Eight more Governors Seek to “Retire” in the Senate on Saturday

Adedoyin Shittu
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James Freeman Clarke in his book, Wanted, A Statesman!, stated that, “why a politician thinks only of the next election, a statesman thinks of the next generation”. He further explain that, “a politician thinks of himself and his party while a statesman thinks solely for the good of the people and how he will serve them selflessly and provide them with the dividend of democracy”.

This observation is indeed true in the case of Nigerian politicians as turning the senate seat to a retirement home has become a norm for ex-governors. After milking their state dry by embezzlement of public funds, collection of billions of naira in security votes, and giving peanuts as dividends of democracy, they crave to carry over their incompetence to the Senate.

As all eyes look on to the presidential candidates on Saturday, little is said about the law makers who when elected engage in “tyranny” and “kung fu” in the house of assembly.

With time, all the states in the federation may have all their ex-governors in the Senate as the  tendency for former governors to go to the Senate has become the “in thing” that it might even be an unwritten rule. Outside politics, the political elites have no other employment relevance, this is why they jump from one political position to another without even providing the dividend for democracy to the people.

Donald Duke, a presidential candidate in the upcoming election and also an ex governor of Cross Rivers State said the Nigerian Senate has become a “retirement home” for the former governors and “The Senate won’t find peace until former governors stop making it a retirement home.”

The Senate, Upper House of the National Assembly, is the highest law-making body in Nigeria. Enormous power wielded by this hallowed chamber is not in question.

Aside other functions, the primary function of the Senate called the “Red Chamber” is to make laws for the good and smooth running of the government of the federation. Simply put, this arm of government is responsible for the empowerment and development of the people. They stand up for the people and fight for them but, today, a man is elected, after he gets there the door is locked, instead they throw chairs and punches for their own pocket.

So the problem might not be with the president after all but the law makers.

Some of them didn’t do well as governors, yet they eye the executive arm responsible for making progressive laws for the nation. Tell me how can we expect such people to develop the nation when they could not develop their state as a governor?

Instead of these people to retire quietly into their luxurious mansions, which they have used public funds to build if they have any conscience at all, they throw money around from their amassed loot to fulfil their next ambition. Often times, their leadership ineptness becomes obvious in the red chamber where cluelessness leaves them helplessly silent, most times, as bills and national issues are debated on.

After denying capable brains from the position, they pocket the monthly salary in millions as salary as a senator and also pocket the pension as an ex-governor.

A fierce critic of the National Assembly and Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay’s (SAN) last year said that a Nigerian senator earns N 29 million monthly. Giving more details, Sagay said, “From the information I have gathered, a Nigerian senator earns about N 29 million a month and over N 3 billion a year. Basic salary N2,484,245.50; hardship allowance, 1,242, 122.70; constituency allowance N4, 968, 509.00; furniture allowance N7, 452, 736.50; newspaper allowance N1, 242, 122.70 wardrobe allowance N621,061.37; recess allowance N248, 424.55; accommodation 4,968,509.00; utilities N828,081.83; domestic staff N1,863,184.12; entertainment N828,081.83; personal assistant N621,061.37; vehicle maintenance allowance N1,863,184.12; leave allowance N248,424.55; severance gratuity N7, 425,736.50; and motor vehicle allowance N9, 936,982.00.” This is aside the “Ghana must go” and “brown envelopes” that exchange hands when budget is to be padded or bill is to be passed.

Currently, there are 16 senators in the National Assembly who are former governors including the Senate President and a former Kwara State governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki; former Kano State governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso; others include, Adamu Aliero (Kebbi); Aliyu Wamako (Sokoto); Ahmed Yerima (Zamfara); Kabiru Gaya (Kano); Bukar Ibrahim (Yobe); Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa); George Akume (Benue); Danjuma Goje (Gombe); Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara); Theodore Orji (Abia); Sam Egwu (Ebonyi) and Joshua Dariye (Plateau), who is currently serving a 14-year jail term in Jos prisons and has indicated interest in a re-election.

There are also a number of former deputy governors in the Red Chamber, including Mrs Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti) and Enyinaya Abaribe (Abia). This number is set to increase in 2019.

Some of these ex governors have spent more than the period they spent as governors and deputy governors in their states. For instance, Enyinaya Abaribe has been representing the Abia South Senatorial District of Abia State since April 2007.

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Eight governors have been billed to contest for senate in the upcoming Saturday election; they include Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, who was a senator before becoming governor; his Oyo State counterpart, Abiola Ajumobi; Abdulfatai Ahmed of Kwara State; Rochas Okorocha of Imo state; Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State; Ibrahim Shettima of Borno State; Abdul-Aziz Yari of Zamfara State and Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State.

Governor Amosun and Abiola Ajumobi used to be in the senate without making any indelible impact before becoming the governors of Ogun State and Oyo State respectively. Now they are contesting to go back to the senate. Are there no other capable heads in those state? Political recycling has led us to the mediocre position that we are presently in today. Many of those ex governors in the senate have been in the corridor of power since the 2nd republic and never made any meaningful impact or passed a bill that change the lives of the people positively.

These governors claim that they are not interested in the position but the people of the district pleaded with them to go back and represent them on the national level. This is obviously a white lie. In their quest to remain a power broker at all costs they denies other qualified Nigerians in a senatorial district capable of doing a better job the chance to emerge.

The Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha was quoted saying, “I have decided to run for Imo West Senatorial district because if I don’t,  bad people will take the position”.

It is quite baffling that the governor thinks no one is capable to handle the position except himself. He was earlier quoted  that he had earlier planned to contest for the presidency but put his ambition on hold when President Buhari sought a second term. He further said his senatorial ambition will boast APC chances in the state.  

In all this, the wish of the people in the state is secondary as these governors and ex-governors have amassed enough to help them remain political relevant since our politics is plagued with money.

As Nigerians go to the poll on Saturday, the people especially the youths should become more political aware to know what is expected of their representative. Enough of recycling of bad leaders. People should not only be interested in the presidential polls but also interested in who represent their constituency on the federal level in the National Assembly. Any one who have been tested and has fallen short of his/her capacity should not be elected into any position despite his/her political clout. 


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