The Epic Fights Between Governors and their Predecessor-Godfathers By Kabir Akintayo

Collage of Uba Sani, Elrufai, Fubara and Wike

The Epic Fights Between Governors and their Predecessor-Godfathers By Kabir Akintayo

POLITICS DIGEST- Since the return of democracy which saw the emergence of fourth republic, Nigeria has witnessed numerous instances of political friction between governors and their predecessors.

The recent happenings in Kaduna state between former governor Nasir El-Rufai and his anointed successor, Uba Sani who is the current governor of the state wouldn’t be a major surprise to many.

In a related development, the uproar coming from Rivers state between governor Siminalayi Fubara and Nyesom Wike can be attributed to a political fight and broken relationships between so called political godfathers and their godsons.

Who would have thought Fubara could face Wike, a man that secured his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship ticket, worked tirelessly to deliver him as the governor of the state during the 2023 general elections.

In this special report, Politics Digest hereby chronicles the clashes that have taken place since 1999 between governors and their predecessors who helped them to power.

1. Lagos: Bola Tinubu vs. Babatunde Fashola

Nigerian president Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos state had a well-documented power tussle with his successor, Babatunde Fashola. Their conflict stemmed from alleged attempts by Tinubu to maintain control over the state’s affairs even after leaving office. Fashola’s efforts to assert his authority and implement his policies often clashed with Tinubu’s influence, leading to tensions within the ruling party.

Although, the conflict was that of a cold feud, not as pronounced like we have now. But at that time, Fashola lamented bitterly that majority of his cabinet were loyal to his godfather who is Tinubu.

Another issued that sprung up at that period was the governor’s preference to directly collect taxes in the state instead of outsourcing it to a private consultancy firm, Alpha-Beta, a company alleged to belong to Tinubu.

2. Rivers: Peter Odili vs. Rotimi Amaechi

The feud between former Rivers state governors Peter Odili and Rotimi Amaechi is another prominent example. Amaechi succeeded Odili in 2007 but quickly became embroiled in a bitter rivalry with his predecessor. The conflict escalated over control of the state’s resources and political machinery, with both figures accusing each other of corruption and mismanagement.

It became sourer when Amaechi decamped to the All Progressive Congress (APC) prior to the 2015 general election. This led to a tussle between the duo, on who controls the state. And, afterwards, Odili supported Nyesom Wike against Ameachi candidate, Dakuku Peterside in the 2015 governorship election in the state.

3. Abia: Orji Uzor Kalu vs. Theodore Orji

In 2007, then governor, Orji Uzor Kalu ensured that Theodore Orji who was his Chief of Staff, succeeded his administration using the party, Progressive Peoples’ Alliance (PPA) he created four months to the governorship election to deliver him.

However, Orji later decamped to PDP, in 2010, collapsed the party that brought him to power, and also, denied Kalu from gaining access into Abia State.

4. Enugu: Chimaroke Nnamani vs. Sullivan Chime

Just like in Abia, the 2007 governorship election produced Barrister Sullivan Chime who was backed by then governor, Dr Chimaroke Nnamani, the influential leader of the Ebeano political dynasty.

Chime was the attorney-general and commissioner for Justice in Enugu State at the time.

Against most speculations, Nnamani settled for a quiet and unassuming Chime. However, months after he became governor, he banned the Ebeano group, starting off a political battle which saw his predecessor failing to retain his senatorial mandate and almost being sent on exile from the state.

Chime secured his second term and installed Rt Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi as his successor in 2015 who also handed over power to the incumbent Emeka Mbah. Interestingly, Nnamani had also fought off his political godfather, Senator Jim Nwobodo in the state.

5. Anambra: Peter Obi vs. Willie Obiano

Former governor of Anambra state, Peter Obi also had a falling out with his successor, Willie Obiano, whom he supported to win office in 2014. They were both in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

However, their political alliance soon failed. Obi left APGA and joined the PDP.

During the 2017 election, Obi produced the PDP candidate, Oseloka Obaze, who could not stop Obiano’s quest for a second term in office.

6. Benue: George Akume vs. Suswan, Ortom, Alia

The serving secretary to the government of the federation, Senator George Akume, ensured that Senator Gabriel Suswam became his successor in 2007.

As the pattern goes, they both clashed, ultimately leading to Akume’s exit from the PDP, to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Although Suswam secured his second term in 2011, Akume prevailed in 2015 when he supported Samuel Ortom to emerge governor on the platform of the APC.

Like in the case of Suswam, Ortom, months after, fell out with Akume and later dumped the APC for the PDP where he had served as a national officer before moving to the APC.

Akume, however, made another rebound in 2023 by yet again helping to produce the incumbent governor, Hyacinth Alia. The duo recently settled their dispute after a tussle on who controls the affairs of the party, APC, in the state.

7. Kano: Rabiu Kwankwaso vs. Abdullahi Ganduje

The power struggle between Rabiu Kwankwaso and Abdullahi Ganduje in Kano State illustrates the complexities of political relationships in Nigeria. Despite initially being political allies, their alliance soured, leading to a bitter falling out.

Ganduje’s ascension to the governorship following Kwankwaso’s tenure exacerbated tensions, resulting in a series of confrontations and attempts to undermine each other’s authority.

Ganduje narrowly won his re-election bid in 2019, but was unable to ensure his party retained power in 2023. Kwankwaso, having consolidated in the NNPP, got his pound of flesh by ensuring his party won the governorship poll.

The rivalry between Kwankwaso and Ganduje has since spilled into Tinubu’s villa as the latter, sensing the former’s renewed political romance with the president, pulled a masterstroke to emerge the APC national chairman, hence sealing any hopes of a Tinubu/Kwankwaso political deal.

8. Cross River: Imoke vs. Ayade

In 2015, former Governor Liyel Imoke supported then Senator Ben Ayade to emerge governor. Not long after, Ayade, in trying to push his influence within the party, was resisted by forces loyal to Imoke.

Ayade eventually left the PDP and joined the APC. It is worthy to note that Imoke had also fought his predecessor, Donald Duke shortly after he took over, forcing the latter to abandon politics in the state for a long while.

9. Sokoto: Wamakko vs. Tambuwal

In 2015, former governor, Aliyu Wamakko, now senator, supported then House of Representatives speaker, Hon Aminu Tambuwal, to be governor of Sokoto State. They had both dumped the ruling PDP for the new formed APC which was sweeping through the polity.

However, after a bit of a battle with his predecessor, the former speaker returned to the PDP. While Tambuwal won the 2019 election by a slim margin to serve a second term, his party, the PDP lost the governorship election in 2023, allowing Wamakko to retain control of the state.

Interestingly, Wamakko had also fought his predecessor, Attahiru Bafarawa for the political structure of the state.

10. Borno: Sheriff vs. Shettima

Former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff supported current vice president, Senator Kashim Shettima to become governor in 2011.

Shettima had served as commissioner for local government and later as finance commissioner in the Sheriff’s administration. But not long after the latter became governor he fell out with his predecessor. The rivalry was so intense that Sheriff left the APC and joined the PDP. But Shettima was able to serve out his constitutionally guaranteed two terms and produced his successor, incumbent governor, Babagana Zulum.

11. Ebonyi: Egwu vs. Elechi

At the end of his tenure as governor, Senator Sam Egwu picked Martins Elechi as his successor and he followed through with it. But the political arrangement was not to last long as a cold war soon emerged between them which saw the shrinking of Egwu’s influence to just his senatorial district where he was able to win elections. Egwu however got his pound of flesh in 2015 when he teamed up with other stakeholders to stop Elechi from producing his successor. The current minister of Works, Senator Dave Umahi, who became the beneficiary of the tussle, would later clash with Egwu and produce his successor and incumbent governor, Francis Nwifuru.

12. Edo: Oshiomhole vs. Obaseki

Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, in 2018, campaigned and fought a tough battle for the incumbent, Godwin Obaseki, to succeed him.

Obaseki was Oshiomhole’s ace, having served as the chairman of the Edo State Economic Team.

But after the relationship broke down, the battle between the two was fierce, consuming members of the State House of Assembly.

The peak of the battle was when Oshiomhole, as APC national chairman, leveraged his influence to disqualify Obaseki during the APC primaries. Obaseki fired back by initiating Oshiomhole’s suspension at the ward level. Obaseki however moved to the PDP and won re-election.

These examples underscore the intricate dynamics of Nigerian politics, where personal ambitions, party affiliations, and regional interests often intersect to shape political outcomes. While some conflicts have been resolved through reconciliation or electoral processes, others continue to simmer, perpetuating instability and hindering development.