Forget the catch-phrase: “Not-to-Young-To-Rule”, Political positions in Nigeria are rarely occupied by young people. Perhaps not yet – would we have a case of 39-year old Emmanuel Macron, who recently got elected as the new president of France, the youngest person to lead the country. One of the many things that colour Nigeria’s political landscape is having the old folks at the helms of affairs, and quite unfortunately, the old ones are not ready to leave the stage yet.
In Nigeria’s Senate, the highest law-making body, there are lawmakers that are above 70 years – an age considered as a ‘restful’ age.
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, is 74 years. He was sworn May 29, 2015 at the age of 72. Coupled with old age, the ill-health of the President has been dogged in speculation whether he is fit to rule, and continue in power – even as he is currently on a medical vacation (for an undisclosed ailment) in Britain.
But, for how long will Nigeria’s political clime be dominated with the oldies? Well, only time will tell. But, below is the list of Nigerian Senators who are 70 years, and above.
1. Senator Mohammed Lafiagi – 77, Kwara North, All Progressives Congress.
Alhaji Sha’aba Lafiagi was elected governor of Kwara State in January 1992 on the Social Democratic Party (SDP) platform, and was removed from office by the administration of General Sani Abacha in November 1993. As governor he initiated construction of new headquarters for the Kwara State Printing and Publishing Corporation, but they were not opened until 2002, and in 2010 were slated for demolition.
He was a protégé of Olusola Saraki, Senate Leader during the Nigerian Second Republic, who helped him become elected governor in December 1991. Later he fell out with Saraki when it became apparent Saraki was backing Mohammed Lawal for Kwara governor in 1999. However, he remained a power in Kwara State politics.
Lafiagi became a member of the board of trustees of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In February 2009 he was appointed chairman of the National Sugar Development Council, a parastatal. He led the planning committee for the 20 April 2009 Special National Convention of the PDP, recommending a budget of N400 million. Given the economic climate, President Umaru Yar’Adua slashed the budget to N100 million.
In April 2011, he was elected a senator representing Kwara north senatorial district.
2. Senator Abu Ibrahim – 71 years, Katsina South, All Progressives Congress
Abu Ibrahim was elected Senator for the Katsina South (Funtua) Senatorial district in April 2003 on the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) platform, serving for one term until May 2007. He was re-elected to the same seat in April 2011.
Abu Ibrahim was chairman of the Katsina branch of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for some months. He resigned from this position at the 2002 National Convention of the party after unsubstantiated allegations were made against him. Abu Ibrahim was elected Senator for the Katsina South (Funtua) Senatorial district in April 2003 on the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) platform. In August 2006 he was expelled from the ANPP, as was former President Muhammadu Buhari, also from Katsina. Both were accused of anti-party activities and disregard for the party constitution.
In April 2007 Abu Ibrahim competed unsuccessfully for Governor of Katsina State. In February 2010 he followed the lead of Muhammadu Buhari in resigning from the ANPP. Ibrahim competed in the April 2011 elections to become Senator for Katsina South (Funtua) on the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) platform. He won 324,652 votes, defeating the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Tukur Ahmed Jikamshi, who trailed with 198,927. Alhaji Tukur Jikamshi was formerly deputy governor of the state.
3. Senator Abdullahi Adamu, 70 Years, Nassarawa West, All Progressives Congress
Adamu entered politics in 1977, and was elected to the Constituent Assembly, which drafted the constitution for Nigeria’s short-lived Second Republic (1979–1983). He was a pioneer member of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), the first Secretary-General of the NPN in Plateau State from December 1978, and chairman of the NPN in the Plateau from 1982 to 1983, when military rule began again. In 1994 he was appointed to the National Constitutional Conference by General Sani Abacha’s administration. In March 1995, Adamu was appointed a minister of state of the Works and Housing ministry, holding this position until November 1997. When the ban on political activity was lifted in 1997, he joined the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP). In 1998, Adamu became a founding member of People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
In April 1999, Abdullahi Adamu ran successfully for position of governor of Nasarawa State on the PDP platform. He was re-elected in April 2003.
In December 2003, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu welcomed Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom on a visit to Karu, where she was entertained by cultural troupes. Abdullahi Adamu promised to make Nasarawa famous with the State’s solid mineral natural resources and tourist attractions such as the Farin Ruwa Waterfalls and the flowing Eggon hills. He backed construction of the Farin Ruwa Falls Hydro-Electric plant, visiting South Korea in 2004 and later awarding the engineering contract to the South Korean firm Yooshing Engineering. In September 2005 he launched the School Feeding Programme in the State of Nasarawa, which aims to provide a fortified nutritional supplement to primary school children.
After the end of his two-term governorship, Adamu became Secretary, Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In November 2009, a group of prominent PDP members stated that they would support his candidacy in the 2011 elections for the Nasarawa West Senate constituency.
In Feb 2010, Adamu was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly embezzling $100 million of government money meant for public projects.
Adamu was the PDP candidate for the Nasarawa West Senatorial seat in the April 2011 elections.
4. Senator Jeremiah Usani, 74 Years, Plateau South, Peoples Democratic Party
Lt. General Jeremiah Useni is not new in Nigerian politics. The prominent role he played during the reign of late Head of State, Sani Abacha, as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, is well known. He was referred to as ‘Jerry Boy’ at the time. He was indeed a Boy, because he joined the Army at the age of 14. Firstly, he was one of the soldiers who fired shots during the coup against General Ironsi in which the General was killed in Ibadan. Mr. Useni was also the closest person to General Abacha up to his last moments.
5. Senator Jonah Jang, 73 Years, Plateau North, Peoples Democratic Party
Air Commodore Jonah David Jang (born 13 March 1944) is a Nigerian politician who was the Governor of Plateau State from 2007 to 2015. He had previously served as Military Governor of Benue State and Gongola State. He ran successfully for re-election on 26 April 2011.
During the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida he served as Military Governor of Benue State from August 1985 to August 1986, then as Military Governor of Gongola State from August 1986 to December 1987.
He voluntarily retired from the Nigeria Air Force in 1990. Jonah Jang took a Bachelor of Divinity Degree at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria (2000–2002). In 2007, he successfully contested the governorship election in Plateau State on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He ran successfully for reelection on 26 April 2011.
After his term as Plateau state governor, he was elected into the Senate in 2015.