– Some ex-governors in Nigeria have the same influence as incumbent state chief executives
– This is due to years of hard work, building strong political structures, and grooming younger politicians
– A compilation of these political juggernauts indicates a steady pattern of loyal supporters, cult-like followership, and natural love
There are politicians and there are political god-fathers who have the rare ability to maintain a viable political movement that will last decades, no matter the political climate.
In Nigeria, such political godfathers exist and they command respect, power, and loyalty even years after they exited from office.
These political juggernauts have mastered the art of staying relevant since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999.
Legit.ng lists 6 of these politicians and how they have maintained a stronghold on the political activities in their respective states.
1. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
Tinubu is a classic example of a cat with nine lives. A master-strategist, the former governor of Lagos is widely regarded as the governor-emeritus of the southwest state.
When the wind of change blew across the region in 2003 and took away 5 Alliance for Democracy governors, Tinubu stood firm, braced the odds, and more importantly, launched a comeback using his influence in Lagos as a springboard to bring back the states to the progressives, albeit under both the Action Congress of Nigeria and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Tinubu has practically installed 3 governors since he left office in 2007, and when one of them tried to rock the boat, the Jagaban Borgu mobilised his ‘boys’ to show him the way out.
2. Chief James Onanefe Ibori
Ibori is not your everyday politician. It is difficult to find anyone in politics who can match his very stronghold on the apparatus of power in the oil-rich Delta state. While Tinubu has had some of his lieutenants rebel against him, Ibori has had a smooth ride since 1999.
While in prison in London, many political analysts predicted the fall of his political empire, but it turned out to be a blessing. Ibori’s boys did not waiver, instead, they paid homage to him at every given opportunity.
Many say his staying power is his ability not to interfere with the day-to-day running of government. That way, he has avoided unnecessary bickering with the state chief executive at all times. If there is any politician who has paid his dues, the Oghara-born high chief should be number one on the list.
3. Emeka Ihedioha
He spent roughly 8 months in office, but Ihedioha is like a tin-god in Imo state. The last time he visited the state, it was chaotic scenes from the airport to his private home in the state capital. A former federal lawmaker, Ihedioha is one politician who has tasted power both at the federal and state level, but his humility is second to none.
In Imo, the people practically worship him. Even outside power, Ihedioha commands huge respect among the populace and many are already counting down to 2024 when he is expected to be on the ballot of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state’s governorship poll.
If there is anything that gives Ihedioha an edge in Imo politics, it is the fact that, unlike his rivals, he does not need to spend money to get the people to love him. They take to him naturally and he has become a rallying point for the people, yearning for genuine change.
4. Bukola Saraki
Politicians like ‘Oloye’ are rare. A man who filled the big shoes of his father and took the family name a notch higher should be celebrated at all times. And of course, the people of Kwara know this. Little wonder, they give him a befitting welcome when he visited the state recently.
At 57, Saraki has seen it all. Presidential aide, two-term governor, Governors Forum chairman, Senate committee chairman on the environment, and Senate president. The name Saraki has remained relevant for more than three decades in Nigeria’s politics.
Whether in or out of power, the medical doctor turned politician, has shown that you don’t force the people to love you, they will be loyal to you even in the good and bad times if you identify with them. For Saraki, it is a case of solid political staying power and it is not fading anytime soon.
5. Rabiu Kwankwaso
There is no politician in northern Nigeria who has the kind of following Kwankwaso commands today. Whether in his home state of Kano, the trailer parks in Auchi, or the large markets in Aba, Kwankwaso has a cult-like following that can only be compared to the late Mallam Aminu Kano.
Wherever he goes, it is a sea of red caps – the identity of his followers. All across the major sectors of northern Nigeria and beyond, there is a loyalist of the Kwankwasiya movement who benefitted from his unrivalled philanthropy which indicates that the former governor’s populist-policies have opened doors for millions of Nigerians.
6. Sule Lamido
72-year old Sule Lamido is one of the few conscientious politicians of his generation still around today. A no-nonsense man, Lamido’s claim to fame is his undying love for the down-trodden in society and he has shown it severally in his deeds and actions.
Lamido speaks his mind at all times no matter whose ox is gored and he has gained massive popularity for this. His followership is huge and even outside the office.
He continues to command a large following of foot soldiers who are not moved by the trappings of power but swayed by the decency their political leader portrays in politics.
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