Nigerian Governors, as custodians of the people’s mandate at the state level, have so much expectations placed on their shoulders. These range from policy formulations to execution of sustainable projects targeted at improving the lives of citizens.
Admittedly, governance is a daunting task, especially in the face of lean resources. But even in the face of these huddles, some helmsmen have shown exceptional capacity to better their societies while others have appeared as laggards.
The debate is on, necessitating an urgent media intervention to guide public discourse. Ripples Nigeria, in line with our avowed mandate of holding leaders, especially elected ones, accountable on behalf of the people, will attempt a monthly performance review of the governors.
These series of publications start August, 2019, and will run through the lifetime of this platform. Beginning August, therefore, we present a ranking of Nigerian governors, highlighting top 5 and bottom 5.
We hope that, through these special publications, we would engender a competitive spirit between and among the governors and ultimately drive our nation toward the path of lifting its citizens from abject poverty to prosperity.
Seyi Makinde – Oyo
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State made a blistering start as the governor of Oyo State and may likely become the poster boy of Nigerian Governors if he continues in the current form.
From publicly declaring his assets running into several billions, a feat largely allien to Nigerian politicians, he went ahead to refuse taking monthly salaries, electing to donate same to pensioners in the state. Aside this, the first term governor also took steps to sanitise the state by banning the activities of the highly violent transport unions in Oyo, restoring sanity to the environment by coming hard on illegal structures defacing Ibadan, the state capital.
To cap his eventful August, Governor Makinde showed his belief in youths by appointing a 27-year-old as a commissioner, a move that incurred the wrath of members of his party.
Bello Matawalle – Zamfara
Before the coming on board of Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State, the state gained immense notoriety for banditry, where lives became so cheap, with killings and kidnapping becoming the most frequent occurences. However, Zamfara has taken the back seat in these areas, thanks to Governor Matawalle’s ingenous handling of the volatile situation.
Aside engaging in dialogue to rein in bandits and warring factions in the state, which had led to repentant bandits taking over the fight against banditry by personally going after recalcitrant bandits, the governor also showed courage and political will in sanctioning and removing traditional rulers indicted for aiding bandits in the state, a move his predecessor, ex-Governor Abdulaziz Yari lacked courage to implement.
It is our hope, though, that the policy of appeasing bandits only represents a short term measure, and that a more sustainable security architecture is institutionalized with appropriate sanctions applied against societal deviants.
Professor Babagana Zulum – Borno
Governor Babagana Zulum has been a study in courage. Since he took charge of governance in insurgency-ravaged North Eastern state of Borno, he has courageously dared the terrorist group, insisting he would not be cowed or intimidated.
Determined to give governance a new face, the tough-talking governor has shown leadership in the way he is setting fresh standards for public or civil servants intent on their old ways of running government as an unserious business.
We are particularly impressed by Zulum’s resolve to publicly sanction erring civil servants who had made a habit of abandoning work and fraudulently earning salaries they did not work for.
His Agro-rangers initiative, where a group of armed men are assigned to protect citizens in their farms, if followed through, is capable of ensuring food security despite the insurgency.
The decision of the former University of Maiduguri professor to donate the dreaded Sambisa Forest to Nigerian Government’s RUGA Project is welcome, especially as the region is considered one of the nation’s largest land mass capable of sustaining an agro-allied industry.
Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi – Enugu
Enugu State has lately been in the news for the wrong reasons, largely due to kidnapping and gruesome murders. From the killing of a Catholic priest to that of a pregnant woman, amongst several others, bandits seem to have converged on Enugu to unsettle the state. The governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has, however, from our findings continued to manage the situation creditably.
Aside mooting a ministry of security affairs, the governor also inaugurated a security outfit known as Forest Guards to make Enugu forests safe and prevent them from being used as launch-pads for nefarious activities. His prompt on-the-spot assessment and response to various security challenges did earn some positive reviews by the citizens.
Perhaps, it is in the area of infrastructure development that Ugwuanyi has left significant footprints. Though critics argue that most of these, especially roads, are concentrated in the governor’s home zone, the administration has unveiled plans to extend infrastructure development to other parts of the state. We hope this would be carried through.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu – Lagos
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has shown, since inception of his administration, that it is rewarding to be focused on a goal and delivering same with determination. With a clear understanding of what the objectives are, the governor has applied himself to tackling the menace of man hour lost in traffic gridlock in the state.
Also noteworthy is the quiet effort to restore hygiene conditions, beginning first with some strategic locations in the state. We hope these efforts would be sustained in the months ahead given the filths that literally overtook Lagos in the dying days of the Akinwunmi Ambode administration when political intrigues pitted PSP operators against the government.
Also notable is the current moves by the state House of Assembly to probe the immediate past administration in the state. Though no one is in doubt that the proposed probe bears the signature of the state government, the fact that the House of Assembly is spearheading the move confers semblance of legitimacy and it is hoped that the rule of law would prevail to rubbish any claims to witch-hunt.
Emeka Ihedioha – Imo
Governor Emeka Ihedioha came into office with so much promise and expectations after the eight years of former Governor Rochas Okorocha, which many in the state would wish to consign to the dustbin of history.
Despite the promise and great expectations, Governor Ihedioha, many believe, has been distracted and losing focus because of what is termed his administration’s excessive obsession with former Governor Okorocha and the desire to probe and bring him to justice for alleged corruption while in office.
The recent face-off between the chairman of the state property recovery committee and alleged thugs loyal to the former governor only goes to show the low level the desire to probe Okorocha has sunk. The announcement of an “arrest” order by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) has also received knocks from several Nigerians, not just for the legality of the order coming from the SSG but also over fears that such attempt could lead to anarchy in the state.
Probing a past administration alleged to have corruptly enriched itself at the expense of the populace is desirable and the way to go, but that must be seen to have been executed within the ambits of the law. Taking laws into their hands by allegedly invading Okorocha’s house with ‘thugs’ under the pretext of recovering state properties, when pettitions by the same government are already receiving attention from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC), reeks of malice and turning the rule of law on its head.
Nyesome Wike – Rivers
Governor Nyesom Wike is a man used to controversies. In fact, he has been accused of relishing in such without minding who is bitter or hurt by his actions. However, the alleged demolition of a mosque in the state by his administration may be love for controversy taken too far.
Despite allegations by the owners of the mosque that the demolition took place despite evidence of government approved plan, Governor Wike, in his characteristic manner, chose to down play the demolition, insisting no mosque was demolished in the state.
Though several notable Nigerians, especially northerners, have warned that the development is capable of engulfing the nation in serious religious crisis, we are equally concerned about Wike’s penchant for arbitrariness.
Ripples Nigeria recalls that Governor Wike had similarly acted beyond his bounds when he ordered the demolition of the terminal of some transport companies in the state despite the pendency of suits over some disputed properties in courts of competent jurisdiction. For Wike, it would seem that rules are not important and can be trampled upon at will!
Yahaya Bello – Kogi
If Kogi State civil servants had their way, every month should be election season in the state. At least, they would be assured of receiving their salaries, including months of arrears!
That is the reality in Kogi where the state governor, Yahaya Bello, waited till the eve of the governorship election, where he is standing for reelection, to pay about five months of salary arrears. The payment of five months arrears is, however, out of a backlog running into over 30 months in some cases. The state under Bello is also reputed to have carried out the longest staff verification exercise spanning over three years.
The desperation for a second term in office also made Governor Bello to hurriedly hand over Staff of Offices to 15 traditional rulers who, for one reason or the other, had been denied in time past.
More worrisome, however, is the current face-off and attempts at impeaching the state’s Deputy Governor, Elder Simon Achuma, whose only offence is disagreeing with Governor Bello and his Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja. The process for the impeachment, already in motion, is coming after the state government made attempts at sacking the state Chief Judge, using the House of Assembly, in obvious disregard for laws governing employment, discipline and sacking of judicial officers.
Bello Masari – Katsina
Governor Bello Masari of Katsina State stunned Nigerians before the 2019 general elections when he called for the declaration of a state of emergency in his state. The governor made the call as armed bandits, kidnappers and other violent criminals took over the state, holding the people by the jugular.
For many, the deteriorating security situation in Katsina is nothing but a failure of leadership on the part of Governor Masari. In our view, he failed to show capacity and provide needed leadership for the security agencies in the state, in the mould a green horn in Zamfara, Bello Matawalle, had ‘miraculously’ done in curtailing the activities of bandits.
It is even more worrisome that Katsina, being President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state, could lay postrate before bandits and other violent criminals. Abduction of innocent residents, killings and destruction of properties have continued almost unabated. The belated decision of the governor to meet the bandits in their hideouts may after all be an after thought and a poor copy of the Zamfara model.
Adegboyega Oyetola – Osun
Unlike the bosterous man-in-the-news posture of his predecessor and former boss, Rauf Aregbesola, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola has appeared almost inactive with too little to report about him or his interventions in Osun State.
However, one sore point that the governor has unfortunately made a priority and elevated to state policy is granting of holidays that are capable of having negative impact on the already not-too-buoyant economy of the state. In the month of August alone, Governor Oyetola declared a public holiday for ‘Isese day’, a day dedicated to traditional religious worshippers and just last Friday, another one for the celebration of the Islamic New Year. Both holidays are not nationally recognised public holidays.
Though the governor has the power to declare public holidays in his state, it is, however, doubtful if these holidays hold any immediate or long term economic, social or political impact on the people of the state. It is the opinion of Ripples Nigeria that policies and actions of state governments be deliberately and strategically designed to elevate society in all areas of Human Development Index (HDI).
Governor Oyetola will do well by dedicating himself much more to policies and actions that will lift the lot of the improverished ordinary people of the state and not continue in the current public holidays jamboree, hurting the state’s economy further!
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