Senators who want to become governors

Uba Group


The 2023 gubernatorial elections will be held for state governors in 30 out of 36 Nigerian states. All but two will be held in the early spring while the Kogi State and Bayelsa State elections will both be held in the autumn. There are signs and expectations that at least 14 out of the 109 members of the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly are likely to contest for governorship elections in their states.

Permutations, alignments, and realignments are the order of the day in Nigeria’s unpredictable political environment – Already, some of these serving Nigerian senators are gearing up to be governors in their various home states in 2022 and 2023.

Though some of the lawmakers are yet to formally declare their intentions to join the governorship race, scheming and caucusing around them revealed that it is just a matter of time before they will let out their ambitions.Below are some of the prominent senators who will be part of the battle for governorship seats in their various states in 2022 and 2023:

Enyinnaya Abaribe

An immensely experienced politician having served as deputy governor and now the Minority Leader of the Senate, 66-year old Abaribe is one senator to look out for in 2023. He is currently oiling his political machine to kick-start his campaign to take over from Governor Okezie Ikpeazu in Abia state.

Ike Ekweremadu

59-year old Ekweremadu is not a pushover when it comes to politics. He was the deputy president of the Nigerian Senate for 12 years. An erudite lawyer and respected politician in his home state of Enugu, Ekweremadu is said to be gearing up to take over from incumbent Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.

Emmanuel Bwacha

Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, 59, is the current Senate Deputy Minority Leader in the National Assembly. He represents Taraba South Senatorial District and he is a ranking member of the Senate, having been in the upper chamber since 2011. Bwacha is said to be preparing to contest the 2023 governorship election in the North East state of Taraba where he comes from.

Ovie Omo-Agege

58-year old Omo-Agege is currently the Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate. Before his foray into politics, Omo-Agege who represents Delta State Central Senatorial District at the red chambers was an accomplished lawyer. He was first elected into the Senate in 2015. He is now gunning to replace Ifeanyi Okowa as the Delta state governor in 2023.

Omo-Agege, a die-hard supporter of President Buhari, was shot to limelight following a mace ‘theft’ controversy in the last Senate. A panel of the parliament probed him over it. Like others, Omo-Agege has not declared for the race but the feud between him and the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, over the structure of the APC in Delta is being linked to the governorship race.

Months ago, a prominent Ijaw leader, Lucky Akara Gbeneyei, drummed support for Omo-Agege’s governorship ambition, saying the lawmaker has similar qualities with the former governor of the state, James Ibori.

Ishaku Elisha Abbo

Senator Abbo currently represents Adamawa North Senatorial District in the National Assembly. His defection to the ruling All Progressives Congress in 2020 signalled his intention to contest for the seat of the Adamawa State governor in 2023. Abbo is expected to challenge the APC ticket in the next general elections.

Abbo, popularized by the sex toy shop scandal, the first time lawmaker, while announcing his defection to APC from PDP, expressed optimism that he will defeat Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State in the gubernatorial race.

“I’m not overwhelmed by Governor Fintiri. I fought to bring him to power. The governor did not defeat me. The governor chased me out (of PDP). I actually gave way so I will go and take his seat from him,” he said.

“I’m not overwhelmed by Governor Fintiri. I fought to bring him to power. The governor did not defeat me. The governor chased me out (of PDP). I actually gave way so I will go and take his seat from him

Abba Moro

Moro was a former Minister of Interior and the current senator representing Benue South Senatorial District. The politician has taken it upon himself in the last few months to canvas for the major tribes in his home state to consider an Idoma governor in 2023. Moro is expected to fly the Idoma flag, the dominant tribe in his senatorial district ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Barau Jibrin

Regarded as a grassroots politician by virtue of his interventions in Kano – the Centre of Commerce, Barau Jibrin, a two-term senator, represents Kano North Senatorial District at the Senate, where he chairs the influential Appropriations Committee.

Between 1999 and 2003, Barau represented Tarauni Federal Constituency of Kano State at the House of Representatives. As chairman of the Appropriation Committee at the Green chamber, Barau attracted projects to the constituency.

Pundits believe that he is top among those who are likely to succeed Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje in 2023. A group – “Barau I. Jibrin for governor 2023” with thousands of members has been created by his constituents on social media.

The financial guru’s passion for his constituents made him to recently facilitate power substations worth N3.3bn in Bichi and Kabo LGAs to stimulate economic activities in the areas.

Ahmad Babba Kaita

Like Barau, Kaita was at the House of Representatives before crossing over to the Senate in the last assembly after the demise of Senator Mustapha Bukar.

Kaita, who represents Katsina North Senatorial District, where President Muhammadu Buhari hails from, has not formally declared for the governorship race but his constituents on the social media have commenced campaign for him via a Facebook account, ” Senator Ahmed Kaita for Katsina Governor 2023.” A check on the account showed that thousands of followers have joined the team.

With his numerous empowerment programmes and facilitation of employment for his constituents, analysts are of the view that if he throws his hat in the ring, Kaita will go far.

Uba Sani

Sani, 51, who chairs the Senate committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, has been in the political scene since 1999. At one time, he was former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Adviser on Public Affairs.

A major beneficiary of the feud between Malam Nasir El- Rufai, the Kaduna State governor and Senator Shehu Sani, Uba Sani is said to be scheming to succeed El-Rufai. At the build up to the 2019 polls, Shehu Sani was edged out and Uba Sani picked the APC ticket for Kaduna Central Senatorial district.

In Kaduna, it is common knowledge that Uba Sani is one of those eyeing the governorship seat, even though he is yet to declare for the race.
To many, the clash between him and the Speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, Yusuf Ibrahim Zailani, was not unconnected with 2023 politicking and scheming for the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House.

Michael Opeyemi Bamidele

Bamidele, fondly called MOB in his home state of Ekiti, is a lawyer, human rights activist, and three-time member of the National Assembly. He currently represents Ekiti Central in the Senate. He had served in the Lagos State government for 12 years under Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola as Senior Special Assistant and Commissioner.

Bamidele has publicly disclosed his intention to run for the Ekiti State governorship election to be held this year.

Bamidele’s party, the All Progressives Congress, is not expected to field a candidate from Ekiti North, where the incumbent governor, Kayode Fayemi hails from. The battle over who flies the party’s flag is believed to be between Ekiti Central and Ekiti South. This increases the chance of Bamidele clinching his party’s ticket, notwithstanding the many aspirants that are expected to show up.

Biodun Olujimi

Senator Olujimi currently represents Ekiti South in the Ninth Senate. Her return to the Red Chamber was a tough journey. She lost at the polls but won at the tribunal.

Olujimi’s political activism dates back to 1999 when she was an ally of the senior Saraki, the late Olusola Saraki. She joined PDP and became a Special Adviser to then-Governor Ayodele Fayose, who later nominated her as deputy governor after Bisi Omoyeni returned to Wema Bank as the Managing Director /Chief Executive officer.

Though the lawmaker had remained silent on her next political move, her supporters in Ekiti South have been mounting pressure on her to contest for the 2022 governorship election.

Teslim Folarin

Folarin, who represents Oyo Central in the Senate, is interested in occupying the number one political seat in the state and is determined to get it. He had tried once without success, but he’s not throwing in the towel.

He contested in 2015 under the PDP, but lost the election to the late Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi, who was then the incumbent governor.

Though he has not publicly expressed interest to run for the coveted seat in Oyo in 2023, there were reports that the lawmaker is covertly oiling his political machinations and hobnobbing with some of his party’s bigwigs to actualise his ambition.

Smart Adeyemi

The 61-year-old journalist turned politician served as National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists between 1999 and 2006. In 2007, he was elected as Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District under the PDP platform, a position he held until 2015 when he lost to Dino Melaye of the APC. Adeyemi contested under the APC platform in 2019, but was again defeated by Melaye who was the candidate of the PDP.

However, Adeyemi won the third time in a supplementary election ordered by the Supreme Court to be conducted after Melaye’s victory was nullified. Adeyemi might take a shot at the governorship seat in 2023.

Kogi West – Adeyemi’s zone, is the only senatorial district yet to produce an elected governor since the creation of the state in 1991. If, eventually, the pendulum swings to Kogi West, Adeyemi will be among the favoured candidates.

Olalekan Mustapha

Ramoni Olalekan Mustapha, 61, is one of the three powerful Senators in Ogun State. This tall and handsome politician is very influential in the politics of Ogun State, especially Ogun East Senatorial district which he currently represents at the Senate.

It was reported lately that he has been under intense pressure to run for Ogun governorship, instead of seeking a second -term for Senate, come 2023.

Some key players in the state want to field him for the governorship in 2023, and they believe he will be a good sell. What makes the issue all the more complex is that the incumbent governor, Dapo Abiodun, will also be going for a second term like other governors. Both are from the same party, APC. Both are kinsmen, Ijebu. Abiodun is from Iperu-Remo, while Mustapha is from Ijebu-Igbo. They both belong to the same Ogun East Senatorial district.

But their party is not united. Ogun APC is being controlled by two gladiators, namely Dapo Abiodun and former Governor Ibikunle Amosun, whose candidate lost out to Abiodun at the polls in 2019. Both control a sizable chunk of loyalists within the party. While Abiodun is interested in seeking reelection in 2023, members of the Amosun political family seem to prefer Mustapha to run for governorship. Some believe he is the only aspirant who can neutralise the incumbent, come 2023, to enable them get back the power they lost to Abiodun in 2019.

Pundits are of the opinion that if power must continue with Ogun East Senatorial District, then anybody who wants to battle Abiodun must come from that senatorial district. And they believe Mustapha holds the ace.