As Nigeria celebrates 20 years of uninterrupted democratic rule on May 29 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo took their Oaths-of-Office for their second term in office while twenty-nine state governors were also sworn-in. Among the 29 governors, 11 are first timers while 18 are returning for second term in office. As the returning governors have already familiarised themselves with the public in their first tenure, it is important to know the background of the newbies.
Bala Abdulkadir Bala (Bauchi State)
Senator Abdulkadir Abubakar could be said to be the most experienced among the first term Governors who were sworn-in on Wednesday. Bala was born in 1958 at Duguri Town in Alkaleri Council, Bauchi State. He had his primary education at Duguri Primary School between 1965 to 1971 and subsequently attended Government Secondary School, Bauchi, North East College of Art and Science. He attended University of Maiduguri where he bagged BA in English Studies. He worked as a journalist in the 1980s; he rose to the position of News Editor of the Mirage newspaper, Jos between 1982 and 1983 and had a stint as a News Reporter with the News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN). He joined civil service in 1984 when he got employed as an administrative officer in the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs. He would later work in the Ministries of Solid Minerals, Power and Aviation. In April 2007 he was elected to represent Bauchi South as a Senator. On July 2, 2011, he was appointed Minister of the Federal Capital Territory by Goodluck Jonathan, a position equivalent to a state governor. On Monday 24th of March, 2019 Senator Bala was announced winner of Bauchi State governorship election, polling a total of 515,113 votes to defeat then incumbent Gov. Mohammed Abubakar of APC who got 500,625 votes after a supplementary election. He is expected to use his vast experience as a former Minister of FCT in governing Bauchi State.
Many people would think Prince Dapo Abiodun, the Governor of Ogun State, was new in the political sphere when he threw his hat in the ring but he was a founding member of the People’s Democratic Party in Ogun State. He has been in the political terrain despite being an oil magnate. He was born on May 29, 1960. Incidentally it was a double celebration for Prince Abiodun, a native of Iperu-Remo, as he was sworn-in as the fifth democratically elected governor of Ogun State on the same day he celebrated his 59th birthday. He had his first degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Osun State, and subsequently obtained a second degree in Accounting at Kennesam State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. He holds a Honours Et Doctorate degree in Finance from Ekiti State University and another in Business Administration from Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State. Prince Abiodun is into oil business and until his election victory he was the Managing Director /Chief Executive Officer of Heyden Petroleum Ltd (HDL); in 2012, he served as Chairman, Depot and Petroleum Product Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) and was also appointed chairman, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in 2018. As an active political player, he was elected a Senator on the platform of the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP) in 1992 but was not sworn-in because of military interruption. He achieved his political breakthrough in 2019, wining Ogun governorship election with 241,670 votes to defeat his closest rival, Adekunle Akinlade, of Allied Peoples Movement (APM), who scored 222,153 votes.
Seyi Makinde (Oyo State)
On the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, Engineer Seyi Abiodun Makinde defied all odds to emerge the new Governor of Oyo State by defeating the candidate of the then ruling party, All Progressives Congress, Adebayo Adelabu. Makinde had contested for the biggest political office in the state in 2015 under the Social Democratic Party (SDP) but lost to the immediate past governor, Sen. Abiola Ajimobi. He was born on 25 December 1967 to the family of late Pa Olatubosun Makinde and Madam Abigail Makinde of Aigbofa Compound in Oja’ba, in Ibadan. He attended St Michael Primary School, Yemetu and Bishop Phillips Academy, Monatan, Ibadan for his primary and secondary education respectively. In 1985, he gained admission to the University of Lagos (Unilag) where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, and subsequently earned professional and academic certifications from home and abroad. Also a business mogul, until his electoral victory he was the Group Managing Director of Makon Group of Companies. Prior to 2015, In 2007, Makinde contested for the Oyo South Senatorial seat under the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) but lost to the People’s Democratic Party candidate- Kamoru Adedibu. His persistence and grassroots works earned him PDP’s ticket in 2018 and his dream came true on March 9 with his “Omi Tuntun” mantra when he polled 515, 621 votes to defeat his closest rival, Adebayo Adelabu of the All Progressive Party who polled 357,982 votes. He is married to Tamunominini and blessed with three children.
Emeka Ihedioha (Imo State)
Hon. Emeka Ihedioha’s name is not new in the political circle of Nigeria as he served as the Deputy Speaker and later Acting Speaker of the House of Representatives between 2011 and 2015. Contesting on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, Ihedioha became the Governor of Imo State polling 273,404 votes to dislodge his closest challenger, the candidate of Action Alliance, Uche Nwosu, who polled a total of 190,364 votes. Ihedioha ,who has a vast understanding of the political terrain had been Special Assistant to many public office holders such as former Senate President, late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, before being elected in 2003 to represent Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Opkala Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. Born in March 24, 1965, he attended Mbutu Primary School, Aboh Mbaise Council; SDA Primary School, Abule-Oja, Yaba, Lagos; St. Ephraim’s Secondary School, Owerrinta and the University of Lagos, where he obtained B.Sc. degree in Food Technology in 1988. He also obtained executive certificates on leadership programmes in Ivy League institution, such as Stanford University and Harvard University, both in the United States (US), as well as Oxford University Business School and London School of Economics, both in the United Kingdom (UK) and the University of British Columbia, Canada.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos)
Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu was born on June 25, 1965 in Lagos State. He is a graduate of the University of Lagos, as well as the London Business School, Lagos Business School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Prior to his gubernatorial ambition, he was the Managing Director/CEO of Lagos State Property Development Commission (LSPDC). He began his political career in 2003, when he was appointed a Special Adviser on Corporate Matters to the then deputy governor of Lagos State, Femi Pedro. He was the acting commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, and later substantive commissioner for Commerce and Industry till 2007. Thereafter, he was appointed Commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions during the first term of Babatunde Raji Fashola as governor. Also, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in 2016 appointed him as managing director/chief executive of Lagos State Property Development Commission (LSPDC), a position held until he decided to run for the Governor of the state against Governor Akinwumi Ambode. Sanwo-Olu won the All Progressives Congress nomination and went on to defeat Mr Jimi Agbaje of the People’s Democratic Party, claiming a landslide victory to become the fifth Executive Governor of Lagos State. Sanwo-Olu recorded 739,445 votes to defeat Jimi Agbaje who polled 206,141 votes. He is a trained surveyor, entrepreneur and human resources expert with cognate experience in the public and private sectors.
Abdulahi Sule (Nasarawa State)
The new Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdulahi Sule, was born on 26 December 1959 in Gudi Station, Akwanga-West Development Area of Nasarawa State. He is an entrepreneur, businessman and politician. He won the governorship seat on the platform of the All Progressives Congress polling 327,229 votes to defeat other opponents in the election. He had his primary education at Roman Catholic Mission (RMC) Primary School, Gudi Station in 1968. He then entered Zang Secondary School in 1974 and later Government Technical College, Bukuru in 1977. After his secondary education, he went to Plateau State Polytechnic, in Barkin Ladi in 1980. He then left Nigeria on a scholarship to study at Indiana University, Terre Haute, Indiana, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Technology and a master’s degree in Industrial Technology.
AbdulRahaman AbdulRasak (Kwara State)
AbdulRahaman AbdulRasak was sworn-in as the sixth executive governor of Kwara State after his electoral victory over PDP’s Abdulrazaq Atunwa. Abdulrazak polled 331,546 votes to defeat his PDP challenger who scored 114,754 votes. He is a son of the first Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) from the defunct Northern region of Nigeria Folorunsho AbdulRasak. Born on February 5, 1960 in Zaria, he attended Capital School Kaduna between 1966 and 1968; Bishop Smith Memorial School Ilorin between 1970 and 1971; and Government College Kaduna – where he sat his West African School Certificate Examination (WASC). He went into oil and gas business at a tender age and started its importation. He ran for the office of governor under the political party, CPC, in Kwara State but lost to PDP’s Abdulfattah Ahmed in 2011. In the 2015 General Elections, AbdulRahman ran under the PDP platform for the Kwara Central Senatorial seat and lost to the present out-going Senate President Bukola Saraki.
Professor Babagana Umara Zulum (Born State)
Born in August 26, 1969 in Mafa Local Government Area of Borno State, he was the Commissioner in the Ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement in the state since 2015 before being chosen to contest by Gov. Kashim Shettima in 2018. From 1990 to 1994, he studied at the University of Maiduguri, where he obtained a degree in Agriculture Engineering after which he served as a youth corps member with Katsina State Polytechnic. He proceeded to University of Ibadan from 1997 to 1998, where he obtained a Masters degree in Agriculture Engineering. In 2005, he enrolled for a PhD in Soil and Water Engineering with the University of Maiduguri which he completed in 2009. In 2000, he took up an appointment with the University of Maiduguri as an assistant Lecturer where he rose to the rank of Professor. It was not all smooth for him getting education as he revealed last year that he used to be a commercial driver for about 16 years in order to sponsor his education. He is a member of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS). To become Born State Governor, he secured 1,175,440 votes to beat the candidate of the PDP, Mohammed Imam, who scored 66,115.
Alhaji Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe)
Alhaji Inuwa Yahaya is also a first term governor of Gombe State. Running on the platform of the APC, he scored 364,179 votes to defeat PDP candidate, Usman Nafada, who polled 222,868 votes. Yahaya’s victory has ended the 16 years of PDP rule in the state. The party has been in power since 2003 when Muhammad Danjuma Goje wrestled power from late Governor Abubakar Habu Hashidu of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). He was born on October 9, 1961 in Jekadafari, Gombe State. His tertiary education was at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where he obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting in 1983. With his experience as a businessman, In 2003, he was appointed as Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development by Governor Muhammed Danjuma Goje. In 2015, he was the governorship flag bearer of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Gombe State.
Mai Mala Buni (Yobe State)
He was the National Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress before his election as Yobe State Governor. He was born November 11, 1967 in Buni Gari, Yobe. He rose through the ranks to become the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Legislative Matters and was the pioneer Chairman of the APC in Yobe State as well as the National Secretary of the party. Buni scored 444,013 votes to defeat the candidate of the PDP, Umar Iliya Damagum, who scored 95, 703 votes.
Bello Matawalle (Zamfara State)
Perhaps, despite finishing second with 189,452 behind APC’s Muktar Idris, who polled 534,541, it could be said that Mr Matawalle’s emergence as Governor of Zamfara State is by sheer luck as he emerged through a Supreme Court ruling which canceled the elections of the All Progressives Congress as a result of a faulty primary process in the state. Born in Maradun Local Government Area of Zamfara on December 12, 1969, Mr Matawalle attended Maradun Township Primary School, finishing in 1979. He also studied at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos and Thames Valley University, London. He worked under the Ministry of Health in the former Sokoto State, and as a teacher in Government Girls College Moriki and Kwatarkoshi, before joining the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Abuja, from where he joined politics in 1998 under defunct United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP). From May 1999 to 2003, he served as Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Commissioner for Environment, Rural Development and then Commissioner for Youth and Sports. In May 2003, he was elected as member representing Bakura/Maradun Federal Constituency under ANPP. In the House he served as chairman House Committee on Ethics and Privileges, the Position he held till 2007. He was re-elected for a second term in 2007 and decided to defect from ANPP to PDP which he did in 2009, and in 2011 he was re-elected for a third term on the platform of the PDP.