Though democracy grants the people the liberty to choose their leaders through periodic elections, the concept exists mostly on paper as leaders at the various levels of governance have always had hands in the emergence of their successors. While this practice was not prominent in the first and second republics, it has become synonymous with the present dispensation. Consequently, the Fourth Republic, which took off in 1999, with the country’s return to civil rule in 1999, has produced hundreds of political godfathers, who sit in the comfort of their homes to determine who gets what, how and when, politically.
In most cases, the beneficiaries of decisions by these “powers that be” have always been their cronies, associates, business partners and even family members. The reason for this is not farfetched; most public office holders are more disposed to those who will cover their tracks as their successors. But politics, being a game of the possible, the cozy relationship between the godfathers and their anointed ones hardly last. In most cases, these anointed successors hardly settle in office before the “romance turns sour.”
Most times, the bubble gets burst when anointed successors try to do things on their own although there have been instances, where the heirs had tried to destroy their benefactors even when they had tried as much as possible not to interfere in the running of government. Recent political developments in Rivers State, where former Governor Nyesom Wike and Governor Simi Fubara, and Benue State, where the Secretary to the Government of the Federaltion (SGF), George Akume and Governor Hyacinth Alia are locked in supremacy battles have brought to the consciousness of many political observers, similar cases before now as well as indicate that there is no end sight to such battle. While most analysts have expressed shock over the way things quickly fell apart in the two states, given the bond between the personalities involved, some are not surprised as most Nigerian politicians believe that politics is nothing but the conduct of public affairs for private advantage. Similar battles in the past over this advantage include that involving former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Obasanjo and former Presidents Umaru Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan and former Governors Orji Uzor Kalu and Theodore Orji (Abia). Others were between former Governors Chimaraoke Nnamani and Sullivan Chime, Peter Odili and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); Modu-Sheriff and Kashim Shettima (Borno). Chris Ngige and the Uba brother (Anambra) as well as that between a former National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu (now president) and Akinwunmi Ambode (ex-governor of Lagos State).
Wike vs Fubara: Still hands on the trigger despite truce
For the immediate past governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike (now Minister of the Federal Capital Territory) and his anointed successor, Simi Fubara, it is fingers on the trigger despite the purported truce brokered by President Bola Tinubu. Wike had ensured that Fubara, who served as Director of Finance and Accounts, government house and Accountant General, while he held sway as governor of the oil-rich Rivers State emerged as his successor given their friendship, which is beyond politics.
However, the collapse of the once father-son relationship less than six months after exchange of the governorship baton has left many bewildered. The crack in the duo’s relationship was noticed shortly after the May 29 inauguration but was dismissed by their respective camps. However, the October 30 move by some members of the Rivers State House Assembly loyal to Wike to impeach Fubara confirmed the speculation of a no love lost relationship between the duo. The impeachment move against Fubara started with the suspension of the House Leader, Edison Ehie and other three lawmakers – Victor Okoh (Bonny Constituency), Goodboy Sokari (Ahoada West Constituency) and Adulphus Timothy (Opobo/Nkoro Constituency) – said to be the governor’s loyalists. The impasse that ensued saw a part of the Rivers House of Assembly Complex being destroyed by an explosion, while some policemen fired teargas and water cannons at Fubara, when he visited the complex to assess the extent of damage from the explosion. While Fubara survived the impeachment plot, it has been claims and counter-claims between the godfather and his godson. Fubara’s camp has not only alleged that Wike is seeking gratification from Fubara, it also claims that former governor is insisting on calling the shots in Rivers State from Abuja. Wike, who initially described the crisis as a PDP affair, which the party will look into, later opened up.
He not only denied that he was seeking financial gratification from Fubara, but accused him of hobnobbing with his political adversaries. This, according to him, suggests that the governor is trying to take control of the PDP structure in Rivers State. “You cannot work and people will begin to bring enemies; those who fought you when you were struggling for the person to be in office. Nobody does that. I am not a political ingrate but don’t touch the political structure of the state. I will not shut my eyes,” Wike said in a interview. Fubara, in an attempt to play down the rift between him and his predecessor, said the crisis was merely a problem between father and son. “There is nothing wrong if a father and a son have a problem but I don’t think there is anything. Whatever it is, we will definitely resolve the issue,” he said.
There is no doubt that it is the peace of the graveyard as Wike has continued to fire salvos at Fubara despite interventions by President Tinubu and some Rivers State stakeholders. The former governor recently alleged that his successor was behind the burning of the hallowed chambers of the State Assembly that occurred on October 29, to prevent his impeachment by lawmakers. He also accused him of playing ethnic politics, But Fubara, who seemed to have braced up for the battle ahead, recently declared that as a true Ijaw son, he will not surrender to blackmail and intimidation. Akume vs Alia: Cold war snowballs Like the Rivers case, the initial response to the crack in the relationship between the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and a former governor of Benue State, George Akume and Governor Hyacinth Alia, was that the rift is the “creation of people with dubious interest, especially the opposition in the state.” It was then reported that Governor Alia was complaining over Akume’s meddlesomeness in the running of government in the state, but his media handlers insisted that there exists no bad blood between the governor and the SGF. A statement by the governor’s media aide stated that Alia has at different for a declared that Akume remains the leader of the party in the state and that there is no issue between them as being speculated by people who don’t mean well for the state.”
The statement quoted the governor as saying that “jealous elements, especially, the opposition who are waiting to see a fight between us should be ashamed of themselves. I am working hand in hand with my leader, Senator George Akume.” The SGF, who is no doubt APC’s leader in Benue State, threw his weight behind the Catholic priest, who defeated the candidate of the then ruling PDP in the March governorship election.
But six months down the line, the state APC is engulfed in internal wrangling. Just recently, chairmen of the party in all the 23 local government areas of the state distanced themselves from the appointment of the council caretaker committee made by Governor Alia. The party chairmen, whose loyalty to Akume is not in doubt, also accused the governor of abandoning the party and hobnobbing with the opposition party in the state. However, despite Alia’s position that he has no issues with Akume, developments in the state have revealed that the cold war between them is gradually snowballing to full-blown political battle. An indication to this emerged last week, when the member representing Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, Hon. Philip Agbese, removed the governor’s portrait from his office. In a rival video, Agbese, walked into his office at the National Assembly Complex, removed Governor Alia’s portrait from the gallery of his office and ordered his Secretary to trash it, saying he is not fit to be called a father or leader. According to him, the governor, having no regards for democracy and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has no place amongst the comity of leaders in a democratic setting.
“So, today, I officially remove the portrait of this person (Governor Alia) from my office because he is not fit to be a leader. We can’t follow him. If you do not have respect for democracy; you don’t respect the constitution; then you are not my father and leader and your picture is not supposed to be in my office. So, secretary, please help me trash this portrait,” Agbese said. The lawmaker, who is the deputy spokesperson of the House of Representatives, had adorned his office with portraits of President Tinubu; Governor Alia; Senator Akume; Speaker Tajudeen Abbas and Deputy Speaker Benjamin Kalu; alongside his personal portrait. But flipping through the portraits, he said about that of Akume: “This is the person we want to see. This is our leader, of course, he remains the leader of the party; he remains the father of the state. There is no doubt about him. Because, he is a man of fairness, he is a man of equity, he is a man of justice. That is why we love him, and he has earned his respect.”
Kwankwaso vs Ganduje: Unending rivalry
Former Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso and his successor, Umar Ganduje, are not just political allies. Both worked together as governor (Kwankwaso) and deputy governor (Ganduje) for eight years and enjoyed a harmonious working relationship. Even when Kwankwaso lost his reelection bid in 2003 after serving a first term and was appointed minister of Defence, he appointed Ganduje as one of his aides. When he returned as governor in 2011, he also came back with Ganduje and worked tirelessly to ensure that his long standing deputy succeeded him. But just five months after 2015 elections, a crack emerged between the duo. The crack came to the fore when on October 21, 2015, the 59th birthday of Kwankwaso.
The event is usually marked as Kwankwasiya Day. Kwankwasiya is the political movement led by Kwankwaso. Instead of members of the group to come together to mark the event as was in the past, pro-Ganduje elements celebrated it at the government house, while loyalists of Kwankwaso, led by his former Chief of Staff, Alhaji Yunusa Dangwani, held their own at Mambayya House in Kano. As usual, the rift was downplayed by both camps even though discerning political minds knew that all was not well, especially the way the former decided to stay put in Abuja after handing over to Ganduje, who on assumption office went to town with a tale of huge debt left by the Kwankwaso administration.
The Transition Committee Ganduje set up on coming to power had disclosed before his inauguration that Kwankwaso, not only left an empty treasury but an additional liability of N379 billion although former later came out to defend his former boss, declaring that the huge liabilities he inherited was not a crime. This defence, notwithstanding, some analysts reasoned then that it was a matter of time for the bubble to burst. And as predicted, the cold war turned to an open confrontation during Kwankwaso’s visit to Ganduje’s hometown with his supporters to condole him on the death of his mother. What should have been a “friendly visit” was perhaps misinterpreted as Kwankwaso was alleged to have deliberately turned it to a violent rally in order to cause mayhem in the state. Kwankwaso, in his response, said it is unfortunate that a good gesture was mischievously interpreted and warned Ganduje. Both camps later observed what could pass for a temporary cease fire, following the intervention of their party’s national leadership, but the battle was rekindled after the then National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu endorsed Ganduje’s second term bid in 2019.
Kwankwaso, who swiftly reacted to the endorsement, declared that Ganduje has already lost the 2019 election. The supremacy battle witnessed a twist during the build-up for the election. To weaken Kwankwaso’s camp, Ganduje attempted a restructuring of the political structure of the state from the largely dominant structure of Kwankwaso, known as Kwankwasiyya Amana and substituted it with Gandujiyya Akida. He also removed the Kwankwasiya insignia from public facilities. He, however, extended the olive branch to Kwankwaso, a move some analysts viewed at that time to be politically motivated given that it was at the eve of the polls. The peace move did not only fail as envisaged, Kwankwaso left the APC for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over irreconcilable differences between him and Ganduje.
Kwankwaso did not stop at that, he supported his son-in-law, Abba Yusuf, to unseat Ganduje. To the consternation of many, Yusuf was coasting to victory before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the poll inconclusive. Consequently, the electoral ordered for supplementary elections in 28 of the 44 local government areas in the state.
The supplementary election paved the way for Ganduje to bounce back. He was declared the winner with less than 9,000 votes ahead of Abba, who had initially won with over 26,000 votes. However, the 2019 experience did not deter Kwankwaso from insisting on getting back at Ganduje. And as fate would have it, the 2023 governorship election provided ample opportunity for him. Again, Kwankwaso threw up Yusuf, who left the PDP with him for New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), while he contested the presidential election.
He lost the presidency but he confirmed his political worth in Kano by polling 997,279 votes to defeat Tinubu of APC, who had 517,341 votes, while Atiku Abubakar of PDP polled 131,716 votes The outcome of the presidential poll set the stage for an interesting governorship election that turned out to be a proxy war between Kwankwaso and Ganduje, who backed his deputy, Nasir Gawuna.
The poll did not only live up to preelection billing but saw the table turning against Ganduje and his party as Kwankwaso-backed Yusuf was declared winner. The NNPP governorship candidate polled 1,019,602 votes to defeat his APC counterpart, who polled 890,705 votes. Many had thought that the outcome of the governorship poll will bring an end to Ganduje’s reign in the state but Kano State governorship Election Tribunal and the Court of Appeal have nullified NNPP’s victory. As it stands, Kwankwaso and Yusuf are at the mercy of the Supreme Court, while Ganduje and Gawuna are waiting to regain power but whichever way it goes at the apex court, it is clear that there is no end in sight between the two Kano political gladiators any time soon.
Obi vs Obiano: War after achieving common goal
The disagreement between Mr. Peter Obi (Labour Party’s presidential candidate in the 2023 elections), who served as governor of Anambra State between 2006 and 2014 and his successor, Chief Willie Obiano (2014-2022), reared its head even before the handover of the reins of power on March 17, 2014, but was downplayed by chieftains of their political party – All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Although Obi was responsible for Obiano’s emergence, the latter was not initially in the picture as the former, who earlier promised to handover to a successor from Anambra North Senatorial District that had before then never produced a governor since the creation of the state was more disposed to then Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Oseloka Obaze. But political horse-trading and arm twisting swung the pendulum to Obiano, who retired from Fidelity Bank Plc as deputy managing director. Obi also served as the chairman of the bank. Besides the Fidelity Bank link, both are old boys of the famous Christ the King College (CKC), Onitsha. So, it was surprising, when Obi took the Obiano governorship project as his own. Resources and time were spent to ensure that the banker turned politician defeated formidable opposition candidates in the election. Mission accomplished, an elated Obi, announced during the handover ceremony at the Alex Ekwueme Square in Awka, that he left over N75 billion in cash and investments for his successor, against the normal practice of outgoing administrations not only emptying the treasuries for their successors but leaving debts running into billions of naira. But shortly after the handover, stories began to make the rounds that Obi did not leave N75 billion as stated in the handover note. In fact, a group from Obiano’s Anambra North, in an advertorial in some national dailies, said rather than leave assets, Obi left so much liabilities and a large number of uncompleted projects. They also accused him of employing so many people into the civil service.
The cold war went on for over a year until the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, spoke officially on the N75 billion left by the former governor. “The N75 billion was not there; it was not handed over to anybody. At best it can be half-truth. Instead, the state government inherited a total contract sum of N185.1 billion as liability from the Obi administration. In the real sense, what the Obiano administration inherited from Obi was N9 billion cash and N26 billion near cash,” he said. Obi in a swift reaction, faulted Obiano’s claim, describing it as a deliberate attempt to misrepresent facts. He insisted that he left over N75 billion in cash and investment, adding that the breakdown shows that N27 billion was in local currency investment; N26.5 billion in foreign currency investment and N28.1 billion in Certified State/ MDS balances. Efforts by some highly placed citizens of the state to settle the rift failed to yield the desired result. What later ensued were media war and name calling even when Obi moved on politically with his defection to the PDP.
Oshiomhole vs Obaseki: A costly detour
A former labour leader turned politician, Oshiomhole was president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and it is on record that he led several industrial actions against anti-peoples’ policies by previous governments. Among his feats in the struggle include 25 per cent wage increase for public sector workers and demonstrations against increases in prices of petroleum products. Perhaps, it was these successes that explained his emergence as Edo State governor in 2008, after a court battle and landslide victory in 2012 for a second term.
But Oshiomhole, who was governor of Edo State between 2008 and 2016 and later national chairman of the APC, perhaps, shot himself on the leg, when he turned around to indulge against his preaching on political godfathers. The immediate past national chairman of the APC, had after leading his party to victory in the 2016 governorship election in Edo State, declared that he had demystified political godfathers in the state and dismantled their rigging machinery. But true to the character of most politicians, to whom politics is a game of interest, Oshiomhole plotted to retain the seats of the godfathers he dethroned by ensuring that Godwin Obaseki, who served as head of his administration’s Economic Team emerged as his successor in 2016. But it didn’t take that time that the duo fell apart.
While none of the warring parties came out to reveal what was in contention at that time, the genesis of the crisis was traced to Oshiomhole’s loyalists, who alleged unfair treatment by Obaseki. The Edo Assembly impasse further fuelled the crisis, when the inauguration of the principal officers of the state legislature became an issue between the godfather and his godson. The last straw that broke camel’s back was the mode of primary to be adopted by the party for the election of its candidate for 2020 governorship poll in Edo State. While the APC NWC, then headed by Oshiomhole opted for a direct primary that allows all members of the party to elect their candidate, the Obaseki-backed Anselm Ojezua state exco of the party insisted on an indirect primary that will involve delegates. As expected, Obaseki who was then billed to contest the party’s governorship primary alongside others was disqualified. Oshiomhole had during the campaigns boasted that he will cut Obaseki to size but in a twist of fate, the governor, trounced his estranged political godfather.
Tinubu vs Ambode: The godfather had his way
There is no doubt that Akinwunmi Ambode, rode on Tinubu’s back to become governor of Lagos State in 2015 but the latter did not mince words, when he declared that the former has deviated from developmental blueprint of Lagos and urged members of the party to reject him at the primary election ahead of the 2019 polls. In Ambode’s stead, Tinubu endorsed the then Managing Director of Lagos State Property Development Corporation (LSPDC), Babajide Sanwo-Olu as his preferred candidate for the APC in the 2019 governorship election in Lagos.
Ambode’s alleged sin was that he cut off those who helped him to power in 2015 immediately he assumed office. Though the then governor continually played down on the rift between him and his godfather and went ahead to obtain the expression of interest and nomination forms of his party, Tinubu remained adamant over his purported opposition to the governor’s return to power. Interventions even by then President Muhammadu Buhari failed to resolve the impasse as Tinubu’s loyalists threatened to rebel against him if he backs Ambode. Though the then governor put up a spirited fight, many knew while the battle lasted that there was no way the then APC national leader will not have the last laugh.
Obasanjo vs Atiku: A case of old wound that refuses to heal
The supremacy battle between the former and president and his vice, midway into their second term in office, no doubt, remains one of the vicious so far in the present political dispensation. Atiku was elected governor of Adamawa State in 1998, but while still governor-elect, he was picked by Obasanjo as running mate after he emerged the presidential candidate of the PDP. They won the presidential election in February 1999, and were sworn-in as Nigeria’s second democratically elected president and vice president, respectively, on 29 May 1999. Both had a blissful political relationship but the political romance turned sour after their re-lection for a second term in 2003 although Atiku turned down a plot to upstage Obasanjo ahead of the poll. Governors elected on the platform of the PDP, had in the build-up to the poll urged Atiku to contest the party’s presidential primary against Obasanjo but he declined. Though Atiku opted for a joint ticket with his principal, Obasanjo did not forgive those who muted the idea. They battle got messier after Atiku mobilised the leadership of the National Assembly to stop his bid to amend some provisions of the constitution in order to take another shot at the presidency for the third consecutive time.
Obasanjo’s insistence that Atiku would not succeed him forced the former vice president to leave the PDP in 2006 for the defunct Action Congress (AC), which handed him its presidential ticket. Despite securing the AC’s ticket, a power play that ensued led INEC to omit his name from the final list of 24 candidates for the presidential election it released on March 15, 2007. The electoral umpire cited Atiku’s indictment for corruption as the reason for the omission. But in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the commission had no power to disqualify any candidate for an election, and Atiku contested the poll, but lost to Umaru Yar’Adua of the PDP. Atiku, however, returned to the PDP in 2009, though his return was initially resisted by his state chapter of the party, acting an alleged script by Obasanjo.
He was later granted a waiver by the party’s national leadership. This paved the way for him to contest the 2011 presidency but was defeated by then Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, who had Obasanjo’s backing. Jonathan went ahead to win the election.
Obasanjo vs Yar’adua: When a plot went awry
Many had then accused Obasanjo of imposing Yar’adua on the PDP because he wanted to install a weak president he could manipulate and control since his plot to perpetuate himself in power failed, but the godfather and his godson fell out within six months. Yar’adua not only reversed some of Obasanjo’s policies like the sale of two of the country’s refineries, but went after the latter’s loyalists like the then chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu and Nasri el-Rufai, who was Minister of the Federal Capital Territory in the Obasanjo administration. Ribadu was removed as EFCC chairman, demoted to the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police from Assistant Inspector General, while el-Rufai, who went on exile, said at the time that Yar’adua was desperately looking for reasons to send Obansanjo to prison. Perhaps, the power play explained why Obasanjo became the first critic of the Yar’adua administration.
The fight between the duo lasted till Yar’Adua death in 2010, and Obasanjo, in his book “My Watch,” not only attacked and vilified Yar’Adua but described him an ingrate.
Obasanjo vs Jonathan: Another plot that go twisted
After Yar’Adua’s death, Obasanjo moved in quickly to see that Jonathan, who was the vice president succeeded him despite fierce opposition by some northern political leaders. With that done, the former president had his anointed was in control. Jonathan, who in the first place, became vice president on Obasanjo’s prompting, consulted Obasanjo on almost everything he did. When the whistle for the 2011 elections was sounded, Obasanjo initially refused to back Jonathan until the latter yielded grounds. According to Ijaw leader and Jonathan’s major supporter, Chief Edwin Clerk, almost all members of the various Federal Boards from 2011 were nominated by Obasanjo in addition to ministers and ambassadors but the bubble burst when Jonathan started doing things without consulting his benefactor. The bond between Obasanjo and Jonathan, however, collapsed when Jonathan successfully warded Obasanjo off the presidential villa and the PDP. Consequently, the Ogun State-born general and former military head of state began firing verbal missiles on Jonathan, including writing toxic letters. In an 18-page letter dated December 2, 2013 and titled: “Before it is too late,” Obasanjo accused Jonathan of taking actions detrimental to the unity and progress of the country. He accused Jonathan of training a killer squad, encouraging corruption and pursuing an inordinate ambition, among others. Jonathan, in his response, chided Obasanjo for his un-statesman conduct but what followed was the latter’s alignment with opposition forces to halt Jonathan’s second term bid in the 2015 presidential election.
Kalu vs Orji: Betrayal as another name for politics
In the case of former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu and his erstwhile Chief of Staff and successor, Theodore Orji, it was disloyalty because the former single-handedly saw to the emergence of the latter as governor of Abia State in 2007. Orji won the gubernatorial primary of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), a party founded and funded by Kalu, to contest the governorship election and resoundingly defeated his closest rival by over 200,000 votes. He also made history as the first to win governorship election while in detention. He later turned against his benefactor, Kalu, when he was cautioned against by Kalu over excesses of his government barely 18 months into his first term. Orji dumped the PPA, the platform through which he came to power, had a brief stopover in APGA before he finally berthed at the PDP. The power game led to the impeachment of the deputy governor, Chief Chris Akomas, who was loyal to Kalu by members of the state House of Assembly.
Shortly after that, some commissioners, other political aides and Kalu’s men, who refused to crossover to Orji’s camp, were also eased out of government. Kalu, who later expressed regret over the role he played in the emergence of Orji as his successor, denied attempting to play godfather to his successor. He insisted that his only grouse was that Orji was not doing enough for the people of Abia State.
Nnamani vs Chime: Friends became enemies
There is no doubt that Sullivan Chime’s emergence as governor of Enugu State in 2007 was facilitated by the Chimaroke Nnamaniled Ebeano political family. Nnamani, who was governor between 1999 and 2007, appointed Chime, first as his legal adviser between 1999 and 2002 before he elevated him to the position of commissioner for Justice and Attorney General in 2002 and he served in that capacity till 2007, when the Nnamani left office.
Despite Chime’s close relationship with Nnamani, the former’s emergence as his successor was a surprise to many because he was not among top functionaries, who showed interested in succeeding their principal. But Nnamani surprisingly backed Chime because he did not show desperation for the job and also got the PDP leadership in the state to buy into the project. But no sooner had the latter won the election and was inaugurated that friends became enemies.
Consequently, the Ebeano group began to crack and Chime started alienating members of the group that ensured his emergence as governor. He also went on to court Enugu politicians, who had problems with Nnamani, including a former governor of old Anambra State, Chief Jim Nwobodo, who was instrumental to Nnamani’s rise to power but got what he did not bargained for from his political godson. The battle explained Nnamani’s failed bid to return to the Senate as Enugu East Senatorial District representative in 2011. He was defeated by Prince Gilbert Nnaji, who was then in the House of Representatives. Nnamani contested the poll on the platform of the People for Democratic Change (PDC), having quit the PDP.
Sheriff vs Shettima: Godfather beaten in his game
Another interesting battle between a godfather and his anointed is that between a former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff and his successor, Kashim Shettima (now Vice president). Sheriff called the shots in the north-eastern state before he was run out of town after his failed bid to control Shettima. Sheriff hold of the state did not start with the emergence of Shettima. In 1999, he supported Alhaji Mala Kachallah, his father’s friend, to become governor of the state, while he went to the Senate. But from Abuja, he called the shots in the state. Along the line, he parted ways with Kachallah, who made a political blunder by leaving the then ruling party in the state – All Peoples Party (APP) for Alliance for Democracy (AD). The move cost him a second term as he was roundly defeated by Sheriff in the 2003 governorship election.
But after serving eight years, Sheriff disagreed with his father, Galadima Modu Sheriff, over the choice of his successor. While the older Sheriff wanted another son, Mala, to succeed his brother, the younger Sheriff opted for Shettima, his then commissioner for Health. The disagreement between father and son forced them to settle for Alhaji Fannami Gubio. Unfortunately, Gubio, Modu Sheriff’s cousin was assassinated few months to the 2011 elections and Shettima was named as the party’s governorship candidate. He won the election but Sheriff failed in his bid to return to the Senate. However, while Shettima accorded Sheriff due privileges, the latter insisted on being in charge. With time, a crack appeared but both camps played it down.
But it did not take time for the crack to become evident. Sheriff withdrew his support for Shettima, dumped the APC, which he helped formed for the PDP to stop the latter’s second term bid. Shettima, on his part aligned with the masses, who had always viewed Sheriff as an emperor. The decision paid off as he won a second term during the 2015 elections, which marked the beginning of a dwindling political fortune for Sheriff.
Odili vs Amaechi: Battle of master and protégé
There is no doubt that the immediate past Minister of Transport and a former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, is ex-Governor Peter Odili’s protégé. Odili contributed to Amaechi’s emergence as a member of the state House of Assembly in 1999, and subsequently served as speaker for eight years. But they fell out after the former’s choice of the latter as his successor in 2007 was stopped by then President Obasanjo even after Amaechi’s name had been forwarded to INEC as PDP’s governorship candidate for Rivers State.
Though Amaechi later regained the governorship position through the court from Celestine Omehia, who the PDP substituted him with, it was never the same again between him and his former boss. Odili had to practically relocate to Abuja and avoided the state he once held sway. He accused Amaechi of vendetta over the Justice Kayode Eso Truth and Reconciliation Panel, which indicted him of the violence that engulfed the state between 1999 and 2007. After four years, both men decided to bury the hatchet, following their reconciliation on May 29, 2011 but that was to be temporary as they returned to trenches ahead of the 2015 elections, with Odili publicly declaring that he regretted working for Amaechi to emerge as governor of the state.
Ngige vs Uba: Godson rallies the people against godfather
The immediate past Minister of Labour and Employment (Ngige) served as governor of Anambra State between 2003 and 2006. He was assisted to power by the self-acclaimed godfather of Anambra politics, Chief Chris Uba, who at the time, boasted that he single-handedly saw to the emergence all elected political office holders in the state on the platform of the PDP. Uba’s insistence on nominating all commissioners, who will serve under Ngige led to a fight and even abduction of Ngige (a sitting governor) as well as razing of some public buildings in the state. At the end of hostilities, Ngige endeared himself to the people for daring to confront political godfathers, who had hitherto held the state to ransom prior to his coming to power. While Yar’adua never showed interest in the 2007 presidency until he was drafted into the race by Obasanjo,