Obaseki vs Shaibu: Tinubu, Okorocha, and other govs who ‘fought’ their deputies

The show of no love lost between Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu continued over the weekend during the state’s 32nd anniversary thanksgiving church service held at the Festival Hall, Government House on Sunday.

Both Obaseki and Shaibu have been at loggerheads over the latter’s ambition to contest the 2024 governorship polls in the state.

In an apparent move to wade off any show of public affection, security aides attached to Obaseki reportedly barred Shaibu from approaching the governor during the event.  Again, the following day, on Monday, August 28, at the 60th anniversary of the Midwest Referendum celebration, Shaibu’s media aides were reportedly denied entry to the venue of the event, despite pleas from the deputy governor who later stormed out.

All these developments only mean one thing, that both men are far from sheathing their swords even though the deputy governor had a few times downplayed their disagreement.

In the larger context, feuds between a governor and his deputy are not new to the Nigerian political space. In fact, since the return of democracy in 1999, several states have had their fair share of such battle royales.

In this piece, we highlight a few of those notable tussles between state governors and their second-in-command.

Bola Tinubu vs Femi Pedro 

President Bola Tinubu as governor of Lagos State had a go with his then deputy, Otunba Olufemi Pedro.

Pedro was said to have got on the wrong side of his principal over Tinubu’s choice to back his Chief of  Staff, Tunde Fashola, as his successor.

The animosity between both men forced the deputy governor to defect to the Labour Party and contest against his boss anointed heir, Fashola.

After the election, which he lost, Pedro got an impeachment notice from the House of Assembly. He promptly sent in his resignation letter, but the lawmakers were said to have rejected the letter leading to his eventual impeachment.

Rochas Okorocha vs Jude Agbaso & Eze Madumere

Former Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, had two deputy governors for his two terms in office and fell out with both of them at different points.

Jude Agbaso was deputy governor of Imo State till March 2013 when he was impeached. It was said that Agbaso’s battle with his principal began when he challenged the then-governor for a second tenure, citing a supposed gentleman’s agreement that stipulated that Okorocha would rule Imo State for only four years. He was sent packing and summarily replaced by Prince Eze Madumere.

If Agbaso and Okorocha’s relationship was a political necessity, Madumere’s relationship with Okorocha was seen to be more cordial. However, he too fell out with his principal in similar circumstances.

Madumere was said to be against the choice of Okorocha’s son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, as his successor. Miffed, Madumere threw his cap into the ring, creating a breakaway faction full of his loyalists in the All Progressives Congress.

Abdullahi Ganduje vs Hafiz Abubakar

When Prof Hafiz Abubakar resigned as the deputy of then-Kano State governor Abdullahi Ganduje on August 4, 2018, he said the decision was taken due to ‘irreconcilable differences’ on matters relating to governance and government operations.

He further stated he suffered  “immeasurable and unjustifiable humiliation” for over two and a half years on issues of governance and the desire to keep government on track.

Though Ganduje denied those allegations, observers said the Ganduje’s feud with Abubakar began when the latter failed to disassociate himself from the governor’s predecessor, Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso.

Obong Victor Attah  vs Chris Ekpenyong

Former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Obong Victor Attah’s not-so-cordial relationship with his then deputy, Dr. Chris Ekpenyong, degenerated to the point that the latter was impeached.

Despite efforts by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo and the PDP to halt the impeachment, the state House of Assembly voted to remove Ekpeyong in June 2005.

Ayodele Fayose vs Abiodun Aluko 

Governor Ayo Fayose was alleged to have instigated the removal of his deputy, Abiodun Aluko in 2005.

The state House of Assembly impeached Aluko after finding him guilty of 16 offences. The lawmakers claimed all the offences were grounds for impeachment.

Isa Yuguda vs Garba Gadi

Alhaji Garba Gadi was said to have crossed the red line with his principal, Isa Yuguda, owing to the latter’s refusal to defect to the PDP from the ANPP that brought them to power.

Gadi was impeached but later re-instated by a High Court in Bauchi due to irregularities in the proceedings leading to his impeachment.

Olusegun Mimiko vs Ali Olanusi

Former Ondo State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, was said to have enraged his principal, Olusegun Mimiko when he defected to the All Progressives Congress instead of joining him in the Peoples Democratic Party.

He was impeached by the state House of Assembly in 2015 but two years later, a court declared the impeachment illegal and restored Olanusi to his office. But it was too little too late for him as his tenure with Mimiko had already elapsed.