National Assembly members, who failed to win their parties’ tickets for the 2023 elections, are set for a showdown with state governors and their aides.
Findings by our correspondents showed that in states such as Benue, Kebbi, Zamfara, Delta, Ekiti and Ogun, governors or their loyalists defeated incumbent Senators and the House of Representatives members to clinch their parties’ tickets during last month’s primaries.
Many of the National Assembly members have defected to other parties, where they would contest against the governors or their aides, who won the parties’ primaries.
Those who are not contesting are believed to be poised to work against the election of those who denied them of tickets.
The All Progressives Congress National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, had on Wednesday met APC senators as part of moves to halt the planned defection of members of the red chamber.
No fewer than 13 Senators have already dumped the APC for the Peoples Democratic Party and other parties.
In Zamfara State, an APC member of the House Representatives, Kabiru Ahmed, who is representing Gusau/Tsafe Constituency, lost the ticket to Alhaji Sanusi Garba Rikiji, a former Chief of Staff to the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila.
According to sources, Rikiji is close to the state Governor, Bello Mattawale. Ahmed defected to the PDP, where he was given the ticket to re-contest the seat.
In an interview with The PUNCH, Ahmed said because he was cheated by the leadership of the APC, as such, he was left with no option but to defect to PDP in order to actualise his ambition.
“I was cheated by the APC leadership, as such, I decided to change the party and joined the PDP and I thank God that I got the ticket to contest for the same position.”
Another APC House of Representatives, Ahmed Fulani, lost the ticket following the reconciliation between Mattawale and a former Governor of the state, Abdul Aziz Yari. He was replaced by Zubairu Abdulmakik. Fulani defected to the PDP where he would contest the 2023 poll.
In the Kaura-Namoda/Birnin Magaji constituency, the incumbent member, Sani Umar, could not get the ticket to re-contest as he was replaced with Aminu Sani Jaji.
In an interview with The PUNCH, the APC Publicity Secretary, Yusuf Idris, said House of Representatives members who could not get the tickets defected to the PDP even before the primaries.
He stated, “Those members of the House of Representatives who did not get their tickets under the APC had already left the party before the primaries.”
“They refused to participate in the primary and returned to their former party, the PDP where they got the same tickets.”
Okowa’s aides triumph
Three PDP House of Representative members, Mr Nicholas Ossai, Mr Ben Igbakpa and Efe Afe failed to secure tickets to contest the 2023 elections.
Ossai, a third-term member representing Ndokwa/Ukwuani Constituency, was defeated by an aide of the state Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, Mr Nnamdi Ezechi.
Also, Ms Erhiatake Ibori-Suenu, daughter of former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, defeated Igbakpa to pick the PDP ticket.
Afe of the Uvwie/Okpe constituency lost to immediate past Commissioner for Water Resources, Evelyn Obiri.
Speaking to one of our correspondents, Ezechi promised to work hard to win the general election,
Efforts to reach Nicholas Ossai and Ben Igbakpa failed as calls put across to them were not responded to as of the time of filing this report.
In Ekiti State, one senator and four House of Representatives members lost their bid to return to their positions following last month’s primaries.
It was gathered that some of those who won the National Assembly primaries were close to the governor.
Some of the National Assembly members who lost have, have resolved to seek legal redress to challenge the elections.
The APC Senator representing Ekiti North Senatorial District, Olubunmi Adetumbi, was defeated by Cyril Fasuyi, the Director General of the party’s governorship candidate, Abayomi Oyebanji, who won last Saturday’s poll in the state.
Also, Peter Owolabi ((APC Ekiti North Federal Constituency 1) was defeated in his return ticket bid by Mr Akin Rotimi, a former Senior Special Assistant on Strategic Communications to the state Governor Kayode Fayemi.
However, nothing has been said about the ticket for Ekiti Central Federal, Mrs Omowumi Ogunlola’s constituency, which was contested by her, Biodun Omoleye, former Chief of Staff to Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi and Mr Dele Phillips.
However, state Publicity Secretary, Segun Dipe, in an interview with The PUNCH, said Fayemi did not grab the party’s National Assembly tickets. He said “Those who won and those who lost are governor’s men and governor’s women.
“So, I don’t know how on earth anybody will think the governor will be interested in collecting tickets from somebody who is with him and give it to somebody who is with him. People will just come with conjectures.
“I think people should just allow our internal democracy to work out. At every stage of our election or process, people will always go ahead to make permutations, but they should just allow us to do things our way and stop all these concerns especially if they are not APC members.
“I don’t think any APC member will say that Senator Adetumbi is not Fayemi’s man or that Cyril Fasuyi is Fayemi’s man more than him. I don’t think anybody will say Wumi Ogunlola is not Fayemi’s woman or that anybody is Fayemi’s man or woman than anybody,” he said.
Prominent APC members in Kano State, including a former governor and incumbent Senator, Ibrahim Shekarau; a former member of the House of Representatives, Abdulmumini Jibrin and an ex-presidential aide, Kawu Sulaiman defected to the New Nigeria Peoples Party where they will contest National Assembly elections.
Following the APC leaders’ failure to resolve the crisis in the Kebbi State chapter, federal lawmakers, including Senator Adamu Aliero; Senator Yahaya Abdullahi and a member of the House of Representatives, Mohammed Jega, have joined the PDP. Aliero will contest the Kebbi Central Senatorial seat with the state Governor, Atiku Bagudu.
In Benue State, three PDP House of Representatives members lost the party’s tickets.
They are Francis Ottah Agbo representing Ado/Ogbadibo/Okpokwu; Mark Gbilah of Gwer West/Gwer East and Kpam Sokpo of the Buruku constituency.
An APC House of Representatives, Herba Hembe, dumped the party for the Labour Party, where he contested and won the governorship ticket.
He, however, defected to the Labour party where he contested and won the gubernatorial ticket.
But Senator Orker Jev representing Benue North-West failed to seek re-election because Governor Samuel Ortom got the ticket.
The PDP Publicity Secretary, Bemgba Iortyom, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “He (Jev) only exercised his right not to contest because as a party member you have the right to contest and not to contest.”
Jev’s media aide, Samson Yanor, in an interview with The PUNCH, said a zoning arrangement was between two areas of the state; Jemgba and Minda
According to him, the senatorial slot which has been in Jemgba for the past 16 years ought to move back to Minda, hence the senator’s decision.
The Senator representing Kwara Central zone, Dr Ibrahim Oloriegbe, lost the party’s ticket to the Turaki of Ilorin, Alhaji Saliu Mustapha.
Oloriegbe said that he accepted his defeat by Mustapha which he attributed to the wish of Allah.
In Plateau State, all the three incumbent senators will not return to the National Assembly.
While the Senator representing Plateau North, Istifanus Gyang, who was elected on the platform of the PDP failed to secure the party’s ticket as he lost to a House of Representatives member, Simon Mwadkwon; the Senator representing Plateau South, Prof.Nora Daduut, who was elected on the platform of the APC did not contest the party’s primary.
The state Governor, Simon Lalong, got the APC’s ticket.
Senator Hezekiah Dimka, representing Plateau Central on the platform of the APC, contested the governorship ticket of the state but lost out.
Out of the eight available House of Representatives seats in the state, only the lawmaker representing Shendam/Mikang/Qua-anpan on the platform of the APC, Komsol Longgap, failed to clinch the party’s ticket.
A member of the House of Representatives representing Illela/Gwadabawa Constituency in Sokoto State, Abdullahi Balarabe Salame, in an interview with The PUNCH, said he had no regret not going back to the National Assembly.
Salame, who is a member of the APC and governorship aspirant, stated, “I joined the race for the governorship primary with belief that every member would be given a level playing field.
“When I and some other aspirants saw how the things were being handled, we complained to the national headquarters of our party but nothing was done.
“On the day of the primary, we held a press conference calling for direct primaries but the leaders of the party never cared.”
Also Senator Ibrahim Gobir, Senator representing Sokoto East, will not return to the Senate.
Gobir lost to Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto, the anointed candidate of the leader of the party in the state, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko.
Also, five out of nine House of Representatives members in Ogun State and all the three senators are not re-contesting their seats. The Senator representing Ogun Central, Ibikunle Amosun, did not contest the APC senatorial primary.
Those who lost their return tickets are Lanre Edun (Abeokuta South), Jimoh Aremu (Egbado-North/Imeko-Afon), Kolawole Lawal (Egbdo South/Ipokia ) and Kolapo Osunsanya ((Ijebu-Ode/Odogbolu/Ijebu-North-East). All of them are APC members. A House of Representatives member, Adekoya Adesegun (PDP Ijebu North/Ijebu-East/Ogunwaterside) also lost the ticket.
While Senator Tolu Odebiyi, Ogun West, was defeated by Senator Olamilekan Adeola, currently representing Lagos West. Lekan Mustapha, Ogun East, was said to have stepped down for a former governor of the state, Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
The Chief of Staff to the state governor, Shuaib Salis, secured the Ogun Central ticket.
It was learnt most of those who won the party’s tickets were loyalists of the state Governor, Dapo Abiodun, while those who lost out were in the camp of his predecessor, Amosun.
Edun had after the primary threatened to challenge the result, describing the exercise which led to the emergence of the current Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Afolabi Afuape, as the party’s candidate as a charade.
Commenting on the political struggle between the governors and the National Assembly members, a political analyst and Media Specialist, at Caleb University, Mr Olawale Adekoya, berated governors, who would contest senatorial seats.
He said, ‘’The trend is dangerous because we have desecrated and abused the parliament. The parliament is the heartbeat of modern democracy. A national assembly is meant for the best brain, that is where the power of scholarship, charisma, intellectualism, and inherent quality must be found. What we have today is that the national assembly has been turned into a retirement ground where old and sick Nigerians are being navigated to spend the rest of their political years. Certain laws should be put in place to checkmate this dangerous trend.
On his part, the Head of Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Prof. Adepoju Tejumaiye, stated, ‘The whole issue revolves around the fact that we don’t have laws. Many of our politicians do not have morals and we don’t do things the right way in this country. If our politicians continue to behave recklessly this way, our democracy will not grow because they like doing things to favour themselves and enslave all of us. We have not seen the end of it’’