History, they say, is essentially about great men who had ruled the world, their rise to power, their action, inaction and ultimate end. Just like the rise and fall of the old empires, the last general elections saw some old political dynasties succumb to the overwhelming weight of the new emerging power blocs.
The Oto ge movement in Kwara State, which terminated the long reign of the Saraki dynasty is a quick reference point. In place of the immediate past Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, the new helmsman, who is generally believed to be from a humble background, is now fully in charge, dictating the tune. Elsewhere, other budding political
dynasties are also gradually evolving, as the so-called recycled politicians have either overtly or covertly supplanted their younger ones in strategic positions, anticipatory of their ultimate retirement.
In some states like Abia, for instance, there is now a succession of people from the same family who play a prominent role in critical decision-making process. Here, while former governor Theodore Ahamefule Orji continues to maintain his hold on the Abia Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly, his son, Chinedun Orji, is gradually being positioned for future governorship contest.
Orji junior, a second term lawmaker, representing Umuahia Central State constituency in the state House of Assembly, was recently elected as the 11th Speaker of the state Assembly following the inauguration. He was the majority leader of the last assembly before his emergence as the Speaker.
His father, Theodore Orji, who had hitherto served as the Chief of Staff to former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu, now also a senator, was elected governor of Abia State in 2007 and re-elected on April 26, 2011.
The story is not different in Benue State, where the daughter of Senator David Mark, Blessing Onuh, has also come into political reckoning with her election into the House of Representatives. In the February 26 National Assembly election, Onuh ran for Otukpo/Ohimini House of Representatives seat on the platform of the All Progressives Ground Alliance (APGA) and defeated her uncle, Egli Johnson Ahubi, who was then the deputy speaker in Benue State House of Assembly.
Onuh had dumped the PDP for APGA following her loss of the party’s ticket to Ahubi. Although she won the seat on the platform of a relatively unpopular platform, some people strongly believe that she rode on the crest of his father to achieve the feat. However, while dump- ing the PDP, the party that brought his father to political limelight, in the run up to the last election, Onuh was quoted as saying: “My family still remains my family and I love them all. But what you are witnessing today is a clarion call from my people who have stories to tell.”
Mark, a four-term Senator who represented Benue South Senatorial District in the National Assembly, was elected the President of the Senate on June 6, 2007. Before the advent of the present democratic dispensation, he was the minister in charge of communications ministry and its two major parastatals: Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST). While in the ministry, he was quoted as making an uncomplimentary mark, saying ‘telephone is not for the poor, a statement many regarded as antipeople. He belongs to the military class who had held the country by the jugular before the coalition of democratic forces sent the junta out of power on May 29, 1999. Yet, he turned out to be the most beneficiary of the succeeding civilian administration. He only recently bowed out of the Senate, while his daughter takes over as a member of the House of Representatives.
In Lagos State, Mrs Oluremi Tinubu, wife of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, son of Lai Mu- hammed, the immediate past minister of information, Folajimi Muhammed, as well as Senator Musiliu Obanikoro’s son, Ibrahim Babajide Obanikoro, are holding sway in the state. Courtesy of her husband’s position, Senator Remi Tinubu is serving her third term in the Senate as a lawmaker representing Lagos Central Senatorial District.
Babajide Obanikoro now represents Eti-Osa Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. His father had dumped the Tinubu camp about a decade ago to join the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while in the Senate only for him to come back to the fold after the woeful defeat of the PDP in the 2015 general election. In the wake of his reunion, Tunde Rahman, Tinubu’s spokesperson, had said: “He (Obanikoro) said it publicly that he has retraced his steps and come back home. He said when he went astray; he thought Asiwaju would reach out to him, but that now, he has retraced his steps.”
Senator Obanikoro started his political career in 1989 when he was appointed Caretaker Committee Chairman, Su- rulere Local Government on the platform of the National Republican Convention). He was later elected the Chairman, Lagos Island Local Government.
Thereafter, he was appointed the State Commissioner for Home Affairs and Cul- ture in 1999, a position he held four years before he was elected Senator in 2003 to represent Lagos Central on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). He later defected to the People’s Democrat- ic Party (PDP). In April 2007, Obanikoro ran for governor of Lagos State on PDP’s ticket, but lost the election to Babatunde Fashola of the Action Congress (AC). Under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, he was appointed minister of state for defence.
His son had contested chairmanship position of Ikoyi/Obalende Local Council Development Area on two occasions on the platform of the PDP, but lost. Fol- lowing the realignment of his father with Tinubu’s camp in November 2017, Junior Obanikoro dumped the PDP for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in February 2018. Reports have it that Obanikoro traded off his ambition to return to the Senate for his son’s political ambition to go to the House of Representatives.
With advantage of age, Obanikoro junior has already been primed as a key player in Lagos politics.
So also Folajimi Mohammed, son of Lai Mohammed, who has won Ikeja Constituency l in the Lagos State House of Assembly. Apart from being a former minister of information and culture, Lai Muhammed, belongs to the state establishment. He was Tinubu’s Chief of Staff during his first term. In 2002, he took a shot at Kwara State governorship seat on the platform of the AD, but had to beat an immediate retreat following his defeat by the then incumbent Governor Muhammed Alabi Lawal. Prior to his appointment as information minister, he was the Publicity Secretary of All Progressive Congress (APC).
The same scenario is equally playing out in Ogun State where Hon. Olumide Osoba, son of former Governor Olusegun Osoba, made his way back to the House of Representatives. Olumide, a member of the 7th National Assembly, who lost out of the power equations during the tenure of the immediate past governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, once again won the February National As- sembly election to represent Abeokuta North/Odeda/Obafemi-Owode Federal Constituency. He defeated the incumbent, Hon. Micky Kazzim, of the Allied Peoples Movement by polling 33, 538 votes to emerge as the winner of the election. Osoba was in the House from 2011 to 2015 on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.
His father, Aremo Osoba, was elected on two different occasions as Governor of Ogun State first from January 1992 to November 1993 on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He was removed from office by Sani Abacha’s administration on November 17, 1993. In 1999, he was elected again as governor with the Alliance for Democracy party (AD). He lost out to Otunba Gbenga Dan- iel in 2003.
At 80, Osoba is technically out of political circulation, but his self succession scheme has hit the target. The challenge is for Olumide to carry on the banner of his budding political dynasty for him to remain relevant in the politics of Ogun State.
A notable leader of thought in the North, Dr Junaid Muhammed, speaking with Sunday Sun on this development, said that Nigeria might be tending to- wards a monarchy system. “It is a very sad development because democracy is different from a constitutional or ceremonial monarchy. These are ordinary people who come from ordinary background. But because some of them be- long to the establishment, they have taken grip of power and now entrenching themselves in the political system,” he said.
He particularly singled out David Mark, describing him as “a cyclical coup planner and coup maker.” “It was through the coup that he became a governor, through a coup, he became a minister, and, of course, through another coup by Obasanjo, he became the president of the Senate. In all of these, his incompetence is very well known. I dare say that our democracy is doomed if we continue like this. I don’t see the kind of democracy, which encapsulates the rules of law, a measure of merit, and national consensus thriving here. And that is why in the last 20 years, they have not been able to deliver any tangible achievements.
“Even if they won their elections in a credible manner, there is something I call performance legitimacy. Many of them cannot pass performance legitimacy tested,” he said.
Also lamenting, the President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Shet- tima Yerima, said those perpetrating self- succession scheme did not mean well for the country. His words: “It is a clear indication that these people do not mean well. The challenge is up to the Nigerian youths to rise up to the occasion and en- sure that they actively participate in the political process so they will not jeopardize the interest of the younger genera- tion and the interest of the country as a whole.
They will never leave the stage voluntarily; they will bring in their children and children’s children to take over from them. You and I will agree that the country has not made any progress over time. So, it requires collective action of the people of goodwill to take up the challenge and retire these people from the political scene.
“The Not-Too-Young to rule Bill just passed by the National Assembly is a good direction. But one of the chal- lenges we have is that we run a system that is more or less a capitalist system. You need a lot of money to run for elec- tive position. Unfortunately for some of us who don’t have people in power, we find it difficult to muster enough money to participate in election even when we are willing to. But I can assure you that it won’t continue. A time will come when money will no longer count, but good character and integrity,” he said.
He disclosed that effort was already been made to collorate with the relevant stakeholders in the South with a viewing to wresting powers from the old recycled politicians who were holding down the country.
“What we are doing now is to extend hands of fellowship to other parts of the country so that we can harness our resources and capacity to push these recycled politicians out of the political system. We can’t succeed in doing this under the present situation of confusion. Once we establish trust among Nigerians, we will insist on having people of integrity at the helms of affairs.” However, a chieftain of the PDP and former Minister of Transport, Ebenezer Babatope, said that there was nothing wrong in the power game.
He said: “There is no offence in it for as long as those people did not bend the rule to favour their children. Those sons and daughters also have the right to exist on their own outside their fathers. It becomes bad if their parents imposed them on the people. If it is meant to cement their relationship with the people, fine.
“Don’t forget that when Papa Awolowo was alive, Wole Awolowo was a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly and he tried very well. For so long as there is no compulsion or some people trying to bend the rules to suit their own children, there is nothing wrong in it. I think we should applaud it.”
The succession scheme, if allowed to continue, some pundits say, will make it difficult for younger generation, espe- cially those from humble background to actualize their political dreams. (The Sun)