Who are the G5 governors?

Mar 16, 2023|Stears Explains

The G5 Governors, self-styled as the Integrity Group, are a group of five governors from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). These governors refused to support Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the PDP, because they believed the presidency ought to rotate from the north to the south. In their view, Atiku Abubakar becoming President after eight years of President Buhari would amount to two consecutive presidents from the north, negating inclusivity and rotational presidency.

By relying on the strength of the zoning principle enshrined in the PDP constitution, the governors not only refused to support the emergence of their party's presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in the general elections but engaged in anti-party activities by supporting other candidates. 

For fear of going into the election with a divided house, Atiku Abubakar sought to reconcile with them. However, as a precondition, the governors demanded the resignation of the party chairman, Iyorcha Ayu. On the premise that Atiku and Ayu, both presidential candidates and party chairman, are from the northern part of Nigeria, this arrangement also negates inclusivity.

Aware of the powers of just one governor, many felt a collective of five governors was a powerful grouping. And this perception gave them prominence in the public space. Indeed, Atiku Abubakar lost in their various states in the presidential election, which was a significant blow to his chances of victory. But their dissidence was certainly not without precedent. 

In fact, it does look like a blast from the past hit the PDP. How so?

In 2013, a coalition of PDP governors known as the G7 governors objected to the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan as the presidential candidate of the PDP. Similar to the G5, one reason for their opposition was that they claimed that President Jonathan seeking re-election would disrupt the power rotation agreement between the north and south in the party. Five of the governors eventually decamped to APC, in what was then known as the N-PDP faction, and others stayed back, sabotaging the PDP from within, just like the G5 Governors did. Many analysts believed PDP’s loss in the 2015 election could be traced to this same internal crisis within the party. 

Following our background into the G5 Governors and their precedent. Now, we look at the G-5 governors.

Who are the G-5 Governors?

The Governors are: 

• Nyesom Wike (Rivers state)

Think of him as the "head boy" of the group. Brazen and fiery, given his loss in the presidential primaries and being passed over as vice presidential candidate in favour of  Governor Okowa, the two-term governor of Rivers was the agent provocateur of this rebellion. Also, he was the only one amongst the quintuplets not on the ballot in the recently concluded presidential and national assembly elections. 

Seyi Makinde (Oyo state)

Governor Seyi Makinde is literally the last man standing. INEC postponed the governorship election by a week. So as of the moment of writing this report, his fate is in limbo. 

In the presidential and national assembly elections in his state, President-Elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu won his state, and the APC swept three senatorial and eight house of representatives seats. Despite the victory of President-Elect Tinubu in Oyo, having Makinde's tacit support. The million-dollar question remains: will Governor Makinde fall like his fellow comrades, or will he remain the last man standing? 

Samuel Ortom (Benue state)

Popular for his harsh criticism of the presidency for the insecurity in his state and a worrisome inability to pay salaries, Samuel Ortom had a rollercoaster tenure as governor of Benue. Remarkably, he started his tenure in the APC but later decamped to the PDP. Governor Ortom was also quite vociferous in opposing Atiku Abubakar. 

Governor Ortom openly endorsed Peter Obi for the Presidency, but in a twist of fate, not only did President-Elect Bola Tinubu win Benue, but Ortom was also defeated in his senatorial contest by his former aide, Titus Zam, of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia state)

Okezie Ikpeazu is completing his second term as Governor of Abia. The state was amongst those impacted by the "Obi wave," as the Labour Party presidential candidate recorded over 90% of the votes. 

Ikpeazu is also another member of the G-5 who lost his senatorial bid to Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe of APGA.

Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu state)

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is completing his eight years of two tenures as the governor of Enugu State. Before becoming governor, he had served as a House of Representatives member for 12 years. His attempt to return to the National Assembly as a senator was cut short by the “Obi wave," as he was defeated in his senatorial bid by Okechukwu Ezea of the Labour Party.

Who did the G5 Governors support?

Despite collectively opposing Atiku Abubakar's bid, the G5 Governors were not united in supporting another candidate. Governors Ugwuanyi, Ortom, and Ikpeazu supported Peter Obi of the Labour Party. Governors Wike and Makinde supported President-elect Bola Tinubu of the APC. 

Given that all but one of the G5 governors lost their races, would it be safe to say it was, in hindsight, a misadventure? Or can we say that despite their casualties, Atiku's loss makes it mission accomplished?

Where else? 

  1. Nigeria 2023 Governor Elections Live Results—A liveblog of real-time updates, insights, and analysis of the 2023 governorship election. 

  2. Political parties in Nigeria—We explore the features and history of political parties in Nigeria.

  3. Why was the 2023 governorship election postponed? —We assess the reasons behind INEC’s decision to postpone the governorship polls.