Lagos — After 13 years of military regime, Nigeria returned to a democratic country on the 1st of October 1979. The ensuing period of civilian government known as the Second Republic (1979 - 1983) produced 31 civilian governors. Ademola Adeyemo traces the governors during that era and reports that 13 of them are dead while 18 are alive
Nigeria was divided into 19 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)on February 3rd 1976 by the then military government of late General Murtala Muhammed who was assassinated on February 13, 1976.
General Olusegun Obasanjo who took over the government however fulfilled his promise to hand over power to an elected civilian government on October 1, 1979.
He consequently organized a general election which produced Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Shagari as the first executive president and a total of 31 civilians as executive governors who governed the then 19 states of the country during the second republic. Nigeria which got her independence from Britain in 1960 had democratic government under the first republic up to January 15, 1966 when that republic was sacked by the military. The country returned to a democratic order after 13 years of military interregnum with the dawn of the Second Republic in 1979.
The democratically elected executive governors during the four years and three months republic included, Alhaji Abubakar Barde and Alhaji Bamanga Tukur (Gongola State), Alhaji Tatari Ali (Bauchi), Mr. Aper Aku (Benue), Alhaji Muhammed Goni and Alhaji Asheik Jarma (Borno), Dr. Clement Isong and Chief Donald Etiebet (Cross River), Professor Ambrose Alli and Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia (Edo), Chiefs Jim Nwobodo and Christain Onoh (Anambra), Chief Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe (Imo), Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, Alhaji Abba Rimi and Alhaji Lawal Kaita (Kaduna).
Others are Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, Abdu Dawakin Tofa and Alhaji Sabo Bakin Zuwo(Kano), Alhaji Adamu Atta and Chief Cornelius Olatunji Adebayo (Kwara), Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande (Lagos), Alhaji Muhammed Anwal Ibrahim (Niger), Chief Bisi Onabanjo (Ogun), Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin (Ondo), Chief Bola Ige and Dr. Omololu Olunloyo (Oyo), Chief Solomon Daushep Lar (Plateau),Chief Melford Obiene Okilo (Rivers), Alhaji Shehu Kangiwa and Alhaji Garba Nadama (Sokoto).
However, out of the civilians who served as governors during the period 13 are dead while 18 are alive. The deceased are Abubakar Barde, Tatari Ali, Aper Aku, Clement Isong, Ambrose Ali, Samuel Mbakwe, Sabo Bakin Zuwo, Adamu Atta, Bisi Onabanjo, Michael Adekunle Ajasin, Bola Ige, Melford Okilo and Shehu Kangiwa.
Late Alhaji Abubakar Barde (Gongola)
Gongola State was created on 3 February 1976 with Yola as its capital. It existed until 27 August 1991, when it was divided into two states Adamawa and Taraba. Alhaji Abubakar Barde of the Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP) became the first executive governor of the state after winning the gubernatorial election, courtesy of the understanding reached by the re-alignment of political forces in the state. He was in power between 1979- September 1983. Alhaji Barde died in June, 2002
Alhaji Bamanga Tukur (Gongola)
Alhaji Bamanga Tukur who contested the governorship under the umbrella of National Party of Nigeria (NPN) took over from the late Abubakar Barde in 1983 and was in power for three months when the military took over power in a coup de tat of December 31st 1983. Tukur, a prominent businessman and politician, later served as Minister for Industries during the administration of late General Sani Abacha. He also contested the presidential election under the National Republican Convention (NRC) in the third republic, He is the president of the Africa Business Roundtable and a member of the New Partnership For African Development (NEPAD). Also, Tukur is currently the chairman of the Police Equipment Foundation (PEF). He is a top member of PDP from Adamawa State .
Late Alhaji Abubakar Tatari Ali (Bauchi)
Bauchi State was created in 1976 and on October 1, 1979, the first democratically elected executive governor, Alhaji Abubakar Tatari Ali took over the leadership of the toddling state under the umbrella of the defunct National Party of Nigeria(NPN). Many of the late Tatari's policies began to manifest before the military coup of December 1983, which put paid to whatever dreams Alhaji Ali had for the old state which comprised today of Bauchi and Gombe states. When the military took over in 1983, Alhaji Ali and some of his colleagues were clamped into detention. He later died of health complication shortly after his release from jail.? ?Late Aper Aku (Benue)
Late Mr. Aper Aku was the first executive governor of Benue State between October 1979 and December 1983. He was elected under the NPN. Aku was regarded as the father of modern Benue who laid the foundation and structures that successive governors after his demise have improved upon to get the state to its present level of development. However, Aku died in 1989.
Alhaji Muhammed Goni (Borno)
Alhaji Muhammed Goni the governor of Borno State during the era, in office from October 1979 until December 31st 1983 when the military struck. Goni was said to have left a legacy of hard work, honesty, humility and accountability in the state. Throughout his tenure as governor, he never lost sight of his philosophy of government which was justice to the people. After his tenure as governor, Goni was appointed as a member of the Constitutional Drafting Committee of the 1995 Constitution. He was also appointed as member of the National Political Reform Conference in July 2005 as a delegate from Borno State . He also served as the Vice presidential candidate to Chief Jim Nwobodo in 2003 under the United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP). He is present inactive politically.
Late Dr. Clement Isong (Cross River)
Late Dr. Clement Nyong Isong a great economist became the first executive governor of old Cross River State in 1979 under the umbrella of the NPN. Before his election, late Isong was the second Nigerian Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria from August 15, 1967 to September 22, 1975 during which he introduced a new organizational structure for the bank which took account not only of the existing complexity and volume of the CBN's activities, but also of prospective expansion. Isong died in year 2000.
Chief Donald Dick Etiebet (Cross River )
Chief Donald Dick Etiebet was governor of Cross River State for three months between October 1983 and December 31, 1983. He succeeded late Dr. Clement Isong. Before his election under the umbrella of NPN, Etiebet, an Annang man, was among the 95 senators who served in the first Senate of Second Republic between 1979 and October 1983. Politically, he is presently in the background.
Late Professor Ambrose Folorunso Alli (Bendel)
Professor Ambrose Alli was elected the governor of the then Bendel State now Edo and Delta states in 1979 under the platform of the Unity Party of Nigeria founded by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
Late Alli was one of the most vibrant governors in the Second Republic. It would be recalled that during his tenure in office, he was in constant conflict with former President Shehu Shagari over the issue of the rule of law and constitutionalism. On several occasions, the late governor took Shagari to court. On one such occasion, a judgment by Supreme Court in a suit filed by Ambrose Alli held up the implementation of the national budget. His health deteriorated after his release from military incarceration and he died in 1988. Ambrose Alli University formerly Bendel State University , which he established during his tenure, was named after him.
Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia (Bendel)
Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia became the governor of Bendel State for the second time under the umbrella of NPN in October, 1983. His first time was as a military governor from September 1967 to July 1975. During his first coming, the then Bendel State witnessed rapid social and economic growth. He is currently a member of Board of Trustees of the PDP representing Edo State .
Chief Jim Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo (Anambra)
Chief Jim Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo became the governor of Anambra State in October, 1979 under the platform of the Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) founded by the late great nationalist, Dr. Nnamidi Azikiwe. Nwobodo, one of the flamboyant governors of the second republic became the first Executive governor of Anambra State at the age of 39. Before then, he became the Chairman of Rangers International Club in 1975, and held that position until 1979. Within one year as Club Chairman he propelled Rangers to capture the Africa Cup Winners' Cup. After leaving office in 1983 as governor, he was later appointed as a Minister of Youths and Sports in 1995. He was also in 1999 elected Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where he served till 2003. He was the presidential candidate for the UNPP in the 2003 General elections. He is presently a stalwart of PDP in Enugu State .
Chief Christian C. Onoh (Anambra)
Chief Christian Onoh took over from Chief Nwobodo in October 1983. He won the election under the NPN in controversial circumstances. He is no more in active politics.
Late Chief Samuel Onunaka Mbakwe (Imo)
Late Chief Samuel Mbakwe was the first executive governor of Imo State under the umbrella of the NPP. Dr. Mbakwe began his career as a lawyer in Port Harcourt before his election as governor. When the civil war broke out, Mbakwe was appointed as the Administrator of the Okigwe Province of the then Republic of Biafra . He was a member of the 1978 Constituent Assembly and member of the 1995 National Constitutional Conference (NCC).
Mbakwe was a man easily given to emotion, which led to his being referred to as "the weeping governor." However, when the military took over the government in 1983, Mbakwe and other political leaders were herded into jail.
He returned when the then military President, Ibrahim Babangida lifted the ban on partisan politics and joined the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) .He also featured in the late General Sani Abacha and General. Abdulsalami Abubakar's transition programmes as a chieftain of the All Peoples Party (APP) now All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Sam Mbakwe died on January 5, 2004.
Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa ( Kaduna )
Alhaji Balarabe Musa became the first executive governor of Kaduna State in 1979 under the platform of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) a party founded by the late defender of the masses, Mallam Aminu Kano. He was in office for one year as he was removed in 1980 through impeachment.
Because of his irreconcilable differences with the NPN-controlled Federal government, the Kaduna state house of assembly dominated by the NPN legislators was incited to impeach him, thus becoming the first governor to be impeached from office.
Alhaji Balarable Musa operated without a cabinet for almost two years due to refusal of the NPN legislature to ratify any of his party's (PRP) nominees because he refused to appoint members of NPN, which had a clear two-third majority in the State House of Assembly. Since he left office Alhaji Balarabe Musa has been participating in politics, holding aloft the progressive ideology. He contested for the presidency during the 2003 and 2007 general elections and he is now the chairman of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP).
Alhaji Abba Musa Rimi (Kaduna)
Alhaji Abba Musa Rimi was the deputy governor of Kaduna State between 1979 and 1981. He became the governor following the impeachment of his boss, Alhaji Balarabe Musa in 1981. He served till October, 1983
After leaving the office of governor, he had also served as an Adviser to General Abdulsalam Abubakar's government. He is a holder of Commander Order of the Niger (CON). He is currently inactive politically.
Alhaji Lawal Kaita (Kaduna)
Alhaji Lawal Kaita became the governor of Kaduna state in October 1983 under the platform of NPN. After leaving office as a result of the military coup of December 1983, he had also contested the emirship of katsina in 1982 after the death of the late Emir Usman Nagogo. Alhaji Kaita a founding member of the PDP later left to join others in forming the Action Congress (AC).
Alhaji Abubakar Rimi (Kano)
Alhaji Abubakar Rimi became the elected governor of Kano state under the platform of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) in 1979. A product of Aminu Kano's Ideological school of politics, Rimi was first Deputy National secretary at the PRP.?He became governor of Kano State at the age of 39, and his tenure witnessed fundamental changes in the state. In 1993, he was appointed Minister of Communications during the Abacha regime. Rimi is one of the foundation members of the PDP. He left the party and joined the AC in 2007. He recently returned to the PDP.
Alhaji Abdu Dawakin Tofa
He was the deputy governor of Kano State between October 1979 and May 20 1983. He became the governor in May 1983 when his boss, Alhaji Rimi resigned from office and held forth till October 1983. A quiet and unassuming man, he is totally out of limelight.
Late Mallam Sabo Bakin Zuwo ( Kano )
Late Mallam Sabo Bakin Zuwo, a member of NPN was elected governor of Kano state in October 1983 and was in office till December 1983. He was arrested by the military government of General Mohammed Buhari and detained in prison on allegation that a sum of N4.5million belonging to the government was found in his room.
Late Alhaji Adamu Atta (Kwara)
Late Alhaji Adamu Atta was the governor of Kwara state between October 1979 and October 2003, an Ebira man Atta was a close political associate of the prominent Kwara state politician Dr Olusola Saraki before they fell out politically. When Saraki withdrew his support for Atta's second term bid, he lost to the opposition party in the state. Chief Cornelius Adebayo became the governor.
Chief Cornelius Adebayo
He became the governor of Kwara State on the platform of UPN in October, 1983 having defeated Alhaji Atta of the NPN. During the first term of Obasanjo's presidency, he served as Minister of Communications.
Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande (Lagos State)
Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande became the executive governor of Lagos State in October 1979 under the umbrella of UPN. Politically, he is a member of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo school of thought which believed in welfare of the people. He was a member of the defunct Action Group (AG) and served as General Secretary on 1950-1966, He later became the National Treasurer of UPN. ?He was re-elected in 1983 but the Buhari/Idi Agbon Military coup that took place that year truncated the administration. After been in the political cooler for some time , ister of Works and Housing by late General Sani Abacha in 1993 and Chairman, Finance and Economic Committee of the Federal Government from 1993 to 1995. He is among the founding leaders of the Action Party of Nigeria (APN). He is out of active politics.
Alhaji Muhammed Awwal Ibrahim ( Niger )
Alhaji Muhammed Awwal Ibrahim is the first executive governor of Niger state. He was elected under the umbrella of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN).He was in office from October 1979 to December 1983. He is presently the Emir of Suleja in Niger State .
Late Chief Victor Olabisi Onabanjo (Ogun)
Late Chief Olabisi Onabanjo was the governor of Ogun state between 1979 and 1983. He was also a strong member of Awolowo political family. Late Onabanjo was a journalist before becoming the civilian governor of Ogun state; He Had edited the Nigerian Citizen and the Daily Service in the 1950s. But it was his stint as editorial director of the Daily Express that led to his popularity. He wrote a popular column, 'Aiyekoto'. After the 1983 military coup , Late Onabanjo was thrown into Prison on the allegation that he and his UPN governor colleagues took N2.8 million bribe from a company to enrich their party (UPN). The General Omu's panel sentenced Onabanjo to 21 years imprisonment. He later died from health complications after his release from prison.
Late Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin ((Ondo)
Late Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin was elected the first excecutive governor of Ondo state in 1979 under the platform of UPN. He was a founding member of the Action Group (AG) and the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). During the nation's independence period, he was a member of the House of Representatives. Prior, to that, he was the principal of Imade College , Owo. After his exit from office as governor, Late Ajasin dedicated his life to the struggle to restore democracy in the country. He was the leader of NADECO a pro-democracy group; he had several brushes with the military government due to his principled opposition to the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential elections. He died in 1996 at the age of 88
Late Chief Ajibola Ige (Oyo)
Late Chief Ajibola Ige became the governor of Oyo state in October, 1979. He was one of the UPN governors and also a prominent member of Late Awolowo's school of ideology. Late Ige was a member of the Action Group and one of the founders of UPN. A lawyer, Late Ige was known for his civil rights and democracy activities. He was among the second republic governors incarcerated by the military government following the December 31, 1983 coup. Following the restoration of democracy in 1999, Ige continued to be politically prominent and was a foundation member of some political parties. He was appointed the Attorney General and Justice Minister by Former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2000. He served in that position until December 23, 2001 when he was brutally murdered in his house in Ibadan at the age of 71.
Dr Victor Omololu Olunloyo (Oyo)
Dr Victor Omololu Olunloyo became the second civilian governor of Oyo State in 1983 when he defeated Late Bola Ige in the gubernatorial election in October 1983. He contested under the umbrella of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). A renowned mathematician, Olunloyo was booted out of office during the December 31, 1983 military coup. Since his exit from office 26 years ago he has remained a strong factor in the politics of Oyo state. He is presently a leader of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Chief Solomon Daushep Lar (Plateau)
Chief Solomon Dashep Lar was the first executive governor of Plateau state. He became the governor under the platform of the defunct Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) in 1979; he won the governorship seat for the second time in October 1983 until his administration was abruptly terminated by the military coup. After he left office, he emerged as a kingmaker in the politics of Plateau State . He later became the pioneer National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Chief Solomon Lar, is one of the remaining old guards that have continued to fight for true democracy.
Late Melford Obiene Okilo (Rivers)
Late Melford Obiene Okilo was elected the first civilian governor of Rivers state in 1979. He was one of the NPN governors, Okilo as governor of old Rivers State established the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) and the Independent Power Plant at Imiringi in Ogbia local government area which turned out to be the only source of electricity supply in Bayelsa at the creation of the latter from Rivers State in 1996 by the late Gen Sani Abacha Late Okilo's second term of office was terminated by Buhari/ Idi Agbon military coup in 1983 .After he left office He went to the Senate to represent Bayelsa East senatorial district between 1999 and 2000. Other political offices held by the late Okilo included member, Constituent Assembly (1977- 78); Chairman of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Rivers State branch (1978-1983). Okilo died in year 2006 at the Federal Medical Centre Yenagoa following a protracted illness at the age of 74.
Late Alhaji Shehu Muhammed Kangiwa (Sokoto)
Late Alhaji Sheu Kangiwa became the civilian governor of Sokoto state in October, 1979. A lover of Polo sports, Alhaji Kangiwa's tenure was cut shot by his tragic death on 17th November, 1981. He fell off a horse and died during the 1981 Kaduna Annual Polo tournament.
Alhaji Garba Nadama (Sokoto)
Alhaji Garba Nadama became Governor of the Sokoto State after the sudden demise of the late Governor Shehu Kangiwa. Quiet, urbane and principled conservative politician, Alhaji Nadama left office after the 1983 military coup. He was a member of the National Political Reform Council. Alhaji Nadama is now a prominent member of PDP.