Many years after they had served the country in various capacities and left public office, no one has heard anything about them again. In this report, ELEOJO IDACHABA asks where they could be now.
Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi once represented the people of Lagos Central Senatorial District between 1999 and 2007. Heavily-built Afikuyomi is often described as a ‘Lagos boy’ apart from being referred to as ‘chairman’ within Ebute Metta area of the state on account of his energy, vibrancy and the aura he brings to bear in whatever he does. As a result of his outspokenness, it was not difficult for him to warm his way into the hearts of the grassroots people within the central district of the state – the reason for which his election into the Senate in 1999 was seamless. While representing his people in the Senate, he was the chairman, committee on aviation. He also chaired the committees on foreign affairs, public accounts and federal character. He was a very prominent member of then Alliance for Democracy (AD), one of the parties that later merged with others to form the present All Progressives Congress (APC).
His political fortunes, however, took a nosedive in 2007 when he, against the powers that be in Lagos, decided to run for governor that year on the AD platform, but could not secure the ticket. He quickly jumped the ship and pitched a tent with the then All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) to actualise the dream, but could not because the party was not on ground in Lagos. That was how he nailed his political coffin especially as the ANPP eventually lost focus even at the federal level. Since then, he seemed to have bid goodbye to his cherished profession which is politics. He was, however, one of the finest lawmakers during his time in the upper chamber.
A popular Lagos-based magazine once described him as “one of the finest crops in politics that would spun a surprise in the years ahead considering his descent political background and the fact that he is closer to the grass root. He only has the powers in Lagos to contend with on his way to reckoning.” That was then. Years after, it is not clear where he has been and what he is doing.
Maj.-Gen. Godwin Abe (retd.) is someone who has served this country in many capacities both in the capacity of a military man and civilian. He enlisted in the army in 1967 and was commissioned in ’68. After going through some military training with its postings in different capacities, he was appointed by former self- styled president, General Ibrahim Babangida as military governor of Akwa Ibom state from 1988 to 1999 and later of Rivers state from 1990 to 1991. On leaving the military after retirement, he joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and became its chairman in his home state of Edo.
In 2007, the late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua appointed him as the minister of interior. As the interior minister, Abbe was the chairman of a committee that recommended the amnesty programme for gunmen in the Niger Delta region; an important step towards improving output of oil and gas. Also, as the interior minister, at a meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government in Kampala, Uganda in November 2007, Abbe met with a former British prime minister, Gordon Brown, and asked for assistance in restructuring the police force, which was suffering from low morale due to poor welfare, inadequate training and the lack of vital work tools, a move he was carrying out before he was moved to the Ministry of Defence.
Abbe who is presently in his 70s said while reflecting years back about his age that, “For me, it is exciting and I also welcome the new age with mixed feelings. When you attain this age, you suddenly realise that God has been merciful to you. You thank God for the protection one has enjoyed without money. But basically it is more of gratitude to God because I know that is not by might or right reaching this age.”
Speaking about him, a public commentator, Tony Umor, said, “He is presently joining the group of persons considered as elder statesmen for whom the needed strength for national service is no longer available except for few comments here and there.”
Presently, it is not clear where he is and what he is doing.
Ex-lawmaker Abubakar Sodangi was elected to represent the people of Nasarawa-west senatorial district in 1999 and got re-elected in 2003 and 2007, respectively. He is one of the founding members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and remained a member until he dumped the party that ushered him to prominence and moved on to the All Progressives Congress (APC) following the victory of the latter in the 2015 general elections. A trained lawyer, he had practised law before he joined politics. That was why while in the Senate, he was appointed to the committees on judiciary, human rights and legal matters, interior, foreign affairs and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
In a mid-term evaluation of senators in May 2009 which was usually done by ThisDay Newspapers, it reported that Senator Sodangi, a year before the evaluation, never sponsored any bill in the upper chamber, but had worked hard as chairman of the committee probing activities and irregularities in the FCT. For a long while now, he has not been able to get his feet back into mainstream politics, but has been into private businesses especially his first address which is law. Unconfirmed reports, however, have it that he is the chairman, governing board of a private radio station in Abuja.