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 started in August, 2019, and will continue to run through the lifetime of this platform. For February, 2020, we again present a ranking of Nigerian governors, highlighting Top 5 and Bottom 5, in no particular order.
We hope, through these special publications, that 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.
1. Babagana Zulum —Borno State
Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State continues to show that he is a man on a mission. Standing him out are his approach to governance and inspiring leadership, as well as commitment to ensuring that peace returns to the troubled state that has borne the larger brunt of the Boko Haram insurgency.
In words and deeds, Zulum has paid more than lip service to the Boko Haram scourge, traversing dangerous terrains and or locations to connect with the internally displaced and rebuild confidence in governance.
We note his February visit to Diffa District in Niger Republic to discuss modalities for safe and dignified repatriation, and resettlement in Borno, of 120, 000 refugees who fled their homes due to the Boko Haram insurgents’ attack since 2014.
Also noteworthy is Zulum’s continuous and deliberate attempt to entrench a pan-Nigerian value. Coming soon after he recruited non indigenes into his government via the January appointment of Anambra and Oyo citizens as Special Advisers, we acknowledge the instant reward for diligence extended to a primary school teacher of Igbo extraction working with the state.
Zulum’s symbolic gesture, in the course of an unplanned visit, must be seen as challenge to political leaders across regions, ethnicity and religion to unify for the singular goal of building an enduring society.
2. Babajide Sanwo-Olu —Lagos
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State makes a return to the top 5 for the month of February, after initial mentions in year 2019.
We acknowledge his recent push at improving infrastructures in the state, especially roads. The governor, after an initial perceived slow start, has moved swiftly to fix the deplorable state of roads. We note the unique response which has seen rehabilitation works done mostly at night, and with the active participation of Lagos State Public Works Corporation.
It is, perhaps, the ban on motorcycles, popularly called Okada and tricycles, known locally as Keke, in parts of the state, that placed Sanwo-Olu at the centre of discourse in February. Though the ban came with expected pains for residents of the state, and uproar from different quarters, the insistence of the state government to implement the policy shows strength of character.
We reckon that not every policy of government will favour the entire populace. However, a committed leader with a well thought out policy has a responsibility to do what will deliver the greater good for his people.
We, however, concede that it is important for the state government to cushion the effect of the ban in the affected areas by providing sustainable arrangements for citizens to conveniently commute without much hassles. It is in this regard that we encourage the Lagos state government to ensure that the perennial traffic hiccups in the state are addressed.
3. Bello Matawalle —Zamfara
Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara returns to the top 5 in February, 2020 for his direct intervention in the badly handled school feeding program of the state.
We take cognizance of the governor’s unplanned visits to two schools in Gusau, the state capital, where he met the students eating unwholesome food. Angered by what he saw, Matawalle ordered the school principals and other officials to partake in the meal, insisting that they would henceforth eat from the food prepared for the students, in apparent desire to see that the students have access to quality meals.
We concede that the move by Matawalle will not only instill discipline but also help to ensure that government’s interventionist programmes return value for money.
We, however, urge Governor Matawalle to extend this policy to cover the enrollment of children of government officials in public schools and also make it a state policy for government officials to patronise government hospitals in the state. This, we believe will help improve the quality of education and healthcare delivery in the state.
4. David Umahi —Ebonyi
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi makes our top 5 pick for the month of February on account of efforts aimed at promoting transparency in the administration of the state.
The publication of the recurrent expenditure of the state, though short on total spendings, is considered a step in the right direction. The initiative is worthy of emulation, as most government businesses in the country are shrouded in secrecy.
We, however, urge Governor Umahi to take his effort at transparency a step further by publishing, alongside the recurrent expenditure, the capital expenditure of his government. This course of action becomes inevitable as most government corruption are perceived to be perpetrated through capital projects. Umahi should prove doubting Thomases wrong.
5. Rotimi Akeredolu —Ondo
Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu makes the elite cadre for the first time in February 2020 for his legacy projects in the state.
We note the commissioning of the Ore Interchange, a project that will no doubt ease traffic and make driving safe on the Ore corridor. The commissioning is coming after the first term governor had made impressive impact on road infrastructure in the state.
Another legacy project was the commissioning last week of the Ondo-Linyi Industrial Hub. The industrial hub has an Automobile Assembly Plant, Paper Mill Factory, Textile Company, largest Cassava to Ethanol Factory in Nigeria, as well as the country’s first MDF Factory that produces high-density fibre and marine boards.
We acknowledge that Governor Akeredolu is laying a good foundation for industrial growth, with the accompanying opportunity to diversify the revenue base of the state. Prospects that the industrial hub would assist manage the unemployment challenge is also clearly discernible.
1.Bala Mohammed —-Bauchi
The Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, makes the Ripples Nigeria Governors Ranking for the first time but from the bottom 5 for allegedly awarding contracts for the purchase of vehicles to a company in which he is a director.
We are disturbed that despite extant laws forbidding it, Governor Mohammed awarded a N3.6 billion vehicles purchase contract to Adda Nigeria Linited, where he is listed as a director and his close ally, Abdulahi Yari, is in control.
The allegations are compounded by claims that under his watch the government also allegedly dipped hands into state meagre resources to fund the purchase of vehicles for the chairman and deputy chairman of the ruling party in the state.
Also curious is the alleged duplication of purchases of official vehicles by the Mohammed administration, as similar orders were believed to have been made and supplied by the last administration in the state for the current administration.
We welcome the Governor’s swift suspension of a local government chairman in the state after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)arrested him for financial infractions. However, we contend that the rules cannot be different for a local government administrator while the state government carries on differently. He who comes to equity must come with clean hands!
2. Godwin Obaseki —Edo State
Governor Godwin Obaseki makes the bottom five for the month of February, 2020, the second time in a row, for his inability to contain the gradual descent to anarchy in the State.
As we noted in the January ranking, governance, peace and public safety are being affected in the state without a definite action by Governor Obaseki to tame them.
We condemn the recent shaming of former Governor Adams Oshiomhole in Benin City and the blockade of the entrance to his house with a refuse collection truck by elements suspected to be loyalists of Obaseki. Oshiomhole, a former Governor of the state, in our reckoning, deserves a level of decent treatment, an irreducible minimum in a civilized state.
It is disturbing that these acts, especially after the experience in January, continue to indicate high level of intolerance and lack of accommodation for dissenting views.
We urge Obaseki to quickly protect the institutions of state and democratic ethos if Edo State is not to become a bad example for failed a leadership.
3. Darius Ishaku —Taraba
The Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku, gets a minus in the Ripples Nigeria Governors Ranking for the month of February 2020 on account of his largely indefensible absence from the State.
We fault his retreat into Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, since the month of December, away from his duty post.
We consider laughable his excuse for staying in Abuja on medical grounds because of an alleged domestic accident sustained in Jalingo. It is curious that a domestic accident that was never disclosed to citizens could keep the governor away from the state for almost three months.
It is our view that Governor Ishaku, by his action, has taken the people of Taraba for a ride, especially his refusal to make his reason public until a public outcry ensued.
We encourage Ishaku to come clean and face squarely the challenge of governance in a state desiring urgent political leadership.
4. Abubakar Atiku Bagudu —Kebbi State
The Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, makes the February 2020 bottom five on account of his involvement in the now infamous Abacha loot scandal.
We note the disturbing news that after helping the late military dictator, General Sanni Abacha, siphon the nation’s resources to hitherto safe havens, from which he expectedly made fortunes, Bagudu had allegedly woven a legal deal from which he also expecting to be paid a whopping $100 million.
The deal, if consummated, is a crude way of rubbing mud in our faces, even after the Federal Government had reportedly signed off its rights to prosecute the sitting governor.
Bagudu, in saner climes, would have been made to face the law for his fiendish roles in helping the former military dictator loot the nation’s resources.
5. Yahaya Bello —Kogi State
Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State gets a mention again in the bottom five because of the needless judgment debt his orchestrated impeachment of his former deputy, Simon Achuba, has plunged the state into.
We recall that Bello, in the desperation to expel Achuba from his government, failed to respect the rule of law, especially the no guilty verdict returned by the seven-man committee constituted by the state Chief Judge Justice Nasir Ajana to investigate the former deputy governor.
The Bello-sponsored democratic coup, leading to a debt of N305 million, being an aggregate of the relieves sought by Achuba, has aptly been described by John Olorunfemi of the state High Court, as “legislative rascality devoid of reasoning.”
We reason that in a state as Kogi, adjudged as one of the poorest in the country, N305 million is a princely sum that could be channelled to meaningful development.
We call on Bello to mend his ways and take practical steps to apply the lessons from his faulty pasts, especially the condemnable tampering with the institutions of democracy and the rule of law.