20YEARS STILL COUNTING: SEE NIGERIAN POLITICIANS WHO HAVE BEEN IN POWER FOR THE LAST TWENTY YWARS

  • Nigeria’s Fourth Republic and  long-term political office holders  

Nigeria’s Fourth Republic, which clocks 20 years on May 29, has witnessed politicians, who have been in power uninterruptedly for two decades, FELIX NWANERI, TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE and WALE ELEGBEDE report

Nigeria’s Fourth Republic became possible, following the death of then military dictator, General Sani Abacha in 1998, as his successor, General Abdusalami Abubakar initiated the transition, which heralded the country’s return to democratic rule in 1999.

Abubakar, not only lifted the ban on political activities, but freed political prisoners. This led to formation and registration of three political parties – Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Peoples Party (APP) and Alliance for Democracy (AD)).

Consequently, elections were held across the country for elective positions at the state and federal levels culminating in the April 1999 presidential poll that saw the emergence of a former military ruler, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as president and was sworn-in on May 29, 1999.

But 20 years after, it is still unfilled dreams, leaving many to wonder if Nigeria’s Fourth Republic was not one mismanaged even as there is the belief that a majority of those, who have been at the helm of affairs in the last two decades have over stayed their welcome.
Among those who hold this conviction, is a renowned professor of political economy and former presidential candidate, Pat Utomi, who recently described politicians who spend more than 12 years in public offices as social parasites.

In an interview aired on ARISE TV, the Second Republic presidential adviser said: “I despise people who live on politics. I think that people who make a career in life based on politics are doing society a disservice.

“I have said that nobody should hold public office for more than 12 consecutive years. You go from a commissioner to the governor, senator; you are a social parasite.

“You should come out of your hard work, make a difference for four to eight years and go back to what you do. If it’s not like that for you, you are a parasite to society. The characters making it difficult to make progress are social parasites, who call themselves politicians.”

David Mark

The former Senate president is among the top beneficiaries of the present political dispensation, having been within the corridors of power since 1999.

For Mark, who had earlier served as military administrator of Niger State (1984-1986) and minister of Communication, he has been in the Senate since 1999, which makes him Nigeria’s longest serving senator.

He was first elected as senator for Benue South Senatorial District in 1999 and was president of the Senate from 2007 to 2015

The Benue State born politician was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Nigerian Army in 1970 upon his graduation from the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) and retired as a Brigadier General.

Mark aspired for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party for the 2019 general elections, but was among those defeated by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. His record as the nation’s longest serving senator would be equaled by the time the 9th National Assembly is inaugurated in June as he did not contest the poll to return to the Red Chamber after losing the PDP presidential ticket.

Ike Ekweremadu

The Senate deputy president will step into the shoes of his former principal (Mark) as he won election into the apex legislative chamber for the fifth time in the recent general elections.

The Enugu State born lawyer turned politician, who has the record of being the number two man in the Senate for 12 unbroken years (2007-2015), has been in the upper legislative chamber since 2003.

Before then, he had served as chairman of Aninri Local Government Area (1997-1998); Chief of Staff, Enugu State (1999-2001) and Secretary to the Enugu State Government (2001-2003) after which he was elected as senator representing Enugu West Senatorial District.

Ifeanyi Okowa

The Delta State governor, who trained as a medical doctor and practiced his profession between 1983 and 1991, when he ventured into politics, has been within the corridors of power before the advent of the Fourth Republic.

He served as Secretary of Ika Local Government Area in 1991, and upon the creation of Ika North East Local Government Area in the same year, he became its pioneer chairman, a position he held till 1993.

With the truncation of the Third Republic in 1993, Okowa resumed his medical practice, but returned to politics in 1998, following the lifting of the ban on politics by the then military government.

Since then, he has held several positions at the state and federal levels. They include commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources (1999-2001), Water Resources Development (2001-2003) and Health (2003-2006).

In 1996, Okowa vied for the governorship ticket of the PDP, but lost to Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan. He, however, led the campaign of the party as Director-General and was appointed Secretary to the State Government (SSG) after the party won the poll.

He resigned the position in July, 2010 to contest the senatorial election for Delta North Senatorial District, an election he won. After a term in the Senate, he was elected as the fourth executive governor of Delta State in 2015 and was re-elected during the recent 2019 polls.

Ahmed Lawan

The Senate Majority Leader is in the league of Mark and Ekweremadu, having been in the National Assembly since 1999. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1999, and at different times chaired the House Committees on education and agriculture.

In 2007, he transmuted to the Senate to represent Yobe North Senatorial District. He was re-elected in the 2011 and 2015 general elections. He won for the fourth consecutive time in the recent elections and has been anointed by his party (APC) for the presidency of the 9th Senate.

Aminu Tambuwal

The governor of Sokoto State has also been on the scene since the advent of the Fourth Republic. He started his political journey working as a Personal Assistant on Legislative Affairs to Senator Abdullahi Wali (1999-2000) who was the Senate leader at the time.
By 2003, Tambuwal got elected to the House of Representatives to represent Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency of Sokoto State. He went ahead to serve four terms in the Green Chamber under different political platforms – All Nigeria People Party (ANPP), PDP) and APC.

Tambuwal was a member of several Committees in the House of Representatives namely; Communications, Judiciary, Water Resources, Inter-Parliamentary, Rules and Business and Ad-Hoc Committee on Constitutional review.
He capped his 12-year stint in the House of Representatives with the position of speaker, which he held between 2011 and 2015, when he contested and won the governorship of the “Seat of the Caliphate.” Against all odds, he was re-elected in the recent general elections.

Abdullahi Ganduje

The incumbent governor of Kano State, who won a second term after a fierce contest, has previously served as deputy governor twice between 1999 to 2003 and 2011 to 2015 under his predecessor, Rabiu Kwankwaso.
He aspired to be the PDP’s governorship candidate for Kano State in 1999, but lost at the primaries to Kwankwaso. He was however drafted in by the party’s leaders as running mate to Kwankwaso. In addition to the deputy governorship, he was also appointed as commissioner for Local Government.

When Kwankwaso lost his re-election bid in 2003 and was appointed minister of Defence by then President Olusegun Obasanjo, Ganduje served as his Special Adviser (Political). He also served as a member of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) board.
In 2008, Ganduje was appointed as chairman of the Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti and later as Executive secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission at Ndjamena, Republic of Chad. He participated in the 2006 Nigerian Political Reforms Conference and Kwankwaso’s return to power in 2011, he (Ganduje) came back as deputy governor.

He ran his own show in 2015 on the platform of the APC and got elected to succeed his principal.

Rabiu Kwankwaso

Kwankwaso, who leads the popular Kwankwasiya Movement (political pressure group) has also enjoyed an unbroken 20 years in public office in the present dispensation.

He had earlier represented Madobi Federal Constituency of Kano State in the House of Representatives and served as deputy speaker during the aborted Third Republic.

Kwankwaso was governor of Kano State for eight years (1999-2003 and 2011-2015) in the current Fourth Republic. He was first elected in 1999 on the platform of the PDP, but lost re-election bid in 2003 to Ibrahim Shekarau of the then All Peoples Party (APP). He was, however, in July of the same year appointed as minister of Defence by then President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He made another unsuccessful attempt to return to power as governor in 2007. He was appointed as Presidential Special Envoy to Somalia and Darfur by Obasanjo after the polls. However, luck smiled on him in 2011 as he returned to the Kano government house.
After serving out his second term in 2015, he transmuted to the Senate, where he is at the moment representing Kano Central Senatorial District, but he will not return to Red Chamber, by the time the 9th National Assembly is inaugurated in June because he opted out of the 2019 general elections after he contested and lost the PDP presidential ticket to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

Bukola Saraki

The Senate president is the scion of the Saraki political dynasty. His father, Chief Olusola Saraki, was Second Republic Senate Leader.

The younger Saraki trained and worked briefly as medical doctor. His political career began in 2000, when he was appointed Special Assistant to President Obasanjo on Budget.

In 2003, he ran for the office of governor of Kwara State on the platform of the PDP and won. He was re-elected in 2007 and at a time served as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).

After serving the constitutionally allowed two terms for governors, Saraki contested and won a senatorial seat in 2007 to represent Kwara Central in the National Assembly. He has been in the Senate since then (three terms). He is presently the Senate president following his emergence at the inauguration of 8th National Assembly in June 2015, but will not return to the Red Chamber, following the defeat he suffered in the February 23 senatorial election. He had before the poll, lost the bid to fly the PDP flag in the presidential election to Atiku.

Rotimi Amaechi

The Minister of Transportation also ranks among those who have been public office since 1999, when he was elected as a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly and served as its speaker for eight years (1999-2007).

Before then, Amaechi, who first office in politics was as Secretary of the now defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State between 1992 and 1994, served as Special Assistant to the deputy governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, during the aborted Third Republic.

He equally served as Rivers State Secretary of the Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN) caretaker committee in 1996 during the transition programme of the General Sanni Abacha-led regime.

After eight years as speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Amaechi contested and won the PDP’s governorship primary election for the 2007. His name was, however, substituted by the party and replaced with that of his cousin, Celestine Omehia, an action, he (Amaechi) challenged in court.

The case eventually got to the Supreme Court and he became governor on October 26, 2007, after the apex court ruled that Amaechi was the rightful candidate of the PDP and winner of the 2007 governorship election in Rivers State. He was reelected for a second term in the 2011 elections.

On leaving office in 2015, he was appointed by President Buhari as minister of Transportation after serving as the Director-General of his campaign organization in the 2015 presidential election. He also served in the same capacity in the recent elections and has been tipped among members of the President’s cabinet in the next dispensation.

Nyesom Wike

The Rivers State governor has equally been on the political scene since 1999. The lawyer turned politician, won elections for the position of chairman of Obio-Akpor Local Government Area two times (1999-2002 and 2004-2007).

Between 2007 and 2011, he served as Chief of Staff to then Governor Amaechi as well as the Director General of Amaechi’s re-election campaign in 2011, after which he was appointed Minister of State Education by then President Goodluck Jonathan.

He resigned the position in 2015, contested and won the Rivers State governorship election and was re-elected for a second term in the recent 2019 general elections.

Magnus Abe

The senator representing Rivers South East Senatorial District has since the advent of the Fourth Republic held several positions including member of the Rivers State House of Assembly (1999-2003), Commissioner for Information (2003-2007), Secretary to the State Government (2007-2015).

Theodore Orji

The former governor of Abia State was formerly a career civil servant, but at the inception of the Fourth Republic, first served as Principal Secretary, Government House, Abia State and later as Chief of Staff to then Governor Orji Uzor Kalu.

He succeeded his principal in 2007 on the platform of Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA.) He, however, dumped the party for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and later PDP through which he was re-elected in 2011.

Before leaving office in 2015, he contested and won election to represent Abia Central Senatorial District in the Senate. He won a second term in the recent elections.

Danjuma Goje

The former governor of Gombe State, who is returning to the Senate for the third time, served as governor on the platform of the PDP between 2003 and 2011. He had before then served as    Minister of State, Power and Steel from 1999 to 2001 under President Obasanjo. On leaving office in 2011, he headed for the Senate, having won election on the platform of the PDP to represent Gombe Central Senatorial District. He was re-elected in 2015 on the platform of APC.

Ibrahim Gaidam

An accountant turned politician, Gaidam worked in several government ministries in the old Borno State and later Yobe State. He left the civil service in 1995, when he was appointed as Commissioner for Youths and Sports, and later as Commissioner of Commerce and Industries.

He returned to the civil service and from 1997 to 2007, served as Director in the State Finance Ministry and Permanent Secretary in various other ministries. He was elected deputy governor of Yobe State on the platform of the All ANPP) in 2007, but became governor on January 27, 2009 following the death of Governor Mamman Bello Ali. After serving out Ali’s term, Geidam contested and won the 2011 governorship election and was re-elected for a second term in the 2015 elections. This means that he would have spent 10 years as governor by May 29, when he bows out. However, he is done with public office as he contested and won election to represent Yobe East Senatorial District in the just held 2019 general elections.

Bukar Abba Ibrahim

The former governor of Yobe State has equally enjoyed an unbroken 20 years in public office since 2019. He was governor of the north eastern state from 1999 to 2007. He had earlier served as Commissioner for Works in old Borno State and as governor of Yobe State from January 1992 to November 1993 in the Third Republic.

On leaving office in 2007, he was elected to the Senate to represent Yobe East Senatorial District and has been in the upper legislative chamber since then (three terms). However, he will return to the Red Chamber by June, when the 9th National Assembly would be inaugurated. His seat would be taken by Geidam, who succeeded him as governor of Yobe State.

Adamu Aliero

Aliero has been in the political terrain since the beginning of the present Fourth Republic. He governed Kebbi State between 1999 and 2007 on the platform of the APP and later ANPP. He later defeated to PDP and became Senator for Kebbi Central from June 5, 2007 till December 18, 2008. He was appointed Minister of the Federal Capital Territory on December 17, 2008 by then President Umaru Yar’Adua. He left office on March 17, 2010, when then Acting President Goodluck Jonathan dissolved the cabinet. He returned to the Senate in 2015 and recently won election for a third term.

Aliyu Wamakko

A former chairman of Sokoto Local Government Area (1986-1987), Wamakko was elected deputy governor of Sokoto State in 1999 and held the position till 2006, when he resigned to contest the 2007 governorship election, which he won. He was re-elected for a second term in the 2011 elections and on completion of his tenure in 2015, contested and won senatorial election to represent Sokoto North Senatorial District. He is among those who would be returning to the Red Chamber.

Kabiru Gaya

Senator Kabiru Gaya is returning to the Senate for the fourth consecutive term to represent Kano South Senatorial District. He has been in the Red Chamber since 2007. Before his election to the apex legislature, Gaya served as governor of Kano State during the aborted Third Republic between 1992 and 1993. His quest to return to Kano government house in 2003, failed as he lost in the governorship election on the platform of the National Democratic Party (NDP).

Abdul’aziz Yari

The Zamfara State governor, who also doubles as chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), is expected to join the league of exgovernors in the Senate, when the Ninth Assembly is inaugurated. He would be serving out his two terms as governor by May 29 and contested and won election to represent Zamfara West Senatorial District in the recent general polls. Yari began his political career in 1999, when he served as Secretary of the then All Peoples Party (ANPP) in Zamfara State, a position he held till 2003, when he was elected chairman of the party in the state. He later rose to the position of ANPP National Financial Secretary and served in the position till 2007, when he was elected as a member of the House of Representatives, representing Anka/ Talata Mafara Federal Constituency (2007-2011). He was elected governor of the north western state in 2011 and was re-elected for a second term in 2015.

Babatunde Fashola

As Chief of Staff in Governor Bola Tinubu’s Cabinet (2003-2007), Fashola also doubled as a commissioner, He was the first person to hold such offices at the same time. He had before then served in various other capacities such as Secretary of the Lands committee of the transitional Work Groups (1999), member of the Panel of Enquiry into Allocation of Houses on the Mobolaji Johnson Scheme in Lekki (2000) and member of the Lagos State Tenders Board (2002).

On May 29, 2007, Fashola became the fourth elected governor of Lagos, succeeding his principal – Tinubu. He held the position till 2015 (two terms) and on leaving office was appointed Minister of Works, Power and Housing in the current administration by President Buhari.

Abdullahi Adamu

Adamu has been on the political before the Fourth Republic, having joined politics in 1977, and was elected to the Constituent Assembly, which drafted the constitution for Nigeria’s Second Republic (1979-1983). He was a pioneer member of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN); served as the party’s first Secretary- General and later chairman of the party in old Plateau State between 1978 and 1983. In 1994, he was appointed to the National Constitutional Conference by General Sani Abacha’s regime. In March 1995, he was appointed a Minister of State of Works and Housing and held the position till November 1997. He was a founding member of PDP in 1998 and was elected governor of Nasarawa State in 1999. He was re-elected in 2007.

After the end of his two-term governorship, he became Secretary, Board of Trustees (BOT) of PDP. In 2011, he was elected into the Senate to represent Nasarawa West Senatorial District on the platform of PDP. He later defected to APC and was re-elected into Senate in 2015. He returns to the Senate for the third consecutive term in the incoming 9th National Assembly.

Godswill Akpabio

The immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom State and ex-Senate Minority Leader is one of the longest serving public office holders in Akwa Ibom State since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule on May 29, 1999. A lawyer turned politician, Akpabio was in the private sector for many years before he was appointed in 2002 as Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources by the then Governor Obong Victor Attah. Between 2002 and 2006, he served as a Commissioner in three key ministries: Petroleum and Natural Resources, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, as well as Lands and Housing. In 2006, he declared his intention to run for Akwa Ibom State governor and defeated 57 other aspirants to emerge the PDP candidate in the state.

He went ahead to win the main election and was re-elected for a second term in 2011. In 2015, Akpabio joined the league of ex-governors in the Senate to represent the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District and against all odds as a first timer; he became the Senate Minority Leader on July 28, 2015. He resigned the position in August 2018 upon his defection to APC. He lost his re-election bid to former deputy governor of the state, Dr. Chris Ekpenyong, who won the February 23 senatorial poll for Akwa Ibom North West on the platform of the PDP.

Kabiru Gaya

An architect turned politician, Gaya has been an active participant in Kano State politics since the Third Republic, when he served as governor between 1991 and 1993 on the platform of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC). His quest to return to Kano State Government House in 2003 did not see the light of the day as he lost in the governorship election as candidate of the National Democratic Party (NDP). Four years later, he was elected to the Senate and got re-elected in 2011 on the platform of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) to represent Kano South in the Red Chamber. Gaya was the Senate Deputy Minority Whip from 2007 to 2011. He won the February 23 senatorial election and would be returning to the Senate for the fourth consecutive time.

James Manager

For 16 consecutive years, he has been the senator representing Delta South Senatorial District in the National Assembly and several efforts by the opposition party to unseat him has always failed. Senator Manager was the pioneer Delta State chairman of the PDP. He played crucial role in the victory of the party in the 1999 general elections as PDP swept the state producing Chief James Ibori as governor.

Mudashiru Obasa

The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly by the virtue of his victory in recent general elections is returning to state legislature for fifth consecutive time. That also makes him the longest serving lawmaker in the State Assembly. Obasa started his political journey from the local government level in 1999, when he contested and won a seat of councillor in Agege Local Government Area under the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD (1999- 2002 He was elected into the State Assembly in 2003 to represent Agege I Constituency and since then has been winning elections to represent his in the state legislature. He was elected Speaker of the Lagos State House Assembly in 2015 and might retain his seat in the Ninth Assembly come June.

George Akume

Senator George Akume, former governor of Benue State has held public office of power since 1999. He was the number one citizen of Benue State between May 29, 1999 and May 29, 2007 on the platform of the PDP. After eight years as governor, Akume was elected into the Senate in on the platform of PDP to represent Benue North-West Senatorial District. He later defected to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and was re-elected in 2011. While in the Senate, he served as Minority Leader from June 2011 to June 2015. He, however, lost a re-election bid in the February 23 senatorial election and won’t be part of the Ninth Senate.

Nicholas Mutu

The member representing Bomadi/ Patani Federal Constituency of Delta State in the House of Representatives is one of the longest serving lawmakers in the National Assembly. He has been in the legislative chamber since 1999. He scored another political point during the February 23 National Assembly polls as he was elected for a sixth term on the platform of PDP. With his victory in the last election, Mutu has emerged the longest serving federal lawmaker in the House of Representatives.

Leo Ogor

Hon. Leo Ogor, representing Isoko North/Isoko South Federal Constituency of Delta State in the House of Representatives has been at the Green Chamber of the National Assembly since 2003. He was a former Minority Leader of the House and was re-elected for the fifth consecutive term on the platform of PDP during last general elections.

Bayo Osinowo

Hon. Bayo Osinowo is the Senatorelect for Lagos East Senatorial District. He is going to the Senate after spending 16 years in the Lagos State House of Assembly as representative of the people of Kosofe I Constituency. Osinowo popularly known as “Pepperito” in Lagos State politics is one of the kingmakers in the ruling party.

He was a founding member of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1999 and was elected into the State Assembly in 2003 and got reelected thrice – 2007, 2011 and 2015. He declared his interest to run for Lagos East Senatorial District in 2019 and against all odds defeated the incumbent, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, to get the APC’s ticket and also won with wide emerging during the February 23 National Assembly elections to be the second member of Lagos State House of Assembly to be elected into Senate. The first is a former Speaker of Lagos State Assembly, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora.

Uche Secondus

The National Chairman of the leading opposition party, PDP, has been around political corridors since 2002, when he took over the leadership of the party in Rivers State. For him, his penchant is in political party administration and he has reached the peak of his area of specialization with his current position.

Although he joined politics in 1978 during the Second Republic as the youth leader, in Rivers State for the now defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) his full baptism of fire started in 2002 in the current Fourth Republic. Secondus was also at a time the state publicity secretary of the National Republican Convention, NRC, from 1993 to 1998 Between 2002 and 2008, he served as the two-term chairman of the Rivers State PDP and while serving as party chair, he earned the sobriquet “Total Chairman”, and headed an influential group in the National Executive Committee known as G84. He has been a member of the PDP since inception in 1999 and was the pioneer chairman of the Governing Board of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

In 2007, he was the South-South coordinator of the PDP National Campaign Council. His foray to party politics at the national level started in 2008 when he was elected as the National Organising Secretary of the PDP; he held the position for four years. Secondus became the Deputy National Chairman of the PDP in September 2013. He also briefly served as Acting National Chairman of the Party, following the resignation of Adamu Mu’azu in 2015. He was supposed to run the party for three months for a substantive chairman to emerge, but he ended up spending seven months. He was removed by a court order in 2016. On December 10, 2017, he emerged victorious at an election for the position of National Chairman of the PDP at a National Convention of the party in Abuja. He is still holding the office till date.

Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

The incumbent governor of Enugu State was re-elected for another four years in the recent general elections. By the time he would be handing over in 2023, he would have spent 20 years as elected government official. He was first elected into the 5th Assembly of the Federal House of Representatives in 2003 and he served till 2007, representing Igboeze North/ Udenu Federal Constituency. He was re-elected to the 6th Assembly of the Federal House of Representatives in 2007 and served for another four years, ending in 2011. Yet, he was once again re-elected to the 7th Assembly to serve from 2011-2015. He thus became the longest serving National Assembly member in the Enugu North Senatorial District of Enugu state before he became governor.

Seriake Dickson

Dickson currently holds the number one office in Bayelsa State and he has been in the thick of politics even before the advent of the Fourth Republic in 1999. His first pie in the Fourth Republic was his election as the state chairman of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), a position he held between 1999 and 2000. Afterwards, he was elected National Legal Adviser of the party (2000-2002). Not minding his political antecedent, party wise, the then Bayelsa State governor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, appointed Dickson as the State’s Attorney- General and Commissioner for Justice in 2006.

Since then, there is no looking back for Dickson as he was elected to the National Assembly’s House of Representatives in 2007 to represent Sagbama/ Ekeremor Federal Constituency of Bayelsa State. He was re-elected in April 2011 for a second term. Dickson assumed his role as governor of Bayelsa State on February 14, 2012. He would be leaving office in February next after serving out his second term, which he won during the December 2015 governorship poll in the state.

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