The Tale Of How Godfathers And Godsons Turn Foes (1)


Nigeria’s political circuit is replete with telling, sometimes chilling tales of governors who fought tooth and nail to either impose or singlehandedly handpick their successors.

Most of the stories regarding predecessors and successors have always almost not ended well. So, after pulling all the stops, including stepping on big and all toes to install their preferred successors, events, more often than not, turn awry with godfather and godson becoming staunch foes.

The reason for outgoing governors wanting to have their preferred candidates succeed them, analysts say, is to ensure that whatever good programmes and policies they espoused are sustained. Others, observers contend, is designed to keep the outgoing governor, his cronies relevant in the scheme of things even when out of office.

One thing is that these governors who handpick their successors always want to lord it over their godsons. This is where trouble often starts. Some godfathers become overbearing hence making their godsons unable to stamp their authority and run the state in their own image. Having played a critical role in the ascension to the top seat of their preferred successors, they always desire to pull the strings behind the scene, make inputs on matters of governance, decide, sometimes those who should hold one position or the other. This, of course, have always bred trouble.

This, among other things, is what often leads to the breakdown of their once blossoming relationship because in a bid to be their own man, protégés clash with their benefactors as battle for superiority and control takes centre stage.

In this piece, we do a rundown on some governors who installed their successors, enjoyed a glittering relationship but which eventually turned sour.

Kalu versus Theodore Orji



Theodore Orji was the Chief of Staff to Orji Uzor Kalu when the latter was governor of Abia State. They were great friends who shared a lot in common. And given how close they were, Kalu anointed the gentle-looking Theodore Orji to succeed him as governor.

In the run up to the 2007 elections, Orji was arrested and detained by officials of EFCC over what his supporters described as spurious charges. This meant that he was behind bars while campings spiked. But his godfather stood in the gap for him by ensuring that Orji’s absence did not derail anything.

In what was historic in Nigeria’s political experiment, Theodore Orji won the election and was subsequently sworn into office. But it took little time before trouble started between godfather and godson. Orji’s men felt Kalu’s influence on his godson was overbearing. They grew uncomfortable with the powers wielded by Kalu and so wanted an end to it.

Theodore Orji who was popularly known as Ochendo severed ties with his benefactor in no time. That was the beginning of a bitter political rivalry that lasted for a good number of years with both men exchanging heated, sometimes unprintable words at every turn in the media. Kalu suffered serial humiliations from his godson who did everything to obliterate whatever was left of his legacy in the state.

Obi versus Obiano


Peter Obi and Willie Obiano’s relationship dated back to when they were in Christ the King College, Onitsha. Both men also worked at Fidelity Bank at a time. So, when Obi completed his tenure as governor, it was only natural that he supports his long-standing friend to succeed him.

But their relationship fell on hard times just before the elections. There were allegations of misappropriation of campaign funds and other issues that would have seen the project suffer a stillbirth, but Peter Obi comported himself and carried on as though all was well.

But their cracked relationship reached a boiling point when Obi announced that he left over N75 billion in the coffers of the state, investments inclusive. This did not go down well with Obiano and his henchmen who denied that such amount existed.

What followed were accusations and counter accusations with both camps going for each other’s jugular. With no sign of the feud ending, Peter Obi left APGA to pitch tent with PDP. Obi made concerted efforts to stop Obiano from doing a second term after serving (Obiano) his first term of four years.

Obi hoped to capitalise on the massive goodwill he enjoyed when he was governor to sell the candidature of Obaze Oseloka, a former SSG under his tenure to the people. But that did not see the light of day as Anambrarians voted massively for Obiano hence earning a second term against the wishes of his erstwhile godfather.

Akpabio versus Udom



Akpabio was governor of Akwa Ibom State from 2007 to 2015. In 2013, he plugged Mr. Udom Emmanuel, a top banker from Zenith Bank and made him the Secretary to the State Government.
It wasn’t long before Akpabio made it clear that Udom was his preferred successor. Despite not being a known face in the political arena of the state, Akpabio did everything to ensure that his godson wormed his way into the hearts of the people.

Initially, the Udom project apeared to be a hard-sell, but in no time, many bought into the project and before one could say Jack Robinson, Udom Emmanuel had become a household name in the state.

Being who he is, Godswill Akpabio spared no resources in ensuring that his man won a highly contentious polls beginning with the primary election. With Akpabio winning the hearts of many into the “Udom is Right” project, the man who hails from Onna local government area of the state romped to an unprecedented victory and assumed office in 2015.

It was victory for godson and godfather. At every fora in the early days of Udom’s administration, both men missed no chance to exchange hearty smiles. In fact, Udom Emmanuel saw and christened Akpabio his “great teacher”. Many felt theirs was a friendship made in heaven and safely delivered on the soil of Akwa Ibom.

But signs of a troubled relationship surfaced when Akpabio made some scathing remarks at an annual New Year get-together organised by the Deputy Governor, Mr Moses Ekpo, to fete the people of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District.

At the said meeting, Senator Akpabio accused Governor Emmanuel of marginalising Ikot Ekpene. He said the area was not carried along in the governor’s development plans. He equally said some of the projects embarked upon by his (Akpabio’s) administration, including the multi-million naira Four Points By Sheraton Hotel at Ikot Ekpene and the dualisation of the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road, had been abandoned by Emmanuel.

He averred that the completion of the projects would form part of the recommendations for Emmanuel’s re-election in 2019.

Said Akpabio: “2018 is less than one year to election. All is not well,” he said, adding, don’t allow anybody to deceive you that all is well. If the hotel in Ikot Ekpene rots after so much money had been expended on the project, would that be a good thing? That road from Uyo to Ikot Ekpene is still the way it was. In the 2018 budget, what is the percentage for Ikot Ekpene senatorial district? My job is to say the truth because if at this level I cannot say the truth, then I am not doing well.

“So please I want us to start the hotel because when the Commissioner for Works addressed the youths in August, he assured them that the hotel would be opened in December. Please let us check the budget to know what has been earmarked for that place. I am not interested in what I did and what I did not do, I am only interested in what I am going to do.

“The truth is that Godswill Akpabio expects us to set our path straight so that we can take one route. Even when you are going for communion, you must be in a state of grace. So let us have something from the senatorial district to use in talking about election, to use in convincing the people to stand by us. We are in opposition, we don’t have government, we don’t have police, we don’t have Independent National Electoral Commission.”

Akpabio’s uncomplimentary remarks sparked waves of condemnatory reactions across the state with keen observers insinuating that such public outbursts bore a bad omen with regards to their relationship.

Sensing the danger in Akpabio’s comments, efforts were made by prominent politicians to wade into the matter and possibly put paid to any form of crisis between the former governor and his godson. In the streets of Uyo and other parts of the state, tongues were sent wagging as many greened from ear to ear to hear and perhaps gloat over an imminent collapse of a once flourishing relationship between Emmanuel and Akpabio.

From then on, the writing on the wall was clear that indeed, all was not well between godson and godfather. The seemingly soured relationship led to rumours that Akpabio was nursing plans of quitting the PDP. Many waved it away as one of those tales from the country’s ever busy rumour mill.

But Akpabio gave the clearest indication that he was on his way out of PDP when he claimed at an endorsement rally in Ikot Ekpene for him and Governor Emmanuel that he can contest and win election on any platform. While some viewed the comment as one of Akpabio’s characteristic rhetoric, others perceived more than that.

Long story short. Akpabio later made good his threats by teaming up with the APC much to the consternation of many. His defection set the stage for a titanic battle between him and his godson’s re-election, with Akpabio having said during his defection party that he’ll stop Emmanuel from doing a second term.

With tension reaching fever pitch in the political atmosphere of the state, Governor Emmanuel sacked two of his commissioners for going to the airport to welcome Akpabio to the state from where they all headed to Ikot Ekpene stadium for the defection party.

One thing led to another and in the build up to the much anticipated governorship election last year, Akpabio said: “recently, I had an occasion in Akwa Ibom State and this is what happened: I went just to make a floor declaration; others do it in the social media, others just sit in their offices, some do it by text messages that they have changed platform, what we call party. But in my own, I just decided to do it in an uncommon way because they call me uncommon transformer.

“It was watched in 59 countries and somebody asked what happened there, and I said just how it happened in Poland. When did they ask Hitler’s minister for information about the war in Poland, and he said Warsaw saw war and war saw Warsaw. I will say that in the Ikot-Ekpene arena, when I stepped out, this is my first function after that, Warsaw saw war and war saw Warsaw. We can’t talk politics in the church but in 2019 Warsaw shall see war and war shall see Warsaw. The return will be victory. May God grant us all victory.”

The comment was met with condemnations in many quarters as many frowned at why a former governor could declare war on his people. But the man was unperturbed. What followed were exchange of brickbats here and there. The Warsaw comment became, in hindsight, Akpabio’s albatross as PDP used it to great effect in its campaigns to dissuade voters from having anything to do with a party that has vowed to wipe them away as it happened in Poland.

As fate could have it, Akpabio lost at the polls to Chris Ekpenyong who flew the flag of PDP. And, of course, his former godson, Udom Emmanuel, was re-elected in a resounding fashion.

Saraki versus Saraki


Olusola Saraki

This one was a family affair. They were united by blood but divided by political interests.

Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, moved against his father, Olusola Saraki when the latter wanted his daughter, Senator Gbemisola, to succeed her brother, Bukola Saraki as governor.

Bukola Saraki instead rooted for another candidate in the person of Abdulfatah Ahmed of the PDP.
With Bukola Saraki not willing to budge, his father who is the acclaimed godfather of Kwara politics, defected along with his supporters to Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) where Gbemisola was handed the party’s governorship ticket.

With two siblings plus their father jostling it out for the state’s top seat, all eyes were on Kwara to see how it’ll all pan out. But in the end, Bukola Saraki’s candidate, Abdufatah Ahmed, won leaving Olusola Saraki to eat the humble pie in a humiliating fashion.

To be continued…

Related Articles

Back to top button