salaries and allowances concurrently with their pension as former governors.

A senatorial district is one third of a state. Why then is it that after leaving office, many state governors still desire to lead their senatorial districts? In fact, some analysts are of the opinion that most former governors consider the floor of the Senate as a place of relaxation where most of them doze off during plenary sessions.

Despite the criticism that has greeted the influx of erstwhile governors to the Senate, most of them dominate the place. After the 2023 general election no less than 10 sitting governors may join their colleagues in the Senate.

A glance at the list of candidates released by INEC shows that 10 incumbent governors are eyeing the Senate in next year’s election. They include Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State; Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom; Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State; David Umahi of Ebonyi State; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State; Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State: Sani Bello of Niger State; Simon Lalong of Plateau State; Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal and Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State.

Some governors, who will also complete their second term tenure between next month and May next year, have shunned the Senate or any electoral positions as they are ready to wait on their parties’ chances in the Presidential election and possibly get ministerial positions or Board appointments.

One of these governors is Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State who will complete his second term next month and who only last week resigned his position as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum. He has refused to be dragged into contesting elective positions in 2023. Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, Atiku Badaru of Jigawa State and Bello Masari of Katsina State are also not contesting any elective position next year.

Those eyeing Senate and their constituencies:

Okezie Ikpeazu – Abia South

Okezie was born on October 18, 1964. In 1980, at the age of 16, he gained admission into the University of Maiduguri to study Clinical Biochemistry and graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons.) Second Class Upper Division in August, 1984.

From August 1984 to August 1985, he served as a Clinical Biochemist in the Medical Laboratory of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt for his National Youth Service. He returned to the University of Maiduguri for an M.Sc Degree in Biochemical Toxicology and graduated in 1990. In 1994, at the age of 30, he obtained a Doctorate Degree, PhD in Biochemical Pharmacology from the University of Calabar.

Before joining politics, Okezie Ikpeazu had been a lecturer in several Nigerian educational institutions.

On December 31, 2015, a Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri sacked Ikpeazu as Governor and declared Alex Otti as the winner of the 2015 governorship election held on April 11 and April 12 2015. On June 27, 2016, Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja ordered Ikpeazu to vacate his office as governor upon allegations of false information and forgery of documents prior to the 2015 gubernatorial election.

The suit was however dismissed by a Federal High Court in Owerri. Okezie Ikpeazu ran for a second term under his party, PDP and emerged the winner of the election, hereby welcoming his second term as Governor of Abia State.

He will complete the second term tenure on May 29, 2023 and may end up in the Senate if he eventually wins the February 2023 senatorial election

Samuel Ortom – Benue North-West

Ortom was born on April 23, 1961 in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State.

He enrolled at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria where he obtained both the Interim Joint Matriculation Board Certificate in 1995 and the Diploma in Journalism in 1998. He later attended Benue State University where he obtained an Advanced Diploma in Personnel Management in 2001 as well as a Master of Public Administration in 2004. Ortom earned a PhD from the Commonwealth University, Belize through distance learning.

He worked for different political parties in Benue State including the National Centre Party of Nigeria as State Publicity Secretary; State Treasurer of the All Peoples Party (APP); and State Secretary as well as State Deputy Chairman of the PDP. He was also Director of Operations of the PDP gubernatorial campaign in Benue State in 2007 and Director of Administration and Logistics of the Goodluck/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organization in 2011. He was PDP National Auditor before his appointment as Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in July 2011.

In April 2015, he contested for Governor of Benue State and won under the platform of the APC.

In July 2018, Ortom announced his departure from the All Progressives Congress as a result of an internal party crisis.

In the March 9, 2019 Benue Governorship Election and March 23, 2019 Benue State supplementary governorship election, Ortom was re-elected as Governor having polled 434,473 votes while the runner up Emmanuel Jime of the All Progressives Congress polled 345,155 votes.

Ortom and Bagudu 

Ben Ayade – Cross River North

Ayade was born in Obudu Local Government Area of Cross River State on March 2, 1968. He earned his B.Sc. (Honours) from the University of Ibadan (1984–1988). He then proceeded to obtain his M.Sc. in Microbiology (1989–1990) and subsequently his PhD in Environmental Microbiology from the same University of Ibadan (1990–1994. Ayade is a lawyer with a LLB law degree (2006–2010) from Delta State University, Abraka.

He went on to work as a lecturer at Delta State University, Abraka, where he was subsequently appointed Professor.

He is rounding up his second term as Governor of Cross River State, having served a first term between 2015 and 2019. He contested the presidential primary of his new party, the APC but he lost to Asiwaju Tinubu.

He is contesting for a seat in the Senate in Cross River North in the forthcoming election.

David Umahi – Ebonyi South

Umahi was born on July 25, 1964. He graduated in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering.

Umahi joined the public service in 2007 as Acting Chairman of the Ebonyi State chapter of the PDP from 2009 to 2011; he served as state chairman of the party. During that term, he served a year on the Governing Board of the Federal Medical Centre in Asaba as its chairman.

In 2011, Umahi became the Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State on a ticket with the-then Governor, Martin Elechi. He was elected to the role of Governor on April 12, 2015.

On March 16, 2019, Umahi was re-elected as governor in the Ebonyi state governorship election.

On November 11, 2020 Umahi declared his intention to join the APC and on November 2020 he officially defected to the party after a lengthy speculation.

On January 11, 2022 Umahi declared his intention to run for the office of the President, but lost at the party‘s primary election.

Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi – Enugu North

Ugwuanyi was born in 1964 . He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2003 and he was the chairman, House Committee on Marine Transport.

He won PDP’s gubernatorial ticket, which made him the State’s PDP Governorship Candidate for the 2015 general election, which he eventually won.

On March 9, 2019, Ugwuanyi was re-elected as Governor of Enugu State in the 2019 Nigerian gubernatorial election.

Abubakar Atiku Bagudu – Kebbi Central

Bagudu obtained a BSc (Economics) from the Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto, Msc (Economics) from the University of Jos and MA in International Affairs.

He succeeded Adamu Aliero when he won the by-election for the Kebbi Central Senatorial seat, following Aliero’s appointment to become the Minister for FCT. In the April 6, 2011 elections.

In 2015, Atiku Bagudu defected from the ruling PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and contested in the governorship election, recording a landslide victory in the polls.

In the March 9, 2019 governorship election, Bagudu was re-elected for a second term as Kebbi governor.

Abubakar Sani Bello – Niger North

Abubakar Sani Bello was born on December 17, 1967 and was given admission into University of Maiduguri, between 1986 and 1991 where he obtained a B.Sc in Economics.

In 2015, Bello won the governorship election in the state and was declared winner by the INEC on April 13, 2015. On March 9, 2019, he was re-elected for a second term.

Simon Lalong – Plateau South

Lalong’s professional career as an attorney lasted between 1992, the year following his graduation from Law School and 1998, the dawn of Nigeria’s new democracy. He returned to legal practice as the Principal Partner of Simon B Lalong and Co until 2015.

In 1998, Lalong temporarily discarded legal practice to pursue a political career. Representing the PDP, he successfully contested in his native Shendam Constituency and entered the Plateau State House of Assembly.

In October 2000, he became the Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, occupying that position until 2006, following a crisis within the House. Having spent seven years in this capacity, he was the longest serving Speaker of the House of Assembly in the history of Plateau State.

He was sworn in as the governor of Plateau State on May 29, 2015. Also, he was sworn in for a second term as the governor of Plateau State on May 29, 2019.

Aminu Tambuwal – Sokoto South

Aminu Tambuwal was born on January 10, 1966, in Tambuwal Village in Sokoto State.

He attended Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, where he studied Law, graduating with an LLB (Hons) degree in 1991. He was called to the Bar in 1992.

Besides studying law, he attended several courses abroad, among which are Telecoms Regulatory Master Class–Bath UK, 2004; Lawmaking for the Communications Sectors –BMIT, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2004; Regulating a Competitive Industry-UK, Brussels, 2005; Tulane University – International Legislative Drafting, 2005; Stanford Graduate School of Business – Influence and Negotiation, 2008 and KSG Harvard – Infrastructure in Market Economy, 200.

Tambuwal learnt the legislative ropes between 1999 and 2000, while working as Personal Assistant on Legislative Affairs to Senator Abdullahi Wali, the then Senate Leader.

In 2003, he decided to run for a legislative seat as representative of the Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency. He was elected into the House of Representatives on the platform of ANPP.

Tambuwal later joined the PDP and held several offices in the House. In 2005, he became the Minority Leader of the House until he defected to the PDP. Upon his re-election to the House in 2007, he was also elected the Deputy Chief Whip.

He became the Speaker of the House of House of Representatives from June 2011 to May 29, 2015.

On October 28, 2014, Tambuwal defected from the ruling PDP to the opposition APC.

On April 11, 2015, he contested and won the governorship election in Sokoto State. He was inaugurated on May 29, 2015.

On August 1, 2018, he defected from the APC back to the PDP. In the March 9, 2019 Sokoto State Governorship election and March 22, 2019, Sokoto State supplementary election, Tambuwal was re-elected as governor of the state.

Tambuwal was one of 12 candidates, including four from his north western region, that contested in the PDP presidential primary but lost in the end.

Darius Ishaku – Taraba South

Darius Ishaku was born on July 30, 1954. He attended Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria where he studied and obtained a Bachelor degree and a Master’s degree in Architecture, he went further to obtain an additional Master’s degree in Urban and Regional planning.

Ishaku is a fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (FNIA) and also a fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners.

He was at different times the Supervising Minister of Power, Supervising Minister of Environment and Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs before he resigned to contest in the 2015 Taraba State governorship election. Although he won the 2015 election, he was in a court battle with his opponent, Senator Aisha Jumai Alhassan.

After a series of appearances in court, Ishaku was declared winner of the governorship election in 2016.

He was again successful for his second run, in the governorship election of March 2019.