Nigerians protest as children of prominent citizens dominate political space



Uba Group

The 2023 general elections may have come and gone. But James Onanefe Ibori, the acclaimed godfather of Delta politics has remained a study in ecstasy. And he has every reason to be. Since the return of democracy in 1999, Ibori has worn the toga of the godfather of Delta politics.

And with the conclusion of the February elections, he did not only retain that toga, he confirmed that he was indeed, in charge of Delta politics as his daughter, Erhiatake Ibori-Suenu, was elected to represent Ethiope federal constituency.

Ibori-Suenu, who contested on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, is a serving state lawmaker, representing Ethiope West, a position she has held since 2015. The 42-year-old politician from Urhobo is married to Abioye Suenu.

Ibori is not the only father who is celebrating the victory of his daughter at the polls. The outgoing Governor of Delta State and the Vice Presidential candidate of the PDP during the presidential election, Ifeanyi Okowa, is also popping champagne over the exploits of his daughter, Marilyn, who is the member-elect to represent Ika North/East constituency in the state House of Assembly.

Marilyn, a member of the PDP, who is the first daughter of the Delta State governor, was appointed a Senior Special Assistant on Girl-child Education by her father.

In 2011, she graduated from the Nigerian Law School with a Barrister at Law degree with a Second Class (upper division). She is an educational activist and advocate.

She got married to Daramola Gbolahan in 2015.

Children and relatives of prominent Nigerians, comprising politicians, traditional rulers and businessmen, played active roles in the 2023 general elections, especially as contestants. While some of them won, others were not lucky.

Adebayo Adelabu

Adebayo Adelabu, a grandson of the legendary Adegoke Adelabu of the Penkelemesi fame, was unable to unseat Governor Seyi Makinde in the Oyo State governorship election.

The Accord Party’s governorship candidate resigned as a Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2018 when he ventured into politics.

He was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress during the 2019 polls.

Akeem Adeniyi Adeyemi

Popularly called ‘Skimeh’, Akeem Adeniyi is the son of the deceased Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi.

The former chairman of Atiba Local Government was elected to represent Afijio in Oyo East, Oyo West and Atiba federal constituency in 2015. He was re-elected in 2019 and 2023, making him a third term lawmaker. He is a chieftain of the APC.

Olamiju Alao-Akala

Olamiju, the son of a former Oyo State governor, the late Adebayo Alao-Akala, won the Ogbomosho North/South/Oriire federal constituency in the just concluded election. The former chairman of Ogbomoso North Local Government Area, who contested under APC, is in his late 30s.


Idris Abiola Ajimobi

The 35-year-old Idris Ajimobi, son of the immediate past governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, and an in-law to outgoing Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, lost the Ibadan South West State constituency II election to his PDP rival, Oluwafemi Fowokanmi.

Adebo Ogundoyin

Adebo Ogundoyin is one of the sons of the late foremost philanthropist and industrialist, Adeseun Ogundoyin. He is the current Speaker of the Ninth Oyo State House of Assembly and member representing Ibarapa East constituency on the platform of the PDP. He won re-election in 2023.

Kolapo Kola-Daisi

Kolapo Kola-Daisi, the 44-year-old son of an elder statesman and Bashorun of Ibadan land, Kola Daisi, is also a son-in-law of a former Oyo State governor, Ajimobi.

KKD, as he is popularly called, contested for the Oyo South senatorial district under the aegis of the Accord Party but lost to Sharafadeen Abiodun Ali of the APC.

Shina Abiola Peller

Shina Abiola Peller is the son of Silifat and Moshood Abiola Peller, one of Africa’s most renowned magicians. He is the incumbent lawmaker representing lseyin/ltesiwaju/Kajola/lwajowa federal constituency under the platform of the APC.

After losing APC’s ticket in 2022, he joined the Accord Party but lost in the race to the Oyo North senatorial seat to Senator Fatai Buhari of the APC.

Farouk Arisekola-Alao

Umar Farouk Arisekola-Alao is the son of the late philanthropist, Abdul Azeez Arisekola-Alao. The former Commissioner for Youths and Sports under Abiola Ajimobi, contested under the Accord Party for Ibadan North federal constituency but lost to Musliudeen Olaide Akinremi of the APC.

Yusuf Oladeni Adebisi

Yusuf Adebisi, son of the popular Ibadan Fuji star, Taiye Adebisi (Currency), is the incumbent Deputy Chief Whip of the Oyo House of Assembly and was re-elected in 2023 to represent Ibadan South-West consistency 1 on the platform of the PDP. He was elected in 2019 at age 25.

Otobong Bob

In Akwa Ibom State, Otobong Bob, a lawyer, won the Nsit Ubium State House Assembly seat under the PDP. The son of a prominent politician in Akwa Ibom State, Effiong Bob, is returning to the House for the second time.

Oluwajomiloju Fayose

In Ekiti State, Oluwajomiloju, son of former Governor Ayodele Fayose, contested for the Ado-Ekiti/Ifelodun Irepodun federal constituency under the PDP but was defeated by the incumbent, Oluwafemi Victor Fatoba of the APC.

Olumide Osoba

In Ogun State, Olumide, son of a former Governor Olusegun Osoba, was re-elected for a third term to represent Obafemi/Owode/Odeda/Abeokuta-North federal constituency on the platform of the APC

Obafemi Hamzat

In Lagos State the Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat, is the son of the late Olatunji Hamzat, who served as a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly and Commissioner for Transportation in the state between 1979 and 1983. Obafemi has been in the corridor of power in Lagos State since the return of democracy in 1999.

Rasheed Kashamu

Rasheed Kashamu, son of the late Senator Buruji Kashamu, won the House of Assembly election into the Ijebu North Constituency 1 in the just-concluded elections.

He polled 10,004 to defeat the incumbent member of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Sylvester ‘Niyi Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress.

At 26, the younger Kashamu will probably be the youngest House of Assembly member in the state and nationwide in this dispensation.

Kashamu has a B.Sc in International Business and Management from Brunel University, London.

He also has a Master of Science degree in International Finance and Investment from the University of Surrey.

Moshood Akiolu

The Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu’s son, Moshood of the APC was re-elected to represent Lagos Island federal constituency II at the House of Representatives. He is currently the vice chairman of the House Committee on North East Development Commission.

Babajimi Benson

The lawmaker representing Ikorodu federal constituency, Babajimi Benson, who won a re-election is a relative of the late Theophilus Owolabi Shobowale Benson, popularly called TOS Benson, who was a chieftain of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons in the defunct First Republic.

Ibrahim Babajide Obanikoro

The son of a former Minister of Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, suffered one of the major upsets in the 2023 elections as he lost his re-election bid to represent Eti-Osa federal constituency to Thaddeus Attah of the Labour Party. Ibrahim of the APC came a distant third, while Bankole Wellington of the PDP came second.

“Ibori is not the only father who is celebrating the victory of his daughter at the polls. The outgoing Governor of Delta State and the Vice Presidential candidate of the PDP during the presidential election, Ifeanyi Okowa, is also popping champagne over the exploits of his daughter, Marilyn, who is the member-elect to represent Ika North/East constituency in the state House of Assembly”

Mustapha Sule Lamido

Mustapha, who is the son of the two-term former governor of Jigawa State and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sule Lamido, contested for Jigawa State governorship position during the just concluded 2023 election under the PDP but lost to Umar Namadi of the APC.

This is not the first time he is contesting for a political position. In 2019 he contested for the Jigawa Central senatorial seat but also lost to an APC candidate.

Mustapha’s youthful age has given him popularity within and outside the state as he is considered one of the youngest candidates to vie for governorship position in the entire country.

Sadiq Wali

Sadiq Aminu Wali is the son of a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aminu Wali. In the just concluded elections, he contested for the Kano State governorship position under the PDP.

Although there was controversy about who was the real PDP candidate between him and Mohammed Abacha, Wali later entered the election as the authentic candidate of the party after the Supreme Court verdict.

He, however, lost to Abba Kabir Yusuf of the New Nigeria Peoples Party. Wali came third with a little more than 15,000 votes, while the winner had over one million votes, the runner-up got more than 890,000 votes.

This is also not his first foray into elective politics as he also contested for House of Representatives membership to represent Nasarawa federal constituency in 2019, but also lost to APC’s Nasir Ali Ahmed.

Salihu Tanko Yakasai

Salihu is the son of an elder statesman and First Republic politician and former national secretary of the defunct Northern Element Progressive Union, Tanko Yakasai.

Salihu, who was an aide to Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje until early 2022, contested for the Kano governorship position under the Peoples Redemption Party. He, however, lost to NNPP’s Abba Yusuf.

Umar Abdullahi Ganduje

Umar Abdullahi Ganduje, also known as Abba Ganduje, is the son of the outgoing Kano State governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. He contested for House of Representatives membership to represent Dawakin Tofa/Rimin Gado/Tofa federal constituency under the APC.

Abba Ganduje, however, lost to the incumbent occupant of the position, Tijjani Abdulkadir Jobe, who contested under the NNPP.

Ganduje (Jnr) is a first time politician, who is seen to have contested on his father’s shoulder.

Colonel Abdulaziz Musa Yar’adua

Colonel Abdulaziz Musa Yar’adua (retd) is the son of a First Republic minister, Musa Yar’adua and a younger brother of former President Umaru Musa Yar’adua.

The retired military officer contested for Katsina Central senatorial position under the APC and won after defeating his closest rival of the PDP.

He first contested for the Katsina governorship position under APC in 2015 but lost to the incumbent, Aminu Bello Masari during the party’s primaries. In 2019, he contested for the same senatorial position but lost.

Bello El-Rufai

In Kaduna, the victory of the eldest son of the Kaduna State governor, Bello El-Rufai at the just concluded polls did not come to many as a surprise, being the son of a sitting governor.
He was elected to represent Kaduna North at the National Assembly.

He defeated the incumbent House of Reps member, Samaila Suleiman of the PDP.

Samaila Suleiman, a former APC member, joined the PDP after the emergence of Bello as the candidate of the APC in 2022 after the primary elections.

This created a serious battle between the camp of the governor’s son and that of the lawmaker as there were accusations that Bello was deliberately imposed by some of his father’s associates.

Bello’s victory at the poll was attributed to some factors, which of course included being the son of a serving governor. Another factor is the fact that he was fully supported by the APC governorship candidate, Senator Uba Sani, who is also his father’s ally.

Another factor is the fact that he campaigned vigorously by visiting communities and youth groups within his constituency to solicit their support.

He provided gifts, including resources, in some instances, to youth groups and community leaders during his campaigns, a strategy that led to his victory.

The internal crisis within the PDP camp about the emergence of Samaila Suleiman as the party’s candidate also helped Bello’s victory because aggrieved members refused to support the lawmaker, particularly those he defeated at the primary.

They were not happy that he got the ticket weeks after joining the party. They also accused the lawmaker of using resources to win the primary election, an allegation his supporters denied.

There were also speculations that Samaila’s failure to engage some of the youths he met in the PDP when he joined the party during his campaign made them work against him at the poll.

The internal crisis worked in favour of Bello and led to his victory, bringing an end to almost two decades of Sama’ila’s representation at the National Assembly.

Chinedum Orji

In Abia State, Chinedum Orji, son of a former governor and now Senator Theodore Orji, was born on December 5, 1970.

Before he threw his hat into the ring of politics, Chinedum Orji had carved a niche for himself as a philanthropist extraordinaire who touched the lives of the people through his numerous charity programmes.

Having endeared himself to the people, it became easy for him to emerge as the lawmaker representing Umuahia Central State constituency in the Abia State House of Assembly at the 2015 general elections. He served as the Majority Leader of the House till 2019 when he was re-elected into the 7th Assembly. On June 10, 2019, Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji emerged as Speaker of the 7th Abia State House of Assembly, making him the number three citizen of the state. He is a member of the PDP.

On May 23,2022, Chinedum won the ticket of the PDP for the House of Representatives, but the Labour Party political tsunami that swept through the state crashed the hope of the ranking state lawmaker; thus he lost his ambition to represent Ikwuano/Umuahia federal constituency to a man he defeated at the PDP primary election.

The candidate of the Labour Party for the seat, Obi Aguocha, who won the House of Representatives election, was once a PDP member. He lost the primary to Speaker Chinedum.

Sani Ibrahim Tanko

In Bauchi State, Sani Ibrahim Tanko, an engineer and son of a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, won the election for Shira/Giade federal constituency.

But Tanko’s elder brother, Siraj Ibrahim Tanko, who also contested for the Bauchi North senatorial district, lost to the candidate of the PDP, Samaila Kachalla.

David Mark’s daughter

A former Senate President David Mark’s daughter, Mrs. Blessing Onuh of the APC won her election into the House of Representatives for a second term.

Mark’s daughter, who represents Otukpo/Ohimini federal constituency, polled 29,031 to defeat her closest opponent, Alex Ogbe of the PDP with 21,741 votes.

She made her first entry into the Green Chambers in 2019 on the platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance and while serving her term in the House of Representatives, defected to the APC.

Mark’s daughter, despite the popularity of her father, has been able to carve a niche for herself through her crowd movement known as, “Ogigo mebe,” a literal meaning of “mirror reflection” which also earned her acceptance within the federal constituency.

George Akume’s wife

Also, the wife of Senator George Akume, the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Mrs. Regina Akume, was declared the winner of Gboko/Tarka federal constituency.

She defeated the incumbent, John Dyegh of the PDP with 47,086 as against the latter’s 24,639 votes.

Regina, fondly referred to as, “Mummy General” has played the role of a godmother to many of her husband’s political protégées before delving into the contest.

And for her first time seeking a mandate, she won, thereby halting Dyegh’s fourth term aspiration to the lower chambers of the National Assembly.

The minister’s wife was Benue’s First Lady between 1999 and 2007 when her husband held sway as the governor of the Food Basket state.

Muktar Tolani Shagaya

Muktar Tolani Shagaya was born on December 16, 1989 to the Shagaya family, a prominent household in Kwara State. His mother, Muinat Bola Shagaya, is a billionaire businesswoman with interest in oil and gas.

He is the lawmaker-elect for Ilorin West/Asa House of Representatives seat.

Omosede Igbinedion

Omosede Igbinedion is the daughter of a business mogul and politician, Gabriel Osawaru Igonedion, the Esama of Benin kingdom.

Omosede Igbinedion represented the Ovia federal constituency under the PDP between 2015 and 2019.

She sought re-election during the 2019 National Assembly election to represent the constituency but lost to Denis Idahosa of the APC.

Omosede also contested the 2023 National Assembly election for Ovia federal constituency but also lost to Idahosa.

Pundits attributed Omosede’s defeat to the performance of the incumbent member of the House of Representatives, Idahosa as well as the internal wrangling within the PDP.

According to them, Omosede rode on his father’s popularity to win the federal constituency in 2015 but the dad’s popularity could not save him in the 2019 and 2023 elections.

Natasha Akpoti

In Kogi State, Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, a lawyer, contested the February 25 National Assembly election for Kogi Central on the platform of PDP but lost to the candidate of APC Abubakar Sadiq Ohere, an engineer and former commissioner for works and housing
Natasha Hadiza Akpoti, who was born on December 9, 1979, is the second of four children and the only daughter of Abdul Jimoh Akpoti.

Abdul Jimoh Akpoti, who hails from Obeiba-Ihima of Kogi State represented Adavi/Okehi federal constituency in the truncated 3rd Republic by the late General Sani Abacha.

Mohammed Al-Makura

Mohammed Al-Makura, candidate of the APC in the just concluded House of Representatives election in Nasarawa State, is the son of a paramount ruler, Sarki Kwandere Amodu Al-Makura.

Al-Makura, who was a two-time House of Representatives member representing Lafia/Obi constituency, lost out in his third term bid.

Sani Bello

In Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello, the incumbent governor, was among the sons of prominent Nigerians who won in the last election.

Bello, the son of a former military governor of Kano State, Colonel Sani Bello and son-in-law to the former military head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, won the senatorial seat of Niger North on the platform of the APC.

Joshua Audu Gana

Similarly, Joshua Audu Gana of the PDP, the eldest son of Professor Jerry Gana, a former Minister of Information and National Orientation, won the House of Representatives seat for Lavun/Mokwa/Edati constituency. Audu Gana, a first-timer, defeated the incumbent, Abdullahi Usman Gbatamayigi.

Abubakar Adamu

Conversely, Abubakar Adamu, a younger brother to the former military head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who vied for the House of Representatives seat for Chanchaga constituency, lost to the candidate of the PDP, Abdul Buba.

Beni Lar

In the recently concluded elections in Plateau State, some children of prominent persons contested in various positions. While some were successful, others were not.

Among those who won their elections is the member representing Langtang North/Langtang South federal constituency on the platform of the PDP, Beni Lar.

Beni Lar is the daughter of the late Solomon Lar, the founding national chairman of the PDP and former governor of Plateau State.

Suleiman Kwande

Another prominent man whose son contested in Plateau State is Ambassador Yahaya Kwande. Suleiman Kwande contested the Plateau North senatorial position on the platform of the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) but lost to the PDP candidate.

Yahaya Kwande served as a permanent secretary in Plateau State, as well as Nigerian ambassador to Switzerland.

Politicians win in the name of their parents

But the development is not an unusual occurrence in party democracy.

A political analyst cited the United States, where Hilary Clinton, wife of former US President, Bill Clinton, was a senator.

Also George Bush, a former US President, was a governor when his father was the US President.

“It is good for democracy if the son or daughter of a politician could win election on the basis of the contribution of his father or husband to national development. But my worry, however, is that some families may soon begin to see it as their birthright,” he said.

Other experts said it is common practice for people in positions of authority to groom their children or those close to them to take over from them.

While some of the children or relatives put extra effort to have their way, others rely on the structures of their parents to get to power.

“The powerful politicians who go the extra mile to put their children in positions of authority, whether through election or appointment, are actually validating the ‘iron law of oligarchy,’ Mohammed Umar, a sociologist said.

The “iron law of oligarchy” states that all forms of organisation, regardless of how democratic they may be at the start, will eventually and inevitably develop oligarchic tendencies, thus making true democracy practically and theoretically impossible, especially in large groups and complex organisations.