The Unwritten Rule: Senate as a Retirement Home for Governors

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Governance in Nigeria has shown that there is a thin gap between a quest for relevance and a desire to serve the people. An emerging trend in Nigerian politics involves serving and mostly-under performing governors retiring to the senate after two-terms of absolute mediocrity. A move motivated by their quest to remain politically relevant as well as escape prosecution for abuse of office.

A significant amount of power is wielded by these set of politicians. They make up 21.12% of the senate and exercise major influence on other lawmakers from their state. They leverage on strong control of party structures and are only interested in furthering their political career by hoarding power and recycling it among themselves. This emerging trend has resulted in a clash between aspiring senators who feel threatened and serving governors seeking to selfishly usurp the incumbent senators in their senatorial district. It has done more harm than good for the people of their district and their respective states at large.

According to news reports making the rounds online, no less than 10 serving state governors who are about to finish their second term in office have declared their intention to contest the coming senatorial elections in 2019.  Half of whom are running are vying for the senatorial seat because it offers a protective armour against prosecution from anti-graft agencies for financial mismanagement and other political misconducts.

Our system of governance has allowed for the political elite to remain in political positions and afford them the ability to satisfy their insatiable need for relevance and senatorial freebies. Power is being recycled among a select few and it only changes hands when it is being offered to a stooge that will serve their purpose while they take a short sabbatical.

The governors of Ogun and Oyo state, Ibikunle Amosun and Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi respectively, earlier this year announced their desire to run for the senate in their respective senatorial districts. Both governors had earlier served in the senate having represented their district on different platforms before becoming state governors in 2011.

Both their declarations came immediately after the present occupants of the senatorial seats declared their intentions to rerun on the same party platform. They claim, while feigning disinterest, to be heeding the calls of the people of their district to go back to the senate to represent them. This has allowed for effective recycling of power and total disregard for the needs of the people. Same trend can be observed in Nasarawa, Imo and Delta state just to mention a few.

There is a widespread belief that while a statesman thinks of the next generation, a politician is only concerned with the results of the next election and power to getting to their perceived enemies. While no part of the 1999 constitution restricts anyone from running for senatorial positions as many times as humanly possible, serving and former governors have cleverly exploited this obvious loophole in the constitution in their bid for a ‘quiet yet relevant, and high paying retirement home.’

A clear sign that they have no interest in serving the people but are solely attracted by the gains of staying close to power is the constant split with their senatorial heirs, who they never afford free rein to rule. This trend only goes to show that politics is addictive. Once they have had a taste of the ‘forbidden fruit,’ they are hooked like addicts on heroine. What eventually plays out in this hassling cycle is a strong yearning to remain in the corridors of power for eternity.


Article by

Taiye Salami

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