Ortom, Ugwuanyi, Ishaku, Lalong, Ayade: Outgoing governors who lost senate bids

THE recently concluded National Assembly elections in Nigeria saw, at least, five outgoing governors lose their attempts to cross over to the Senate after their two-term tenure of eight years each. This has prompted discussions about the National Assembly, which has been described as a retirement home for former governors who ride on the power of incumbency to win elections into the red and green legislative chambers.

Since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, the National Assembly has been a sought-after destination for former governors seeking to continue their political careers. In the Ninth National Assembly in 2019, about 20 former governors were elected, including Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), Kabiru Gaya (Kano), Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa), Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu), Orji Kalu (Abia), Gabriel Suswam (Benue), and Ibrahim Shekarau (Kano).

However, in the most recent elections, outgoing governors like Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, Darius Ishaku of Taraba State, Simon Lalong of Plateau State, and Ben Ayade of Cross River State all failed in their bids to move to the National Assembly after their tenure on May 29, 2023.

Ortom, a vocal figure of the five aggrieved governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) known as the G5, lost his election bid for Benue North West Senatorial District in the National Assembly to his All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart in the district, Titus Zam. Zam received 143,151 votes, while PDP scored 106,882, and the Labour Party 51,950.

Ugwuanyi, another member of the G5, lost his bid to represent Enugu North Senatorial District in the National Assembly to Okechukwu Ezea of the Labour Party. Ezea received 104,948 votes, while Ugwuanyi came second with 46,948 votes.

Ishaku, an outgoing two-term PDP governor, also lost his senatorial ambition to his APC counterpart in the district, David Jimkuta, who received 85,415 votes to defeat Ishaku, who received 45,708 votes.

Lalong, an APC governor and former chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF), lost the bid to clinch the Plateau South Senatorial District slot to Bali Ninkap Napoleon of the PDP. Napoleon received 148,844 votes, while Lalong received 91,674 votes.

Ayade, who had hoped to return to the Senate after completing his eight-year tenure as governor, was defeated by the incumbent, Jarigbe Agom-Jarigbe. PDP’s Agom-Jarigbe received 76,145 votes, while Ayade polled 56,595.



    Although results are still trickling in for the presidential and National Assembly elections, newcomers are poised to unseat some old members who have consistently been in the red and green chambers for the past 24 years.

    The outcome of the elections has raised questions about the continued relevance of the National Assembly as a destination for former governors seeking to continue their political careers.

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    Some have argued that the failure of outgoing governors to secure Senate seats indicates that the electorate is becoming more discerning and less inclined to vote based on party affiliations alone.

    Others have also pointed to the Obidient movement of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, which unseated some members of the National Assembly, especially in the South-East part of the country.

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