Second-term governors who have come out openly to anoint successors are facing stiff opposition from other aspirants ahead of the party primaries for various elective positions that begin next week.
Nineteen of the 36 state governors are in their second and final terms in office and will exit on May 29, 2023. The governorship election in Ekiti State will, however, be held on June 18, 2022. All others are holding on March 11, 2023, according to the election schedule released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The governorship primaries must be held before June 3, 2022 and outgoing governors are consolidating their grip on party structures and the delegates who will elect the respective flag bearers.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has planned its governorship primaries for May 24, 2022, while the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is scheduled to hold its primaries on May 23, 2022.
Some governors are, however, yet to endorse any aspirants, causing tension within their own camps and parties, and leading to fears of possible imposition at the last minute.
Findings by LEADERSHIP Sunday, however, show that the outgoing governors are in a good position to ensure their preferred aspirants emerge victorious at the primaries.
Our correspondents compiled reports on who the governors have endorsed or are believed to be backing and, thus, likely to win their party tickets. `
In Katsina, All Eyes Are On Masanawa
Governor Aminu Bello Masari has promised to give all aspirants equal opportunity in the primary election of the APC, but there is rising speculation in the state pointing to the managing director of the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC), Umar Abbas Masanawa, as the most likely aspirant for the ticket.
This follows his purchase of interest and nomination forms last week.
However, reports suggest that Masanawa is being sponsored by a renowned Katsina business mogul, Dahiru Bara’u Mangal, while other stakeholders allegedly refer to him as ‘Abuja politician.’
Already, other aspirants have since resisted the claim, calling on delegates and their supporters to disregard the claim as they are confident of winning the race.
Kano: Ganduje Backs Gawuna
Kano State governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, officially endorsed his deputy, Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, as gubernatorial candidate and his former Commissioner for Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs, Murtala Sule Garo, as the running mate for the forthcoming 2023 general election.
LEADERSHIP Sunday reports that Ganduje made this known during a stakeholders’ meeting of the ruling APC in the state, held at Government House,
Ganduje said, “He makes good use of his office, a very loyal lieutenant who is very loyal and dependable.” For Garo, the governor said, “He is a real commander who is loyal and committed to our cause. This is a very fearless confidant. If you want to get a clear and clean political fight, you need somebody who is energetic, loyal and fearless. That is Murtala Sule Garo for you.”
Kogi: Jamiu Could Be Bello’s Pick
Governor Yahaya Bello is finishing his eighth-year two tenures and would like somebody to sustain his legacies.
Officially, the governor, who is contesting for president under the ruling APC, has not come out to endorse any aspirant as a possible successor. Three names however keep coming up:
his chief of staff, Pharmacist Asuku Jamiu; the deputy governor, Chief Edward Onoja and Senator Smart Adeyemi.
However, political watchers in the state believe Bello’s preferred aspirant is his chief of staff.
Benue: Uba Emerges PDP Consensus Candidate In Benue
In Benue State, there were reports that Governor Samuel Ortom’s anointed candidate is the immediate past commissioner of education, Professor Dennis Ityavyar.
However, unconfirmed sources said the PDP chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, is more comfortable with the current speaker of the state assembly, Titus Uba, and for this Ityavyar was zoned out of the contest, with Uba emerging the consensus aspirant from the 14 Tiv speaking local government areas representing Benue North West.
Uba will be contesting against his only opponent, the current deputy governor of Benue state, representing Benue South senatorial district, Engr Benson Abounu.
The Benue North West senatorial district, which is currently occupying the governorship seat via Samuel Ortom, will not be presenting an aspirant during the delegates conference.
Kaduna: El-Rufai Endorses Uba Sani
In Kaduna State, Governor Nasir El-Rufai recently endorsed the senator representing Kaduna Central senatorial district, Uba Sani as a potential successor.
The governor had, in a meeting at the Kaduna State Government House with party stakeholders and his core team, called on his loyalists to support the senator in the party’s primary.
Senator Sani is contesting the governorship on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
A former chief of staff to the Kaduna State governor, Muhammad Abdullahi Dattijo, stepped down for Sani after obtaining the APC gubernatorial nomination forms.
Despite the governor’s endorsement of Sen. Sani, a former member of the House of Representatives and one of the guber aspirants, Sani Sha’aban, who is an in-law to President Muhammadu Buhari, revealed that he would participate in the APC governorship primaries in Kaduna State.
Also, the director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh, who is also running for the governorship under the APC, has purchased his nomination form and is ready for the primaries.
Enugu: Ugwuanyi Yet To Endorse Successor
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has not endorsed any aspirants as his successor for the 2023 governorship election in the state.
More than 20 aspirants from the PDP, APC and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) are vying to be the landlord of the Lion Building in Enugu.
A delegate of the PDP, Dennis Egwu told our correspondent that they are waiting for the governor to tell them the anointed aspirant to follow.
“For now, the governor has not anointed anybody. Nobody knows the anointed person and our leader, the governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuaji, has not told us anything. We are still waiting for him to anoint a candidate,” he stated.
Sokoto: Dan Iya Takes On Shagari
Unlike some other two-term governors who had endorsed their successors, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has kept mum on who succeeds him among the aspirants jostling for the coveted seat.
Even the governor’s body language has not betrayed him on his chosen successor. Rather, the choice candidate of PDP for the governorship ticket is expected to emerge through consensus at the behest of Sokoto elders.
The five aspirants ready to slug it out are the incumbent deputy governor, Manir Muhammad Dan’Iya; immediate past commissioner for environment, Sagir Bafarawa; former minister of water resources, Muktari Shagari; ex-SSG, Sa’idu Umar and incumbent PDP state chairman, Bello Goronyo.
Observers are narrowing the PDP governorship candidature to a two-horse race between Manir Muhammad Dan’Iya and Muktari Shagari.
Plateau: Lalong’s Body Language Points To Yiwaldat
Governor Simon Lalong is yet to officially or publicly announce his anointed successor.
However, the body language of the governor points to the fact that he is going to anoint the former Benue Independent Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Nentawe Yiwaldat as his successor.
On Monday18 April, APC governorship aspirants raised the alarm over the imposition of one of the aspirants, Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda and threatened to quit the party with their supporters if Governor Simon Lalong goes ahead to impose him on them as his anointed candidate.
The aspirants said the only condition that would make them remain in the APC is if due process is followed in the selection of the party’s candidate during the May governorship primaries.
The chairman/convener of the Forum of APC Governorship Aspirants, Chief Amos Gizo, who addressed journalists in Jos, the state capital, insisted that any attempt by Governor Lalong and the party hierarchy to impose a candidate on them and the people of the state would be met with serious resistance.
Governor Lalong has earlier denied anointing his successor while addressing APC stakeholders meeting in Jos.
“I have not adopted or anointed any aspirant for governor or any other office. While very suitable members of our party have indicated interest to vie for different offices, we are carrying out consultations with all key stakeholders to ensure that at the end of the day, the best persons emerge to fly our party’s flag,” he said.
Rivers: Wike Has Two Preferred Candidates
Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has two preferred successors as his second tenure expires on May 29, 2023.
The two candidates, who had already picked and submitted their nomination forms, are the secretary to the state government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo and the accountant-general of the state, Siminalaye Fubara.
However, with the zoning of the Rivers West senatorial district ticket of the PDP to the Kalabari axis of the state where Danagogo comes from, the chances of the SSG getting the governorship ticket is very slim.
Therefore, indications are rift that Fubara, who hails from Opobo Kingdom in Rivers South-East senatorial district, will be the governor’s preferred successor to run on the PDP platform.
Delta: Okowa Looks Towards Oborewori
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has said openly that he has no preferred candidate but it is believed that he is supporting the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon Sheriff Oborewori, who hails from Delta Central.
His body language and actions of his foot soldiers have given indications of where his heart is. There is also a cold war between the governor and former governor James Ibori over who should take over in 2023.
The chairman, PDP Leaders and Stakeholders’ Forum in Delta South, Chief Mike Loyibo, said, “We have agreed to go with the Speaker and ensure that he clinches the ticket of the party even though the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) Worldwide in a statement by its president general, Olorogun Taiga, and others endorsed David Edevbie’s aspiration.
PDP chairman in Delta State, Mr. Kingsley Esiso recently said he would support any governorship aspirant anointed by Okowa,
Esiso’s position came on the heels of the commitment by an influential pressure group, Delta Political Vanguard (DPV) to the Okowa cause. Speaking at a New Year rally in Agbor organised by DPV, Esiso said the person to decide who the next governor would be is the incumbent, adding: “Therefore, on Okowa we stand.”
Meanwhile, Okowa’s deputy, Mr Kingsley Otuaro, who hails from Delta South and once claimed to be the governor’s anointed aspirant, said having completed the zoning arrangement among the three districts, any zone could produce the next governor.
Conversely, Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege has said the Delta State APC would frustrate Governor Okowa’s plan to impose his successor on Deltans in the 2023 governorship election and determine who becomes the next governor.
Niger: No Preferred Aspirant
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello has said he has no anointed aspirant, as he said those associated with him who may be seen supporting any candidate were on their own.
The governor was said to have endorsed the Blueprint Newspapers chairman, Mohammed Idris Malagi, but he came out to disown that notion.
Similarly, he was said to have given his deputy, Ahmed Mohammed Ketso, the go-ahead to contest, but he has refused to come out to categorically endorse him.
Also, the governor was said to have given two other contenders, Hon Mohammed Bago and Engr Sani Ndanusa, the greenlight to contest and had assured them of his support
LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that the governor is closely watching the key statesmen in the state in order not to be at crossroads with them if they choose to have a preferred aspirant.
Another source also hinted that the governor may naturally want a successor that will not rubbish his legacies, but he is wary of endorsing any aspirant considering the experiences in the state in 2007 and 2015 when the preferred aspirants and candidates of the incumbent governors could not scale through.
Akwa Ibom: Pastor Eno has Udom Emmanuel’s Confidence
Against all odds, Governor Udom Emmanuel had on January 29, 2022, jolted the people of the state by declaring that Pastor Umo Bassey Eno would succeed him next year.
It was at the evening meeting deliberately convened by the governor for the purpose, with former governor, Obong Victor Attah; the Prelate Emeritus of the Methodist Church, Dr. Sunday Mbang and the Ibibio paramount ruler, Ntenyin Solomon Etuk, among eminent personalities who endorsed the choice. However, there are dissenting voices who believe Governor Emmanuel flouted the zoning order.
Pastor Eno, a business entrepreneur in the hotels and hospitality industry, was drafted into the politics of the state barely two years ago as a replacement for the former Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources, Architect Ime Ekpo, his kinsman, who died after a protracted ailment.
The governor’s declaration has generated mixed reactions from the camp of Governor Emmanuel’s loyalists and others including Senator Bassey Akpan; former Commissioner for Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport, Mr. Akan Okon; Mr. Akan Udofia and others who were angling to take over from him in 2023.
Apparently disturbed by the governor’s action, which political bookmakers believe did not follow due consultations, horse trading and negotiations, Senator Akpan’s camp and others rejected the decision.
Taraba: Ishaku’s Allies Stand Behind Kotolo
Though there are insinuations that Governor Darius Ishaku has anointed the past accountant general of the state, Aminu Ayuba Kotolo to succeed him in the coming governorship election, the governor is yet to make a public pronouncement to the party members in the state with regard to the decision.
Seven governorship aspirants have already been screened and cleared to contest the governorship primaries under the PDP in the state.
There are also indications that most of the governor’s allies have been rallying round Kotolo, giving the impression that the former accountant general might be the anointed candidate among the seven aspirants.
LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that the likes of Joseph Albasu Kunini, speaker, Taraba state house of assembly, Bubajoda Mafindi, Victor Bala Kona, Joel Danlami Ikenya, Demien Dodo and Jerom Nyame, who have all been cleared to contest the election under PDP. are still hopeful of clinching the ticket at the end of the day
Cross River: Ayade Linked To Sen Otu
Prof Ben Ayade is said to have anointed a former senator representing Cross South senatorial district at the National Assembly, Senator Bassey Edet Otu, as his successor.
In the last election, Otu lost to Senator Gershom Bassey who is now the senator representing the Senatorial district.
Out’s re-election bid to the Senate was said to have been thwarted by the former governor, Senator Liyel Imoke, who had an interest in getting his bosom friend, Gershom Bassey, installed as senator to represent the Senatorial district.
Oti, popularly known by his people as “Sweet Prince”, defected from the PDP to the APC to avert his political career being killed by Imoke who was at that time seen as the godfather of the PDP in Cross River State probably because of his closeness to former President Good luck Jonathan.
Cross River citizens had, at the kick-off of political activities in the state, felt that Ayade had already anointed the state Commissioner for Finance, Asuquo Ekpeyong Jr. as his successor.
What played out at the critical stakeholders’ meeting at Sheraton Hotels, Abuja, remains the greatest mystery and shock to many watching the political activities in the state.