Rise To Power: The Unusual Stories Of New Governors

Twenty-nine governors are expected to be sworn-in today across the country. Out of this number, 12 are taking the oath of office as governors for the first time. In this report, WALE ELEGBEDE highlights the notsides of these new kids on the block

Abiodun: Son of a teacher takes charge in Ogun

Mr. Dapo Abiodun, the new governor of Ogun State grew up in a learned environment; his both parents were teachers and fortunately, they are still alive to see the inauguration of their son as the sixth governor of the Gateway State.
Born in Sagamu to the family of Dr. Emmanuel and Mrs Victoria Abiodun on May 29, 1960, he started his early education in the Ogun State township.

With parents that presented a portrait of humility, hardwork, sacrifice and tact as his mentor, he had no problem fitting into the rigours of life at a very tender age.

Narrating how his conservative father was able to attain his education status back then, Dapo, a native of Iperu-Remo, described his background as a humble one, adding that his parents had no trust fund to bequeath to him except the fortune of character.

“I must tell you that, I come from a very humble background and my parents are still living. My parents were teachers and I did not inherit any money from anybody. My story is such that let me say, if I can be where I am today, anybody can be here, I mean, anybody.

“I will tell you a story that my grandfather would never believe he would have a grandson who would be where I am today. My dad, after he had me, was when he got into university. My dad would work as a teacher, a teacher in Iperu and he was a teacher that didn’t have shoes to wear to school. I think you will not like a story about people who don’t have shoes to wear to school, my father did not have shoes to wear to school.

“As a teacher, he would go to school to teach and would give a proceed from his salary to his mom, who was selling kola nut and she would trade with it and it was from the proceeds of the grand mom’s trade that my father was able to afford his university education. So, I think, it speaks for itself. Where I am today is just by the special grace of God. God just wanted to change the situations of my family and I think that is why he has raised me to be a blessing to my home.

Dapo, an oil business czar, who once laid his hand on fabrication of security gates before delving into the oil world studied Accounting at Kennesaw State University, Atlanta Georgia, United States. He also holds an Honourary Doctorate Degree in Finance from Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, and another in Business Administration from Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State.

Prior to his election as governor, Abiodun was the board Chairman of Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). He is the Managing Director of Heyden Petroleum, indigenous, independent oil trading company and the founder of First Power Limited.

Makinde: An engineer that can’t be separated from golf

Quiet, urbane, pleasant and savvy, Seyi Makinde, the 51-year-old elected governor of Oyo State is a man that looks younger than his age. But those who know him said one of the reasons for his boyish looks is his chronic addiction to the game of golf.

According to one of his associates, Makinde has an unfettered passion for golf and he plays it with finesse. He added: “The governor-elect is a frontline member of the Ibadan Golf Club and he is the sponsor of the Seyi Makinde Women Support Golf Tournament.”

Not only that he loves the games, but he also plays it very well. So deep is his love for the game that, hardly will a week passed that he would not play golf.

Makinde, who apparently substituted football, a game he couldn’t make a career out of due to some circumstances, for Golf, was a sportsman right from his childhood.

He has been one of the major sponsors of events and projects of the club over the years. Being a sportman right from his childhood, he must have substituted football, To him, Golf is a highly challenging and interesting game through which one can actually keep fit and at the same time relaxing one’s system.

He said: “I am a sport person, apart from golf, I do play tennis. sports enhance the wellbeing of an individual. Golf is very challenging, you never know what is going to happen until you actually put the ball in the hole, it’s very challenging, a round of golf will probably take you like six hours to go through the 18 holes, it’s just fun and relaxing.

“Golf is usually seen as elitist game and I want to encourage more people to embrace golf because we have a lot of talents. In fact, we have a lot of ‘Tiger Woods’ who are just out there and all we need to do for them is to encourage them to come into the game.”

Trained at the University of Lagos as an engineer, Makinde, a father of three children, a boy and two girls, met his wife, Tamunominini , in Port Harcourt where he served and they courted for almost seven years before getting married.

On the home front, Makinde, who was born on Christmas day of 1967 at Oluyoro Catholic Hospital Ibadan, is a good cook, especially when it comes to the making of steak. He is the third child of the family of renowned teacher turned accountant; late Pa Olatubosun Makinde and Madam Abigail Makinde of Aigbofa Compound in Oja’ba, Ibadan.

Makinde began his education at St Paul Primary School and completed his primary education at St Michael Primary School, Yemetu, Ibadan. His secondary education was at Bishop Phillips Academy, Monatan, Ibadan. In 1985, he gained admission to the University of Lagos (Unilag) where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering.

He did his national service (NYSC) with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria, where he was later engaged as a pupil engineer. He served in different capacities; handling and partaking in several key projects between 1990 and 1992. From 1992 to 1997, he worked as a field Engineer (Eket operations) for Rebold International Limited and in 1995, he was appointed as Field Manager in the same company.

He established his first oil and gas private business called Makon Engineering and Technical Services, (METS) at the age of 29 in 1997.

With a passion for philanthropic gestures, Makinde’s entrance to the political turf in the last couple of years has been dramatic and influential despite his inexperience in political office. After a series of attempts, he was elected to be governor of the Pacesetter State at 2019 general elections on the platform of the PDP.

Sanwo-Olu: From campus DJ to Lagos gov

Who could ever believe that the new governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu was a Disc Jockey (DJ) who played recorded pop or dance music for dancers or listeners and introduced the names of the songs using a microphone, way back in the University of Lagos?

Hear the new governor: “Maybe you do not know I was a DJ. I used to be a paid DJ, meaning that I have my cassette player and other things. You guys now use MP3, flash drive and all. In those days, I used to carry all my cassettes and record box around.”

Of course, Sanwo-Olu, who was pursuing a degree in Surveying at the time, used the social life to advance his life as he got engaged to his wife, Ibijoke, during one of the DJ moments at the University of Lagos.

Going down memory lane on how he met his wife in the university, he said: “I met her at one of the Jambite parties that we used to have for new students. I had been in the university before she came as a Jambite. One of the things that usually happened then was that we always served ice cream in our parties. It was not the conventional parties of rice and plantain you have these days.

“The good thing about the whole things is the fact that apart from being the DJ, which means I would give them good music, I was also the person to serve the ice cream and that means I would only give the ice cream to whoever I wanted. So, it was in the course of serving ice cream that I spotted her. I saw her and said to myself, ‘wow, this little one”. She was very innocent and looked too little. We dated for a long time, about 8 to 9 years before we married. As they say, everything is now history. Today, she is a Medical Doctor.”

Although, Sanwo-Olu has never run for public office before the 2019 general election, his transition from the private sector to the public sector in 2003, has been quite a handful with experiences in public service.

He was first appointed as Special Adviser on Corporate Matters to Lagos Deputy Governor, Femi Pedro in 2003 and subsequently as Special Adviser (Corporate Matters) to former Governor Bola Tinubu before becoming a full Commissioner for Establishment in 2007.
He later became Lagos Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Commissioner for Budget and Planning and Commissioner for Establishments and Training.

He has an enviable background in the private sector, with almost 10 years experience in banking, holding key positions, such as treasurer at the defunct Lead Merchant Bank from 1994 to 1997; United Bank for Africa (UBA) as head of Foreign Money Market; First Inland Bank Plc (now First City Monument Bank) as a deputy general manager and divisional head.

Sanwo-Olu was the chairman of Baywatch Group Limited and First Class Group Limited, a board member of the Department for International Development (DFID/DEEPEN) Fund and Audit Committee of Caverton Offshore Services Group Plc.

An alumnus of the University of Lagos, London Business School, Lagos Business School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Sanwo-Olu is also an associ ate member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM) and Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Training and Development (NITAD).

Ihedioha: A publicist leads Imo

Hon. Emeka Ihedioha is a household name when it comes to the business of lawmaking. But not many are in the known of his vastness and experience in the media and publicity world.

Although he was trained as a food scientist at the University of Lagos, the new governor of Imo State was able to carve a niche for himself as a media practitioner and that, perhaps, ushered him into the extensive world of politics.

His life of service started with his appointment as Press Officer to the then President of the Senate of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu in 1992. Within three months of this appointment, he was elevated to the position of Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Albert Legogie (late).

When the military cut short Nigeria’s democratic experience and experiment in November 1993, Ihedioha returned to his public communications practice as Chief Executive Officer of First Page Communications. In 1995 when the whistle was blown for transition to civil rule under the aborted Third Republic, he readily found his sails in the familiar waters of politics and was appointed Director of Publicity of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM).

In 1999, Ihedioha was appointed into key positions in the budding democratic dispensation. First, he was appointed Special Assistant to the Presidential Adviser on Utilities (July 1999); Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President of Senate (November 1999); and eventually Special Assistant on Political Matters to the Vice President (September 2001).

Ihedioha attended Mbutu Primary School, Aboh Mbaise Council; SDA Primary School, Abule-Oja, Yaba, Lagos; St. Ephraim’s Secondary School, Owerrinta and the University of Lagos, where he obtained B.Sc. degree in Food Technology in 1988.

Between 2011 and 2015, he was elected deputy speaker of the House and alternate chairman, Governing Council of the National Institute of Legislative Studies (NILS); acting speaker from May 27 to June 5, 2015, following the withdrawal of the then speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, to pursue his ambition to govern Sokoto State.

He won a seat into the House of Representative as a member representing Aboh-Mbasie-Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency of Imo State in 2003.

He was the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 2011 to 2015. During this period, he also served as the Speaker of the House of Representatives after Tambuwal’s defection to the APC and choice to stand down.
Emeka Ihedioha is married to Lady Ebere Ihedioha, and they have four children namely; Emeka, Ezinwa, Nkem, Kamsi.