Rise to power: The unusual stories of new governors

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Enter the new kids on the block

Twenty-nine governors are expected to be sworn-in today across the country. Out of this number, 12 are taking the oath of office as governors for the first time. In this report, WALE ELEGBEDE highlights the notsides of these new kids on the block

Abiodun: Son of a teacher takes charge in Ogun

Mr. Dapo Abiodun, the new governor of Ogun State grew up in a learned environment; his both parents were teachers and fortunately, they are still alive to see the inauguration of their son as the sixth governor of the Gateway State.
Born in Sagamu to the family of Dr. Emmanuel and Mrs Victoria Abiodun on May 29, 1960, he started his early education in the Ogun State township.

With parents that presented a portrait of humility, hardwork, sacrifice and tact as his mentor, he had no problem fitting into the rigours of life at a very tender age.

Narrating how his conservative father was able to attain his education status back then, Dapo, a native of Iperu-Remo, described his background as a humble one, adding that his parents had no trust fund to bequeath to him except the fortune of character.

“I must tell you that, I come from a very humble background and my parents are still living. My parents were teachers and I did not inherit any money from anybody. My story is such that let me say, if I can be where I am today, anybody can be here, I mean, anybody.

“I will tell you a story that my grandfather would never believe he would have a grandson who would be where I am today. My dad, after he had me, was when he got into university. My dad would work as a teacher, a teacher in Iperu and he was a teacher that didn’t have shoes to wear to school. I think you will not like a story about people who don’t have shoes to wear to school, my father did not have shoes to wear to school.

“As a teacher, he would go to school to teach and would give a proceed from his salary to his mom, who was selling kola nut and she would trade with it and it was from the proceeds of the grand mom’s trade that my father was able to afford his university education. So, I think, it speaks for itself. Where I am today is just by the special grace of God. God just wanted to change the situations of my family and I think that is why he has raised me to be a blessing to my home.

Dapo, an oil business czar, who once laid his hand on fabrication of security gates before delving into the oil world studied Accounting at Kennesaw State University, Atlanta Georgia, United States. He also holds an Honourary Doctorate Degree in Finance from Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, and another in Business Administration from Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State.

Prior to his election as governor, Abiodun was the board Chairman of Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). He is the Managing Director of Heyden Petroleum, indigenous, independent oil trading company and the founder of First Power Limited.

Makinde: An engineer that can’t be separated from golf

Quiet, urbane, pleasant and savvy, Seyi Makinde, the 51-year-old elected governor of Oyo State is a man that looks younger than his age. But those who know him said one of the reasons for his boyish looks is his chronic addiction to the game of golf.

According to one of his associates, Makinde has an unfettered passion for golf and he plays it with finesse. He added: “The governor-elect is a frontline member of the Ibadan Golf Club and he is the sponsor of the Seyi Makinde Women Support Golf Tournament.”

Not only that he loves the games, but he also plays it very well. So deep is his love for the game that, hardly will a week passed that he would not play golf.

Makinde, who apparently substituted football, a game he couldn’t make a career out of due to some circumstances, for Golf, was a sportsman right from his childhood.

He has been one of the major sponsors of events and projects of the club over the years. Being a sportman right from his childhood, he must have substituted football, To him, Golf is a highly challenging and interesting game through which one can actually keep fit and at the same time relaxing one’s system.

He said: “I am a sport person, apart from golf, I do play tennis. sports enhance the wellbeing of an individual. Golf is very challenging, you never know what is going to happen until you actually put the ball in the hole, it’s very challenging, a round of golf will probably take you like six hours to go through the 18 holes, it’s just fun and relaxing.

“Golf is usually seen as elitist game and I want to encourage more people to embrace golf because we have a lot of talents. In fact, we have a lot of ‘Tiger Woods’ who are just out there and all we need to do for them is to encourage them to come into the game.”

Trained at the University of Lagos as an engineer, Makinde, a father of three children, a boy and two girls, met his wife, Tamunominini , in Port Harcourt where he served and they courted for almost seven years before getting married.

On the home front, Makinde, who was born on Christmas day of 1967 at Oluyoro Catholic Hospital Ibadan, is a good cook, especially when it comes to the making of steak. He is the third child of the family of renowned teacher turned accountant; late Pa Olatubosun Makinde and Madam Abigail Makinde of Aigbofa Compound in Oja’ba, Ibadan.

Makinde began his education at St Paul Primary School and completed his primary education at St Michael Primary School, Yemetu, Ibadan. His secondary education was at Bishop Phillips Academy, Monatan, Ibadan. In 1985, he gained admission to the University of Lagos (Unilag) where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering.

He did his national service (NYSC) with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria, where he was later engaged as a pupil engineer. He served in different capacities; handling and partaking in several key projects between 1990 and 1992. From 1992 to 1997, he worked as a field Engineer (Eket operations) for Rebold International Limited and in 1995, he was appointed as Field Manager in the same company.

He established his first oil and gas private business called Makon Engineering and Technical Services, (METS) at the age of 29 in 1997.

With a passion for philanthropic gestures, Makinde’s entrance to the political turf in the last couple of years has been dramatic and influential despite his inexperience in political office. After a series of attempts, he was elected to be governor of the Pacesetter State at 2019 general elections on the platform of the PDP.

Sanwo-Olu: From campus DJ to Lagos gov

Who could ever believe that the new governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu was a Disc Jockey (DJ) who played recorded pop or dance music for dancers or listeners and introduced the names of the songs using a microphone, way back in the University of Lagos?

Hear the new governor: “Maybe you do not know I was a DJ. I used to be a paid DJ, meaning that I have my cassette player and other things. You guys now use MP3, flash drive and all. In those days, I used to carry all my cassettes and record box around.”

Of course, Sanwo-Olu, who was pursuing a degree in Surveying at the time, used the social life to advance his life as he got engaged to his wife, Ibijoke, during one of the DJ moments at the University of Lagos.

Going down memory lane on how he met his wife in the university, he said: “I met her at one of the Jambite parties that we used to have for new students. I had been in the university before she came as a Jambite. One of the things that usually happened then was that we always served ice cream in our parties. It was not the conventional parties of rice and plantain you have these days.

“The good thing about the whole things is the fact that apart from being the DJ, which means I would give them good music, I was also the person to serve the ice cream and that means I would only give the ice cream to whoever I wanted. So, it was in the course of serving ice cream that I spotted her. I saw her and said to myself, ‘wow, this little one”. She was very innocent and looked too little. We dated for a long time, about 8 to 9 years before we married. As they say, everything is now history. Today, she is a Medical Doctor.”

Although, Sanwo-Olu has never run for public office before the 2019 general election, his transition from the private sector to the public sector in 2003, has been quite a handful with experiences in public service.

He was first appointed as Special Adviser on Corporate Matters to Lagos Deputy Governor, Femi Pedro in 2003 and subsequently as Special Adviser (Corporate Matters) to former Governor Bola Tinubu before becoming a full Commissioner for Establishment in 2007.
He later became Lagos Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Commissioner for Budget and Planning and Commissioner for Establishments and Training.

He has an enviable background in the private sector, with almost 10 years experience in banking, holding key positions, such as treasurer at the defunct Lead Merchant Bank from 1994 to 1997; United Bank for Africa (UBA) as head of Foreign Money Market; First Inland Bank Plc (now First City Monument Bank) as a deputy general manager and divisional head.

Sanwo-Olu was the chairman of Baywatch Group Limited and First Class Group Limited, a board member of the Department for International Development (DFID/DEEPEN) Fund and Audit Committee of Caverton Offshore Services Group Plc.

An alumnus of the University of Lagos, London Business School, Lagos Business School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Sanwo-Olu is also an associ ate member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM) and Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Training and Development (NITAD).

Ihedioha: A publicist leads Imo

Hon. Emeka Ihedioha is a household name when it comes to the business of lawmaking. But not many are in the known of his vastness and experience in the media and publicity world.

Although he was trained as a food scientist at the University of Lagos, the new governor of Imo State was able to carve a niche for himself as a media practitioner and that, perhaps, ushered him into the extensive world of politics.

His life of service started with his appointment as Press Officer to the then President of the Senate of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu in 1992. Within three months of this appointment, he was elevated to the position of Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Albert Legogie (late).

When the military cut short Nigeria’s democratic experience and experiment in November 1993, Ihedioha returned to his public communications practice as Chief Executive Officer of First Page Communications. In 1995 when the whistle was blown for transition to civil rule under the aborted Third Republic, he readily found his sails in the familiar waters of politics and was appointed Director of Publicity of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM).

In 1999, Ihedioha was appointed into key positions in the budding democratic dispensation. First, he was appointed Special Assistant to the Presidential Adviser on Utilities (July 1999); Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President of Senate (November 1999); and eventually Special Assistant on Political Matters to the Vice President (September 2001).

Ihedioha 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.

Between 2011 and 2015, he was elected deputy speaker of the House and alternate chairman, Governing Council of the National Institute of Legislative Studies (NILS); acting speaker from May 27 to June 5, 2015, following the withdrawal of the then speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, to pursue his ambition to govern Sokoto State.

He won a seat into the House of Representative as a member representing Aboh-Mbasie-Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency of Imo State in 2003.

He was the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 2011 to 2015. During this period, he also served as the Speaker of the House of Representatives after Tambuwal’s defection to the APC and choice to stand down.
Emeka Ihedioha is married to Lady Ebere Ihedioha, and they have four children namely; Emeka, Ezinwa, Nkem, Kamsi.

Matawalle: A teacher presides over Zamfara

His journey to the Zamfara Government House was tedious. It took the ruling of the Supreme Court to declare his mandate and it must have been an exasperating experience for his supporters, mostly. But for him, it’s a learning curve and this mindset can be attributed to his training. He was a teacher and tutors are usually patient in their dissemination of knowledge.

This trait also played out in his quest for public office. He had his first shot in politics was in 1998 when he ran for a House of Assembly seat and won. He contested under the platform of United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP). But after the death of Sani Abacha, military dictator, Abdulsalami Abubakar, his successor, dissolved the political parties and announced that elections would hold in 1999.

Born in Maradun Local Government Area of the state on December 12, 1969, the Zamfara governor attended Maradun Township Primary School from where he proceeded to the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos and Thames Valley University, London.

He was employed by the former Sokoto State Ministry of Health and later taught at Government Girls College, Moriki and Kwatarkoshi. He joined the Federal Ministry of Water Resources where he worked till he ventured into politics in 1998.

Between 1999 and 2003, Matawalle served as Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Environment, Rural Development and later youth and Sport in Zamfara.

In 2003, he contested on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) for a House of Representatives seat and won. He represented Bakura/Maradun Federal Constituency in the Green Chamber till 2007.

He was reelected in 2007 and was in the lower legislative chamber till 2011. In the house, he served as chairman committee on ethics and privileges, chairman Ad hoc Committee on Marine Security and Safety Commission.

Matawalle polled 189,452 in the March polls as against the 534,541 votes for Muktar Idris, the APC candidate. The Supreme Court pronounced the votes cast for the APC in the election as wasted and ordered that the candidate with the second highest votes be sworn in today.

He is married to four wives and blessed with children.

Bala Mohammed: A journalist, civil servant becomes governor in Bauchi

Born on October 5, 1958 at Duguri Town in Alkaleri Council, Mohammed attended Duguri Primary School, Bauchi from 1965 to 1971, Government Secondary School, Bauchi, North East College of Art and Science between and 1977 and University of Maiduguri in 1979, graduating a degree in English Language.

He began his career as a journalist when he joined The Democrat as a reporter. He later moved to rose to the Mirage newspaper, Jos where he rose to the position of News Editor between 1982 and 1983. He also had a stint as a News Reporter with the News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN).
In 1984, he left journalism for civil service when he got employed as an administrative officer in the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs and was promoted and redeployed as principal administrative officer in the Cabinet Secretariat of the Presidency.

He was Chief Supplies officer, Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals from 1995 to 1997, rising to the position of assistant director in the Federal Ministry of Power and Steel in 1997, a position he held until 1999, when he was promoted deputy director/special assistant to the minister of Transport.

He discharged his functions in that capacity from 1999 to 2003 and following his hardwork and innovation, he was promoted as Director of Administration, Nigerian Railway Corporation in 2003. By September that year, he became Special Assistant to the Minister of Aviation and became Director of Administration and Supplies, Nigerian Meteorological Agency in 2004.

He was elected senator on April 21, 2007 to represent Bauchi South. The then President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan appointed him as Minister of FCT in 2011.

AbdulRasak: Son of the first SAN in Northern region takes charge

On the surface, his story reads like a folktale, but when digested with undivided attention, it is most compelling and engaging.

After a long run of ambitions, AbdulRahaman AbdulRasak of the All Progressives Congress (APC) will be sworn-in today as the sixth executive governor of Kwara State.

AbdulRasak, a son of the first Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) from the defunct Northern region of Nigeria Folorunsho AbdulRasak, made his foray into the nation’s politics some 16 years ago by given his financial backings, under cover, to some political aspirants who are opposed to the recently dethroned political hegemony of the state, led by Dr Bukola Saraki.

Following the footsteps of his father, who is a complete symbol of Nigeria unity as his sojourn in life traversed all geopolitical zones of Nigeria, AbdulRasak, was an oil magnate before his ascension to the Kwara top job.

Notable among his siblings are: Dr Alimi AbdulRasak who once contested for the Governorship of the state in 1999 under the banner of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Senator Khairat Gwadabe, nee AbdulRasak. The senior AbdulRasak eventually lost the elections to late Mohammed Lawal of the defunct All Progressives Congress (APP).

Zullum: Drove Taxi for 16 years, trekked seven kilometers daily

He is today a Professor of Irrigation Engineering from University of Maiduguri and the governor of Borno State, but not many know the humble background of Babagana Zullum before destiny pulled his hand up.

Recalling his humble beginning, he said an interview that: “Every day, I trekked for seven kilometers to reach my father’s farm from our home,” he recalled. He combined farming with his primary and school in Mafa and Monguno from 1975 to 1980 and 1980 to 85, respectively. At “class five” in secondary school in Monguno, he began to fully cater for his education.

“From 1984 to around 1999 (16 years) I became a commercial driver of taxis, particularly Peugeot 404. At some point, I also drove buses carrying passengers to different villages, and neighboring states. At a later time, I drove commercial pickup trucks carrying firewood from forests. While working as commercial driver, I learned how to fix any vehicle I drove,” he recalled.

He added: “I paid my secondary education and National Diploma (ND) fees and also sponsored my education”.

According to him, he secured admission at UniMaid to read for B.Agric and since he couldn’t afford the school fees, feeding and accommodation fees, he worked as a taxi driver for commercial purpose as well as farm produce driver to make ends meet.

Prof. Zulum extended his commercial driving trade to Lagos, precisely at Alaba-Rago to raise his tuition fees for his MSc programme, three weeks after resumption.

Surprisingly he returned to Maiduguri

for his PhD programme where, he moved through the ranks and files within the university community until his appointment as Professor in 2014.

Yahaya: An accountant comes to the throne

Alhaji Inuwa Yahaya ran on the platform of the APC, he scored 364,179 votes to defeat the PDP candidate, Usman Nafada, who polled 222,868 votes. Yahaya’s victory has ended the 16 years of PDP rule in Gombe State.

A graduate of accounting, he started his career as an Accountant II with the Bauchi State Investment and Property Development Company (BSIPDC) and rose to the rank of Principal Accountant and ventured into active politics in 2003 when he was appointed as Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development during Governor Muhammad Danjuma Goje’s administration, where he served for seven years.

During the years he served as a commissioner and member of the state executive council, he was in-charge of Budgetary Planning and Financial control of the state and chairman of the board of the Gombe State Investment and Property Development Company Limited.

He was a founding member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the party’s flag bearer in the 2015 governorship election in the state, he lost out to the incumbent who ran under the PDP before coming back again to contest for this year’s elections.

Buni: A party man comes to the saddle

Popularly called MMB, , Mai Mala Buni, a former National Secretary of the APC is the new governor of Yobe State. Buni scored 444,013 votes to defeat the candidate of the PDP, Umar Iliya Damagum, who scored 95, 703 votes.

Mai Mala, a thorough party man and a grassroots politician, rose through the ranks to become the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Legislative Matters, was the pioneer Chairman of the APC in Yobe State as well as the National Secretary of the party.

Sule: A corporate sector czar in Nasarawa

Born on December 26, 1959 in Gudi Station, Akwanga-West Development Area of Nasarawa State, Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule was brought up in the small but multi-ethnic and multi-religious village

Come May 29, 2019, new set of leaders will take over the affairs of states across the country while others would renew their oath for another four years.

His father, Alhaji Sule is the current traditional ruler (Hakimi) while his grandfather, Abdullahi Angulu was the first traditional ruler of Gudi Station. His mother, Hajiya Hauwa, was brought up in Bokono and Keffi.

His early schooling was 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 Birni 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 Masters degree in Industrial Technology.

He returned to Nigeria in 2000 and started a company called Sadiq Petroleum Nigeria Limited in Lagos, along with some friends. He was made the pioneer managing director and chief executive officer of the company. That year, Sadiq Petroleum Company participated in the privatisation of African Petroleum Plc and won the bid. Upon acquisition of the 30per cent ownership of AP by Sadiq Petroleum, he was appointed the executive director, operations in November 2000. On April 2, 2001, he was appointed by the board of AP Plc as the fourth managing director and chief executive officer.

Prior to his gubernatorial ambition in 2018, he was the Group Managing Director of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc.

Fintiri: The peoples ATM is back in Adamawa

The new Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, is probably the only State House of Assembly Speaker to have served a record two times as acting governor. His recent victory at the governorship election has returned him to the Adamawa Government House for the third term.

Popularly called ATM because of his generosity, Fintiri, who had been an active grassroots mobiliser and youth leader since 1991, enjoyed patronage of local authorities and politicians in the old Michika Local Government area, comprising Madagali and Michika local areas.

After a couple of failed attempts for a substantive seat in the Adamawa Government House, Fintiri, who didn’t return to the Assembly in 2015, emerged as the governorship candidate of the PDP in the 2019 general elections.

After the March 9 election was declared inconclusive and a supplementary election was conducted in 44 units across 14 local government areas of the state, Fintiri defeated the sitting governor, Muhammadu Bindow of APC to become the governor.

Born on October 27th, 1967 in Gulak Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa State, he grew up in a world that had become so conscious of the primacy of Western Education and Religious knowledge, both of which he struggled to acquire at an early age.

He had his early primary School in Central Primary School Gulak from 1975-1981, Government Day Secondary School Gulak and Government Secondary School Michika from 1981-1986.

He holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Policy and Strategic studies, from the University of Maiduguri 2004 after obtaining his first degree in History from the same University in 1992.