Even before they are unceremoniously joined by thirty colleagues who are about to be displaced by the scrapping of states, Nigeria is brimming with former state governors from several Republics. Three Republics came to grief before the current one and threw up busloads of former state governors. This tentative tally excludes governors of previous Republics and the long military era. In any case, there is no surviving First Republic Governor or Regional Premier and there are less than a dozen former Second Republic governors.
With the recent death of Brigadier Samuel Ogbemudia there are five surviving Military Governors from the Gowon era, namely Usman Faruk, Abba Kyari, Mobolaji Johnson, Oluwole Rotimi and Alfred Diette-Spiff. There are dozens of former Military Governors from the Murtala/Obasanjo, General Buhari and the revolving door Babangida eras, plus dozens of former Military Administrators from the Abacha and Abdulsalami eras.
More than a hundred people have been state governors since 1999. The Fourth Republic is eighteen years old. The ideal political situation in any state is to have two governors that served for the constitutionally limited two terms of four years each and to have a current governor who has served half of his first term. Since 1999 this ideal situation was achieved only in Lagos, Niger, Katsina, Bauchi, Jigawa, Benue, Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Delta and Cross River. Six other states namely Borno, Imo, Nasarawa, Gombe, Kwara and Zamfara also have their third governor since 1999 because one governor served two terms, another served for one term and the current one is serving his second term. In Borno for example Mala Kachallah served one term, Ali Modu Sheriff served two terms and Kashim Shettima is in his second term. In all other states the gubernatorial calculation was upset variously by court cases, impeachment, resignation, death and incapacitation. Two governors, Mamman Bello Ali of Yobe and Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa of Kaduna, died in office. One governor, Danbaba Danfulani Suntai of Taraba, was incapacitated in a plane accident which set off a gubernatorial revolving chair in the state.
While eighteen states have had the minimum three governors since 1999, some states had as many as seven governors. Adamawa for example has been ruled since 1999 by Boni Haruna, Murtala Nyako, James Barka, Nyako again, Ahmadu Fintiri, Bala James Ngilari and Muhammed Jibrilla Bindow. Neighbouring Taraba State has been ruled by five governors namely Jolly Nyame, Danbaba Suntai, Garba Umar UTC, Sani Abubakar Danladi and Darius Ishaku. Sokoto too had five governors because Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko's tenure was interrupted on two occasions, in 2008 when Abdullahi Balarabe Salame acted as governor and in 2012 when Lawal Mohammed Zayyana also acted briefly.
The constitution expects a person to serve a maximum of eight years as governor but three persons are set to exceed that record. By the time Ibrahim Gaidam's second term ends in 2019 he would have been Yobe's governor for more than ten years. His predecessor Bukar Abba Ibrahim, who was Yobe's governor in 1999-2007, had earlier governed the same state for two years in 1992-93. Jolly Nyame, who governed Taraba for two terms in 1999-2007 had earlier governed it for two years in 1992-93. If Kogi's Abubakar Audu had not died just before he was re-elected in 2015, he would have joined the Bukar/Nyame league and served for a cumulative ten years. On the other hand, the person who served the shortest gubernatorial tenure since 1999 was Emmanuel Andy Ubah, who was governor of Anambra State for two weeks before the Supreme Court ruled that Peter Obi's tenure had not ended. Ubah is followed in tenure shortage by Rivers' Celestine Omehia, who was governor for five months.
The first gubernatorial tenure complications arose in 2003 when many governors lost their re-election bids. They include Gombe's Abubakar Hashidu, Kano's Rabiu Kwankwaso, Kogi's Abubakar Audu, Borno's Mala Kachalla, Kwara's Mohammed Lawal, Anambra's Chinwoke Mbadinuju, Ogun's Segun Osoba, Oyo's Lam Adesina, Ekiti's Niyi Adebayo and Ondo's Adebayo Adefarati. Kwankwaso later bounced back and served a second term in 2011-15. These one term rulers were later joined by Zamfara's Mamuda Shinkafi, Nasarawa's Aliyu Akwe Doma, Imo's Ikedi Ohakim and Bayelsa's Timipre Sylva.
The calculation is further complicated because courts removed many governors after they served two or three years in office. Among them were Edo's Oserheimen Osunbor, Ondo's Olusegun Agagu, Osun's Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Ekiti's Segun Oni. Some governors also lost their seats to impeachment. They include Diepreye Solomon Peter [DSP] Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa; Ekiti's Peter Ayo Fayose, who bounced back eight years later; Plateau's Joshua Chibi Dariye, who was restored by the courts, as was Oyo's Rashidi Ladoja; and Adamawa's Murtala Hammanyero Nyako. Dariye's illegal removal by six members of the State Assembly provided the only occasion since 1999 when an unelected person, Major General Mohammed Chris Ali, governed a state as Administrator. Delta's Emmanuel Uduaghan was removed by a court in 2011 just before the four year tenure ended. He won a bye election and had to contest another election three months later.
One of the messiest gubernatorial situations occurred in Anambra State. The first governor, Chinwoke Mbadinuju, was denied his party's return ticket but Dr. Chris Ngige, who took over from him, was abducted by his godfather Chris Ubah and was removed by the courts three years later in favour of Peter Obi. The PDP-dominated State Assembly then impeached Obi and his deputy Dame Virgy Etiaba acted as governor before the courts restored Obi. A year later, INEC organised an election that Andy Ubah "won" and ruled for two weeks before the Supreme Court restored Peter Obi.
Many a governor lost his seat in court only to regain it after a bye-election. They include Sokoto's Aliyu Wamakko, Kogi's Ibrahim Idris, Delta's Emmanuel Uduaghan, Bayelsa's Timipre Sylva, Adamawa's Murtala Nyako and Kebbi's Sa'idu Usman Dakingari. In 1999 Bauchi's Ahmadu Adamu Mu'azu had his election victory quashed by a tribunal before he was sworn-in but he won a bye election. Many governors also got the scare of their lives when they lost their seats at lower courts only to win on appeal. They include Cross River's Liyel Imoke, Rivers' Nyesom Wike, Taraba's Darius Ishaku and Akwa Ibom's Udom Emmanuel.
Several people had a brief taste of gubernatorial office due to tribunal rulings or impeachment. They include Oyo's Bayo Akala, who later served a full term; Kogi's Clarence Olafemi, Adamawa's Speakers James Barka and Ahmadu Fintiri; Michael Botmang in Plateau; the two Speakers in Sokoto as well as Speaker Aminu Musa Habib Jega in Kebbi. When Fayose was impeached in Ekiti in 2006, people too numerous to mention acted as governor due to conflicting court rulings.
One person, Kaduna's Patrick Yakowa became governor because his boss Muhammad Namadi Sambo abandoned the governorship to become Vice President. In 1999, Boni Haruna became Adamawa's governor because Governor-elect Atiku Abubakar abandoned the post to become Vice President. The only person since 1999 who became a substantive governor without contesting in the election was Rivers' Rotimi Amaechi, while the only person to contest in an election after it had already been won was Kogi's Yahaya Bello. Then also, the only person to be elected governor while he was in prison was Abia's Theodore Orji in 2007. Remarkably, he later quarrelled with the man who organised that miracle, his predecessor Orji Uzor Kalu.
I might have made a mistake or two in these tallies; it is up to readers to discover them. Thousands of people all over the country are warming up to seek governorships in 2019, the most sought after political office in Nigeria after the presidency. They should tarry awhile and study these tallies.