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Governors and Their Senatorial Ambitions – By Arnold A. Alalibo

Chimaroke Nnamani, ex-gov of Enugu

Chimaroke Nnamani, ex-gov of Enugu

By Arnold A. Alalibo | NNP | July 3, 2013 – The ambition of some state governors to retire to the senate at the expiration of their tenures in 2015 is causing political tension in the affected states. At the last count, over 10 of such governors are currently scheming to pick their parties’ senatorial tickets in their districts, a development that has pitched the present occupants and some aspirants, who have sworn to frustrate such moves hence heightening the political tension in their domains.

In the South, for instance, the alleged senatorial ambitions of Governors Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom , Liyel Imoke of Cross River,Theodore Orji of Abia and Sullivan Chime of Enugu States are causing uproar. Others in the North include Murtala Nyako of Adamawa, Ibrahim Shema of Katsina, Aliyu Wamako of Sokoto, Babangida Aliyu of Niger, Sule Lamido of Jigawa and Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano States.

Why has the Senate become the beautiful bride of state governors? Since the inception of democracy in 1999, the upper chamber of the National Assembly has carved a reputation for attracting highly respected Nigerians like retired military administrators, ministers, retired governors and politicians. But what is worrisome is why second term governors who seek relevance now use the senate to preserve their political career and keep it alive.

Wherever parliamentary democracy is practised, the senate is held in high regard. It is not a place for those who lack dignity or ambience. It is also not a place for mediocrities. Unfortunately, here in Nigeria it has become a haven for all manner of corrupt politicians whose records are tainted with corrupt practices and those who have questions to answer before anti-graft agencies in the country.

For instance, former Plateau State governor, Joshua Dariye,was arrested in London in 2004 for money laundering. He allegedly jumped bail and returned to the country to continue his gubernatorial functions. Today, he is a senator. There are many other ex-governors-turned Senators who have cases to clear with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC). Till date, none of their cases has been concluded. Rather they use their positions as senators to obstruct investigations.

It is indeed sad that retired governors who lack credentials of performance have invaded the upper chamber. Some of them, out of desperation, go dangerously far to dump their political parties upon which platforms they were elected governors for other parties to clinch their senatorial tickets. Because of the influence the governors wield, they are given the ticket unopposed.

The massive influx of retiring governors to the National Assembly is an indication that they seek the position not for the development they will attract to their people or the quality representation they will make on their behalf but for personal aggrandisement. Exiting governors that do not contest for senatorial position either have strong opposition back home or are not in the good books of the higher powers that be.

Already, it has been confirmed that 11 former governors are in the current senate. This number is expected to increase in the coming political dispensation. Some of them have gone there thinking that they can wield their despotic powers on the house and influence the affairs of things. The disturbing aspect is that many of them remain as onlookers and bench warmers in the senate while only few of them understand the reason they are there.

The upper chamber has been desecrated. It has become an all-comers affair. The incursion of corrupt governors to the senate calls for genuine concern. I am not suggesting that it is wrong for governors to seek out for higher positions after their tenures, particularly if they performed well while serving as governors, but they must subject themselves to the stipulated process of nomination devoid of undue influence and intimidation. Such ambition must be borne out of a genuine desire to serve the people of their senatorial district.

However, there is no guarantee that a governor, who successfully served his tenure must perform well as senator. Some of them are imperceptible and simply pass into oblivion when they realise that they no longer call the shots, but are part of a wider body whose members are equal. Soon it becomes clear that their presence in the National Assembly is for selfish reasons.

If ex-governors, who controlled ‘unlimited’ resources in their states, could not make any meaningful impact while they were governors, why should we expect miracles from them when they are senators?

It is to end the ugly trend where virtually every second term governor wants to end up in the senate that the leadership of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, sometime in February this year, attempted to scuttle the ambition of second term governors elected on its platform from picking the tickets in their districts. Though the move was not realised, it was an indication that the development had assumed unacceptable proportion.

If the National Assembly, especially the senate, must remain sacrosanct and continue to symbolise democracy in the country, this ugly scenario must be checked. If a good number of retired governors go into the senate as they have always wanted, they may form Nigerian Ex-governors Forum there. This will rob the senate of its vibrancy and the needed legislative bite to check the excesses of the executive.

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Posted by on Jul 3 2013. Filed under Arnold Alalibo, Articles, Columnists, NNP Columnists. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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