non-incumbent governorship aspirants battle for
AS the parties
begin to hold their primaries and pick their flagbearers for
various elective offices, there are indications that the
impending 2003 election will very be competitive. One pointer
to this is the number of aspirants. However, other reasons
have been offered to explain the impending competition.
Alhaji Mohammed Sambo, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
House of Representatives aspirant from Plateau State, said,
"in 1999, a lot of qualified people refused to join partisan
politics because they were doubtful that the military will
hand over power.
"But today, many highly qualified and successful people are
retiring from their jobs or leaving their businesses to
venture into partisan politics."
Mr. Chima Umeh, an All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) House
of Reps aspirant in Ideato South Federal Constituency in Imo
State, sees another reason. He said, "the apparent declining
quality of representation is forcing many people to believe
that they can offer better services to the people."
In many ways, the PDP is expected to set the tone for the
election. The party controls 21 out of 36 states of the
federation. At the National Assembly, it has the majority.
This means that the party will have more eager aspirants and
incumbents to contend with. For various positions, the party
reported that over 40,000 nomination forms were sold.
Meanwhile the 67 non-incumbent governorship aspirants led by
Alhaji Haruna Abubakar, former deputy Senate president,
threaten boycott of the primaries. They are protesting the PDP
guidelines, which was seen as designed to favour the
incumbents. But despite the accusation that the PDP has
tacitly endorsed the candidacy of its incumbent governors, the
aspirants are not letting go.
Across the nation, the governorship election is generating
excitement. In non-PDP states, the battle is not less fierce.
While disaffected PDP governorship aspirants are decamping to
rival parties, to continue their fight, their colleagues
elsewhere are encouraged to extend the frontiers of the party.
Some aspirants are apparent no-hopers but those with a fair
chance of success are pegging their hopes on a 'level playing
field,' the euphemism for a free and fair election.
The pre-campaign rhetoric and promises are as familiar as
the fears of excessive use of state power by the incumbents.
However, PDP governorship aspirant in Lagos, Chief Dapo Sarumi
said the campaigns for 2003 would be dominated by political
issues against the appeal to ethnic sentiments, which
prevailed in 1999.
The PDP incumbent governors raised their declarations for a
second term to an expensive event. From Owerri to Port
Harcourt, Yenagoa, Calabar, Benin etc, the governors, perhaps
in an intimidating display of their support, rolled out the
drums to offer themselves to the people of the state again.
But all that hardly fazed the aspirants.
At least 28 people are in the governorship race in Osun
State. From this crowd, 21 are from the PDP while the rest are
from the Alliance for Democracy (AD). The race, therefore is
likely to be a straight fight between the AD and the PDP. The
other political parties except for the All Nigeria Peoples
Party (ANPP) have not established their presence.
The AD aspirants include Governor Adebisi Akande, a nephew
of the late Chief Bola Ige, Mr. Kunle Ige, Chief Jumoke
Ogunkeyede, Chief Femi Alafe Aluko and Akogun Tunde
Odanye. The prospects of a PDP victory look bright, but the
question is will the PDP pick the right candidate to battle
The AD aspirants in the state are Chief Abiola Morakinyo,
Alhaji Isiaka Adeleke, Dr. Peter Babalola, Bashir Lawal, Mr.
Lateef Olayinka Babawale, Otunba Abdul-Rasaq Adeagbo, Chief
Simeon Oduoye, Senator Olu Alabi, Dosu Oladipo, Prince Alade
Oyebisi, Dr. Babatunde Durosomo, Mr. Sola Oni, Erelu Olusola
Ogbada, Mr. Nathaniel Oke, Prince Adesuyi Haastrup, Chief Dosu
Fatokun, Dr. Bayo Faforiji, Mrs. Oluremi Olowu, Mr. Tunde
Fagbohungbe, Chief Ayoade Bibilari and Chief Omole Agboworin.
The deputy governor, Otunba Iyiola Omisore is also in the
race and if he eventually dumps the AD, he will swell the PDP
number of aspirants to 27. Despite the crowd, the AD has vowed
to win Ondo State in the governorship election.
Olu Agbesua, a former campaign manager of the former
presidential candidate of the joint APP/AD, Chief Olu Falae
dismisses the threat of the PDP. He said, "we believe that the
electorate would not vote for the PDP. They know that it is
only the AD that can transform their lives by providing them
with basic amenities of life."
A PDP aspirant in Ekiti State, Chief Samuel Kolawole
Babalola has lamented the erosion of values in the state and
promised to restore them if elected. Among the problems he
identified are the deteriorating educational standards, and
lack of electricity for the industrialisation of the state.
Babalola, who is also the Special Adviser to the President
on Education, said the time has come for a change in the
political direction of the state. He said that in Ekiti, every
citizen is calling for change to honesty, industry, diligence,
integrity and good governance. He called on the people to vote
for the change. As governor, he would place emphasis on road
construction and rehabilitation, provision of clean water and
"We shall embark on mechanised agriculture, provide
agricultural loans to rural farmers through co-operative
societies, as well as encourage private initiative in
commercial farming and plantation agriculture."
A former National Financial Secretary of the PDP, Chief
Clement Awoyelu said the slow pace of development in Ekiti is
due to mis-management of resources. While declaring his
interest in the PDP he said the people should not be deceived
by the AD's cries of lack of fund. He said he joined the race
because the situation in Ekiti now calls for a tested
knowledgeable leader. Awoyelu, founding chairman of the PDP in
Ekiti added that it is time to give the state a new direction.
Meanwhile Ekiti State governor, Chief Adeniyi Adebayo has
described his endorsement as a consensus candidate for a
second term by the state chapter of Afenifere as an
appreciation of his performance. Adebayo was rated high in
road development and the provision of basic infrastructure for
the development of the state.
Akure, the Ondo State capital stood still when the former
Commissioner for Health, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko joined the
governorship race on the platform of AD. Mimiko had resigned
as commissioner to pursue his ambition. According to him,
"governance has become extremely dynamic and there is a limit
to how far we can continue to use prevailing styles to
confront new realities. It is time indeed for our elders to
pass the baton.
"We the younger ones are ready and it is a challenge we
must take and indeed are already taking by our declaration of
interest in the governorship seat today."
Mimiko's fellow ANPP aspirant is a Lagos based lawyer,
Chief Jimoh Ibrahim. In his declaration, the 35-year-old
businessman lamented that the standard of living has not
improved despite the billions of naira collected as revenue by
the AD government of Chief Adebayo Adefarati.
" For a long time, our people have suffered neglect,
despite being an oil producing state. The present government
has been unable to affect the lives of the people and so the
people of the state are at liberty to vote for a government
that will deliver the goods. It is their right, come 2003," he
The state chairman of the ANPP, Alhaji Yinusa noted that
Jimoh's potentials made him the best material for the party in
its quest to grab power from the AD government.
Meanwhile, the Abia State deputy governor Enyinnaya Abaribe
has warned the PDP leadership to be wary of fostering
candidates on the party ahead of the 2003 election.
Abaribe's remarks came against the backdrop of a statement
credited to the former Minister of Works and Housing, Chief
Tony Anenih that the PDP leadership may be predisposed to
adopting all its incumbent governors in 2003. Abaribe noted
that if that happens, the decision will foreclose the chances
of other aspirants of the party nationwide. He said he might
opt for another party as a last resort.
A similar scenario confronted human rights lawyer, Chief
Mike Ozekhome in Edo State. Ozekhome is contesting the
endorsement of Governor Lucky Igbinedion as a consensus
candidate by the PDP. He explained that he was the first
aspirant to pick his nomination form and recalled that his
declaration dated back to last September 18 while the governor
declared his intention forty-two days after he,(Ozekhome)
declared. He believes that the party may be heading for a
major crisis if it goes ahead to pick Igbinedion.
However, the pioneering secretary to the state government,
Dr. Clement Imuetiyan Alile, is oblivious of Ozekhome's fight
with the PDP and Igbinedion. Alile is seeking the governorship
mandate under the United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP). Alile's
aspiration makes him the first candidate outside the PDP and
the ANPP who jointly have about 14 aspirants in the state.
Alile in 1984 was a commissioner in the administration of Maj.
Gen Jeremiah Oseni in the old Bendel State.
One of those who will contest the adoption of Anambra State
governor, Chinwoke Mbadinuju is Dr. Obinna Uzoh, a Lagos based
businessman. Uzoh said his ambition is to bring back the lost
glory of the state and this will be achieved through prudent
management of the state's resources.
The abandoned infrastructure in Anambra is upsetting Ichie
Mike Ejezie a UNPP aspirant. He said his party would transform
the state into paradise. At a rally in Ihiala to flag off his
campaign tagged: "Liberation 2003", Ejezie said his mission
was to clean up the mess left by the PDP and Mbadinuju in the
Said he: "I was compelled to come out due to the apparent
failure of the PDP government to deliver the democratic
dividends." He appealed to the people to embrace UNPP, which
would produce the next government in the state.
A former Secretary of Science and Technology in the Interim
National Government (ING), Prof. Barth Nnaji shunned the PDP
where his kinsman Governor Chimaroke Nnamani, holds sway and
declared his intention to contest under the platform of the
Nnaji, who was the chairman of the Ohanaeze Ndigb
Development Committee, said he has already developed a blue
print on how to industrialise the state, adding that he would
be the first governor to begin the implementation of that blue
He said he hoped that the state would return to her glory
and life would become meaningful when the electorate cast
their votes for the right person.
Although Ebonyi State governor, Sam Egwu is yet to declare
his intention to seek re-election in 2003, the people of Ezza,
the dominant clan in the state have expressed their resolve to
back him. Led by the chief whip of the State House of
Assembly, Hon. Tobias Okwuru, the people of Ezza said they
felt that Egwu was the only candidate that would give the
state the level of peace it needs now. Okwuru argued that the
Ezza as the most populous group in the state, knew what was
good for the state.
Meanwhile, following the continued face-off between Egwu
and his deputy, Dr. Emmanuel Isu, some members of the PDP in
the Ebonyi South Senatorial Zone from where Isu hails, have
decided to dump him in the governorship race. However, Isu
dismissed the decision as "laughable" stressing that he had
made it known that he was not interested in coming back as
One of the people that want to end the tenure of Chief
Achike Udenwa and the PDP in Imo State is a UNPP aspirant, Dr.
Obioma Iheduru. He said he is a man with courage to make
visionary and responsible changes in the state. One of those
changes is to attract Igbo in the Diaspora to set up two
universities of technology and the other for medicine. "We
need a school to produce functional individuals who will
develop the state," he said. Iheduru who is a professor of
political Science at the Fort Valley State University, United
States of America, said that he would also build a technology
park where the benefits of information technology can be fully
In Plateau State, Governor Joshua Dariye enjoyed a similar
endorsement as Egwu when the Southern senatorial zone of the
state gave him a go-ahead. The people of the zone under the
umbrella of the Lowland People's Assembly presented the
governor as their sole candidate. One time deputy senate
president, Mr. John Wash Pam said the people were always
united in their politics. Deputy Senate President, Alhaji
Ibrahim Mantu restated that the candidate for the state was
still Dariye who is described as "the Joshua of our time."
Amidst misgivings that trailed his declaration for a second
term, Bayelsa State governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha has
explained that he was persuaded by 86 different organisations
"Over the last two years, about 86 organisations have
called on me to return to the Government House. This is beside
the overtures of well-meaning individuals and respected
opinion leaders," he said.
He said that the request of these groups has been
buttressed by the arguments that he had done well. According
to the governor, the call for his return was persistent and he
could no longer pretend to be deaf "but accept to renew the
mandate for a second term." Alamieyeseigha believed that the
call represents the genuine feelings of the people.
The governor advised that political campaigns should be
free of violence, bitterness and acrimony and enjoined all
political players to play down personality deficiencies and
Maybe his warning was belated. Following attacks on members
of the opposition, the former Secretary to the State
Government, Chief Felix Oboro called on the Federal Government
and the Inspector-General of Police, to prevail on
Alamieyeseigha to provide a level playing field for all
Oboro who is the campaign co-ordinator of Mr. Timi Alaibe's
gubernatorial platform the "New Vision 2003," said that if the
attack on opposition members continues, politicians in the
state would resort to other means to ensure their
He said that the opposition was considering engaging the
services of private security outfits such as the Egbesu
Boys since the government intimidates the police.
Oboro's call followed an attack on some members of Alaibe's
supporters by youths believed to be loyal to the
Alamieyeseigha Campaign Organisation (ALAMCO), who invaded the
Kaiama headquarters of Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA.
The attackers were said to have threatened to weaken the
opposition to the re-election of Alamieyeseigha. Oboro said
that, "the disturbing aspect is that the whole incident
occurred while the police was watching." However, the Director
of ALAMCO Barrister Fedude Zemoghen denied the violence traced
to the group.
In Abia, Chief Henry Ikoh an ANPP aspirant is having a task
explaining that his bid was not sponsored by Governor Orji
Kalu to scuttle the chances of aspirants from the two other
zones other than North or Old Bendel from where Kalu hails.
He said: "I am not being fronted by Kalu. I am a self made
man, it is an unfair to me for anybody to allege such."
Ikoh who has dumped the PDP and joined the ANPP, stated
that there was no time it was discussed and agreed that the
political power in the state should shift from Abia North zone
to Abia South or Central.
"I am on my own and it behoves that power should naturally
go to the central before the South because I do not see why
this power should jump central zone and land on the South
"The problem between old Bende and Ukwa/Ngwa will be buried
with me, from Abia Central. I am the Bridge."
Just as Ikoh is trying to assert himself, the supporters of
PDP governorship aspirant in Kaduna State, Alhaji Yusuf
Abubakar Hamisu have denied insinuations that he has stepped
down for Governor Ahmed Makarfi. The supporters, under the
auspices of Kaduna State Movement for Equity Transparency and
Good Governance said, "reports that the vice president, Alhaji
Atiku Abubakar prevailed on Hamisu Abubakar to step down for
Makarfi was false, and a plan to cause confusion in our
The secretary of the group, Alhaji Sanusih Maikinde said,
"no amount of blackmail can force us out of this historic duty
of saving our dear state and our people from anarchy and
dictatorship. We remain a viable and credible alternative to
be considered amongst others by the people on merit. This is
the only way our democracy can aspire to be truly a government
of the people for the people and by the people."
He said, "we are not going to betray the confidence reposed
in our aspirant, which is evidently manifested in the massive
public support we enjoy across the state. The statement is
cheap propaganda to confuse people.
Borno State governor, Malla Kachallah at a grand reception
organised for him on the conferment of an honorary degree by
the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) signified
his interest for re-election.
Addressing a crowd of ANPP party supporters in Maiduguri,
he said the grand reception organised for him was an
opportunity to respond to the people of Borno.
But Kachalla is up against eight ANPP aspirants and six PDP
aspirants who have resolved to support anyone who emerges as
the party's flagbearer. The consensus was reached while Alhaji
Gambo Lawan, chairman of the board of Warri Refinery and
Petro-Chemicals (WRPC) disclosed his intention to contest the
governorship in Borno.
But for Kachalla's counterpart in Kano, Dr. Rabiu Musa
Kwankwaso, it would seem there is a consensus option in the
incumbent. Long after the sale of forms to aspirants
commenced, he appears to be the only aspirant for the race
according to the state chairman of the party, Alhaji Yusuf
Kutama said as far as he was concerned only Kwankwaso had
indicated his interest to run on behalf of the party. He said
he was convinced that pasting posters in the streets is not
enough to consider other aspirants as contenders. "I only
notice posters in the streets of Kano but none of the
aspirants has formally picked his form" he said.
Cross River State governor, Donald Etim Duke, the Eto
Nkori of Efik has indicated that he wants a second term.
But, unlike his Akwa Ibom State counterpart, Obong Victor
Attah who has painted all parts of the state red with posters
of his robust face, Duke is going about his campaign quietly.
Despite Duke's style, his campaigners are working to
reinstall him at the government house. Prominent among the
various groups are 'Restoration 2003', 'Mandate 2003',
'Necessity 2003' and lately 'Women Arise And Move' (WAAM) for
Duke amongst others.
However, it is not going to be an easy ride for Duke. He
will contest with Nigeria's Ambassador to Korea, Major Akpang
Obi-Odu, Hon Member Dr. Mike Ogar and Dr. Joe Itafu Okey. The
others are ousted PDP's National Publicity Secretary, Mr.
Emmanuel Ibeshi, Duke's opponent in 1999, Mr. Mark Ukpo as
well as the deputy governor, Chief John Oyom Okpa.
Of the six contenders, four are from ANPP, one is from the
National Democratic Party (NDP) whilst the others are from the
PDP. Okey moved to the PDP recently at an impressive ceremony
in his Nsofang ward, Etung local council.
But no sooner had he declared than trouble started. The
situation worsened and he dumped the PDP to the ANPP. His exit
from the PDP, political analysts said, may be connected with a
statement accredited to the state chairman of the party, Chief
Sonny Abang. At his inauguration last year, Abang told party
faithful that anybody who has the ambition of becoming
governor in the state should wait till 2007.
On his part, Obi-Odu a retired army major is likely to
decamp from PDP for the NDP. Given his political clout, he
stands a chance of rocking Duke's foundation. His chances will
be enhanced if the Atam Peoples Congress (APC) a
socio-cultural cum political group, which zoned the
governorship to the Northern senatorial District endorses his
Pundits however believe that APC's pendulum will tilt in
favour of Mark Ukpo, a scion of the Ukpo dynasty in Ogoja who
declared in Calabar soon after Obi-Odu declared in Ogoja. Ukpo
was Duke's opponent in 1999. Now that he has declared on the
platform of the ANPP, the question in whether he will give
Duke the kind of challenge he presented in 1999.
He said: "My conviction is that this state deserves
purposeful leadership and most importantly, a leadership that
will govern with the fear of God. In this direction, I hereby
offer myself to serve you as governor in 2003."
Ogar's interest in the governorship election arose as a
result of the present "deceitful, unimpressive, insensitive
and financially irresponsible administration in the state."
For Ibeshi, printing colourful posters has not stimulated
interest in his governorship ambition. Joining the NDP, a
party that has not established itself in the state, Ibeshi
said he is "tested and God fearing."
Okpa's emergence as an aspirant on the platform of the ANPP
was long overdue. His alleged anti-party activities came to
the fore early in the life or this administration. Duke was
aware that Okpa wanted his job. He caused him to deny it on
the pages of newspapers. But their relationship remained sour
and strained and a "cold war" developed between them. It was
only natural that he should leave to realise his ambition.
The ANPP in a statement signed by its state publicity
secretary, Obono Igbobor, heartily welcomed "His Excellency,
Deputy Governor of Cross River State (Okpa) who formally
decamped from the PDP". It also said his decision to dump PDP
was "due to lack of direction of the PDP as presently
Meanwhile, the only female governorship aspirant in Akwa
Ibom, Mrs Maria Ikpe, has said that she will not step down for
any aspirants because of her gender. She is on the platform of
the AD. Ikpe said that "people are wasting their time if they
thought so, because I strongly believe that women, if given a
fair and level playing ground, will win any elective position
in Nigeria and do better than men.
"With God on my side I am going to get the party's
nomination in the state and I will just keep my mind open,"
The aspirant promised to fight for the cause of women and
the oppressed in the society saying that she will provide free
education and free health services for all if elected as
She is joined in Delta State by a former commissioner,
Princess Olivia Agbajoh who pitched her aspiration with the
NDP. Agbajoh said that she decided to pursue her ambition
through the NDP because the party was gender sensitive and
She said: "Having carefully understood the formation of the
political parties in the country, I decided to pursue my
ambition with the NDP because of the fact that it is gender
sensitive and has the interest of the youths at heart".
She said she would pursue programmes that will stimulate
and sustain the interest of the private sector in the
development of the state. Agbajoh who was also a former member
of the House of Reps, assured that there will be an even
spread of well-defined and aptly articulated projects across
If Mallam Adamu Modibbo becomes governor of Adamawa State,
perhaps the economic viability of the state will be assured.
The aspirant plans a six-point cardinal economic blueprint,
which he said would transform the state. A retired banker, he
said the blue print is tailored towards providing and
improving basic infrastructure, construction and
rehabilitation of roads, production of food, comprehensive
health care, security and qualitative education. He noted that
despite the fact that the state has the largest livestock in
the country, past governments have not exploited the
The ANPP aspirant described the situation where despite the
rich fertile agricultural land in parts of the state, there is
shortage of food in Adamawa.
In Lagos, Sarumi said that the 1999 political campaign was
dominated by ethnic sentiments. He however expects that the
electorate have learnt the lessons will want a change. The
former Minister of Integration in Africa said that the
nation's political leaders should borrow a leaf from advanced
democracies of the world that have succeeded in elevation of
political campaigns to national debate rather than making it
an ethnic issue.
Sarumi who failed in his bid to govern Lagos in 1991 under
the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) called for a level
playing field in the campaign. Other PDP aspirants in Lagos
are Funsho Williams, Prince Ademola, Adeniji Adele, Chief
Bashorun Olorunfunmi, Tunde Onokoya, Mrs. Oluremi
Adiukwu-Bakare and Chief Ayo Kolajo.
Aware of the complex nature of the state, Sarumi says it
would take an experience leader to galvanise and harness the
potentials of the state to the maximum. The PDP stalwart is
however of the view that he is one of those that obviously fit
What makes the governorship aspiration of Chief Bekinbo
Soberekon in Rivers State curious is his decampment from the
PDP to the ANPP. He was one of the founding members of the PDP
in the state.
His governorship aspiration started in 1992 under the SDP.
Since then, he has pursued his intention to govern the state.
He was among those in the PDP who installed Governor Peter
Odili. It is believed there was an unwritten arrangement that
he would take over from Odili in 2003, but shortly after
Odili's first year in office, it became apparent to Soberekon
that Odili would seek re election. And so, the two parted ways
and Soberekon joined the opposition.
Meanwhile, the endorsement of Odili for a second term by
the PDP had shut the door against other aspirants like the
deputy speaker of the House of Reps, Chief Chibudom Nwuche and
Sergeant Awuse. Soberekon knows that he may not easily get the
governorship ticket in the ANPP there but he believes that if
a free and fair primary is conducted, he remains the only
candidate to defeat.
Dr. Harry Marshall, who forced him to abandon his ambition
to go to the Senate, is also in the ANPP. But will Marshall
allow a direct primary or will he still want to adopt a
consensus candidate and back Soberekon? That is the question
agitating observers in the state. Marshall, the acclaimed
kingmaker made Odili governor but he later said Odili let him
Reports from Fred Okoror, Godwin Ijediogor, Muyiwa
Adeyemi (Lagos), Aminu Oyarekhua (Yola), Muhammed Abubakar,
Madu Onuorah (Abuja), Chris Ikwunze (Yenagoa), Saxone Akhaine
(Kaduna), Gordy Udeajah (Umuahia), Julius Alabi (Akure), Uzoma
Nzeagwu (Awka), Ifedayo Sayo (Ado-Ekiti), Eno Abasi Sunday
(Calabar), Mike Osunde (Benin), Kenneth Ofoma (Abakaliki),
Njadvara Musa (Maiduguri), Seun Adeoye (Osogbo), Isa
Abdulsallam (Jos), Sunny Ogefere (Asaba) and Adamu Abuh
In many ways, the PDP is expected to
set the tone for the election. The party controls 21 out of 36
states of the federation. At the National Assembly, it has the
majority. This means that the party will have more eager
aspirants and incumbents to contend with. For various
positions, the party reported that over 40,000 nomination
forms were sold
Across the nation, the governorship
election is generating excitement. In non-PDP states, the
battle is not less fierce. While disaffected PDP governorship
aspirants are decamping to rival parties, to continue their
fight, their colleagues elsewhere are encouraged to extend the
frontiers of the party.