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Nigeria 2023: Big politicians lose big in parliamentary polls

By Ben Ezeamalu

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Posted on March 1, 2023 12:03

Samuel Ortom, Benue state governor, speaks during an interview
Samuel Ortom, Benue state governor wanted a Senate seat; voters refused. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Beyond the noise of Nigeria’s presidential race, a small revolution is happening: an influx of politicians into the Senate and House of Representatives who are not just the usual suspects… and a clearing out of under-performing leaders.

At least seven serving state governors lost the race to represent their senatorial districts in Nigeria’s parliamentary elections which were held on 25 February, an unprecedented turn of events that analysts say should help deepen the country’s democracy.

The governors of Benue and Plateau states in north-central Nigeria; Abia and Enugu in the south-east; and Cross River, Taraba, and Kebbi in the south-south, north-east, and north-west respectively all failed to secure enough votes to get seats in the National Assembly.

Governors Dave Umahi and Abubakar Bello of Ebonyi and Niger respectively, however, won their senatorial districts.

Defeated governors

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue lost to his former advisor and the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Titus Zam. Ortom’s 106,882 votes were not enough to defeat Zam who polled 143,151 votes.

Ortom, 61, was elected governor in

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