Kogi 2019: Abubakar Ibrahim as case study

Succession leadership is the process of identifying and developing new leader to succeed the current leader when they leave, retire or die.

Togo, a country of over seven million people, voted for incumbent President Faure Gnassingbé for a third time. Gnassingbé is the son and immediate successor of Togo’s fifth president—Gnassingbé Eyadema and once he serves out his third term, his family will have run Togo for 48 years. 

In light of this latest development and as the continent moves towards more closely contested elections, it might be time to quickly reflect upon the current status and trends of family political dynasties in sub-Saharan Africa. 

 Is Africa different from the rest of the world? Political dynasties exist around the world. In the United States in 2001, George W Bush became the first modern president whose father (President George H.W. Bush) had also been elected president. The sixth president, John Quincy Adams, served from 1825-1829 and was the son of the second president, John Adams. Bush also became the first U.S. president to hold the position for longer than his father. 

In East and South Asia, there have been many daughters of heads of state who have been elected to the same position such as South Korean president, Pak Geun-hye, former Philippines president, Corazon Aquino, and former Indian prime minister, Indira Gandhi. In Pakistan, in a rare occurrence, a husband took over from his wife, Benazir Bhutto. Clearly, we should be wary of characterising political dynasties as an African phenomenon. However, given the vastly male-dominated world of African politics, what do we know about African father-son presidential transitions and legacies?

The experiences of the U.S, the Philippines, and South Korea seem to indicate that citizens are willing, through a contested process and based on an individual’s merit, to elect family members of former heads of state. Notably, in cases like these, usually the family members do not immediately follow their parent; there is a time lag between the two.

Alhaji Abubakar Ibrahim, the son of former governor of Kogi state, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris (Ibro) is not against the norm by aspiring to be the next governor of the state as the present ineffectual and draconian administration is being dislodged by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and by extension, the viable candidacy of Alhaji Ibrahim Idris (AbuIbro) on November 6, 2019. He is, indeed, the eminently qualified among the array of aspirants jostling to be the standard bearer of the PDP in this year governorship election of that state. 

Ibrahim Idris, popularly known as Ibro and former governor, has spent the rest of his life after he left the Lugard House having spent nine years as an observer than as a player, watching as his son, Abubakar Ibrahim being cajoled by friends and associates to run for the governorship election, just as a saying goes that a lion will begets a lion. His father had unprecedented developmental projects across the state that cannot be matched till date and of the belief that his son would certainly surpass such records.

So, given the mixed experiences of some African countries and around the world, can we identify a trend on the continent? 

Over the last two years, there have, however, been two contested elections that involved the son and brother of a former president—Kenyatta in 2013 and Mutharika in 2014. Increasingly, countries have put in place constitutional provisions to handle such respecting constitutional provisions from earlier constitutions. 

Africa, most especially Nigeria does not have a monopoly on family political dynasties. However, to guard against the creation of birth-right dynasties as opposed to merit-based family political dynasties, recent events suggest that countries should and must have clear constitutional processes for succession as well as open transparent freely contested elections. In Kenya, Mauritius, and Botswana where this has happened, the sons of past leaders are trying to keep the memory of a past not yet forgotten alive. History will determine which sons carry the day and how African president’s sons are treated in the future.

The son of late Prince Abubakar Audu, Prince Mustapha Mona Audu, is a very strong aspirant to pick the ticket of All Progressives Congress (APC) as the party’s candidate whose father is a former governor of the state.

Alhaji Abubakar Ibrahim is one man whom we believe would steer the state through a tumultuous period and seeming inattention of the present leadership in the state.

He is a moderately successful businessman and with an extraordinary flames of passion for the development of people around him. A man who represents the aspirations of generations before and beyond him, a man whose valour is valued and whose work is achievements having learned so much from his father who is synonymous with developmental projects. He is indeed the catalyst needed to bring economic growth and robust political atmosphere in the state. 

Now, Kogi is voting to determine if Gov Yahaya Bello and APC would continue to control its destiny. The advent of Gov Bello’s administration is at once an inevitability and a calamity for Kogi.

The young Ibro is a man with people-oriented leadership styles who would seek to build relationships with subordinates, a business owner who will do well to understand when leadership styles should be modified or switched. As an entrepreneur, he would be driven to create something he believes needs to exist and that drive requires ingenuity, creativity and above all leadership which are inherent in Abubakar Ibrahim, who understands that leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others and not an opportunity to satisfy personal greed.

Omeiza writes from Abuja.

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