Barring any further change, governorship elections will be held in 28 of Nigeria’s 36 states on Saturday, March 18, 2023.
The governorship and state assembly elections are being held a week later than initially scheduled after a court case forced the Independent National Electoral Commission to move them forward.
Eight of the 36 states — Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Ekiti, Imo, Kogi, Osun, and Ondo — have governorship elections “off-season” due to litigation and court judgments.
In alphabetical order, the 28 states where governorship elections will hold on March 18, 2023, are Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, and Zamfara
Of the 28 states, 11 serving governors are seeking reelection, while 17 outgoing governors are in the final weeks of their constitutional two-term limits of eight years, having been sworn in on May 29, 2015.
11 Governors seeking reelection
Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State in north-east Nigeria is seeking reelection for another four-year term on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Fintiri is in the race alongside 14 other candidates, including the Labour Party’s (LP) Mustapha Madawaki as well as the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) Senator Aishatu Dahiru, famously known as Binani.
Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, also in north-east Nigeria, is seeking reelection under the PDP umbrella. Mohammed is in the contest with 13 other candidates, including Senator Halliru Jika of the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP) as well as APC’s candidate, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who is Nigeria’s immediate past Chief of Air Staff.
Also seeking reelection in the North-East geopolitical zone is Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State. Zulum, one of the poster boys of the APC, is contesting on the platform of the ruling party. He is in the race alongside 11 others, including the PDP’s Mohammed Jajari and the LP’s Goni Abdullahi.
Still in the North-East, Governor Muhammad Inuwa of Gombe State is seeking reelection on the platform of the APC. Inuwa will be slugging it out at the polls with 13 others, including the PDP’s Muhammed Barde and the LP’s Amuga Esau.
Mai Mala Buni
Governor Mai Mala Buni and a former caretaker chairman of the APC want another term in office as governors of Yobe State. He is in the race alongside 10 other candidates, like the PDP’s Shariff Abdullahi and the NNPP’s Umar Garba.
Moving from the north-east to the north-west, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State is in the race with the PDP’s Dauda Lawal, the LP’s Ahmed Yahuza, and 11 others.
In the North Central, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State seeks a return to office on the APC platform. He is in the race with the PDP’s Abdullahi Yaman, the LP’s Abubakar Kabir, and 11 others.
In Nasarawa, which shares a border with Nigeria’s seat of power, Abuja, the reelection bid of Governor Abdullahi Sule of the APC is in the race with 13 others, including LP’s Ewuge Joseph and Mohammed Alfa of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
For Nigeria’s economic capital city of Lagos in the south-west zone, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC will be slugging it out with 15 co-contestants, including LP’s Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour and PDP’s Olajide Adediran aka Jandor.
Still in the South-West, Governor Dapo Abiodun’s second-term bid is in the running with 12 others, including PDP’s Ladi Adebutu, who is no newcomer to the game, as well as Biyi Otegbeye of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), who has the backing of former governor and serving APC senator, Ibikunle Amosun.
Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, is seeking reelection with 15 others, including the LP’s Akinwale Tayo as well as a serving senator, Teslim Folarin of the APC. Makinde is the last of the PDP G5, or Integrity Group, to have an election.
Already, Governors Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), and Samuel Ortom (Benue), who have been in office for eight years each, have all lost their senatorial bids, while Nyesom Wike (Rivers), who is also completing his second term as Governor, didn’t run for any elective post.
With the defeat of three of his comrades, all eyes are now on Makinde come March 18.
Emergence of new governors
While it is unclear how the race in these 11 states will pan out, fresh governors are certain to emerge in 17 other states.
The states are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, the Plateau, the Rivers, Sokoto, and Taraba.
Significantly, of the 17 outgoing governors, nine contested the Senate election on February 25.
Seven failed in their bids to become Senators to move into the Senate while two were victorious.
Governors Abubakar Bello (Niger) and Dave Umahi (Ebonyi) won senatorial seats.
The seven outgoing governors who lost their Senate bids are: Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Darius Ishaku (Taraba), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Ben Ayade (Cross River), and Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi).
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) contested as running mate to Atiku Abubakar of the PDP in the presidential election, but APC’s Bola Tinubu was declared the winner of the race. They are challenging the outcome.
Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), and Nyesom Wike (Rivers) were PDP powerbrokers in the presidential poll, while Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), and Aminu Masari (Katsina) staunchly backed the APC presidential candidate and President-Elect Bola Tinubu.