Political Princes Running On Fathers’ Name In 2023

It is commonplace in Nigeria for children of politicians to inherit the political structure and goodwill of their parents, build a political career, and maybe even hand it down to their own children as well.

From the Sarakis in Kwara to the Yaraduas in Katsina, to the Fani-Kayodes in Osun, to the Shagaris in Sokoto and even the Obasanjos in Ogun, Nigerian politicians always have a way of passing the baton to their children.

New political princes (and princesses) are emerging ahead of the 2023 general elections, some to take over from their parents and others to deepen the dynasties.

THE WHISTLER spoke to political scientists and analysts on Political dynasties in Nigeria and what the  trend represents for developing democracies like Nigeria.

Ayo Olukotun, a professor of political science and chair, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona Professorial Chair in Governance, told this website that the children of politicians should not be subjected to what he called ‘reverse discrimination’ and should be adjudged solely on their own performance and competence.

“It’s not peculiar to Nigeria, there are political families in the United State, for example, the Kennedy family, where you have the assassinated president, John F. Kennedy, you also have Robert Kennedy and then there was also another Kennedy who was briefly a candidate but he didn’t quite succeed (Ted). So, with about three Kennedy’s, one was president, others aspired to be president without likely being planted, then the Bush – where father and son were both presidents, even the Clintons, both husband and wife, and several others across the globe formed what we call political families or dynasties.

“So, the issue is not at the level of whether this one was a son of this or the wife of that, the issue is whether they were using unfair means to attain the position for their offspring, whether they allow their offspring to go through what can be called the political mills. Remember that anybody with resources and power can normally influence the political process, whether they influence it on behalf of their friends, their accomplices, their colleagues, their wives or their children will be a secondary matter.”

Continuing, he said “It could be argued that in a developing democracy, it will have more consequences than developed democracies. If the laws – the electoral laws – are made in such a way that people cannot jump the boat, then those things would be inched because you would then know whether you are the son of IBB or Buhari, it won’t make a difference. It really depends on whether they enter properly, fairly and according to the electoral rules and regulations.

“You can even then argue that it would have been unfair and unfortunate if you now say, however competent the son or daughter of a politician is, once the father has been or is a governor, the person must never be allowed to contest, that would be a case of reverse discrimination, being barred on the basis of parentage or ancestral factor, which will not be equally meritorious for the growth of democracy. Mind you, it is not only political families that can capture a state, states can also be captured by business groups, religious interest groups and so on, so it is not only families that constitute roadblocks to the growth and stability of a country,” he added.

Similarly, Luqman Saka, an associate professor of Political Science at the University of Ilorin noted that the ultimate decision to elect political office holders – whether or not they belong to a political family – lies with the electorate.

“The core issue at the heart of democratic processes is party and structure as well as people and their choices via election. If a party presents candidates, it is the responsibility of the electorate to decide whether they want to accept the candidate. A family being outrightly political is a major trend across most democracies – especially presidential democracies, they do not often occur in parliamentary democracies. Since the establishment of American democracy, there have been certain families that have become established political families, particularly in their regions,” he said.

“Bringing it down to Nigeria, we cannot say it has negative implications for democratic growth because it is people’s choice that determines who occupies political positions. It is largely electoral competition.

“Although here in Nigeria, our electoral system is largely influenced by money not ideas, it then means that these influential political families also have associates that are economically very powerful. So, they can bring their popularity to bear on the electoral contest, and they will also be able to tap into the wealth of their associates,” he said.

However, Auwwal Rafsanjani, Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), stated that by planting their children in positions, Nigerian politicians are attempting to turn democracy into a monarchy.

Rafsanjani said the trend where governors and former governors were pushing their children who may not have the necessary political experience and capacity to occupy political offices, could end up breeding incompetence and mediocrity in governance.

“This trend of politicians who are still in office or have left office trying to keep their family members in governance, some of them, their children and relatives who are not even known to be in the political cycle but just to secure political favours and also lay their hold on the treasury, is worrisome.

“They are now ensuring that without popular support from the electorate, they can use their influence to install their relatives. This is not really a good development because it is not on the basis of popular support or democratic credentials, competence or experience in their political or social life.

“While we are not disputing the fact that Nigerians, irrespective of their relationship with individuals, are qualified to contest for political offices when it is done for the interest of just pushing family members to sustain political interests, sustain the opportunity of manipulating the public treasury and continue to exercise impunity, then it becomes worrisome.”

In next year’s election, a number of political princes and princesses would be on the ballot and all eyes would be on them. THE WHISTLER has identified 9 of them.

Mustapha Sule Lamido

Mustapha, the son of former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, is seeking to go back to the seat vacated by his father in 2015.

His father is the only prominent political figure left of the Aminu Kano school of Talakawa politics, after the death of Abubakar Rimi, a former governor of Kano State. Sule Lamido previously served as Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister from 1999 to 2003 before becoming governor of Jigawa State from 2007 to 2015.

Mustapha and his father were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2015 for embezzling state funds to the tune of N1.35 billion while the latter was in government.

Specifically, Mustapha and his brother, Aminu were prosecuted for diverting $40,000 and another N10 billion to private pockets.

The Federal High Court in Kano found Aminu guilty of the money laundering charge levelled against him by the EFCC, and he subsequently refunded 25 per cent of the $40,000 allegedly laundered to the Federal Government without serving any prison sentence.

While the 42-count charge case against father-and-sons is still in court, Mustapha contested and won the PDP ticket for Jigawa state gubernatorial elections, polling 829 votes to defeat former Minister of Power, Hon. Saleh Shehu Hadejia, who scored 0 votes.

Bello El-Rufai

Bello is first son of Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai. His father was minister of the Federal Capital Territory from 2003 to 2007.

In May 2022, he was announced as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Kaduna North Federal Constituency seat in the House of Representatives.

The current occupant of the seat, Samaila Suleiman, had resigned his membership of the APC in March, when it became clear that El-Rufai’s son would clinch the ticket.

34-year-old Bello was formerly a legislative aide and Chief of Staff to Senator Uba Sani (Kaduna Central)

Idris Abiola-Ajimobi

Idris is one of the sons of the immediate past governor of Oyo State, late Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi.

He emerged as APC consensus candidate for the Ibadan South-West II Constituency in the state assembly.

Idris who said the legacy of his father, Abiola Ajimobi (former senator and governor) and his grandfather Ganiu Ajimobi (1st republic legislator) should not be left to die promised to bring the dividends close to the people of his constituency.

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Despite having no prior political experience, all the other contestants for the seat stepped down for him, paving the way for him to emerge unopposed.

Olumide Osoba

Forty-five-year-old Olumide is the son of former Ogun State governor, Olusegun Osoba.

His father was elected on two occasions as governor of Ogun State, first from January 1992 until November 1993 on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He was removed from office by Sani Abacha’s military regime. In 1999, he was elected again as governor on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy party (AD), holding office between May 1999 and May 2003. He is one of the founding members of the APC.

Olumide, on his part, has been the elected representative of the Abeokuta North /Odeda/Obafemi-Owode federal constituency in the House of Reps for two terms.

If was first elected in 2011, at the age of 34. He was re-elected again in 2019 and he is currently the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Sports.

In May 2022, he won the APC ticket to re-contest the seat for a third term, polling 118 votes to defeat other contestants at the primaries.

Abba Umar Ganduje

Abba is the son of the current governor of Kano state, Abdullahi Ganduje.

He emerged as the flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Dawakin Tofa/Tofa/Rimingado Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives after running unopposed in the primaries.

His father also nursed Senatorial ambition before rescinding it to prevent the party from falling apart. Had Abdullahi Ganduje not dropped his senatorial ambitions, two generations of Ganduje’s would have been contesting legislative seats in the 2023 polls.

A former Managing Director of the Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA), Junaidu Yakubu, withdrew from the House of Reps race for Abba.

He will be facing Tijjani Abdulkadir Jobe, the incumbent member of the constituency who recently dumped the APC for New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) in the polls.

Marilyn Okowa-Daramola

Marilyn is the daughter of incumbent Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa.

Okowa-Daramola is the Senior Special Assistant to her father on Girl-Child Empowerment.

In May, she won the PDP ticket to contest the Ika North-East constituency in the Delta state House of Assembly after running unopposed.

Delta commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu, said Marilyn’s emergence was a result of pressure from people of the community and the local government, adding that Okowa was indifferent to his daughter’s political ambitions.

Meanwhile, Okowa and his daughter would both have their names on the ballot in the 2023 general elections as the governor was recently nominated as the Vice-Presidential candidate of the PDP

Oluwajomiloju Fayose

Oluwajomiloju ‘Joju’ Fayose is the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the Ekiti Central I Federal Constituency elections.

Joju is hoping to leverage on the political structure of his father, Ayodele Fayose, who served as governor of Ekiti firstly from 2003 to 2006 and then from 2014 to 2018.

In the primary elections conducted at Ido Ekiti in Ido Osi Local Government Area of the state, Fayose’s son secured 69 delegates vote as against that of his challenger, Deji Adeosun, who polled only 9 votes.

Olamijuwonlo Alao-Akala

38-year-old Olamijuwonlo is the son of the former governor of Oyo State, late Otunba Adebayo Alao Akala.

His father was the Deputy Governor of Oyo State from May 2003 to January 2006. Following the impeachment of then incumbent Governor Rashidi Ladoja, Alao-Akala was sworn into office in January 2006 and served for 11 months. He recontested and won the governorship in 2007 and served till 2011.

In 2018, he was elected chairman of Ogbomoso North Local Government Area of Oyo State. In 2019, he was suspended by the council for gross misconduct. He was eventually reinstated by Governor Abiola Ajimobi and completed his tenure in 2021.

On the 27th of May, 2022, Olamiju clinched the APC ticket for the Ogbomoso North, South and Oriire Federal Constituency in the House of Reps.

He scored all the 150 votes during the primaries after campaigning on the need to continue his father’s legacy following the former governor’s death five months earlier.

Erhiatake Ibori-Suenu

Erhiatake is the daughter of former Delta governor, James Ibori. She is married to Abioye Suenu, an affluent Lagos businessman.

Her father was the 2nd governor of Delta State from 1999 to 2007. He was convicted of stealing over $250 million from the coffers of the state government and subsequently served a 4-year sentence in the United Kingdom.

42-year-old Erhiatake was formerly a member of the Delta State House of Assembly representing Ethiope west constituency.

In May she clinched the ticked to represent Ethiope Federal constituency after Ben Igbakpa, the current occupant of the seat.

The duo had initially polled 34 votes each to set the stage for the rerun which Erhiatake won with a 24-vote margin.

If they win or lose their elections, it may be the people’s verdict on their fathers.

abdullahi adamuabdullahi gandujeAYODELE FAYOSEBello El-RufaiNasir El-Rufai
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