A review of the outcomes of party primaries has revealed that dozens of members of the House of Representatives fell at the first hurdle in their reelection bids, as the hands of state governors showed in the shadow elections across Nigeria.
Also, about 28 serving and former governors have acquired tickets for seats in the 10th Senate, further demonstrating the powers that the governors hold over their parties in the states.
Many lawmakers have agreed that the situation was their own creation. The 2022 Electoral Act, specifically, section 84(8) of the law, has eliminated statutory delegates and allowed governors and other strongmen to produce so-called elected delegates who elect party candidates. However, even when statutory delegates were allowed, as was the case prior to the recent amendment of the Electoral Act, governors still controlled the parties and determined who got their parties’ tickets.
Upon resumption after the primaries, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila described the loss suffered by many of his colleagues as a “loss to democracy, to the institution and to the country.” He added: “I am aware that many of our members did not lose their primaries because they were rejected by their constituents.”
For weeks, the federal lawmakers had battled with state governors, the presidency, the attorney general of the federation and political appointees at the federal and state levels.
The battle with the governors started with section 84(2) of the bill which is on direct and indirect primaries. The Progressive Governors Forum, led by Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State, was able to persuade the president to reject the initial bill passed by the National Assembly, which exempted the indirect and consensus mode of primaries. The lawmakers subsequently passed the version suggested by the president and the governors.
Eventually, the president and some of his appointees, including Attorney-General Abubakar Malami, lost out in the power play over section 84(12). The president, governors and their appointees could not vote in party primaries while Mr Malami was forced to drop out of the Kebbi State governorship race because he has to resign to be eligible to participate in the primaries.
After the president rejected the initial bill, and a civil society coalition highlighted errors in the copy transmitted to him, the lawmakers failed to do the needed due diligence to avoid further mistakes, notably, in section 84(8).
The House, alongside the Senate, later made frantic efforts to remedy the error when they passed an amendment to accommodate statutory delegates, but President Muhammadu Buhari refused to sign the amended bill.
“It is necessary to note that the process by which the Electoral Act became law has highlighted valuable lessons we will do well to take cognisance of. These lessons should inform and motivate us to improve the National Assembly’s law-making process,” Mr Gbajabiamila said later while speaking on the chastening experience of his colleagues at the primaries.
Also, during a House session after the primaries, some members could not hide their emotions on the matter. The Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu) who lost in the primaries, was angry with the removal of statutory delegates in the primaries.
Ben Igbakpa (PDP, Delta), who lost his primaries to the daughter of James Ibori, a former Governor of Delta State, raised a point of order on the matter. He urged his colleagues to veto the president on section 84(8). He was subsequently advised by the speaker to move the motion.
But when Mr Igbakpa moved the motion, the Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, who presided over the session, faulted the procedure. According to Mr Wase, a motion—as advised by the speaker—was not sufficient to override a bill. Rather, the motion should reintroduce the bill for consideration.
Clearly, the lawmakers won some battles on the Electoral Act but they lost the war as many lost the ticket of their parties while some had to join other political parties to be able to seek reelection.
The use of small political parties as political sanctuary is not new. PREMIUM TIMES had highlighted how lawmakers exploit a lacuna in the constitution to move from one party to the other.
The Northwest zone, an APC stronghold, has been the worst affected by the phenomenon of lawmakers not being able to secure their parties’ tickets to return to the National Assembly. APC controls Kano, Kebbi, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano and Zamfara while the PDP controls Sokoto State. Except for Zamfara State, the governors are serving their second term.
In Katsina State, eight lawmakers will not be returning to the House on the platform of the ruling party. These include Fatuhu Muhammadu, a nephew of President Buhari. Only four incumbents got return tickets on the platform of the APC.
Following the primaries, three lawmakers defected to the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). Leading the pack of the defectors is the member representing the Malumfashi/Kafur federal constituency of Governor Aminu Masari, Babangida Talau. The other two are Armayau Kado, representing Kurfi/Dutsin Ma, and Aminu Ashiru of Mani/Bindawa constituency.
In Kebbi State, several members of the House also lost out as Governor Abubakar Bagudu, who is seeking to move to the Senate, tightened his hold on the structure of the party.
Three members, Muhammad Jega, Umar Abdulahi and Muhammad Bello, are not returning to the House on the platform of the APC. In the aftermath of the APC primaries in the state, Messrs Jega and Abdulahi joined former Governor Adamu Aliero and former Senate Majority Leader, Abdulahi Yahaya, in dumping the party for the PDP.
In Jigawa State, four members of the House will not be returning on the platform of APC. Mohammed Faggen, Shittu Gilabi, Muhammad Gudeji and Sani Kiri are missing from the list sent by APC to INEC.
Mr Gudeji, known for his comic exploits on the floor of the House, has moved to the ADC. To stem the defections from the ruling party in the state, Governor Badaru inaugurated a 27-man committee to explore reconciliation.
Similarly, in Kano State, Governor Umar Ganduje was accused of imposing candidates on the APC. As a result, several members moved to the NNPP in pursuit of tickets.
Mr Ganduje’s son, Umar, got the ticket for Dawakin Tofa/Rimingado/Tofa federal constituency, forcing the incumbent, Tijjani Jobe, to seek refuge in the NNPP. Sha’aban Sharada, the lawmaker representing Kano Municipal, lost the governorship primaries, allowing Mr Ganduje’s former Commissioner for Special Duties, Muntari Yakasai, to take the House ticket. Kabir Rurum, the Chairman House Committee on Pension, and Haruna Dederi, who represents Karaye federal constituency, also moved to the NNPP.
In Zamfara State, after a long struggle within the party between Governor Bello Matawalle and the duo of former governor Abdulaziz Yari and former senator Kabir Marafa, an amicable solution was found using the National Assembly seats.
Messrs Yari and Marafa got Senate tickets, while tickets for the House were also used to cement the new political settlement.
The National Assembly contingents emerged under the PDP in 2019 after the Supreme Court disqualified the winning APC candidates due to the party not conducting valid primaries. However, Mr Matawalle decamped to the APC in 2021 alongside the members of the National Assembly.
All the members that decamped with Mr Metawalle did not get return tickets, as six out of the seven candidates of the party emerged unopposed. Only Mura/Bungudu federal constituency was contested, where Malik Zanna got the ticket.
The former Chief of Staff to Mr Gbajabiamila, Sanusi Rikiji, also got the APC ticket for Gusau/Tsafe federal constituency.
In Sokoto State, even though the PDP is the ruling party, it has only three out of the 11 seats of the state in the House of Representatives. Ex-governor Aliyu Wamakko is the leader of the APC in the state.
In the aftermath of the primaries, two APC lawmakers, Yusuf Kurdula of Tangaza/ Gudu federal constituency and Balarabe Salame of Iiiela/Gwadabawa federal constituency, defected to PDP.
Mr Salame left after he lost the APC governorship primary. It is unclear why Mr Kurdula left.
Mr Tambuwal and his predecessor, Mr Wamakko, are believed to have influenced the winners of their party’s primaries. Both of them are senatorial candidates.
Unlike his other colleagues, Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai is not contesting the senatorial election. But he had a say on who is running for the National Assembly. His son, Bello, got the APC ticket for Kaduna North federal constituency while the incumbent, Samaila Suleiman, moved to the PDP and got the ticket.
In Kwara State, four of the six House of Reps members, Ahmed Ndakene, Tijanni Ismail, Abdulganiyu Olododo and Alajagusi Sodiq, failed to get return tickets to the House.
Mr Olododo is now running for governor on the platform of the Social Democratic Party in the state.
In Niger State, four APC reps will also not return to the House. They are Saidu Umar of Shiroro/Rafi/ Munya, Suleiman Lado of Gurara/Suleja/Tafa, Shehu Beji of Boso/Paikoro and Umar Bago of Chanchaga, who got the governorship ticket of the APC.
In Benue State, Mark Gbillah was defeated in the PDP primaries but moved to the Labour Party and got the senatorial ticket for Benue North-west District. He will be facing Governor Samuel Ortom of the PDP and former governor George Akume of the APC and others in the election for the seat.
Herman Hembe, who picked the governorship ticket of the Labour Party, will also not be returning to the House. Kpam Sokpo of Buruku federal constituency did not get a ticket while Aida Ogwuche, a former Senior Assistant to Governor Ortom, defeated incumbent Francis Agbo to clinch the PDP ticket for Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo federal constituency.
In Nasarawa State, Jonathan Gaza, who recently decamped to the APC, did not get a return ticket for the Karu/Keffi federal Constituency, same for Abubakar Saidu of Lafia federal constituency, who failed to clinch the ticket of the APC.
In Plateau State, only Simon Mwadkwon of Barkinladi/Riyom federal constituency did not get a return ticket.
In the FCT, perhaps due to the lack of an elected chief executive, Hassan Usman and Micha Jiba got the PDP tickets to recontest their seats.
In Borno State, most of the lawmakers got return tickets. The Chief Whip of the House, Mohammed Monguno, got the senatorial ticket of his party to fill the seat left by Suleiman Kyari, who resigned to become the APC Deputy Chairman (North). Also, Haruna Michela will not return to the House on the platform of the APC.
Most lawmakers from Yobe got return tickets, except Zakariyya Galadima of Nanagere/Potiskum federal constituency who was defeated in the primaries by Fatimah Talba.
In Adamawa State, Governor Adamu Fintiri is seeking to cement his hold on the state and expand the presence of the PDP in the National Assembly. Only four Reps are members of the PDP, while the other four belong to the APC.
Abdulrasak Namdas, the chairman of the House Committee on Army, lost the APC governorship primary election to Aishatu Dahiru (Binani) and will not be returning to the House. Also, Gideon Goroki and Abdulrauf Madibi did not get return tickets.
In Gombe State, four out of six lawmakers got return tickets. Yaya Tongo of Kwami/Funakaye/Gombe federal constituency and Yunusa Abubakar of Yamaltu/Deba federal constituency, both of the APC, are not returning. Instead, Shaibu Umar Galadima got the ticket for Yamaltu/Deba and Abubakar Gaidam for Kwami/Funakaye/Gombe federal constituency.
In Taraba State, Kwewum Shawulu who represents Donga/Ussa/Takum federal constituency did not get the PDP ticket. Baido Tijos of Lau/K/Lamido/Ado-Kola and David Abel of Gashaka/Kurmi/Sardauna also lost out in PDP.
Similarly, the former Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara will not be coming to the House.
In Abia State, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, like most of his colleagues, is seeking a Senate seat after eight years at the helm of affairs in his state. He will seek to curtail the expansion of the APC in the state led by ex-governor Uzor Kalu. In 2019, Mr Kalu broke the stronghold of the PDP by securing his senatorial and two Reps seats.
Also, there is former Governor Theodore Orji who has secured a senatorial ticket, while his son, Chinedu Orji, has taken a Reps’ ticket of the PDP.
Sam Onuigbo failed in his quest to move to the Senate as he was defeated at the APC primaries for Abia Central. Nkole Ndukwe also lost the PDP primary for Abia North senatorial district. He was defeated by a former senator, Mao Ohuabuwa.
Also, Uzoma Abonta, a veteran in the House, failed to clinch a return ticket this time.
In Enugu State, the deputy minority leader, Toby Okechukwu, as well as Patrick Asadu and Dennis Amadi also lost out in the PDP primaries in Enugu State.
In Ebonyi State, most serving members are of the PDP. However, the party is in turmoil in the state. Two members of the House, Sylvester Ogbaga and Edwin Nwonu, lost the governorship primaries to Obinna Ogba.
Also, in Imo State, the outcome of the PDP primaries did not favour incumbent reps. Bede Eke failed to clinch the ticket for Okpala/Aboh Mbaise federal constituency, Henry Nwawuba withdrew from the race in Ikeduru/Mbaitoli, while Jerry Alagbaso was defeated.
Pascal Obi was disqualified by the APC for buying two forms.
In Delta State, the former Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, did not participate in the PDP primaries, but Nicholas Ossai and Ben Igbakpa lost in their own primaries.
In Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike is the supreme leader of the PDP and he decides who gets what in the PDP. Farah Dagogo, a member of the House, wanted to run in the PDP governorship primaries but was not allowed to do so. He was instead detained for 62 days on allegations of sponsoring cultists.
Also, Nnam Obi, Ken Chikere, Chinwe Igwe and Gogo Bright all failed to get PDP return tickets.
In Cross River State, Daniel Asuquo defected to the Labour Party to contest for a senatorial seat after losing at the PDP governorship primaries.
In Akwa-Ibom, Luke Onofiok got a return ticket after withdrawing from the PDP governorship primaries. Ifon Eket, Emmanuel Udo, Ikong Okon, Henry Achibong and Enyong Okon, who are also PDP members, are not returning to the House.
In Edo State, Sergius Ogun and Joseph Edionwele did not contest the primaries because of a rotation arrangement in their respective constituencies. Joseph Egunma lost his own primaries, while Jude Ise died after getting the ticket of his party.
In Bayelsa State, Obua Fred and Preye Goodluck are not returning to the House on the platform of their respective parties.
In Ekiti State, Peter Owolabi and Olarewaju Kunle of the APC will not be returning to the House. In the neighbouring Ondo State, Adejoro Adegun (APC) also did not get a return ticket from Akoko South-West/South-East federal constituency
In Ogun State, the deputy minority whip, Adesegun Adekoya, lost the PDP primary election but claims to have emerged from a parallel primary.
In the APC, Edun Oladipupo, Jimoh Ojugbele, Jimoh Olaifa, Kolawole Lawal and Osunsanya Korede did not get tickets to return to the House.
In Osun State, PDP renominated all its members. However, in APC, Olufemi Fakeye, Oyewo Oyegbile and Afolabi Olalekan are not returning.
From the Oyo State delegation in the House, Shina Peller moved to the Accord Party after losing the APC Senate primary. Akintola George, Ojerinde Abiodun, Ajao Adejumo and Olatunbosun Boladale are all also missing on the APC list of candidates.
In Lagos State, Adejare Samuel, Kolawole Taiwo, Adebanjo Taiwo, Egberongbe Muftau, Humpe Babatunde, Owolabi Adisa, Jimoh Olajide and Ayinla Yusuf are also missing on the APC list.
Also, there is controversy in Eti-Osa Federal Constituency, where Jide Obanikoro was defeated by Elegushi Oyekanmi. However, there are reports that Mr Oyekanmi withdrew from the race.
However, some of the lawmakers who lost their party primaries have obtained the tickets of some of the ‘small parties.’ For politicians, it is not over until it is over on Election Day.