As the 2019 general election approaches, politicians and their supporters are gradually getting prepared for the campaigns.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has already released a tentative timetable for the highly awaited elections.
PREMIUM TIMES has compiled a list of ministers who may leave the cabinet to seek governorship in 2019.
ADEBAYO SHITTU- OYO
Mr. Shittu is probably the only cabinet member to make public his ambition to seek the governorship seat in his home Oyo State.
The minister told Tribune newspaper in an interview last year that he is best suited to be the successor to current governor Abiola Ajimobi.
“Today, as Minister of Communication, nobody in Oyo State has the experience I have in utilising ICT to develop the Oyo State economy to the extent that other countries are using the same ICT to develop their country. They know that with my level of exposure and godliness that I will not steal their money. If you have someone who is ungodly, he will simply steal your state blind.
“You need the best, compassionate manager, most honest, experienced, educated manager to run the state so that what comes to Oyo state from federation account and our local resources are put to the best use in the service of our people,” Mr. Shittu had said.
Mr. Shittu, however, faces a herculean task to secure the APC ticket. The incumbent APC governor, Abiola Ajimobi, and Mr. Shittu are political opponents. Their rivalry precedes the formation of the APC. Although Mr. Ajimobi is rounding off his second term and is thus not eligible to seek re-election, he is believed to be vehemently opposed to Mr. Shittu’s candidacy and recently boycotted a presidential event hosted by the minister.
AISHA ALHASSAN – TARABA
Mrs. Alhassan, fondly called “Mama Taraba,” was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Taraba State in 2015.
Initial results of the election then, particularly the way the APC was winning states in the northern part of the country, indicated that the nation was about to get its first elected female governor.
That did not happen as she was eventually defeated by Darius Ishaku of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Mrs. Alhassan was made minister by President Muhammadu Buhari even when the governorship election tribunal for Taraba State on November 7, 2015 declared her the governor-elect.
By the time she was being sworn in as Minister of Women Affairs by Mr. Buhari, she was considered Taraba governor subject to outcome of appeal filed by Mr. Ishaku. Mr. Buhari in fact referred to Mrs. Alhassan as “Her Excellency” when he mentioned her name, which elicited general laughter inside the council chamber of the presidential villa.
As politicians gear up for 2019, Mr. Alhassan was seen in a video pledging her loyalty to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
She also told the Hausa service of the BBC that even if Mr. Buhari eventually decides to run, she will tell him she has already made her choice.
The minister is still popular in Taraba and is considered the APC leader in the state. Party elements in Taraba said that her structure remains strong and she is working behind the scenes to upstage PDP’s Mr. Ishaku in 2019.
KAYODE FAYEMI – EKITI
Mr. Fayemi served for one term as Ekiti State governor before he was defeated by Ayo Fayose of the PDP.
He is one person expected to leave Mr. Buhari’s cabinet early because the governorship election in Ekiti is holding this year.
As early as six months ago, his loyalists had already set up a campaign structure, JKF Movement, for his yet-to-be declared ambition to run for the 2018 governorship race.
Speaking after its inauguration in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, Chairman of JKF Movement, Ade Kolade, explained that the main focus of the group was to champion Mr. Fayemi’s development vision and ideals and to create awareness that “the current stalemate in Ekiti’s development process can be reversed”.
Mr. Fayemi will, however, have to battle with another presidential aide, Babafemi Ojudu, and other aspirants for the APC ticket.
SULEIMAN HASSAN – GOMBE
Mr. Hassan was inaugurated into the federal cabinet at the end of July 2017 to replace Amina Mohammed from Gombe State who had left to take up the post of Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations.
Mr. Hassan is a political ally of President Buhari and was the pioneer chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Mr. Buhari’s personally formed political party.
The CPC is one of the parties that dissolved to form the APC.
Sources in Gombe said the APC is currently factionalised along three major groups comprising elements from CPC, ANPP as well as those who defected from the PDP before the 2015 election.
To this end, leaders of the three factions all have their “structures and loyalists” within the same party.
It is also said that the CPC faction has a stronger structure compared to the rest because it consists of die-hard Buhari supporters. Mr. Hassan is also the undisputed leader of the group and has a powerful grip of the APC in Gombe.
It was also gathered that the minister’s loyalists want him to run because the other faction led by former Governor Danjuma Goje produced the governorship candidate in 2015.
IBE KACHIKWU – DELTA
Although Mr. Kachikwu has strongly denied nursing any governorship ambition, PREMIUM TIMES gathered that machinery is already in motion for his candidature in 2019.
When news first filtered in that Mr. Kachikwu is seeking to be next governor of Delta under the APC, and his posters were seen all over the state as well as the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the spokesperson of the petroleum Ministry, Idang Alibi, issued a statement describing the rumoured candidacy as false.
However, a source closed to the minister said, “he just doesn’t want to be distracted from his current job, but I assure you that the Hon. Minister is under pressure to come to the rescue of Delta state.”
Mr. Kachikwu’s Delta State has been governed by the PDP since 1999, and thus he would face a herculean task to defeat the incumbent PDP governor should he finally make a decision.
MANSUR DAN-ALI – ZAMFARA
Three different sources told PREMIUM TIMES that the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, is also nursing the ambition of taking over from the current chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari.
However, it was learnt that the retired army general is yet to get the needed support from both Mr. Yari and other political leaders in the state.
Mr. Yari is completing his second term and is thus ineligible to seek re-election in 2019.
A source close to the minister said that “as far as Zamfara is concerned, the minister is one of those eyeing the governorship.”