Truncation of an elected political office holder’s mandate is the blackest of all political black stomach, to transliterate the Hausa phrase bakin ciki. Election tribunals, courts, political parties and State Assemblies have been truncating political mandates in Nigeria since 1981. Probably none of them surpassed in sheer black stomach what happened to former Governor-elect David Lyon of Bayelsa State last Thursday. Lyon had already rehearsed for his inauguration the next day. He rode in an open Land Rover and inspected a parade rehearsal; had rehearsed his lines for the oath-taking; and had carefully rehearsed his speech as well.
Quite likely, Lyon had prepared radio announcements sacking some people, appointing other people, quashing some policies and ordering some things to be done with immediate effect. The rehearsal was in vain; the Supreme Court quashed his mandate on the grounds that his deputy forged his names, ordered INEC to recalculate the election results and determine a new winner. The following day, INEC issued a Certificate of Return to Douye Diri, who rushed back to Yenagoa and took the oath of office while Lyon’s supporters were rioting in the streets.
The shock affair reminded me of Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, current Minister of Science and Technology. We interviewed him in 2013 when he was ANPP national chairman, and I asked him about the events of 1999, when he won APP’s presidential ticket in Kaduna, only for his party to adopt AD’s presidential candidate Chief Olu Falae. Onu laughed heartily at the question and said, “My brother, it is something that you do not wish to happen even to your enemy.”
I am still trying to decide if what happened to Lyon was less or more painful than what happened to former Imo State governor Emeka Ihedioha. Many Nigerians will say that Ihedioha’s bitter pill was slightly less painful than Lyon’s because he at least “tasted” the governorship for eight months. In another sense though, the Ihedioha damage was probably worse because he had already appointed commissioners and other aides, had demolished some structures and had molested former governor Rochas Okorocha and his family members. Ihedioha was also getting used to having the treasury at his beck and call, people genuflecting at his approach, people laughing at his every joke no matter how flat, and to rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty at numerous Abuja meetings.
Lyon should take consolation in that he was preceded by Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris, Kogunan Gusau, in swallowing this pill. Koguna became APC’s Zamfara State governorship candidate, however controversially, and had won the election, however improbably. As he waited for inauguration day, Supreme Court quashed Zamfara APC’s entire list of election candidates and awarded all the seats to PDP. It was due to no fault of Koguna; he reaped from his boss, former Governor Abdulaziz Yari’s political excesses.
Before Koguna, under different circumstances, there was Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri who became Acting Governor of Adamawa State in 2014 upon Governor Murtala Nyako’s Jonathan-engineered impeachment. Fintiri was settling in to serve out Nyako’s term when the courts ruled that Nyako’s deputy Bala Ngilari was improperly impeached and should assume the mantle. Fintiri’s anguish only ended last year when he was elected the governor. In 2014 too, Acting Taraba State governor Garba Umar UTC suffered Fintiri’s fate when the Supreme Court said ailing [now late] governor Danbaba Suntai’s deputy Sani Abubakar Danladi was wrongly impeached and should be the acting governor. In 2007, Dame Virgy Etiaba in Anambra tasted the same bitter fruit when courts truncated her acting governorship and restored impeached governor Peter Obi. They did the same to Bayo Akala in Oyo.
Ihedioha’s bitter pill was swallowed in 2007 by Celestine Omehia of Rivers, who was governor for three months before Supreme Court ruled that Rotimi Amaechi was the proper PDP candidate. At least Omehia was on the seat for three months; Anambra’s Andy Ubah ruled for only two weeks in 2007 before Supreme Court said Peter Obi’s tenure had not ended.
Political black stomach also defined governors who could not secure second terms in office. In 2019 alone, M. A. Abubakar of Bauchi and Muhammed Jibrilla Bindow of Adamawa had this bitter taste. They should be consoled because years earlier, Ekiti State governors Ayo Fayose and Kayode Fayose each failed to secure a second term. Both men however bounced back later; Fayose took over from Fayemi in 2014, only for Fayemi to take over from Fayose in 2018. Zamfara’s Mamuda Shinkafi also lost his second term bid in 2011 but is yet to bounce back.
Then there were PDP governors who were ousted by the courts after ruling for a few months. They included Dr. Olusegun Agagu of Ondo; Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun; Chief Segun Oni of Ekiti and Prof Oserheimen Osunbor of Edo. None of them ever bounced back. Other governors’ tenures were truncated by impeachment. They were D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa, Joshua Dariye of Plateau, Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo and Fayose. Of them, Dariye and Ladoja bounced back through the Supreme Court. Chinwoke Mbadinuju of Anambra was denied his party’s return ticket in 2003.
In 2003, many ANPP, AD and one PDP governor lost their second term bids. They were Abubakar Audu of Kogi, Admiral Mohammed Lawal of Kwara, Abubakar Habu Hashidu of Gombe, Segun Osoba of Ogun, Lam Adesina of Oyo, Adebayo Adefarati of Ondo and Bisi Akande of Osun. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso of Kano was the only PDP governor who lost in 2003, only to bounce back in 2011.
The bitter pill was also swallowed by 30 Third Republic state governors whose four-year tenure was truncated by the Abacha coup of November 1993. Three of them managed to bounce back in 1999, namely Audu in Kogi, Bukar Abba Ibrahim in Yobe and Jolly Nyame in Taraba. In the Second Republic too, some governors’ mandate was truncated in December 1983 after only three months in office. They were Lawal Kaita of old Kaduna State, Sabo Bakin Zuwo of old Kano State, Asheik Jarma of old Borno State, Bamanga Tukur of old Gongola State, Cornelius Adebayo of old Kwara State, Dr. Omolulu Olunloyo of old Oyo State, C.C. Onoh of old Anambra State, Samuel Ogbemudia of old Bendel State and Don Etiebet of old Cross River State.
One final one was Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, the first and only Second Republic governor to be impeached in 1981, after less than two years in office. No black stomach is blacker than having a governorship tenure truncated.
Update on grand old emirs
Last week, when I wrote about the Emir of Zazzau’s 45 years on the throne and listed some long-reigning Northern emirs and chiefs, I received dozens of messages drawing my attention to one mistake and many omissions. Etsu Nupe Usman Saraki was deposed in 1968, not post 1975 as I erroneously indicated.
Serious omissions include Emir of Kwatarkashi in Zamfara State Alhaji Ahmadu Umar, on the throne since 1961; Chief of Moro’a Malam Tagwai Sambo, reigning for 54 years; Kpok Ham Danladi Gyet Maude, 45 years; Emir of Jama’are Ahmadu Muhammadu Wabi, 49 years; Emir of Ningi Yunusa Muhammadu Danyaya, 42 years; Emir of Kazaure Najib Hussaini Adamu, 22 years; Emir of Ringim Sayyadi Mahmud, 20; Emir of Gumel Ahmad Sani, 38 years; Emir of Dutse Nuhu Sanusi, 20 years; and Ohinoyi of Igbirra Ado Ibrahim, 22 years.
Former long-reigning emirs and chiefs include Etsu Bassa Nge Adama Lerama, over 30 years; Emir of Fika Muhammadu ibn Idrissa, 54 years; Ohimege of Koton Karfe Shu’aibu Mamman Lafiya, 42 years; Ohinoyi of Igbirra Sani Omolori, 43 years; Emir of Misau Muhammadu Manga, 35 years; and Gbong Gom Jos Malam Fom Bot, 32 years. The late Emir of Gombe Shehu Usman Abubakar reigned for 29 years while his father, Abubakar reigned for 49 years. The current, youthful Emir of Gombe, five years on the throne, is one of the North’s most popular emirs due to his intense focus on education and rehabilitation of street children.