In the past three years, the 8th National Assembly (NASS) has engaged in several battles and wars among its members, with the Presidency, with the executives, with the judiciary, the Police, the Customs, the Armies and Ministers.
However, all the battles the lawmakers fought were as an institution, but the battle against governors in their states were fought as individuals, and in some cases, as caucuses.
From Zamfara to Akwa Ibom States, from Ogun to Benue States, no state was spared these inside battles as there appeared to be some proxy war going on between the NASS legislators and their state governors.
Some of these wars were some started by proxy but the parties’ primary elections brought those wars to full-blown tussles.
What was peculiar in these supremacy battles were that fact that most of the fights were within the same political parties, and in some cases, between allies turned foes or battles between godfathers and their political godsons.
With elections around the corner, we look at the supremacy battles in some interesting states, the outcomes and most importantly, the likely impact on the general elections.
Akwa Ibom State
To those who know, Senator Godswill Akpabio single-handedly installed Governor Udom Emmanuel as his successor in 2015 but as is mostly the case, godfather and godson are now sworn enemies.
They are at daggers-drawn at the moment with each camp coming out with damning accusations against each other almost on a daily basis.
The fight which started with shades and missives from aides quickly transformed to a full war of attrition between the two and it basically had to do with who should be in control of the oil-rich South-South state and one of the strongest hold of the opposition PDP.
But that was until Sen. Akpabio decamped from the PDP to the ruling APC.
It will be unwise to view the decamping of Akpabio as a total victory for the Governor even though losing the structure to Akpabio as it happened to Governor Akinwumi Ambode in Lagos State would have been more disastrous, however, the decamping of Akpabio to the APC has given life to an opposition once struggling for oxygen in the state.
The APC which was once irrelevant in the state has suddenly sprung to life, and for the first time since the return of democracy in 1999, a party other than PDP is making a serious run for the state.
To further emphasize the significance of the political situation, the President, Muhammadu Buhari kicked off his campaign in Uyo.
Verdict- No clear victory yet
The ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) is in a serious mess in one of its strongholds. Without any form of debate, Zamfara is one state the APC could have easily counted as having in the bag even before elections.
The state would have naturally been a steal for the party at all levels, from the presidential election to the governorship election, national assembly and state House of Assembly.
But this is no more the case as the APC seems to have lost out. At the root of the problem in the state is the clash between Governor Abdul Aziz Yari and Sen. Kabir Marafa, both members of the ruling APC.
The ambition of Marafa to run against the anointed candidate of the governor has thrown the state and the party there into a limbo.
Before the primary, Sen. Marafa representing Zamfara Central Senatorial District has constantly criticized the governor over the insecurity in the state.
In February 2018, while speaking on a motion on the floor of the Senate, Marafa accused the governor of being aware of the perpetrators of the killings in Zamfara and being part of the problem.
The INEC’s deadline has long passed, and none of the players in the Zamfara State debacle is willing to leave the party with both claiming there are willing to work for the President.
Verdict- No clear winner
The politics of Kaduna State is one of the most decisive as far as the struggle between governors and Abuja-based lawmakers are concerned.
The governor of the state, Nasir El-Rufai has been at loggerhead with almost everyone including Senators and members of the House of Representatives from the state.
Most pronounced is his sour relationship with Sen. Shehu Sani, with the two deploying every conceivable weapon necessary to attack each other, including name callings.
The drama became a national issue due to the popularity of the two individuals at the centre of the matter.
During the mass defection that rocked the APC, surprisingly, the afro-carrying senator whom many had predicted would decamp, did not decamp, as it then appeared that the leadership of the APC struck some sort of a bargain deal by offering him a returned ticket.
During the defections, media reports had it that a very vocal senator from the north-west was demanding a pre-payment of at least N100 million before he would defect to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The report quoted a southern leader to have said:
“We were shocked when he made the demand because his public posturing is that of a principled Nigerian.”
Many commentators had then argued that the Kaduna Central Senator would fit into the descriptions given but no one was sure Sani was the man referred to.
His bargain with the party also sailed through until the plug was pulled by the governor but the National Working Committee of the party disqualified all aspirants aside from Sani, but the governor went against NWC and in collaboration with the party, conducted a fresh primary that brought forth El-Rufai’s anointed candidate, Sani Uba, as the flag-bearer, a primary that Sen. Sani abstained from.
He has since decamped from the APC to the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP).
However, it was not only Sani alone that got outplayed by the Kaduna governor. Following the refusal of the three senators representing the three senatorial zones of the state – Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central), Suleiman Hukunyi (Kaduna North), and Danjuma Leah (Kaduna South), to support the governor’s bid to access $350 million loan request by the state government, the governor has lampooned the lawmakers and a battle line was drawn.
Sen. Hankuyi has left the APC because of the face-off while El-Rufai made sure his current deputy is running against Sen. Leah.
Verdict: El-Rufai Wins
Speaking of political confusion, Ogun State readily comes to mind. The incumbent governor, Ibikunle Amosun, is seeking to go to the Senate on the platform of the APC but is supporting his protégé who decamped to the Allied Party Movement (APM) for the governorship election.
A few days ago, he led the APM to Aso Rock to visit President Buhari and offer him their support. Very confusing indeed.
The Governor who is at the twilight of his second tenure, wanted his godson, Abdulkabir Adekunle to succeed him but the party instead opted for the oil magnate, Dapo Abiodun.
The governor did score a point against the NWC of the party though as he was able to dislodge Sen. Lanre Tejuosho as the Senatorial candidate for the Ogun Central Senatorial district ticket.
Verdict: Still unclear
Imo State is another perfect example of the inability of the ruling APC to manage the relationship between governors and lawmakers. What is happening in Imo bears a semblance to the Ogun crisis.
Governor Rochas Okorocha wanted his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu to replace him as the governor of the state but the party and Sen. Hope Uzodimma had other intentions and after a long-running saga through parallel primaries, the party recognized the emergence of Sen. Uzodima.
Just like Amosun in Ogun, Okorocha clinched the ticket for the Senate in the APC and while supporting his son-in-law who decamped to another party to run for the governorship.
Verdict: NASS wins
Bauchi State is another state where there has been a serious battle between the governor and its federal lawmakers.
Governor Mohammed Abubakar and the lawmakers led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, have been in a serious battle for the control of the structure of the state.
The lawmakers include Senator Isah Misau and Sen. Suleiman Nazif while Ali Wakili passed on a few months ago.
Just like the other states highlighted, all of them were members of the APC but the crisis has since forced the lawmakers out of the APC to the PDP.
It remains unknown if the Dogara-led group would pull one over the governor at the general elections, but the governor passed the first litmus test during the last by-election to replace the late Wakili, as his anointed candidate, Lawal Gumau, emerged winner and one of the governor’s loyalists, Yusuf Nuhu, also won the House of Representatives by-election for the Toro Federal Constituency.
Verdict: Governor wins
Nothing more can describe the situation in Kogi State than the image of Sen. Dino Melaye on the sick bed.
Sen. Melaye and Governor Yahaya Bello were once political allies, as the former jettisoned his tribal man, James Faleke to support Bello during the governorship race in 2015.
But once the relationship broke down, the state became a war zone for the two politicians; nothing has been spared in this ugly fight which has claim lives and properties while resources have been wasted unnecessarily including a failed attempt to recall the Senator.
It’s not only Sen. Melaye that has been in a long battle with the governor as other Senators such as Ahmed Ogembe and Attai Idoko have also not been spared by Bello in his quest to take over the political structure of the state.
Verdict: No clear winner
Kano State has all the intrigues of a godfather/godson fight, intra-party supremacy battle, and the clash of the Kwankwasiyya versus the Guandujiyya movements.
The fight between Sen. Rabiu Kwankwaso and Governor Umar Guanduje is a classic case study of a full-blown war between a governor and a member of the National Assembly.
Just like Sen. Akpabio, Kwankwaso initially struggled to wrestle the party structure from Guanduje, his former protégé and when that proved impossible, he defected with his loyalists.
From all indications, the state governor, despite the recent bribery scandal hanging on his neck, seems to still be having the upper hand because out of the 24 members of the House of Representatives from Kano, 14 have stayed with the governor and two out of the three Senators are equally with the governor.
Verdict: Governor wins
While these are preliminary gains for either side in the race to the 2019 elections, the elections could still swing to any side during the general election.