In this report, GABRIEL ATUMEYI, looks at some familial relationships that have withstood the tug of political electioneering ahead of 2019 polls. The Nigerian political space has always been dominated by political dynasties. But in recent times there seems to be a new twist as members of the same families have opted for different parties, disagreeing at the level of political ideology. The forthcoming 2019 general elections reveals this phenomenon.
Obasanjo And Son
Last October, the son of former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, Olujonwo Abraham, joined President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign team in Abuja despite his father’s endorsement of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, his former vice president, for the number one seat in 2019.
Atiku as one of his first deft political moves, had sought the forgiveness of his estranged former boss, Mr Obasanjo, who had earlier sworn not to support his (Abubakar) years-long aspirations to become president.
Obasanjo, who had earlier fallen out with Buhari, whom he supported in 2015 to win the presidential election, has since ‘forgiven’ Atiku and endorsed him for the position. The former president had urged Buhari not to seek reelection over dismal performance, an advice the president had since thrashed.
Obasanjo’s son in September had written a letter to the campaign team declaring his support for the reelection bid of Buhari and he was subsequently made the national co-ordinator of Buhari youth organisation.
Olajuwon recently revealed to reporters that despite his political differences with his father, they both still maintain a warm and cordial father-son relationship.
Another family that has this experience ahead of 2019 is the former presidential aide, Dr Doyin Okupe, who was chairman of the Media Council for the campaign organisation of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, when he contested for the PDP’s presidential ticket.
However, since he lost the ticket to Atiku, Okupe has been a vocal supporter of the party’s candidate to defeat Buhari in the 2019 presidential election. However, his son Mr Ditan Okupe on the other hand has decided to pitch his tent with the opposing camp of Buhari.
The senior Okupe has also revealed that his son may have joined the re-election campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari to get back at him over their ‘serious issues’.
But Ditan even went further to call on his father to join the All Progressives Congress (APC). In a tweet on social media, he said that my decision was not based on revenge. That I ‘m not even sure if my father is officially a PDP member or if he is actually on their campaign, but I will like to give my father @doyinokupe who I love, an open invitation to join the winning team now.”
The Katsina Brothers
Another case in point is the August bye – election for Katsina- North Senatorial District between Kabir Babba-Kaita of the PDP and Ahmad Babba-Kaita of the APC. The latter emerged winner of the contest which attracted national attention when it became clear that the two major contenders were, literally, brothers.
Kabir Babba-Kaita of PDP is the older brother of Ahmad Babba-Kaita of APC. It was reported that Kabir is like a foster father to Ahmad, because he brought him up. Kabir is said to be the new entrant into politics, being a Customs officer who joined politics after his retirement.
The younger brother, Ahmad was however a seasoned politician having been in politics much longer. since the beginning of the current political dispensation, Ahmad has been in the opposition until the APC took over the mantle of governance in 2015. Before his election, he was a member of the House of Reps, representing Kusada/Ingawa/Kankia Federal Constituency.
He was serving his second term in the House before his emergence as Senator-elect. He emerged the APC candidate after defeating 10 other candidates at a keenly-contested primary election.
It was reported that as the two brothers became set to slug it out on the day of the by-election, all members of the Babba-Kaita family in Kankia and other LGAs in the Daura Senatorial Zone abstained from voting.
Observers opined that it shows that the family is a united one such that regardless of what happens, things are still normal and cordial within the family.
That when you go there, you won’t know that there was any contest between the two brothers. Kabir is said to be well-respected in the family because he is the eldest son and therefore seen as a father.
The Uba Brothers
A legendary example is the rivalry between Sen Andy Uba, currently representing Anambra South senatorial zone, and his younger brother Chris. The powerful siblings have always been in opposing camps in every election. And, 2019 elections is not different.
Since leaving office as a member of Obasanjo’s kitchen cabinet, Sen Uba has been contesting for political office, either for governor or senate. And his younger brother, Chris, has always opposed him. However, the Senator has always succeeded in spite of the opposition from his brother.
This time around, Chris has gone further in the consistent opposition to his brother by picking the ticket of the PDP for Anambra South, while the incumbent senator has emerged as the candidate of the APC.
If Andy wins the election next year, it would be his third tenure in the Senate. But Chris Uba said in an interview in Awka that he was contesting against his elder brother, Andy because he did not want him (Andy) to overstay his usefulness in the Red Chamber.
According to him, Andy should progress politically, instead of stagnating at a place as a senator where he is not even making any impact.
The Tussle Within Saraki Dynasty
The most famous scenario of politically influential fathers falling out with their sons is the case of senate president Bukola Saraki and his father Dr Olusola Saraki, the second republic, senate president. It is widely believed that without Dr Olusola Saraki, Bukola Saraki would not have ascended the way he did in Nigerian Politics but he later supplanted the strongman of Kwara Politics because of his personal ambition.
Bukola Saraki, as the governor of Kwara State in 2015, went against the wishes of his father who wanted his sister, Senator Gbemisola Saraki to succeed him at the Government House but Bukola disagreed and his refusal pushed Olusola Saraki to leave with his faithful to the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) where Gbemi was handed the governorship ticket and she contested against the Bukola-backed Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Candidate, Abdul Fatai Ahmed and was trounced as the candidates of the ACPN in other elections were also defeated.
Bukola later claimed that he championed the cause for the election of the present governor, Ahmed with the intention of dispelling the possible fears that the state was about to be turned into the family’s estate.
The elder statesman was later compelled to forgive him and later praised the political ingenuity of his son in spite of the hurt that he caused the family during the elections.
Another little known case, is that of the Yar’Adua’s. The late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was largely a socialist with NEPU/PRP ideology, but his other brothers were largely conservatives and they remained one united family.