By Amir Abdulazeez
It is time for us to ask Nigerian state governors why they do not want their deputies to succeed them. Alternatively, we may ask the deputy governors as to what are their sins which are so dreadful that their bosses wouldn’t want them to succeed them. A deputy governor should naturally be the person with the best chance to succeed an outgoing governor, going by the fact that he is constitutionally mandated to take over from him in the event of any unforeseen circumstance like death, impeachment or incapacitation. Furthermore, a deputy is seen as the closest working ally of his principal and probably that’s why the constitution gave an exclusive right to the governor to determine his running mate. However, this is not the case here in Nigeria, particularly in this dispensation.
Since the beginning of this 4th republic, after the return of democracy in 1999 up to today, only one Deputy Governor has been able to succeed his boss with the consent of that boss. That man is the former governor and former deputy governor of Zamfara state, Alhaji Mahmud AliyuShinkafi, who succeeded Senator Ahmad SaniYarimanBakura. Meanwhile, midway through Shinkafi’s tenure, he fell out with Senator Ahmad Sani and the Governor had to decamp to PDP from ANPP where he eventually lost out to the Senator’s candidate in 2011.
There are a handful of other Deputy Governors that were able to succeed their Governors whose seats were made vacant by divine occurrences like death and by controversial circumstances like impeachments or through some one form of political crises or the other. For example Dr. Goodluck Jonathan succeeded Chief DiepreyeAlamasiegha (one of only two Governors in Nigeria that were successfully impeached without staging a come-back through the courts, the other is AyodeleFayose of Ekiti State and probably MurtalaNyako of Adamawa if he loses his case in court) as Governor of Bayelsa State after the Bayelsa State House of Assembly impeached the latter on the grounds of corruption and money laundering. MukhtarRamalanYero of Kaduna State and Ibrahim Geidam of Yobe State, hitherto Deputy Governors, became Governors after the deaths of Sir Patrick Yakowa (plane crash) and Senator Mamman Ali (illness) respectively. Adebayo AlaoAkala of Oyo State became Governor for a brief spell after Governor RashidiLadoja was controversially impeached before the courts restored him to power. Late Michael Botmang of Plateau State became Governor briefly after the Plateau state House of Assembly were allegedly forced to controversially impeach Chief Joshua Dariye but was later restored to power by the courts, few weeks before the end of his tenure.
Mr. Peter Gregory Obi of Anambra state was impeached in similar circumstances and Madam Virgin Etiaba became Governor briefly before the courts reinstated him. Recently, former Adamawa State Deputy Governor, Barrister Bala James Ngilari became Governor after a political drama involving him, his boss and the State House of Assembly unfolded. Up till now, Ngilari’s former boss MurtalaNyako is still contesting his impeachment in court, making it likely for him to return and relegate Ngilari to his former position.
Away from impeachments, political crises and battles brought some Deputy Governors to power. AliyuWammako, the current Governor of Sokoto State became Governor after one of the fiercest political battles with his former boss, AttahiruDalhatuBafarawa. Wammako resigned, left the ANPP to the PDP and with the Federal Government’s backing, defeated Bafarawa’s candidate who contested under DPP.
All the above Deputy Governors became Governors without a slight proof indicating that they will be supported by their bosses to succeed them without the occurrence of the various circumstances that brought them to power.
Currently, in Taraba, it is not of the wish of Governor DanbabaSuntai’s closest men and loyalists that the Deputy Governor and Acting Governor, Garba Umar (who has been acting since Suntai was away for 25 months) who is currently governing the state, despite the fact that they should be more concerned with helping Suntai to fully regain his health. It is interesting to note that Suntai was alleged to have masterminded the ouster of his former Deputy and have him replaced with the current Acting Governor some few weeks before his tragic plane crash. The former Deputy Governor has been challenging his removal and it was only after a recent court ruling against him that prevented us from seeing more drama in Taraba. One would naturally assume that Suntai’s men would be comfortable with the Acting Governor since he was the most recent recruit of Suntai.
Apart from all these, we have seen how Governors and their deputies have lived with bad blood and misunderstanding between them, in some cases just because the deputies have shown interest in succeeding them. May be it is the fault of the Deputy Governors because it seems all of them have only one ambition, that of succeeding their bosses. Probably, if they pursue other ambitions, they might have succeeded. However, a particular deputy governor, having known so well that his boss will not support him if he decides to succeed him, went for a senatorial ticket under the PDP. Incidentally, his boss was also eyeing a senatorial seat of a different constituency. The Governor was alleged to have denied his deputy the senatorial ticket on the ground that he cannot sit on equal terms in the same chamber with his former deputy.
Some Governors have forced their deputies out of office through politically motivated impeachments and or consistent persecutions and denial of responsibilities as we witnessed recently in Imo and Enugu States. Some bizarre excuses as trivial as running poultry in Government House were relied upon in impeaching some deputy governors. In Jigawa state, former governor Ibrahim Saminu Turaki served his 8 years with three deputies and in Bauchi, Governor Yuguda had to part with GarbaGadi in controversial circumstances. In other states like Kano, we have seen how former Governor Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau did not end well with the two Deputy Governors that served him, both tried to succeed him.
Amir Abdulazeez via email@example.com