Nigeria: 2023 – Building Dynasties? Nigerian Families Holding, Seeking Multiple Political Offices

Some Nigerian families have many members in political offices or trying to create dynasties.

At the beginning of the Second Republic in 1979, the then political leader of the Tiv people, Joseph Tarka, and his son, Simon, were both elected to the National Assembly. The father was elected senator while the son was elected to the House of Representatives.

Before then, Alvan Ikoku, whose image is on the N10 note, contested against his son, Samuel, for a seat in the Eastern assembly in 1957.

Samuel, later well-known as S.G. Ikoku, was 34 years old when he defeated his 56-year-old father and became the minority leader of the assembly.

That development is alive in the Fourth Republic as families are silently building political dynasties or cloning themselves in important offices.

Olusola Saraki, the strongman of Kwara politics, was the Senate Leader when Mr Tarka was a senator. Two of Mr Saraki’s children have been elected to the National Assembly. Bukola and Gbemisola have both not only occupied the same senate seat for Kwara Central District that their father held for four years, but the former has also been the Senate President between 2015 and 2019.

Gbemisola, now the acting minister of transportation, spent a term in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate before her brother took over the Senate seat from her to spend his own two terms. Their dynastic hold on the seat and Kwara politics ended in 2019 with the O’toge (Enough is Enough) revolt.

Mr Saraki, also like his father did for 20 years between 1978 and 1998, is currently running for president under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In Yobe State, North-east Nigeria, then Governor Bukar Ibrahim, in 2004, appointed one of his wives, Khadijat Ibrahim, as commissioner for transport and energy.

Mrs Ibrahim was later elected into the House of Representatives before being appointed minister of state for foreign affairs in 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari. She resigned in 2018 to contest against her stepson, Mohammed, for the APC ticket to the House of Representatives election. Mrs Ibrahim won the primary with a wide margin and also won the election.

Their patriarch, Mr Ibrahim, after serving three terms as governor (January-November 1993 and 1999-2007) went on to serve three consecutive terms as senator (2007-2019).

Not peculiar to Nigeria

In the hereditary monarchical system of government, power usually moves from father to son. This is not common in plural democracies, which is why any occurrence of it becomes remarkable. However, such feats have been recorded in many countries, including in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

The Kennedy and Bush families easily come to mind in the United States of America. Robert Kennedy served as attorney general in the administration of his brother, President John Kennedy while George Bush senior and junior both served as presidents within eight years. Bush junior and his brother had been governors of different states at the same time too.

In Africa, Jomo Kenyatta once served as President while his son, Uhuru is the incumbent. Also, Joseph Kabila became president of the Democratic Republic of Congo after his father Laurent was assassinated, while Faure Eyademas of Togo and Ali Bongo of Gabon succeeded their late fathers as presidents.

Ahead of 2023?

With Nigeria’s economy distressed, politics now seems a major lucrative business for many politically influential families.

Whether in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) or the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), political office holders are not only seeking more time in office but are also installing members of their immediate families, creating paths for them.

From South to North, the situation is the same. Ahead of the 2023 general elections, many politicians want to bring members of their nuclear families on board.

The Akeredolus

Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), is a second-term governor of Ondo State. His wife, Betty, is seeking the ticket of the APC to contest the senatorial election in the Imo East district.

Mrs Anyanwu-Akeredolu declared her senatorial ambition in April. Meanwhile, their son, Babajide, has since 2021 been the director-general of the performance and project implementation monitoring unit of his father’s government.

The appointment of the young Akeredolu was one of the first made by the governor following his reelection.

Obanikoros

Musiliu Obanikoro served as senator for Lagos Central District on the platform of Alliance for Democracy, and later PDP, between 2003 and 2007.

His son, Ibrahim, had also been contesting elections on the platform of PDP without success until 2019 when he won on the ticket of APC to represent the Eti-Osa federal constituency in the House of Representatives.

On Friday, the junior Obanikoro narrowly lost his reelection bid to a son of an influential royal family – the Elegusis.

The senior Obanikoro also contested but lost the APC ticket for the Lagos West Senatorial District seat. Idiat Adebule, a former deputy governor of the state won the primary.

Ayodele Fayose

Joju Fayose was on Sunday nominated as PDP’s candidate for Ekiti Central Federal Constituency. His father, Ayodele, the immediate past governor of Ekiti State, contested the presidential primary of the PDP but lost to ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

The Okowas

Ifeanyi Okowa is the governor of Delta State. His daughter, Marilyn Okowa-Daramola, was at the weekend nominated as the PDP candidate for Ika North East federal constituency in Delta State.

Mr Okowa’s daughter has also been joined by the daughter of a former governor of the state, Erhiatake Ibori-Suenu, for the Ethiope federal constituency in the state.

The Adelekes

Since the days of their patriarch, Ayoola Adeleke, a former senator in the old Oyo State, the Adeleke family of Ede, in the present day Osun State, has remained influential in the politics of the state.

The late Adeleke’s deceased son, Adetunji, became the first governor of the state in the aborted Third Republic and was a senator until his death in 2017, when he was replaced by his brother, Ademola.

Ademola has since 2018 been running for the governorship seat of the state. He is again the candidate of the PDP in the forthcoming July 16 governorship election in the state.

The Lamidos

A son of former Governor Sule Lamido was on Wednesday elected the governorship candidate of the PDP for the state.

The Gandujes

In Kano, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje recently withdrew from the race to the senate as a result of conflict with members of the party but his son, Umar, on Friday, won the ruling party’s ticket for the House of Representatives election.

Meanwhile, Mr Ganduje’s son-in-law, Idris Abiola-Ajimobi, also won the APC ticket for the Ibadan South-west II state constituency in Oyo State.

Mr Ajimobi is the son of the late former governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi.

El-rufai

Mr El-rufai is billed to complete his second term of office next year. But his son, Bello, has secured the APC ticket to represent his constituency in the House of Representatives during the 2023 general elections.

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