Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki

By YUSUF MOHAMMED

The 2019 general election which was mainly between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was full of surprises. Most Nigerians and political pundits did not see them coming. Many areas where victory used to be assured became losing grounds.

Many political heavyweights have been bruised to the extent that recovery is going to be very difficult for them. In fact, most of them have a bleak political future given the evolving political developments in the country and their changing circumstances.

Bukola Saraki

Perhaps the biggest shock of the entire election was that the head of the Saraki political dynasty in Kwara State, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who lost his reelection bid and won’t be part of the 9th assembly. He is not even going to be a floor member. He is not returning. “Oloye”as he is popularly called, has been relegated to being a former governor and senate president.

While the presidential election between President Buhari of the APC and Atiku Abubakar of the PDP was the biggest attraction on February 23, 2019, in Kwara Central it was the senatorial seat that was the main focus. All eyes were on the senatorial candidates of the PDP, Saraki and Yahaya Oloriegbe of the APC.

Saraki was governor for eight years. That was from 2003 to 2011. After his tenure expired, he decided to go to the senate under the platform of the PDP but not without installing Abdulfatai Ahmed as his successor. Saraki left the PDP for the APC in 2013 and won re-election in 2015.

A few months later, he teamed up with members of the opposition party in the Senate and some APC Senators who elected him as senate president. It was his finest hour as he was able to surpass his father, Olusola Saraki who was senate leader in the second republic.

Since the reign of Olusola, the Saraki’s had been kingmakers in the state, pushing their preferred candidates to occupy the governorship and other elective positions. This time around, the people of kwara said “enough is enough.” A campaign slogan “O to ge” was formed to that effect. Two weeks to the elections, the senator-elect Oloriogbe said, “O to ge is a movement that has made every member of the PDP, including Saraki jittery.”

His opponent whipped up sentiments that resonated with the people and on the day of the election, Saraki was voted out.

The revolution did not just take out Saraki, it also took out his entire structure. The total sweep of all the three senatorial seats, six House of Representatives seats and 24 State House of Assembly seats was a clear message that the people of Kwara were in need of change.

For many analysts Saraki has been relegated. It would be very difficult for him to stage a comeback. For the next four years, he is likely to be in the wilderness.

According to Nurudeen Lawal, a political analyst based in Ilorin the Kwara State capital, Saraki may recover if PDP wins the presidency in 2023. Speaking with Business Hallmark, he said “It will be very difficult for him to bounce back. If you are in Ilorin, you will understand what I am talking about. The APC will have to perform woefully for people to want Saraki and his loyalist back.”

Godswill Akpabio

Senator Godswill Akpabio cross-carpeting from the PDP to the APC last year cost him reelection to the National Assembly. Those who know little or nothing about the local politics of Akwa Ibom State thought that Akpabio would easily get re-elected. In fact for many, that should have been a piece of cake for the former governor.

They were looking at the bigger picture. That is him helping President Muhammadu Buhari to defeat Atiku Abubakar in the state. But the people of Ikot-Ekpene Senatorial District were not in support of him. Their preferred candidate was Chris Ekpeyong of the PDP.

Akpabio lost to a man who has been in the wilderness politically, since he left government unceremoniously years ago. Akpabio will have to go back to the drawing board as things stand. As a member of the ruling party, he would be hoping to get a juicy appointment under President Muhammad Buhari.

However, that would not be without stiff opposition. Once a towering figure politically, those who would ordinarily not challenge him, are challenging him today because of his loss. For instance, elders of the APC in the state have alleged that Akpabio is unfit to become minister under Buhari.

The elders in a letter to President Buhari, which was made available to newsmen, warned him not to dent his image by appointing Akpabio as a minister because of the allegations of corruption hanging on his neck. They also accused Akpbio of destroying the state chapter of the APC as a result of his imposition of candidates.

Part of the letter reads: “Many had thought that Akpabio joining APC would bring cool breeze of good fortunes to the party in the state, but rather his high-handed nature and disrespect for internal democracy in the party and the will of the people to choose their leaders, became a raging storm that uprooted the recognized structures of the party right from the grassroots, as he imposed party leaders from the wards and even unit levels. Leaving many party men and women very bruised, trampled and disgruntled.”

Ibrahim Dankwambo

This may be the political end of Ibrahim Dankwambo as the APC has taken over his state. Gombe is one of the strongholds of President Buhari. Since he joined the presidential race in 2003, he has never lost Gombe. At the height of his fame in 2015, APC won all the states in the North apart from Gombe and Taraba.

According to a reliable source, the reason Dankwambo won reelection in 2015 was that he campaigned for Buhari during the presidential election and in return the people voted for him the governorship election.

This time around, Dankwambo was vying for senate the same day Buhari was running for a second term. The people of Gombe decided to vote APC all through and Sa’idu Alkali benefitted from this.Like Dankwambo in 2015, the PDP governorship candidate in Gombe State, Senator Usman Nafada, endorsed Buhari for a second term, thinking he would be rewarded by the people. It did not work out for him as he lost to the APC candidate, Inuwa Yahaya.

As a loyal member of the PDP, his best bet would be for the PDP to win the 2023 presidential election. While he has completed his second term, he may be able to aspire for something else in the future or make way for his loyalists.

Isiaka Ajimobi

It is very common with many Nigerian governors to go to the senate after finishing their eight year mandate. Abiola Ajimobi got the shock of his life as he was rejected by his people.

Ajimobi who was Oyo State governor lost his bid to go back to the senate. Like Saraki and Akpabio’s shocking results, Ajimobi’s failure to win also sent shockwaves across the country. He lost Oyo South Senatorial District to Dr Kola Balogun of the PDP.

Many people are still asking how it happened. In his first term, he was applauded for the good works, especially when he introduced free shuttle buses for workers and students. The 43-seater buses convey civil servants and students to and from their offices and schools on a daily basis free of charge.

However, his second term was turbulent as he did not only fall out with the people; he also fell out with some of the powers that be.

Trouble started for Ajimobi and the APC when he appointed Obas and other first class rulers with beaded crown in the Olubadan in council. The Olubadan regarded that as an affront to his authority.

As a result, the Olubadan waited for the election time to strike. He instructed the people to vote the PDP candidate instead of Ajimobi.

Another thing that got the political stakeholders in Ibadan angry was the involvement of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the politics of Oyo State by bringing Akala to help APC win Oyo State. This made the situation worse for Ajimobi and his party.

The demolition of the music house of Evangelist Yinka Ayefele, owner of a private radio station, Fresh FM by the Oyo State government is also one of Ajimbo’s biggest mistakes. If he could turn back the hands of time, he would have left that building out of his demolition exercise.

The governor was determined in his urban renewal program, and that of course ruffled many feathers the way the government went about it. Demolition of buildings has never been popular with the common man. While other buildings were demolished without much ado, Ayefele’s building was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The people had accused Ajimobi of not implementing the law with a human face. To the people of Ibadan, destroying the building of a physically impaired gospel musician was the height of injustice.

Ajimobi himself was overwhelmed by the outpouring of anger in the land. Surely, that was one of the early signs of his defeat.

One thing he has going for him is that he belongs to the camp of national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Before the APC was formed in 2013, Ajimobi was governor under the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), and the mandate was given to him by Tinubu. It is an open secret that Tinubu is eyeing the presidency in 2023. If that works out, Ajimobi will be back in power informally.

Mohammed Abubakar

According to a reliable source, former governor of Bauchi Mohammed Abubakar is lobbying for a ministerial position under Buhari. He is however facing stiff opposition from members of his party who are also eying the ministerial slot given to Bauchi.

In the general election, a former Minister of the FCT, Mr Bala Mohammed of the PDP defeated Abubakar who was the incumbent.

Since the return to democracy in 1999, that was the first time that an incumbent governor of Bauchi would lose reelection. Of all parties, Abubakar lost on the platform of the APC. Many are still in shock.

In 2015, he rode on the popularity of Buhari to victory. He lost because he mismanaged the goodwill of the people. The average Bauchi resident sees him as “too elitist.” They also allege that he spends most of his time in his Abuja residence and does not give much attention to the pressing needs of the state.

They also complain that he is highhanded and thinks he got to power all by himself. In a recent interview in a national daily few days to the election, the governor was quoted as saying: “I don’t need Dogara’s (referring to Speaker Yakubu Dogara) constituency to be re-elected as governor of Bauchi State. The total votes from his area are not more than 70,000.”

He added: “I didn’t need him in 2015, and I won’t need him now. The Speaker is a lightweight politician.”

BusinessHallmark gathered that the battle to unseat him cut across the political divide as there were also members of the APC who were not happy with the ways of the governor.

This battle was led by Dogara who, quoting Henry Clay, said: An oppressed people are authorized whenever they can to rise and break their fetters.”

Well, the rest is history. While Dogara won his reelection back to the lower chamber of the national assembly easily, Abubakar made history by being the first governor to lose reelection in Bauchi.

Losing the governorship election has really weakened him, making it very difficult for him to get anything at the federal level.

Jibrilla Bindow

For many political analysts, it is over for Bindow politically. He fell out with the powers that be in the states. Getting re-elected was the only way for him to remain relevant in the scheme of things. Adamawa is the home of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. While Buhari defeated him in all the core northern states, he was not able to defeat him in Adamawa. Atiku has been calling the shots in his state since 1999.

Many would remember that he was governor-elect in 1999 before he was chosen by President Olusegun Obasanjo to be Vice President. Governor Bindow was one of Atiku’s loyalists. It was expected that he would join the PDP when Atiku decamped in 2017 but Bindow marched to Aso Rock to declare his loyalty to Buhari instead. He said, “Unlike Atiku, I will not leave the APC.”

According to political pundits that was a mistake on his part. He failed to understand the mood of his people. Aside from Atiku, Bindow fell out with some prominent sons of Adamawa like Prof. Jubril Aminu and Wilberforce Juta.

On the other hand, he did not balance diversity with his appointments. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Adamawa State Chapter accused him of nepotism and sideling Christians in the distribution of state resources and political appointments.

They also accused him of taking sides with herdsmen during their clashes with farmers. As a result, Bindow became disenchanted with the Christian community. According to a reliable source, he was even thinking of changing his deputy from a Christian to a Muslim one but he changed his mind.

CAN decided to back another Muslim, Ahmed Umar Fintiri who defeated the incumbent governor, Bindow in the Adamawa State governorship election.

Shehu Sani

Senator Shehu Sani will also have a bleak political future as he failed to secure a return certificate to the senate. He lost to Uba Sani of the APC. He ran on the platform of the People’s Redemption Party (PRP).

Sani who represented Kaduna Central won his seat on the platform of the APC in 2015. Since then, he has been having running battles with Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State.

Last year, Sani’s name was mentioned among the 15 senators who dumped the ruling APC for the PDP. He later denied joining the main opposition party and contested in the party’s primaries. El-Rufai made sure Sani did not get the ticket of the party.

As soon as that happened, political pundits predicted his downfall. He was being lured initially by the PDP but failed to join them, believing that he would get the mandate of the APC.

While Sani did very well at the polls, four years ago, his performance in the 2019 senatorial election was very poor. This time around, he could not even win his polling unit, getting only 51 votes to Sani’s 236 votes.

As it is now, he would need a major upheaval in the ruling APC for him to get back to relevance.