By Dapo Akinrefon
Gradually, out- going governors are beginning to find the Senate as a place to continue with their political careers after leaving the Government House. Often times, some of them, after failing to realise their presidential ambition will navigate their ways into the Upper Chamber of the National assembly.
The governors’ scramble for the Senate started in 2007 when some governors, who had completed their eight-year tenure, took over from senators representing their senatorial zones. Since then, the trend had continued and is appearing to be entrenched in the polity.
Currently, serving state governors and immediate past governors who have picked senatorial tickets include Bukola Saraki (Kwara), Danjuma Goje (Gombe), Ibrahim Idris (Kogi), Ali Modu Sheriff (Borno), Gbenga Daniel (Ogun), Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun) and Olusegun Agagu (Ondo).
Vanguard politics examines their stand in their respective states and how they intend to wrestle their way to the Upper Chamber.
He was Governor of Enugu State from 1999 to 2007 flying the flag of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). After his tenure as governor, he emerged as senator representing Enugu East on PDP paltform.
Currently, he intends to return to the upper chamber but has been having a running battle with his successor, Governor Sullivan Chime. This is as a result of the battle for control of the party machinery in the state. With Chime having the upper hand in the battle for the soul of Enugu PDP, Nnamani left for the Peoples Democratic Congress, PDC and picked the senatorial ticket.
Nnamani, who is also the leader of Ebeano, has used the platform to rattle political opponents in the state. His success at the polls will depend on his ability to withstand the PDP in the Coal City.
The former governor of Nasarawa State, popularly known as the ‘Bridge Builder,’ has throughout his political career devoted his energy to uniting the various ethnic; bringing peace and prosperity to the new state.
He contested elections in 1999 on the platform of the PDP and won.
He was at the helm of affairs in the state from 1999 to 2007 but has been docked by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for allegedly awarding contracts and misappropriating public funds estimated at N15 billion.
His ambition to get to the Senate might be truncated following the numerous allegations leveled against him by the anti-graft agency. Among the allegations against the former Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, include the alleged non-execution of N71.7 million contract for the construction of an engineering complex at Nasarawa Polytechnic, N34 million contract for the construction of Admin block in Lafia Poly and award of N1.1 billion contract for various projects without due process, among others.
The outgoing governor of Kwara State, Dr Bukola Saraki, has also joined the array of former governors who are jostling for the Senate.
The chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum aspired to become the next president of Nigeria but lost to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who became the consensus candidate of the Northern Leders Political Forum, NPLF led by Mallam Adamu Ciroma.
The son of the strongman of Kwara politics, Dr. Olusola Saraki, has since picked the PDP ticket for Kwara Central Senatorial District to replace his younger sister, Gbemisola Saraki who has been dubbed to take over from him at the Government on another party’s platform.
His perceived achievements over the eight years he has been at the helm of affairs of the state, might be a plus for him, but pundits opine that the squabble with his father, is another factor Bukola would have to put into consideration.
Dr Olusegun Kokumo Agagu, former governor of Ondo State, was on the saddle for six years, but was shown the way out by the Court of Appeal which gave victory to the current governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko.
Agagu, who hails from Okitipupa, has received tremendous support from the people of his Ondo South Senatorial District. Though he has picked the ticket of the PDP to represent his district, he may face the herculean task from the senatorial candidate of the Labour Party, the party in power.
The ousted governor of Osun State is set to represent Osun Central in the Senate on the platform of the PDP, but would have many hurdles to cross. This is as a result of the fact that the incumbent governor of the state, Engineer Rauf Aregbesola, a member of the Action Congress of Nigeria, is set to consolidate his hold on power, by ensuring that all political seats are occupied by his party.
Currently serving his eight year as governor of Ogun State on the PDP’s platform, Governor Daniel got the party’s ticket to represent Ogun North Senatorial District.
The party, is, however, polarized owing to the rift between the governor and former President Olusegun Obasanjo and some stakeholders within the party, which many say would affect the fortunes of the party during the 2011 general elections.
Though OGD, as he’s fondly called, still controls the party machinery, the polarization within the party, if not nipped in the bud, may give the ACN in the state, the opportunity to get hold on power.
He was a former governor of Benue State from 1999 to 2007 before leaving for the Senate. He has consistently been in the eye of the storm, especially from his constituency for allegedly not representing them well enough. Also, he has been having a running battle with the incumbent governor, Mr Gabriel Suswam.
Currently representing Benue North West, Akume has lost out in the scheme of things thereby leaving him with no option than to decamp, with 24 other topnotchers of the PDP, to the ACN, where he picked a return ticket.
Having governed Zamfara State for eight years, Senator Yerima is currently representing Zamfara West senatorial district in the Upper Chamber on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP. His popularity, however, dwindled, when he was allegedly involved in getting married to a minor. This development caused popular outcry against the lawmaker and eventually led to litigation against him.
In July 2007 the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested former governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Saminu Turaki over allegations of corruption and money laundering. Turaki faced a 32-count charge of money laundering, and was said to have laundered about N36 billion of public funds into private accounts. He was released on bail with stringent conditions.
He has since dumped the PDP for the ACN, where he hopes to actualise his dreams, but observers of political events in the state, have attributed the lawmaker’s defection to the love lost between him and the current governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido.
The lawmaker’s ambition, might be met with resistance from Governor Lamido, who has his own candidate. Aside this, the people of Jigawa may not be favourably disposed to the ACN, a new political party in the state. Though he has been in the Senate, he has not been heard to sponsor any motion or bill, a development, that may affect his return to the Upper Chamber.
Buka Abba Ibrahim
The former governor of Yobe State on the platform of the ANPP, Abba Ibrahim, is currently representing Yobe. While in the Senate, the lawmaker failed to meet up to expectation following his belonging to a minor ity political party– a factor that militated against him and others in this category.
Mohammed Ahmed Makarfi
The former governor of Kaduna State represents Kaduna North senatorial district in the Senate. Markafi, who installed Arc Namadi Sambo, now Vice President of Nigeria, to succeed him, has successfully secured another ticket to represent his district in the upper chamber.