As "Political Grand God-Fathers" Retire From Partisan Politics

The most recent two years has seen the withdrawal of some noticeable government officials from fanatic legislative issues, perpetually leaving the scene for the present era of legislators.

These are political goliath, much like "political amazing god-father" who have generally characterized the political space for a considerable length of time.

Other than accumulating immense supporter send base, they have since delivered god-children who are as of now god-fathering political children of their own.

While the natural process of age has kicked in, coincidentally, for some, their exit from partisan political scene came with the emergence of a new party at the center, All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari.

Before now, there were predictions from political bookmakers that Buhari’s emergence as winner at the last presidential election would likely force some leaders of both the ruling APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) into some sort of retirement from active politics.

Some others had left the stage even before the emergence of a new president and their party losing the center.


Recently, when the former BoT Chairman of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, announced his retirement from partisan politics, he did not sugarcoat the implications of his decision and reason for his retirement.

Anenih made the revelation, in a conference recently organized at the International Conference Centre in Abuja while launching his autobiography titled: ‘My Life and Nigeria Politics’.

According to Anenih, “I am persuaded that I have no more ambition nor any point to prove in politics. I am, therefore, glad to declare that, from today, I shall be withdrawing from active partisan politics. I shall, however, continue to avail the country of my experience, give suggestions and offer advice, as a statesman,”

Not even persuasions from former president Goodluck Jonathan could sway the elder-statesman.

Anenih, is one of the pioneer members of the PDP and without a doubt, an integral institution in the operations of the party.

His immense contributions and experience in the nation’s politics did not only contributed to the growth and strength of the PDP but also brought victory to the party in elections at various levels between 1999 and 2011, same political sagacity that earned him the famous moniker, Mr. Fix It.

Opening a new chapter of his life, the former BoT chairman, however stunned his audience at his book launch, by revealing some of the most salient intrigues that played out in the country’s political landscape during the controversial 1983 presidential election leading to the death of MKO Abiola, the winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election.

The Edo born politician and former police officer was the National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) at the time in question. In his book, he narrated his roles in the chain of events that led to the death of Abiola who won the election on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP.

Anenih claimed to have warned Abiola on several occasions to thread carefully not to step on the tail of the serpent who had long bottled its venom waiting for the slightest of opportunity to strike but late MKO rebuffed his advices but instead, ‘‘Chief Abiola kept the leadership of the party away from his arrangement with General Abacha to take over from Shonekan.

“If he had brought it to the notice of the leadership of the party, he would have been advised well,” said Anenih in his book.

Still, before his retirement, there were calls from some stakeholders, particularly in Edo State that it was time the Uromi-born retired police officer quit active politics as he had paid his dues in politics.


His exit from active politics still remains controversial and unclear to many. The former President took Nigerians and the PDP by surprise when he tore his party’s membership card in 2014 in the wake of the crises rocking the party then. It was believed that he did that when he got the wind of information that he was going to be expelled or suspended by the party leadership.

Although Obasanjo is yet to officially declare his retirement from active politics, his body language has proved that he is long out of the loop after speculations that he may rejoin the PDP or pitch his tent with the APC after cutting ties with his former student, former President Goodluck Jonathan.

“As for me now, I don’t belong to any political party and I will not belong to any political party. The only thing that is of concern to me is the greatness of Nigeria’’, said Obasanjo had in 2015 told a group who paid him a courtesy visit at his country home Ogun State.
Obasanjo remains, in one breath, the most controversial and most successful politician in the history of Nigeria’s politics. From a military Head of State who was later jailed by late military Head of State Gen. Sani Abacha for an alleged treason, he transmuted to become a voice in African politics. He was released amongst other political prisoners after the death of Abacha in 1998 and was subsequently made the flag bearer of the PDP, leading to his emergence as the country’s first Fourth Republic President in 1999.

Leaving office in 2007, he influenced the decision making body of the PDP to alter the constitution of the party to make him the Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees, shelving Tony Anenih out of the office in the process.

After the death of his successor, he influenced the machinery of the PDP to keep Jonathan in power till 2011 after attempts and pressure from some northern oligarch to force Jonathan to step aside for a northerner to continue from where Late President Umaru Musa Yar‘Adua stopped.

However, Jonathan fell out of favour with Obasanjo when the former insisted on contesting the 2015 presidential election. Obasanjo insisted that it would amount to reneging an initial written agreement.

Obasanjo was believed to be the straw that broken the camel’s back. His objection cumulated to the cracks in the PDP in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election and the party’s subsequent abysmal failure at the poll to return Jonathan to power.

However, Obasanjo has, in spite of being a partisan politician, continued to huge contribution and impacts in the nation’s politics.

While he entertains  politicians from the PDP, his closeness to the President Buhari has fueled insinuations that he is more in tune with working for the APC.

Ibrahim Babangida

The retired General has since 2011 quit partisan politics. He was a member of the PDP since inception its in 1998 and has tried to run for the office of President under the platform of the party on some occasions.

One of IBB’s greatest political nightmares that worked against his political ambition was his decision to annul the June 12 presidential election.

His quest to rule Nigeria under a democratic dispensation continued till 2011, when on April 12, 2010, his spokesman announced that he would be seeking the PDP ticket for the presidency but this ambition never saw the light of the day.

IBB eventually opted out of partisan politics. However in November 2015, while turning down a PDP invitation to attend its rebranding conference scheduled for that year, he reminded the party that he had writes four years ago.

Replying to the invitation, Gen. Babangida, who dispelled insinuations that he was nursing a presidential ambition in 2019, reminded the PDP leadership that he had quit partisan politics.

In a statement personally signed by him, IBB explained that he publicly quit partisan politics since 2011 when he clocked 70 years, saying that he would not renege on the promise.

The statement reads in part, “I wish to make some clarifications concerning the invitation extended to me on the scheduled PDP Rebranding Conference slated for Thursday, 12 November 12, 2015, aimed at repositioning the party after its poor outing at the last elections.

While I welcome the invitation to the event as a mark of respect as one of the founding fathers, I want to be excused on the grounds that I have long bid bye to partisan politics.

“Four years ago at an elaborate event at the Transcorp Hilton Hotels Abuja, I announced my retirement from partisan politics after my failed attempt to contest for president and having attained the gracious age of 70, in a society where life expectancy stands at a ridiculous 47 years.

“Since 2011 till date, I have been playing my role as an elder statesman and “consultant-in-chief” to political office seekers and other like-minds who want my input in their aspirations.

“At 74, I feel a deep sense of fulfillment in my new role as non-partisan elder statesman and a patriot; available to all categories of persons without the burgeoning label of any political party or affiliation”.

On the speculation of his presidential ambition, IBB said, “I have heard whispers from different political arenas that one of the rationales for the rebranding of PDP was to prepare me for future elections in 2019. How ridiculous? God’s willing; by 2019 I will be 78 years old.

“If I called it quit in 2011, why would PDP contemplate fielding a 78 years old man in a presidential election in a country that parades very vibrant men and women of lesser age? I have no intention whatsoever to run for any office again in Nigeria” he declared.

Even before his retirement, his sphere of influence transcended the PDP, just as he boasts of political god-sons spread across many political parties, including the APC.

This is more so that as military president, he mid-wived the emergence of National Republican Convention and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1992, which gave some prominent politicians today their first shot at holding elective office.

In his post retirement era, the former military president had advanced the argument for a two party system, which manifested in the mould of PDP and APC.

At the heat of the 2015  general election, he played host to then presidential candidates of PDP, Jonathan and that of the APC, Buhari, who separately came to get his blessings ahead of the contest.

His doors have remained open to all political parties.

Bamanga Tukur

The former PDP National Chairman was the governor of the old Gongola State, which covered the present Adamawa and Taraba States. Besides being a founding member of PDP, he was also a member of the PDP, BoT.

He came to national attention in the mid-1970s, as the general manager of the Nigerian Ports Authority. As a prominent Nigerian businessman and politician, he served as Minister for Industries in the administration of General Sani Abacha during the 1990s. He is one of the high profile civil servants and military officers, and has since cut an international figure as ensconced in his serving as the President of the African Roundtable and chairman of NEPAD business group.

From March 2012 to January 2014, Tukur was National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and throughout this period, the PDP was enmeshed in various crises leading to the exit of some governors from the party.

Bamanga Tukur, however grudgingly resigned as national chairmen of the PDP, when his insistence of party supremacy and discipline was not accepted by powerful forces in the party especially PDP Governor’s.

In order to restore peace to the party and possible lure back the seven governors who defected from the PDP to the APC in 2013, Tukur was left with no choice but to resign after a lot of pressures were mounted on former President Goodluck Jonathan to remove him.

In September 2015, at a lecture marking his 80th birthday, Tukur announced his retirement from active politics, saying it was time for him to leave ‘‘partisan politics for the younger generation’’ of politicians and declared to remain a statesman and adviser.

Chief Edwin Clark

At 88, the former Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South leader on October 7, 2015 disclosed his intention to bid farewell to partisan politics.

Clark, a key supporter of Jonathan’s presidency, left the partisan stage following the defeat of the former and the emergence of President Buhari.

Edwin Clark was the political god-father of former President Goodluck Jonathan and was an active voice in the campaign for his re-election from 2014 to 2015.

Like Tukur, Anenih and others, the renowned South-South leader said he seized to be a member of any political party but would now be active only as an elder statesman who would be a father to all.

Addressing a delegation of Think Nigeria First Initiative, TNFI led by its Director- General, Abubakar Tsanni who paid him a courtesy call at his Asokoro residence last year, Chief Clark, who urged all Nigerians to think of Nigeria first above any personal interest,  said, “I no longer belong to the PDP.

“I won’t go to the APC either, but I will continue to talk as an elder statesman and leader of this country. I have left politics.

“If anyone come to me to say he’s running for any elective position in PDP or APC, I won’t support you. I’m not a member of the PDP anymore.”

Clark was one of the Niger Delta leaders believed to have influenced the decision of the erstwhile president to re-contest when it was insinuated that Jonathan might not contest the 2015 presidential election.

Besides, Jonathan, the Ijaw leader, boasts of many political god-sons who had served as governors and current serving elective office holders at both federal and state levels.

Some analysts agreed that these men and many others have all paid their dues but are departing at a time when the country is faced with immense challenges that need collective efforts to fix.

For other analysts it would seem that they are retiring when the political empire they have built and nurtured is crumbling right before their eyes.

Still, for some of the contemporaries, like former Vice President, Chief Alex Ekwueme; former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Malam Adamu Ciroma; former education minister, Prof Jubril Aminu; former presidential candidate and chairman of SDP, Chief Olu Falae; former governor of Old Anambra State, Jim Nwobodo; Senator Arthur Nzeribe; Chief Alani Bankole; and Alhaji Shaiubu Oyedokun amongst others, it remains to be seen whether they have also finally left partisan politics, even though they have been relatively silent on issues in their parties.

Now that these elders are leaving the political circle, how well can the new set of political gladiators, who should take over and build on their foundations, remains to be seen.