Ranking Nigerian Governors, a special monthly publication from Ripples Nigeria dedicated to the review of the performance of Nigerian state governors, returns for the month of January, 2022.
The special publication made its debut in August 2019. (Click to see past publications).
Despite the seeming general lethargy in governance by virtually every tier of government in the country and our self-imposed duty of holding governors to account, we are not unmindful that the act of governance in this part of the world could be herculean. This is so especially with dwindling resources at the disposal of government, as well as increasing insecurity occasioned by terrorism, banditry and other violent crimes in virtually every part of the country.
It is, however, a stubborn fact that Nigeria, with its God-given natural resources and huge and intimidating human assets, visionary and forward-looking leaders should not have too many problems making things work.
Unfortunately, governance and prudent management of resources have been abysmally low and near-zero despite the huge possibilities and citizens’ high expectations for development.
In the preceding months of November/December 2021, we noted the flashes of responsible leadership traits exhibited by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and some unfortunate blunders he made, Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s consistency in advocating for a total onslaught against the bandits terrorists causing mayhem in the North-West and North-Central, Governor Samuel Ortom’s obsession with anything Buhari, albeit in the negative, to the detriment of the people of his state, and Governor Nyesom Wike’s doublespeak on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
For the Month of January 2022, it is yet another mixed bag situation for Nigerian Governors, as an examination of the first month of the year shows that despite the expectation of the people, only few of the state chief executives are up to the task of delivering on the mandate given to them.
We take a look at some of these governors.
Sanwo-Olu: ‘The Pointer’ Pointing The Way in Transportation
If there is any area the governor of Lagos State is known to be making the greatest impact currently, it is in transport infrastructure, which has no doubt taken the lion share of attention in his administration.
We acknowledge that the Lagos State Government under Governor Sanwo-Olu has made huge investment, and is still making, in the area of transportation, which is arguably one of the most important and critical areas of need of the nation’s commercial capital. From huge rehabilitation of roads in different parts of the state to commendable works on the state’s Blue and Red rail lines, Sanwo-Olu no doubt knows what the state needs urgently -a free-flowing and multi-modal transport system that can ease the legendary traffic congestion in the state and save the economy several man-hours lost to traffic everyday.
We acknowledge and applaud the purchase of five trains, two for the Red Line and three for the Blue Line, by the Sanwo-Olu administration in readiness for the completion of rail lines and commencement of operation.
We also note with pride, the commitment of the Sanwo-Olu administration to the rail line projects after their abandonment by his predecessor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who looked the other way during his four years in office. Sanwo-Olu has truly shown that governance is a continuous exercise where different players are expected to receive the baton and run with a common vision, which is to make life easier for citizens.
In the November/December 2021 edition of Ranking Nigerian Governors, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State was singled out over his now unmistakable obsession with President Muhammadu Buhari, and the lack of identifiable records of achievements in his almost eight years at the helms of affairs in Benue.
Unfortunately, like it is said that old habits die hard, Governor Ortom has continued with his verbal onslaught on President Buhari in a manner deemed distracting from the urgent needs of the people of his state.
We acknowledge the right of the governor to freedom of speech and the right to hold his personal opinions about institutions and persons, but also believe that there must be a balance in doing so. It is also our belief that in public life, especially as it relates to public officials, decorum is expected at all times. Governance is not activism, neither should activism be draped in irresponsibility!
We note a statement credited to Governor Ortom most recently where he said that the Presidency had kept him out of the Aso Rock Villa for over a year, and Benue has been ignored by the Presidency because of his critical stance against the president and his administration. It is our belief that Governor Ortom shouldn’t be complaining about this situation, since he already acknowledged that he is the architect of what the state and his people are going through.
The disposition of the Benue Governor is even more troubling when situated within the factual context that the state is one of the poorest in the country, with agriculture, which is about its main ‘industry’, suffering neglect because of the constant farmers/herders crisis in the state. We belief it would have been more sensible for Ortom to be more diplomatic in his relationship with Abuja, not for his sake, but for the sake of his people.
We also note that Nigerians, including Benue are getting fed up with Ortom’s Buhari rhetoric, just as Garba Shehu told him last week that the Presidency was not responsible for his failure in the state; this we believe to be a fact.
It is our belief that it is high time Ortom stopped sounding like a broken record, stop focusing on Buhari, and instead redeem himself by working hard and smart for the longsuffering people of Benue State, ‘hustle’ well to clear salary arears and accumulated pension, and upgrade infrastructure for the benefit of his people.
Matawalle’s Mystery Political Bandits
In what has become his usual refrain, Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, on Monday, January 17, accused those he christened “Political Bandits” as the brain behind banditry in his state.
According to the governor, these political bandits are collaborating with the bandits recently declared as terrorists by the Federal Government, alleging that they were responsible for the collapse of his dialogue with the murderous gunmen in the state.
We note that Matawalle spoke with some level of authority and confidence in his allegations against the so-called political bandits, given an impression that their identities are known to government, and insisting that insecurity scourge has continued in the state and may not end soon because of these individuals.
For Matawalle, who is supposedly the Chief Security Officer of Zamfara State, it is expected that more action should have been taken against these ‘political bandits’ than merely saying that they exist and are fuelling the crisis. It is our belief that if truly these people exist and are known, then government both at the state and federal levels are complicit and are doing great harm to the people of Zamfara by not taking concrete action against them to date.
Though Matawalle said investigations were ongoing, we, however, find it curious that a government that can unleash security agencies on people for minor offences including alleged publication of damaging stories or innocent comments on social media, would take eternity to investigate people believed to be collaborating with bandits that have killed scores of innocent people, kidnapped many for ransom and razed whole communities.
We reckon that it is either Matawalle and the powers that be are only looking for excuses for their failure to protect the good people of Zamfara or they are only doing another round of guesswork for their failure in governance. It could also be that they are afraid to move against these collaborators because of their presumed invincibility or enormous powers; whichever the case may be, it beats the imagination that these people so accused are sill walking around freely, fuelling the crisis and reaping whatever profits are in it for them.
We also note the way Matawalle trivialised the number of people recently killed by bandits in Bungudu and Anka areas of the state, when he said “only 58 people” were killed.
We consider Matawalle’s use of the words ‘only’ and ‘just’ in relation to the number of citizens that lost their lives due to no fault of theirs as an aberration and an obvious and practical demonstration of how much the governor values the lives of the people he was elected to govern.
We reason that the death of a single citizen cannot be carelessly dismissed if truly our society places premium on the lives of its people, let alone 58 precious lives! The dead deserve respect, if not apology, from the government that failed to protect them and provide a safe environment for them to live in peace.
Ikpeazu’s Shockingly Arrogant Outburst On Abia Flyover
The Governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu, in the second week of January, incurred the wrath of Nigerians on social media, and rightly so, when he arrogantly mocked Abians who were demanding the completion of the state’s first ever flyover that has been in the works for the past six years.
Ikpeazu, in his wisdom, reasoned that it was condescending for Abians, who do not have cars, to be demanding that a major road infrastructure, in which the resources of the state has been sunk for the past six years, be completed.
In his outburst, which many see as arrogant and unbecoming of a public officer to whom the commonwealth of the state has been entrusted, he said: “Are you the one that asked me to build the flyover? I started the flyover on my own because I saw the need for it. Most of the people demanding updates on the flyover don’t have vehicles, they are moving about with legs. What business do those walking have with flyover?
“They should be happy that we are almost done with the flyover; we are currently working on the stone base of the flyover.”
We note sadly that Ikpeazu’s arrogant outburst is a reminder of the mindset of Nigerian leaders, who most times see the act of governance and the little they do as a form of favour to the people. They, most times, forget that the offices they occupy are at the instance and will of Nigerians who elected them.
We condemn in totality Governor Ikpeazu’s derogatory reference to Abians, whom he said did not have cars but have the temerity to ask for flyover. The flyover in question, which has been in the works for six years, is being built with the resources belonging to every Abian, either with cars or not, and as such remains their right to know what’s happening to what their money is being used for.
We also make bold to say that the Abia governor cannot in good conscience claim that he decided to build the flyover out of his own volition, because he saw a need for it. That, to us, is far from the truth, as he was elected governor to work for the people and fill in whatever appears to be a gap in the infrastructural needs of the people. He cannot truthfully, understanding how the social contract works, claim credit for doing what he was elected to do and expect Abians to hero- worship him for that, especially when the same project is appears moribund.
We also note and disapprove of Ikpeazu’s charge that the people should be happy that a flyover that has been in the works for six years is just having its stone base being constructed! We ask, what is there to be happy about? How long, ideally, should a flyover, not a bridge of several kilometres, take before completion? The governor may have to explain why it has taken this long, without resorting to insulting the intelligence of his people and making a mockery of public decency, civility and good governance.
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