The Saturday, 25th February Presidential and national assembly elections came with pleasant and unpleasant surprises for Nigerians depending on one’s political leaning, stake or interest.
The election that witnessed the participation of 18 political parties was a keenly contested one between four leading parties which include the ruling All Progressives Congress, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Labour Party (LP), and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
One of the biggest upsets of the election is the loss of senatorial bid by seven incumbent governors who aspire to crossover to the upper chamber after serving two terms of eight years in their respective states.
The governors who lost are Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Darius Ishaku (Taraba), Ben Ayade (Cross River) and Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi).
Governor Ikpeazu, who will be completing his two terms of eight years on 29th May, would have joined the league of ex-governors in the National Assembly, particularly the Senate if had succeeded at the polls last Saturday.
He was trounced at the polls by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, a former Chief Minority Whip, who has been representing Abia South Senatorial District in the red chamber since 2007.
Abaribe who ran on the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), polled 49,903 votes to beat the governor who belongs to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
According to the results announced by the INEC Returning Officer for Abia South National Assembly elections, Prof Georgina Ugwuanyi, the Labour Party candidate, Chinedu Onyeizu, polled 43, 903 votes, while Ikpeazu got 28,422 votes, taking third position.
Ikpeazu, who is one of the aggrieved five PDP governor also known as G-5 governors, had in a message after the news of his defeat in the election, said he has no worries over losing the bid, adding that he is thankful to God for the opportunity to serve eight years as governor.
He said the peace and security of the state is more important to him than his senatorial ambition.
Ortom, who is also a member of the G-5 governors in the PDP, lost the election for the Benue North-west Senatorial seat to his former aide, Titus Zam, of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Mr Zam, who was Ortom’s Special Adviser on Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs from 2015 to 2017, scored 143,151 votes to defeat the governor, who polled 106,882 votes.
Ortom was Minister of State for Trade and Investments during Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. He has been very vociferous, especially about issues of insecurity and herdsmen attacks in parts of his state.
Prior to the election, Ortom openly expressed his support for Peter Obi’s presidential bid despite being in a different political party.
Governor Ugwuanyi will also go down in history as a sitting governor who lost senatorial bid to an opposition, especially in a state where the PDP has dominated party politics since the return of democracy from military rule in 1999.
Ugwuanyi was defeated in the election for Enugu North Senatorial District by Barr Okey Ezea of the Labour Party.
According to the Returning Officer for the election, Chukwuemeka Ubaka, Ezea pollled 104,492 votes to defeat Ugwuanyi of the PDP, who got 46,948 votes.
Ezea had in 2015, contested for Governor on the All Progressives Congress (APC) when Ugwuanyi was elected for the first time as governor.
Ugwuanyi had prior to becoming governor, spent 12 years in the House of Representatives, where he represented Igbo-Eze North/Udenu Federal Constituency in the green chamber.
Ayade has served as governor of Cross River from 2015 till date. The governor who was elected both in 2015 and 2019 on the platform of the PDP, defected to the APC in May 2021, becoming the only governor in the South South to join APC.
The governor was defeated by the incumbent senator representing Cross River North, Jarigbe Agom-Jarigbe of the PDP.
Agom-Jarigbe scored 76,145 votes against Ayade, who polled 56,595 votes.
Ayade was in the Senate between 2011 and 2015. He was also a presidential aspirant on the platform of the APC but lost during the primaries held in June 2021.
The two-term APC governor of Plateau was beaten at the poll by his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rival, Air Vice Marshal Napoleon Bali (rtd).
Bali scored 148,844 votes to defeat Governor Lalong with 91,674 votes.
Lalong who is also the Director General of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), has set a record of being the first two-term governor of the state to fail to make it to the Senate.
His predecessors, Joshua Dariye and Jonah David Jang, were successful in being elected to the Senate.
Atiku Bagudu was defeated by Senator Adamu Aliero in the National Assembly election for Kebbi Central Senatorial District.
Aliero polled 126,588 votes to defeat Bagudu of the APC, who polled 92,389 votes.
Aliero was a member of the APC, but joined the PDP in the build-up of the 2023 election. He was said to have had a disagreement with Governor Badugu over the control of the party’s structure in the state.
Darius Ishaku lost the election for the Taraba South senatorial district to the candidate of the APC, David Jimkuta.
According to the INEC returning officer for the election Prof Solomon Adeyeye, Jimkuta polled 85,415 votes to beat Governor Darius of the PDP who scored 45,708 votes.
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Since 1999 when Nigeria returned to democratic governance, it has beome a somewhat political trend for outgoing governors to seek to move over to the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, usually exploiting their power of incumbency to actualise that.
Not less than 20 ex-governors were elected into the ninth National Assembly as senators in 2019.
Those currently in the National Assembly include Orji Kalu (Abia), Gabriel Suswam (Benue), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Ibrahim Shekarau (Kano), Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa), Kabiru Gaya (Kano), and Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), amongst others.
Interestingly, all of them were in the race to return to the Senate.
Other governors that contested and won in the 2023 senatorial elections include governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, Abubakar Bello (Niger).
That of Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto South Senatorial District, is still pending as INEC declared the three senatorial districts in the state inconclusive.
Former governors who won senatorial seats so far include Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom) and Adams Oshiomhole (Edo).