Here is a list of Nigerian governors who dumped their deputies and chose new running mates for their second term.
The Nigerian constitution doesn’t spell out any responsibilities for deputy governors or even vice presidents, and, by this virtue, anyone who finds themselves occupying any of these offices serves at the behest of their principal.
The Electoral Act mandates a governorship candidate to have a running mate and politicians have, over the years, maximised this provision to bolster their chances of getting elected.
Despite how insignificant a deputy might be in governance, the decision to choose a running mate is often made after several considerations.
Gender, area of birth, social status, religious affiliation, opponents, and other factors are usually weighed by a candidate before settling for a running mate.
However, it’s not uncommon to see governors dump their deputies for new running mates when seeking re-election. This phenomenon can be caused by some internal and/or external shifts in the political landscape.
This article looks at Nigerian governors who, for some reason, have had to drop their deputies for second-term contests.
NB: The scope of this article is limited to incidents that happened from 2011 to date, and it’s therefore inexhaustible.
Godswill Akpabio and Nsima Udo Ekere
While seeking re-election for a second term in office as the governor of Akwa Ibom State in 2011, Godswill Akpabio dumped his deputy, Patrick Akpan Ekpotu, and picked Nsima Udo Ekere as his new running mate with whom he was re-elected.
Rumours at the time were that Ekpotu was nursing the ambition to succeed his principal in 2015 and this had not gone down well with Akpabio. However, Ekere himself quickly fell out with his principal for the same reason and resigned from office just a year and a half into the administration.
Akpabio settled for Barrister Valerie Ebe as his new deputy, marking the first time Akwa Ibom would have a female deputy governor.
Babatunde Raji Fashola and Sarah Adebisi Sosan
Babatunde Fashola won his governorship election in 2007 with Sarah Adebisi Sosan as his running mate. However, in 2011, Sosan was dropped for Victoria Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, who had served as the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation in Lagos State from 2003.
This change of guard had no air of acrimony around it, therefore, it’s safe to conclude that it was motivated by political exigencies at the time.
Vice President Kashim Shettima also joined the League of Governors who dumped their deputies for a second term when he brought in Usman Mamman Durkwa as his running mate in 2015 to replace Zannah Umar Mustapha.
Ibikunle Amosun and Yetunde Onanuga
In 2015, Governor Ibikunle Amosun decided to run for a second term in office alongside Yetunde Onanuga after letting go of his deputy, Segun Adesegun.
Justifying his decision, Amosun said Onanuga’s nomination became imperative to give all sections of the state good representation and a sense of belonging
Nasir El-Rufai and Hadiza Balarabe
Governor Nasiru El-Rufai stirred controversy when he chose a woman, Hadiza Balarabe, to run as his deputy in his re-election bid in 2019.
The decision was controversial for two reasons: Firstly, it’s unprecedented in the entire 19 states in the north for a woman to run either as a governor or a deputy.
Secondly, Kaduna State is one of the few states in the north with a significant Christian population. So, when El-Rufai dropped his then-deputy, Barnabas Bala Bantex, a Christian and picked Balarabe who is a Muslim like him, the reception to that was polarising.
But that didn’t stop the governor from winning his re-election. On her part, Balarabe is currently serving her second term in office as the deputy to El-Rufai’s successor, Governor Uba Sani.
Yahaya Bello and Simon Achuba
After his somewhat miraculous emergence as Kogi State governor in 2015, Governor Yahaya Bello nominated Simon Achuba as his deputy, and the latter was confirmed as such by the Kogi State House of Assembly.
However, things fell apart between the duo along the line, leading to Achuba’s impeachment from his position before Bello’s re-election. This paved the way for the governor to bring in Edward Onoja, who had been his Chief of Staff, as his running mate in 2019.
7 Rotimi Akeredolu
Rotimi Akeredolu and Alfred Agboola Ajayi
In the build-up to his re-election in 2021, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu had a messy fallout with his then-deputy, Alfred Agboola Ajayi, who accused his principal of strangulating his political ambition.
With the crisis unresolved, Ajayi defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), prompting a failed impeachment attempt against him by the state assembly.
Akeredolu ran his election bid with his current deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, while Ajayi failed to get the PDP ticket and went to run on the platform of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
Seyi Makinde and Rauf Olaniyan
Similarly, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State and his deputy during his term, Rauf Aderemi Olaniyan, broke up in 2022, and the latter was impeached following misconduct and a series of allegations levelled against him.
Makinde later enlisted Adebayo Adeleke Lawal as his deputy, with whom he ran and won his re-election bid in 2023.
Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri and Crowther Seth
In a calculated political move, Governor Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa State swapped his deputy, Crowther Seth, for Professor Kaletapwa Farauta ahead of the 2023 election.
The decision to nominate Farauta, a woman, became necessary to neutralise the increasing wave of support being garnered by the APC candidate, Aishatu Dahiru Binani, a female contestant.
That move proved a masterstroke as Fintiri managed to hedge out Binani in a keenly contested Adamawa governorship election.