No fewer than twelve ex-lawmakers from the State and National Assemblies ran for the number one seat in their respective states in the March 18 Governorship elections. Of this number, however, only two breasted the tape.
- Senator Bassey Otu (APC, Cross River, South South)
Otu, a grassroots politician, represented Calabar Municipal/Odukpani Federal Constituency in the 5th and 6th House of Representatives. He will later cross over to the Red Chamber as the lawmaker representing Cross River South Senatorial District between 2011 and 2015.
The former House Committee Chairman on Petroleum (Upstream) contested the March 18 Polls as the Governorship Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River State. Interestingly, Otu, who is of the same party as Senator Ben Ayade, the incumbent governor, will be succeeding the Professor who lost his return bid as the Senator representing Cross River North Senatorial District in the Red Chamber come June.
Senator Otu defeated his closest rival and yet another Professor, Senator Sandy Onor, currently representing Cross River Central Senatorial District in the Ninth National Assembly on the platform of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).
- Senator Bala Abdulkadir Muhammed (PDP, Bauchi, North East)
A civil servant-turned-politician, Mohammed represented Bauchi South Senatorial District under the party platform of the All Nigeria Peoples’ Party [ANPP] in the 6th National Assembly between 2007 and 2010.Notwithstanding his status as an opposition lawmaker, he moved for the famous Doctrine of Necessity which led to the confirmation of then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as Nigeria’s Acting President when the President, Umar Musa Yar’adua, was hospitalised in a foreign medical facility. The lawmaker was eventually appointed Minister for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) by Dr Jonathan for the six years of his administration.
Having served as Minister for six years, the ex-lawmaker won the gubernatorial ticket of his new party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and was elected governor of his home state, Bauchi, in 2019. Governor Mohammed subsequently sought re-election on March 18 2023 and defeated former Service Chief, SadiqueAbubakar of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to secure a second term victory.
1. Hon Bello Mattawalle (APC, Zamfara)
Matawalle’s entry into politics was his stint in 1998 as a Member of the House of Assembly in Zamfara under the platform of the defunct United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP before the dissolution of political parties by then Head of State, Sani Abacha.
In the run-up to the 2003 general election, he ran for the Bakura/Maradun seat in the House of Representatives, which he won on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples’ Party (ANPP) and subsequently won re-election in 2007 and 2011. The former House Deputy Minority Leader later joined the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and emerged as governor in 2019 after a Supreme Court judgement nullified the participation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the gubernatorial election.
As incumbent governor of Zamfara State, Matawalle eventually defected to the APC in June 2021 and sought re-election for a second term on his new party’s platform. He lost the election to Muhammad Dauda Lawal of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
2. Senator Garba Yakubu Lado (PDP, Katsina)
The Governorship Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is, by no standard, a newcomer to the political terrain in Katsina.
Lado previously served in the National Assembly as the lawmaker representing Kankara/Faskari/Sabuwa Federal Constituency in the 5th House of Representatives before moving to the Senate in 2007 as Senator representing Katsina South. In 2011, he took his first shot at the state’s governorship under the platform of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) led by the then-opposition leader, General Muhammadu Buhari but lost to the then-Governor, Ibrahim Shema.
The former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transport also ran in 2015 under the defunct Peoples’ Democratic Movement (PDM) and under the PDP in 2019; losing to Aminu Bello Masari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on both occasions.
His fourth shot at the top political office on March 18, 2023, which many had described as his best chance, however, came without success, as he lost to Dikko Radda, the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
3. Senator Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi (NNPP, Kaduna)
Senator Hunkuyi has, since 1999, been a recurring name in the quest for the governor’s seat. Having withdrawn from the 1999 governorship race for Senator Ahmed Markarfi, he felt betrayed and contested against Markarfi in the 2003 race under the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples’ Party (ANPP).
He returned to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and made further attempts in the 2007 and 2011 primaries but was unsuccessful, leading him to join the newly-formed All Progressive Congress (APC), under whose platform he was elected in 2015 to represent Kaduna North Senatorial District in the 8th National Assembly.
Following a running battle with the State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, his party suspended him on February 17, 2018, for six months over alleged antiparty activities. He thereafter defected to the PDP, where he contested the 2019 governorship primaries and lost to former House of Representatives member, Isa Ashiru.
In the run-up to the 2023 gubernatorial elections, he decamped to the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), picked up the ticket to run in the March 18 Election, but placed fourth behind Hon. Jonathan Asake of the Labour Party (LP), Hon. Isa Ashiru and the eventual victor, Senator Uba Sani of the APC.
4. Hon Isa Muhammad Ashiru (PDP, Kaduna)
Ashiru started the march toward a legislative career in 1998 when he sought to become a Member of the Kaduna State House of Assembly under the platform of the Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN) but lost.
He will later be elected in 1999 and re-elected in 2003 as a Member of the Assembly representing Kudan Constituency under the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) umbrella. Ashiru thereafter proceeded to the House of Representatives in 2007, when he was elected Member representing Kudan/Makarfi Federal Constituency. He was re-elected in 2011 and served as Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation.
In 2014, he moved to the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC) and ran for the party’s gubernatorial ticket but lost to now outgoing governor, Nasir El- Rufai, who went on to win the 2015 general election. The former lawmaker rejoined the PDP in 2018 and ran against the incumbent governor, El-Rufai but lost at the polls.
For the third consecutive time, Ashiru, in pursuit of his ambition; ran against Uba Sani of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the March 18 Polls. He lost to the APC candidate by 10,806 votes, which is, however, still being contested by the PDP.
5. Hon Jonathan Asake (LP, Kaduna)
The activist-cum-politician had previously served as a one-term lawmaker when he represented Zangon Kataf/Jaba Federal Constituency in the 4th House of Representatives. His voice was also prominent in plenary sessions when issues of the Middle Belt and oppressed peoples were raised.
Having championed the cause of his people for years under the umbrella of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) as president, he resigned in August 2022 to run for the top political office in the state; picking up the ticket of the youth-backed Labour Party (LP).
Asake would later run into a major controversy in the run-up to the governorship elections following speculations that he joined into the race in fulfilment of an alleged pact he signed with the All Progressives Congress (APC). The said pact was described as part of efforts to decimate the chances of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in Southern Kaduna; a stronghold of the party, to the advantage of APC. An allegation he strongly denied; vowing never to sit on any negotiation table with the likes of Governor Nasir El-Rufai.
In the March 18 elections, he placed third behind Hon. Isa Ashiru and the eventual victor, Senator Uba Sani of the APC.
- Hon Oladipupo Adebutu (PDP, Ogun)
A two-time federal lawmaker, Adebutu became a Member of the Third House of Representatives representing Remo Federal Constituency under the now-defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) at the age of 30.
A Senatorial Candidate under the United National Congress Party (UNCP) in 1998, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the National Assembly Candidate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2003, 2007 and 2011, respectively. Having served in the Ogun State Executive Council years later until he was re-elected to the Green Chamber in 2015 to represent the people of Sagamu and Remo North Federal Constituency.
At the House, he chaired the Committee on Rural Development and was reported to have sponsored over 32 bills between 2015 and 2019 when he ran for the state’s governorship for the first time under the PDP. He successfully emerged as the party’s gubernatorial candidate for the March 18 elections but lost to Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the second time. His loss to the incumbent governor in the 2023 elections has, however, been described as highly controversial.
- Senator Magnus Ngei Abe (SDP, Rivers)
A former Minority Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly between 1999 and 2003 under the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples’ Party (ANPP). He joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2003 and was later elected to represent Rivers South-East Senatorial District in 2011.
At the Red Chamber, he chaired the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) and sought re-election in 2015, this time under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), but would be eventually be sworn in December 2016 after winning a re-run election. His frosty relationship with his political leader, Rotimi Amaechi, went sour after the former governor bypassed him in the consideration for the party’s governorship ticket leading to legal fireworks and disqualification of the party from the 2019 Governorship elections.
Poised to pursue his ambition, he abandoned the APC for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in July 2022 and picked the party’s Governorship ticket for the March 18 elections. He, however, came in a distant third according to the results announced by the election management body behind APC’s Tonye Cole and Siminalayi Fubara of the PDP; winner of the election.
- Hon. David Emmanuel Ombugadu (PDP, Nasarawa)
Popularly known as Davematics, he was a Member of the 7th and 8th House of Representatives representing Akwanga/Nasarawa Egon/Wamba Federal Constituency.
A young politician and phenomenal figure in Nasarawa politics, the ex-lawmaker who chaired the House Committee on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and other communicable diseases went on to contest the 2019 Governorship elections under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) platform. The ex-lawmaker lost to Abdullahi Sule of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who is the current governor.Ombugadu would return in 2023 to give the incumbent a run for his money in the March 18 polls, but lost a second time in what many has described as a very controversial result.
- Hon. Shuaibu Yahman Abdullahi (PDP, Kwara)
Honourable Abdullahi’s legislative career started at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in Zaria, where he served as a Member of the Students’ Representative Assembly (MSRA) Parliament between 1976 and 1977.
The three-time member of the Green Chamber, who represented Pategi/Lafiagi/Moro Federal Constituency, first took a shot at the state’s governorship in 2003 but lost to Bukola Saraki, who went on to win the general election. In 2011 however, he ran as the Kwara North Senatorial Candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) but lost. He later joined the All Progressives Congress (APC) and ran for the party’s governorship ticket in 2019′ losing to the now-incumbent governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.Following months of disagreements with the incumbent governor, he left the APC for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and picked up the party’s ticket. Abdullahi eventually lost the election to the incumbent governor.
1. Rt. Hon Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri (Adamawa, North East)
A former Speaker of the Adamawa State House of Assembly, Fintiri was first elected to parliament in 2007 to represent Madagali State Constituency under the platform of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and was subsequently returned in 2011.
While he was Speaker, he rose to national prominence in July 2014 when he was sworn in as Acting Governor of the state following the impeachment of then-governor Abdulaziz Murtala Nyako, as well as the resignation of his deputy, Bala James Ngilari. He would later hand over the reins of power to Ngilari after three months following a nullification of his resignation by an Abuja Federal High Court.
Having tasted executive powers and built a larger following across the state, Fintiri joined the March 9, 2019, governorship race, and polled the highest number of votes in the election ahead of the incumbent governor, Muhammadu Bindow Jibrilla. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), however, declared the election inconclusive because the number of invalid ballots exceeded the difference between the winner and his closest opponent.
Fintitiri went on to defeat the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the supplementary election and was elected governor of the North Eastern State. Upon seeking re-election on March 18, 2023, the governor is yet to know her fate at the polls.
From results declared thus far by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 20 of the 21 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the state, the former Speaker is leading the Governorship Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed, in yet another election that has been declared the election is declared inconclusive.
Ibrahim Gaddafi Tanko is a celebrated opinion writer, contributor to several frontline national tabloids in Nigeria and holds a Bachelor of Law Degree (LLB) from the Taraba State University. He has a huge flair for journalism with particular interest in issues concerning governance, politics, the legislature, humanitarian affairs, and climate change.