Nigeria’s political structure is partly built on the premise of godfatherism and in that vein, fall-outs between godfathers-godsons can be common. With the recently concluded Edo State elections being the latest subject of interest, here are five other of such relationships which soured:
George Akume and Samuel Ortom
The rift between George Akume and Samuel Ortom of Benue state began when the latter reshuffled his cabinet and removed members of Akume’s camp. The governor retained four commissioners and seven advisers who were not affiliated with his predecessor.
After 48 hours of sacking the commissioners loyal to Akume, he fired the Executive Chairman of Benue Internal Revenue Service (BIRS), Mrs Mimi Adzape-Orubibi, and his Urban Development Board counterpart, Richard Agwa, who were close associates of Akume.
The crack in their relationship widened when the Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Terkimbi Ikyange, said to be loyal to Akume, was impeached. The development left Akume with eight loyal lawmakers and Ortom with 22. Later, eight lawmakers loyal to Akume served the governor with an impeachment notice. However, this failed after a Makurdi High Court presided over by Justice Theresa Igoche issued an interim order restraining the eight lawmakers from going ahead with their impeachment process against the governor.
Rabiu Kwankwaso and Abdullahi Ganduje
The feud between the former governor, Raniu Kwankwaso and his deputy, Abdullahi Ganduje who succeeded him in 2015 commenced when a 48-hour ultimatum was issued to the governor to put off a ‘red cap’ worn by his predecessor. Before then, the incumbent governor had rejected a parting gift from his godfather. Members of Kwankwanso’s Kwankwasiyya Movement alleged that the red was a trademark of the former governor. Rather than cower, Ganduje dismissed the ultimatum and declared the legal action threatened by the group as “the most laughable, pathetic, clear indication of their ignorance of the law and history of political struggle in Kano.”
His loyalists brought down the structure of Kwankwaso known as Kwankwasiyya Amana and substituted it with Gandujiyya Akida to enable him take full control as the leader of APC Kano State.
The legacies of Kwankwaso, including the group known as Kwankwasiyya, and its symbol of red-cap. He does not want to come to terms with the reality that he is now a senator and not the governor of Kano State. He wants to be dictating to Governor Ganduje
Alhaji Bala Kudu, Special Adviser to Ganduje on Print Media.
Lamidi Adedibu and Rashidi Ladoja
The battle line in Oyo State was drawn between Late Lamidi Adedibu, the kingpin of Ibadan politics and his estranged godson and governor of the state, Rashidi Ladoja. Adedibu claimed to have invested financially in installing the governor, with an agreement that the governor would be a lame chief executive, taking orders from him to subject public resources to his private whims.
However, Ladoja reneged. The State House of Assembly was also polarized among the two divides and this led to the suspension of 14 of the 32 members of the Assembly. Subsequently, Ladoja was impeached in 2006 to pave way for his deputy, Alao Akala, another willing godson, eager to serve the godfather better. Chief Adedibu’s complaint was that he was not getting enough returns from his investments and blamed this on his godson’s uncanny greed.
According to Ladoja, his godfather had requested him to turn over 25 percent of the government’s security vote or N15 million ($115,000) per month. He also refused to allow Adedibu name the Commissioners who would serve in his cabinet.
By August 2005 frictions between Ladoja and Adedibu had escalated. Eighteen out of thirty-two members publicly supported Adedibu in every matter and the legislature ceased to function as a single house. At the end of 2005, the so-called “G-18” of pro-Adedibu lawmakers moved to impeach Governor Ladoja. Their first attempt failed and resulted in an armed uproar on the floor of the State legislature. One pro-Adedibu lawmaker stabbed one of his rivals with a knife and several others were also wounded; some lawmakers reportedly drew firearms and fired into the air to ward off attackers from the opposing camp while the police made no arrests.
One week later, armed policemen escorted the G-18 lawmakers to the State House of Assembly for a second try at moving the impeachment but it evolved into a gun battle between the police and armed thugs supporting Ladoja who sought to prevent the pro-Adedibu legislators from entering the House. At least one civil servant was wounded in the crossfire and the fighting caused panic to spread throughout Ibadan.
Eventually, the G-18 legislators broke into the locked House of Assembly and voted, on their own, to constitute a panel of inquiry to investigate allegations of misconduct including corruption against Ladoja. Three weeks later the G-18 voted unanimously to remove Ladoja from office, replacing him with Deputy Governor and Adedibu loyalist Christopher Alao-Akala.
After Ladoja resumed office in late 2006, the political struggle between the governor and Adedibu resurrected mainly in the streets through regular battles between both gangs. The fights of those groups imposed a heavy toll on ordinary civilians who were subjected to violent crimes and looting. Both Ladoja and Adedibu turned to Oyo State’s chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) as a primary source of political thugs.
Chimaroke Nnamani and Jim Nwobodo
In Enugu, a state in the South-East, one of the past governors of the state, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani rode on the political horseback of Chief Jim Nwobodo who was the Governor of the old Anambra State in the Second Republic from 1979 to 1983. He supported his godson’s governorship ambitions resulting in the latter’s eventual win in 1999. Unfortunately, the godfather-godson relationship did not last for a long time. No sooner had the governor been sworn in than the fall-out occurred. The Enugu State experience is exceptional because in most cases, the godson would be denied a second term by the godfather who had the political clout to do so. In this case, the governor performed remarkably which led to consolidation when the godson won a second term against the godfather’s mandate.
Olusola Saraki and Mohamed Lawal
The ‘O To Ge’ chant meaning ‘enough is enough‘ led to the end of the Bukola Saraki Dynasty in Kwara State. Prior to this, his father, Dr. Olusola Saraki, former Senate leader was caught in a contest for relevance against his former protégé, Mohamed Lawal, a retired Navy Commodore, who was Governor of the state at the time.
Lawal’s days are numbered in the state. We thought he was a man of honour, we thought he was a man of integrity. That was why we gave him the mantle of the governor. Lawal has deceived us. My next governor will make things better. We gave him a blueprint for Kwara development. He did not implement it. I will ensure that someone who would implement our blueprint for Kwara development comes on board. Lawal has disappointed us. In the next four months, I will come up with his successor-
Some vehicles given to people on loan under the state transport scheme for poverty alleviation were attacked and burnt by people said to be working for Saraki. More than 20 vehicles belonging to supporters of the governor were also vandalized in organized violence in the state.
Mohammed Lawal was quick to give a rebuttal saying,
I have been avoiding the situation where I would have to denounce Saraki’s political leadership. But I am disappointed to find out that he is the brain behind current political violence in Ilorin. I can no longer associate myself with a destroyer of wealth and good legacies. In the last 30 years of his political leadership, people have not felt his impact, he didn’t create any industry, rather, he is only interested in the legacies of other people. I cannot associate myself with his leadership any longer. As from today, I denounce him as my political mentor. The time has come for me to make this decision and declaration in view of recent political events in the state.
This fallout led to the ascension of Saraki’s son, Bukola Saraki who defeated Lawal in the 2003 gubernatorial elections.