Nigeria’s political landscape is brewing with storms pitting governors against their deputies and ‘new’ political parties contending with the big shots.
One of such governor versus deputy crisis case is in Ondo State, between Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, another in Edo State, between Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, also between Former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso and his former deputy, Abdullahi Ganduje.
In Rivers State, the political rift is between Governor Siminalayi Fubara and former governor Nyesom Wike.
The political cauldron simmers with tension in 2023, fueled by five major battles that grip the nation. Here’s a glimpse into the power struggles:
Akeredolu vs Aiyedatiwa
The Ondo crisis began in June 2023 when Governor Akeredolu travelled abroad for medical treatment. In his absence, he transferred power to Aiyedatiwa, as stipulated by the constitution.
However, upon his return in September, tensions arose. Akeredolu was accused of sidelining Aiyedatiwa and refusing to fully hand back power, leading to speculation of a rift.
The simmering conflict boiled over in July when the Ondo State House of Assembly initiated impeachment proceedings against Aiyedatiwa, citing financial mismanagement and abuse of office. Aiyedatiwa denied the allegations, asserting they were politically motivated.
However, with support from President Bola Tinubu and intervention from party (All Progressive Congress) elders, the impeachment was averted. A fragile truce followed, but the underlying tension still threatens stability in the state.
Obaseki vs Shaibu
Edo state presents a unique twist on the deputy vs. governor trope. Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, once staunch allies, have fallen out spectacularly. Public spats, accusations of disloyalty, and political maneuvering mark their clash.
Shaibu’s alleged ambition for the 2024 governorship further complicates the picture. Can their once-harmonious relationship be salvaged or is Edo headed for a major political showdown?
Wike vs Fubara
In Rivers State, the conflict stemed from a long-standing power struggle between Governor Fubara and his predecessor, Wike, who now serves as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory.
While they were allies during Wike’s governorship, their relationship soured after Fubara’s emergence as his successor.
The public feud erupted in October 2023 when Wike accused Fubara of “betrayal” and attempting to undermine his legacy. He also expressed dissatisfaction with the running of the state.
Wike’s supporters, including several lawmakers in the Rivers State House of Assembly, defected to the All Progressives Congress in a show of solidarity. This triggered tension and fears of political violence in the oil-rich state.
Kwankwaso vs Ganduje
The political rift between Abdullahi Ganduje and Rabiu Kwankwaso in Kano state, as former governors and the former being a deputy governor to the latter, is a complex and long-standing issue that has affected the stability and unity of the All Progressives Congress and the New Nigeria People’s Party in Nigeria.
The rift reportedly started when Kwankwaso lost his second term bid for governor in 2007 and was appointed as Minister of Defence by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Ganduje, who was his loyal deputy, remained with him until 2011, when they both joined the APC and contested for governorship. They won the election and formed a coalition government, but their relationship soon deteriorated over various issues such as appointments, policies, loyalty, and succession.
Some of the major events that have marked the rift between Ganduje and Kwankwaso include:
– The demolition of a shopping complex around the New Daula Hotel in Kano by incumbent Governor Abba Yusuf’s administration on the directive of Kwankwaso.
– The allegation by Kwankwaso that Ganduje was involved in a N500 million bribery scandal involving a contractor who was awarded a road project in Kano.
– The court case filed by Kwankwaso against Ganduje over his alleged involvement in land grabbing and corruption during his tenure as governor.
The political rift between Ganduje and Kwankwaso has also affected their supporters and followers, who have been divided along party lines. Some of them have staged protests and rallies against each other, while others have tried to reconcile them. However, despite several meetings and interventions by President Bola Tinubu, Governor Yusuf, former President Obasanjo, and other influential figures, the rift has not been resolved. It remains one of the major challenges facing the APC and NNPP at both national and state levels.
Peter Obi: The “Third Force” Rises
Beyond traditional party squabbles, the rise of Peter Obi under the Labour Party presents a new, intriguing battleground. Riding a wave of youth support (called Obidients) and disenchantment with established parties, Obi challenged the dominance of the APC and PDP in the 2023 presidential election. Can the “third force” disrupt the old guard or will it fade into political oblivion?
Beyond traditional party squabbles, the rise of Peter Obi under the Labour Party presents a new, intriguing battleground. Riding a wave of youth support and disenchantment with established parties, Obi challenged the dominance of the APC and PDP in the 2023 presidential election. Can the “third force” disrupt the old guard or will it fade into political oblivion?
Obi, a businessman and former governor of Anambra State, in May 2022, became the Labour Party nominee for President of Nigeria in the 2023 presidential election. He left the Peoples Democratic Party in May 2022 after being its vice presidential candidate in 2019.
Obi attracted many young voters who made up a third of registered voters in Nigeria. They are known as Obidients, short for Obi’s supporters. They are mostly urban under-30s who refer to themselves as the “Coconut-head generation”, because they are strong-willed, independent-minded and contemptuous of older politicians who, they say, have done little for them.
Obi has also gained popularity among some Nigerians who are dissatisfied with the performance of both APC and PDP. The main opposition PDP has also faced internal divisions, defections and allegations of rigging by its opponents.
Obi campaigned on a platform of alleged good governance, accountability, transparency and social justice.
The future of the effects of these political battles remain uncertain. In Ondo, the fragile truce could give way to renewed hostilities; in Rivers, the defections and escalating tensions raise concerns about political instability and potential violence; in Edo, the flag bearer of the PDP is yet undecided; in Kano, the Supreme Court has recently reserved its judgement in an appeal concerning the governorship election that produced governor Yusuf, which keeps his governorship seat uncertain; while the true effect of the rising Labour Party is yet to be seen, as the party has promised to contest in the 2027 general elections once again.
With off-cycle elections approaching in 2024 in Ondo and Edo, and a recent controversial agreement signed by Rivers Governor, Fubara, these simmering crises cast a dark cloud over the political landscape in the southern region. It remains to be seen whether dialogue and compromise can prevail or if these storms erupt into full-blown political maelstroms.
These four battles, including the intriguing ‘Obidients’ movement dynamic, reveal the complex web of power struggles, personal ambitions, and ideological clashes shaping Nigeria’s political landscape. As the nation navigated a crucial election year, the outcome of these battles will have a significant impact on the country’s future.
Whether the simmering tensions erupt into full-blown crisis or a spirit of compromise prevails remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: Nigerian politics in 2023 has been a spectacle.