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Ranking Nigerian Governors, 3rd Quarter, 2022: 2023 distraction, selfish rivalry amid nagging insecurity

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Ripples Nigeria’s special monthly publication, Ranking Nigerian Governors, focused on a monthly review of governors’ performance, in terms of measurable actions and policy pronouncements, returns for the third quarter of 2022.

The publication, which made its debut in August 2019, reviews the performance of state chief executives, using the traditional Top 5 and Bottom 5 metric to rank them based on provable actions and confirmed policy pronouncements. The ranking system however changed with the continuous obvious decline in governance in the country and the almost total absence of policy formulation that can better the lives and daily living of Nigerians. In place of the traditional ranking, Ranking Nigerian Governors, has on monthly basis, sought to single out governors who we determine stood out either positively or otherwise.

Since the publication started, we have been mindful of the many challenges facing governance in the country, especially at the state level. These include insecurity, dwindling allocation from the centre, and insufficient internally generated revenue.

We, however, believe that these challenges are no excuse for the seeming general lethargy in governance by virtually every tier of government in the country, as it is 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, the reality on ground is a near-total disconnect with the yearnings and expectations of the populace largely because of the lack of prudent management of resources and the inability of government to be creative and futuristic in their planning and policy formulation.

For the months of April and May, 2022, Ranking Nigerian Governors noted the abdication of governance by state governors in favour of the politics of 2023 general elections. Virtually all the governors were preoccupied with politicking, to the detriment of the people they were elected to govern.

We also noted that in the preceding months, governance in the states suffered more because of the absence of domiciled constitutional roles and powers for deputy governors, making them unable to act with definitive authority in the absence of their bosses.

For the months under review— June, July, August, September— we are beaming our searchlight on the actions of state governors in the finals days leading to the conduct of the presidential primaries of their respective parties and the aftermath of the primaries. We are also reviewing the response of state governors to the growing insecurity in the country.

Northern APC Governors’ Nationalistic Stand on Southern Presidency

 

If there was any pointer in recent times that all hope was not lost for the unity of Nigeria and its continued statehood, it was the firm decision of governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Northern part of the country that the presidency should go to the South, and by implication, the presidential ticket of the party.

We note that before this bold decision of the northern APC governors, there had been agitations for the presidency to return to the South, with Southern Governors taking a firm decision on it. Despite the agitation and clamour by Southern governors, there were fears that the presidency may still remain in the North, as the body language of the northern establishment, including governors, suggested so.

This became even more pronounced after former Vice President Atiku Abubakar emerged the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), making it politically enticing to have another Northerner as the candidate of the APC.

However, despite arm-twisting tactics by the National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, to push through the candidacy of Senate President Ahmad Lawan, APC Northern governors stood their ground, resulting in the candidacy of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

We note and applaud the nationalistic approach of the APC northern governors in the final hours to the APC presidential primary, noting that their action did not just save APC from the predicted crisis that could have followed the primary, but also proved that redeeming the country from disunity, tribal and regional sentiments is possible.

We applaud their courage in taking what obviously was a political risk, capable of pitching them against the northern establishment and masses, and their ability to remain consistent despite Abdullahi Adamu’s tactics and the disturbing silence of President Muhammadu Buhari, which many interpreted to mean that he was silently supporting the same candidate promoted by the national chairman.

We believe that Nigeria will be a better place if our politics is played with the kind of spirit and approach exhibited by the these governors, damning potential adverse consequences to do what is right and equitable, jettisoning ethnic, tribal and regional considerations to uphold the unity and oneness of the country.

Southern PDP Governors’ Lip Service To Southern Presidency

The southern presidency project, as demanded by southern governors from both the APC, PDP and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), as represented by Anambra, turned out to be a mirage with the abdication of the commitment to the project by governors elected on the PDP platform in the southern part of the country.

The PDP governors from some Southern states, despite the collective resolve of the region for Southern presidency, jettisoned their colleagues from the South who were presidential aspirants, leading to the emergence of Atiku Abubakar, a northerner from Adamawa State.

It is our considered opinion that if all the Southern states had supported one of their own, an aspirant like Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State may have clinched the PDP ticket. The lack of commitment to the Southern presidency by Southern PDP governors and states derailed the project in PDP.

We note that if the Northern APC governors had not taken a stand and insisted on it, the Southern presidency project would have been a complete mirage.

Insecurity Everywhere

The raging insecurity ravaging the states has continued to mount, leading to heightened apprehension in different parts of the country. In the midst of the ravaging banditry, terrorism, kidnappings and other violent crimes in the country, state governors were preoccupied with politics and who gets what in 2023.

Except for Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, whose reaction to the bombing of the St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, was different from the norm, state governors appeared to remain unperturbed, indifferent and unresponsive to the plight of the governed.

READ ALSO: Ranking Nigerian Governors April/May 2022: Governance relegated as politics of 2023 takes centre stage

South-East Governors and Ebubeagu

We note the continuing worsening insecurity in the South-East and the inability of the state governors in the zone to nip it in the bud.

What is increasingly becoming a nightmare in the region is the reported brutality, assault on and killing of innocent citizens by Ebubeagu, a security outfit under the supervision of the state governors in the zone.

We are appalled that a security outfit put in place to provide some form of succour for South-Easterners against the activities of the now famous unknown gunmen and herders terrorising farmers in the zone, may have now turned into a killing machine, with the governors barely saying or doing anything about it.

We also note the fact that except something urgent is done to salvage the situation regarding the image and operations of Ebubeagu, another round of serious bloodshed may be in the offing. This is on account of the directive by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to its militant wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN), to frontallly take on the government-backed Ebubeagu security operatives. This, no doubt, portends grave danger for the zone, except the governors, especially Hope Uzodinma, address the issues involved with dispatch.

Yahaya Bello’s Pedestrian Security Measures In Kogi

The shutdown of brothels and ban on the use of face masks by Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State supposedly because of insecurity in the state, comes as a pedestrian move by a man who appears to have lost the initiative to provide solution to a nagging problem.

It is our considered opinion that shutdown of brothels and ban on the use of face mask are not the solution to the growing insecurity in Kogi State. We do not imagine that the murderous criminals in the form of bandits and terrorists that are unleashing havoc in the state stay in brothels or use face mask to disguise. It is our contention based on available information that they stay in bushes and forests and are too brazen to use face mask as a means of disguise.

Matawalle’s Call for Self-Defence in Zamfara

 

The call by state governors for citizens to defend themselves came up again in Zamfara State, as Governor Bello Matawalle again asked the people to defend themselves against murderous and vicious bandits and terrorists.

The concept of self-defence in the Nigerian situation stands on a defective leg, as it is not certain yet what citizens will use to defend themselves. Is it with sticks and clubs through mob actions? A mob action against hundreds of fully armed bandits and terrorists?

The mere fact that the governor has been talking about self-defence is an indictment on institutions of state charged with protection of lives and property, and of course, Governor Matawalle, who is the chief security officer of the state— not disregarding the obvious constitutional limitation in this regard.

We are scared that a resort to self-defence under any guise by the populace, either in Zamfara or any other place in the country will be counterproductive, leading to unimaginable massacre of innocent people. If security agents, who are trained for such, are being killed so brazenly, what chance do ‘bloody civilians’ have in the onslaught by bandits and terrorists?

We call on Matawalle and his brother governors across the country not to worsen Nigeria’s security situation with the blind calls for self-defence by people who are not trained or armed. They should rather rally the security forces with all that’s needed to confront and defeat the bloodthirsty devils.

Wike Camp’s Tantrums, Wasteful London Trips

One of the major fallouts of the presidential primary of the opposition PDP is the crisis currently rocking the party, polarising it between its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, on the one hand, and Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Seyi Makinde of Oyo, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, Samuel Ortom of Benue and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, on the other.

The Wike group, which also comprises prominent chieftains of the party, including Board of Trustees members, former governors and former ministers, are asking for the head of Ayu before they drop their guns, a demand Ayu and Atiku have consistently stood against.

It will be uncharitable to deny any merit in the agitations by the Wike camp. We, however, frown at the theatrics and arrogant posturing that have been employed so far.

It is our belief that the way the Wike camp has handled the crisis— the hard-line stance and somewhat boastful and arrogant arrogation of power, influence and importance to themselves— has given their demand some bad taste, a situation capable of defeating their agitation.

We are particularly alarmed at Governor Nyesom Wike’s too many and too frequent boastful outbursts, almost entirely attributing the possibility of a victory at the polls for PDP in the 2023 general elections to himself and his group. On several occasions, Wike, buoyed by being in the spotlight as the strongman of Rivers politics, has thrown caution to the winds, engaged in name callings, threats and vicious attacks against those perceived to be working against his interest and/or hobnobbing with the ‘enemy’.

But we speak politics. Our major concern is the impact on governance. The number of trips Wike and his comrade-governors have been taking outside the country, obviously for meetings that could be conducted here in Nigeria, is a head-scratching disruption to governance.

Wike and his group, it is almost certain, have not been embarking on such trips from their personal pockets but on the bill of their states, apparently for purposes that have no direct or indirect positive impact on governance of the state or the people therein. We condemn this wasteful drain on the meagre resources of the states.

Our note of caution to the political gladiators is this: power is transient, powerful men of yesterday litter the Nigerian landscape; the only thing that meaningfully differentiates one from another is how they ‘used power while in power.’

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