In US politics, families like the Bushes, Clintons and Kennedys are famed for their varied and extensive years of public service and political experience. Naturally, we thought of this in the Nigerian context and sought a list of families that could be viewed as being dynasties. From the Adeleke’s to the Yar’Adua’s to the Saraki’s, here’s an overview of some of our most prominent political families.
Popstar Davido has famously boasted of having “30 billion for the bank” and being the “omo baba olowo” reflective of the wealth wielded by his father and family, at large. Members of his family are deeply rooted in politics. His grandfather, Raji Ayoola Adeleke was a labour activist from Ede, Osun serving as the Vice President of the United Labour Congress of Nigeria and Senator for Osun II district between 1979 and 1983 while his uncle, Isiaka Adeleke, was Osun’s first civilian governor from January 1992 to November 1993 under the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). A two-time Senator, he would go on to serve on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun State from 2007 to 2011 and then under the banner of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015.
When Senator Adeleke passed away unexpectedly in 2017, his younger brother Ademola Adeleke who would come to be known for his dancing skills sought to replace him. However, the APC opted against giving him its ticket to contest in the by-election leaving him no option but to decamp to the PDP on whose platform he would ride to victory. In July 2018, he emerged as the governorship candidate of the PDP in Osun State after defeating Akin Ogunbiyi by seven votes but lost to the incumbent governor, Alhaji Gbenga Oyetola. He was a Senator representing Osun-west senatorial district until June 2019.
The Igbinedion family is a political and economic family of heavyweights from the ancient Benin city. Patriarch of the family, Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion holds the chieftaincy title of the Esama of the Benin Kingdom while his sons have had a share of political power.
Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion was the governor of Edo State in Nigeria from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007. After his tenure, the Farida Waziri led Economic and Financial Crimes Commission prosecuted him for 191 charges of corruption and money laundering for allegedly enriching himself by diverting Edo State Government’s Afribank shares valued at $6.2 million (N961m) and another the state government’s shares at Access Bank Plc, valued at $775, 000 (N120m) for his personal use. A Federal High Court in Enugu sentenced him to six months in prison with the option of a N3.5 million fine. The controversial plea bargain agreement reached with the EFCC required the return of N500 million and three of the houses acquired with stolen public funds to the Federal Government.
Charles Igbenedion, his brother was a two time Local Government chairman and one time Edo State Commissioner of Education, while Peter Igbinedion was the managing director of the Nigerian Aviation Authority.
His sister, Hon. Omosede Igbinedion-Akenzua, a lawyer was elected as the youngest female member into the 8th Assembly of the House of Representatives (Nigeria) in 2015, representing the Ovia Federal constituency which consists of Ovia North-East and Ovia South-West Local Government Areas of Edo State under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Deputy Chairman House Services in the House of Representatives. She is married to Avan Akenzua, a Prince of Benin Kingdom.
The political strength of the family was long established before Ahmed Tinubu, the Asiwaju of Lagos joined politics.
His adopted great grandmother, Efunroye Tinubu, and mother Chief Abibatu Mogaji were both influential in the pre and post-colonial eras of Nigeria. The latter was the Iyaloja of Lagos State. Bola Tinubu would venture into politics in 1992, under the Social Democratic Party of Nigeria (SDP). In 1993, Tinubu was elected to the Nigerian Senate, to represent the Lagos West constituency. As a senator, Bola Tinubu was the chairman of the Appropriation, Finance, and Banking committee. He was then elected as the Governor of Lagos State for two consecutive terms from 1999 – 2007. His wife Oluremi Tinubu is the current Senator for the Lagos Central Constituency while his daughter, Folashade Tinubu-Ojo is the current Iyaloja of Lagos.
The Yar ‘Adua family is noted as one of the most successful families in Nigeria’s political history and has been on the scene since the First Republic.
In the First Republic, Musa Yar’Adua served as a Minister of Lagos Affairs and Mutawalli of the Katsina Emirate. His sons Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and Umaru Musa Yar’Adua were also power brokers before their demise. The former was a senior army officer and Chief of Staff of Obasanjo’s military government between 1976-1979. In 1995, he was convicted for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to overthrow the regime of General Sani Abacha, sentenced to death and later twenty-five years imprisonment. Two years later, he passed on while imprisoned. Yar’ Adua was also very influential in the formation of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the early 90s as General Babangida made assurances of leading the transition from military rule to civilian rule. His son, Murtala Yar’Adua, is a former Minister of State for Defence.
At the dawn of the Fourth Republic, Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua (son of Musa and brother of Shehu) contested for and won the governorship of his home state, Katsina on the ticket of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for two terms (1999-2007) before becoming Nigerian President in 2007. Interestingly, Yar’ Adua was anointed for the Presidency by his predecessor, President Obasanjo who had shared a close friendship from their days in the army with the elder Yar’ Adua brother. Yar’ Adua who was dogged by health issues would pass away while receiving treatment for pericarditis towards the end of his first term in office.
Another Yar’Adua brother, Abdulaziz unsuccessfully sought to run for office in the buildup to the last elections.
For over four decades, the Saraki political dynasty held sway over the people of Kwara. The patriarch of the dynasty, Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki, was Senate Leader in 1979. His status as a ranking Senator within the ruling party enabled him to build power and influence in his home state of Kwara and played a crucial role in the installation of civilian governors of Kwara State from Adamu Attah, Cornelius Adebayo, Sha’aba Lafiaji and Mohammed Lawal who ruled from 1999-2003. In May 2003, Bukola Saraki was nominated by his father and emerged governor till 2011. After his tenure, he refused to support his sister, Gbemisola, a former senator first elected into the House of Representatives in 1999 and Kwara State Central Senatorial Seat in 2003 and 2007 respectively. Instead, he supported the incumbent governor, Ahmed Abdulfatai, who floored his sister against the will of his father. His refusal pushed Olusola Saraki to leave for the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) where Gbemisola was handed the governorship ticket and contested against the Bukola-backed Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Candidate, Abdul Fatai Ahmed. He later took over her Kwara Central Senatorial seat and emerged President of the Senate of Nigeria in 2015. Gbemi became a rallying point for opposition politicians who wanted to free the state from Bukola’s hegemony and was appointed the Minister of State for Transportation in President Buhari’s second term.
Another Saraki, Adeolu was appointed Special Assistant to President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua.
The family’s entry into politics began with Alhaji AbdulGaniyu Folorunsho Abdul-Razaq who is revered as the first lawyer from the North bearing traditional titles, Region Mutawali of Ilorin and Tafida of Zazzau (Zaria). He was also the former President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange(NSE) and former commissioner in Kwara.
He served as a Special Member of the Northern House of Assembly from 1960 – 1962 following independence. He also served as the Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Ivory Coast from 1962 to 1964. He also served as the Federal Cabinet Minister of State for Transport before becoming the Kwara State Commissioner of Finance, Health and Social welfare from 1967 – 1972
One of his sons, Abdul-Razaq contested in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 respectively under the Congress for Progressive Change political party(CPC)and People’s Democratic Party(PDP) before emerging the governor of Kwara state in 2018 under the ruling political party in Nigeria APC displacing the Saraki dynasty.
His brother, Dr Alimi Abdul-Razaq is a member of the Presidential Policy Advisory Committee (PPAC) on Defence and Security, member of the National Steering Committee and was the Kwara State Coordinator of the Obasanjo Campaign Organisation (OCO). He was also the PDP’s gubernatorial candidate in the 1999 elections.
One of his sisters, Senator Khairat Abdul-Razaq-Gwadabe, a lawyer was a Senator representing the Federal Capital Territory at the start of the Nigerian Fourth Republic, running on the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) platform. She held office till 2003. Her husband, Colonel Lawan Gwadabe, was former military governor of Niger State.
The fifth child of the family, Aisha Muhammed Lawal, is a former first lady and wife of late military Governor of Ogun and Kwara States, Rear Admiral(retd)Mohammed Alabi Lawal between 1987-1999 and 1999-2003 respectively.