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Ranking Nigerian Governors Feb/March 2022: APC Govs’ dirty fight, Sanwo-Olu’s BRT snag, Wike’s uncouthness, Umahi’s meltdown

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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 February/March, 2022.

The special publication which made its debut in August 2019, kicked off with the traditional ranking of the state chief executives on the basis of Top 5 and Bottom 5. However, with the steady decline in the performances of governors both in concrete actions and policy formulation and pronouncements, Ranking Nigerian Governors evolved a slightly different approach, though in the interim, by singling out governors considered worth mentioning, either for positives or negatives, as the case may be.

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 review of the month of January 2022, we presented the inspiring strides of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State in the area of transport infrastructure, and noted Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom’s self-sabotage in his relationship with the Presidency which he confessed had negatively affected his state. We were also alarmed at Abia State’s Okezie Ikpeazu’s shocking outburst against demands for information on a flyover project in the state, which we noted as arrogant and unbecoming of a state chief executive.

Similarly, we noted comments attributed to Govenor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara, claiming that his administration was aware of those behind the troubling insecurity in his state. Though the governor hinted at the class of people behind the insecurity when he called them “political bandits”, we are were disappointed that he failed to name and shame them by revealing their true identities and initiating action to bring them to book. We reasoned that it was a mark of weakness and/ or insincerity on the part of state and federal governments to fail to bring these ‘identified accomplices’ to book. It also shows a lack of commitment or an absence of the willpower to end the current insecurity in the country.

For the months of February/March 2022, we once again beam our searchlight on some state governors and how much impact they made in their respective states, on the one hand, and the obvious lapses, which no doubt adversely affected governance, on the other.

When Governors Fight Dirty

Akeredolu, El-Rufai

One of the damning moments in the months under review was the disgraceful faceoff between All Progressives Congress (APC) governors, namely Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State, Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, in their bid to wrestle the control of APC from the hands of the party’s Caretaker Chairman and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni.

We note that the rather petty politics of APC took the focus off governance from several APC-controlled states, as they all jostled for the control of the soul of their party.

While conceding that it is within the rights of the governors to play party politics, we are disturbed by the derogatory language Nasir el-Rufai and Rotimi Akeredolu employed, and their loosely and carelessly expressed serious allegations. We consider it condescending for Akeredolu to have referred to fellow governors as ‘Yahoo Yahoo governors’ just in a bid to justify a ‘palace coup’ clandestinely orchestrated by him and others against Buni.

We also consider el-Rufai’s outburst against Buni as beneath expectation, especially when he alleged that fellow governors, who were not with his camp in the now failed APC palace coup were planting fake stories in the media.

Not done, el-Rufai reportedly resorted to threats, hinting at possible exit from the party.

In an reportedly leaked Whatsapp message to fellow governors, el-Rufai wrote: “Your Excellences, unity is impossible to attain when leaders that are in office, because we consented to it, are consistently erratic, capricious, corrupt, and deceitful.

“Loyalty begets loyalty.
“Deception begets mistrust.
“Betrayal begets revolt.
“Ineptness, greed, and selfishness threaten to destroy what has been built over nearly a decade, by those who didn’t even know how this party was put together.

“Let’s restate that I am done with this charade, unless concrete, honest and transparent steps are taken to implement our agreed plans under a leadership we trusted.

“Thank you. Nasir El-Rufai.”

We concede that el-Rufai, Akeredolu and others with them, who feel aggrieved by the current current happenings in the party, have a right to complain, but also believe that complaining does not involve name-calling, making wild allegations and resorting to threats. Governors, and any other elected official, have a duty to maintain decorum, act and talk with civility and avoid things that may cause further division either in a party or the society at large.

Autocratic Udom Emmanuel?

Udom Emmanuel

For the most part of his fast-waning eight-year tenure as Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel mirrored the image of a fine gentleman, especially in his mien. However, recent happenings may have effectively eroded that and instead reveal him as another autocratic character in a democratic garb.

Many Akwa-Ibomites were shocked when Governor Emmanuel openly presented one of his commissioners, Pastor Umo Eno as his preferred successor, ostensibly to effectively shutting out other aspirants on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the governorship election in 2023.

The governor, who claimed that he was not planning on becoming another godfather in the state, however shocked millions of conscious Nigerians when a picture of Pastor Eno kneeling in front of him surfaced online.

We concede to the propriety of a sitting governor being interested in who succeeds him in office— that has always been the practice either with or without the right intentions. We, however, find it undemocratic and autocratic to singlehandedly impose a successor, first on the party and possibly on the entire state afterwards.

It is our honest belief that by doing this, Governor Udom is trying to impede the rights of other aspirants by using the instruments of state power to shut them out. And at the same time, possibly taking away the right of majority of members of the PDP in determining their candidate for the office of governor.

We believe, just like many others all over the world, that democracy thrives on popular participation and the best candidate can only emerge in an atmosphere devoid of official state manipulation and hand-twisting tactics by those in power.

Read also: NIGERIAN GOVERNORS: Zulum stands out in Oct, as quality of governance sinks deeper

We are also finding it difficult to believe Governor Emmanuel’s promise of not becoming another godfather over Pasto Eno seeing that viral kneeling picture. Or do we accept that the commissioner, who has become the anointed aspirant, was being prayed for in the picture?

We note that godfathers are not born but made consciously by themselves and those around them. It is our belief that the kneeling image, whatever it was for, sent out a dangerous signal as to what the Udom Emmanuel/Umo Eno’s relationship may be if Eno were to become Governor of Akwa Ibom State.

Sanwo-Olu and the BRT Saga

Sanwo-Olu

Though Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is not directly involved in the day-to-day running of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) scheme, Nigerians have called to question the safety system provided for Lagosians patronising the BRT following the gruesome murder of Bamise Ayanwole.

Security all over the state is the primary responsibility of Governor Sanwo-Olu, more so since the BRT belongs to the Lagos State Government through the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) and run by vendors appointed by it. Governor Sanwo-Olu bears direct responsibility of ensuring the safety of Lagosians using the BRT.

It is our considered opinion that the state government, headed by Sanwo-Olu, has the responsibility of installing and supervising the use of surveillance equipment that can ensure that activities of drivers and passengers are closely monitored for rapid security intervention where necessary.

That nothing of such us obtainable at the moment is an indictment on the Lagos State Government led by Governor Sanwo-Olu, exposing the level of disregard for the safety of the people the government was emplaced to serve.

We also note the response and handling of the crisis in the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), especially the supposed takeover of parks and garages by the Lagos State Government.

To start with, the response of the Sanwo-Olu administration was half-hearted, reactionary and has not been implemented till date.

We are curious as to why the state government only announced the suspension of the operations of the union and takeover of the parks and garages in the state only after the suspended Lagos State Chapter Charman of the union, Musiliu Akinsanya, widely known as MC Oluomo, reportedly asked it to do so.

We also note that despite the supposed takeover, agents of the ‘union’ have continued to operate unhindered as witnessed in all the parks and garages in the state, collecting undocumented levies from commercial drivers.

We are tempted to ask if Sanwo-Olu and the state government are afraid of MC Oluomo and his agents who are daily flouting the takeover order.

Government can only be effective and seen to be working when its orders and policy pronounments are carried out to the letter.

As it stands, nothing, just nothing, has changed!

Wike, the Uncouth ‘Mr Projects’

Wike

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike is one state chief executives that may be hard to fault on the basis of provision of infrastructure, as he has continued to churn out projects that no doubt have an impact on the state and its people.

From the last count, Wike, while boasting about his achievements, said he had carried out all the projects he promised the people of the state, with 11 flyover bridges constructed, among several other road projects.

What, however, has remained a big snag for Wike is the manner he talks, which has come to described as ‘Diarrhoea of the mouth’.

Governor Wike takes no prisoners when it comes to talking about and/or talking down on perceived opponents, not even fellow governors. He takes whoever he’s taking on to the cleaners, without batting an eyelid.

From Ben Ayade of Cross Rivers State, upon whose territory he ‘encroached’, to Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, and recently, Godwin Obaseki of Edo, whose head he vowed to shave— whatever that means— Wike seems to not know the limits of reckless comments in public.

Though we acknowledge Wike’s reported passion for his party and other issues, we, however, frown at his constant ranting and hurling of insults, and issuing of threats against his opponents— in their ever-increasing number and classification. We believe Governor Wike will do well for himself in taking one or two lessons in diplomacy, civility in public communication and the gentlemanly requirement for public office holders.

Wike’s current ‘militant’ mentality and disposition can only win him more enemies than friends and may as well be a stubborn albatross for him, should he aspire for any other office beyond his Rivers State.

Many have argued that not too many Nigerians would want an excessively and recklessly combative person like Wike holding an elective executive position in Abuja. They may have a point.

David Umahi and His Wild Rant Against Justice Ekwo

Ebonyi was marginalised in Atiku’s consideration of running mate— Umahi

David Umahi

Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi joined the league of uncouth and recklessly ranting governors in the course of the month under review, when he waged a verbal war against Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, who delivered the judgment sacking him and his deputy, Eric Igwe from office.

We note the wild allegations Umahi made against the respected judge, when he said that he was on a mission to embarrass the All Progressives Congress and the Federal Government.

Umahi said: “I am still the Governor of Ebonyi State and there is no tension at all. In the first place, there is no constitutional provision for any hatchet man to remove a governor.

“I have listened to the judgement of Inyang Ekwo and it’s very obvious that he was on a mission. He was making all effort to upturn the rulings of the Appeal and Supreme Courts, on issues like this.

“We have heard the rumours before now that he was determined to give judgement against all known laws and the Constitution, first to embarrass the APC, and to equally embarrass the Federal Government.

“It’s obvious that the ruling this afternoon is clear evidence that this country is in trouble. And let me tell you, this same judge, has over ten cases against the Ebonyi State Government with him. And you can imagine what he is going to rule.

“We have petitioned him to NJC and we will follow it up to the end to ensure that this man (Ekwo) is brought to justice. I want you to disregard the judgement because it’s null and void.”

Though Umahi later apologised to the Nigeria Bar Association (a limited audience) over his outburst against Justice Ekwo, making the entire scenario more like another moment of temporary madness said to be consistent with every human being, we, nevertheless, find it discomforting that a state governor would spew such words against a learned jurist.

If Umahi could condemn a court ruling with such spurious allegations, delivering invectives against the judge at an emergency rally in Abakaliki, what should an ordinary citizen do in a similar situation?

Leadership, we believe, should be by example and anyone that is not capable of controlling their temperament, especially when dealing with the public, is not worthy of being a leader!

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