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 January, 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. Southwest Governors
Governors of the Southwest States of Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti collectively stood out in the month of January, 2020 for actualizing a regional security initiative targeted at returning peace and engendering confidence in their economies.
The six governors get a star rating for leading an initiative that may ultimately redefine how Nigeria’s federating units leave together. For remaining committed and refusing to be cowed into jettisoning the project, the governors of Nigeria’s southwest region have been jointly ranked in the top five for the successful launch of the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN), codenamed Operation Amotekun.
We acknowledge that Operation Amotekun is work in progress and call on stakeholders to perfect the rough edges with hope that a replication of the concept all over the country would restore peace, an essential ingredient in the process of nation building that has increasingly become a scarce commodity in the country.
We also concede that, by their actions and insistence on Operation Amotekun, important aspects of the nation’s national life have been elevated to the front burner for serious debate. These are security, true federalism and restructuring.
For their steadfastness, the Southwest governors are awarded two spots on the table; one for their collective effort, and two for individually exercising a worthy initiative.
2. Babagana Zulum —Borno State
Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State, again, gets our attention due largely to his approach to governance and inspiring leadership.
We acknowledge the courage and risk attendant on his speaking up publicly against soldiers who allegedly had made a rule of extorting money from commuters and motorists on some highways in war-ravaged Borno. Speaking up against an institution noted for sometimes brutalizing the psyche of Nigerians, we believe, would help address the burden of residents and travellers in the state, who have had to bear a larger part of the Boko Haram insurgency.
This culture of courage is further exemplified in his open challenge of the rot in Nigerian leadership when he said Nigerian leaders are averse to hearing the truth, something not too many of his ilk would readily admit. His frankness and boldness in the issues of governance is one we are tracking closely, and hope he does not deviate.
We are also endeared by two recent actions of Zulum. First, is the deliberate attempt to build a pan-Nigerian administration by recruiting non indigenes into his government via the January appointment of Anambra and Oyo citizens as Special Advisers. Second, is his prompt action in stopping the forceful evacuation of two villages in the state, Mainok and Jakana by the Nigerian Army without due process and in contravention of their fundamental human rights.
The recent approval of about N1 billion by the state executive council for the building of 2 mega schools in Maiduguri, the state capital caught our attention as well. We will follow the money and ensure that the sum which has been budgeted for about 120 classrooms is not frittered. A successful execution of this project, we believe, will help reduce the number of out-of-school children in the state.
3. Nasir el-Rufai —Kaduna
The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, returns to the top 5 ranking for the month of January, after enjoying good mention in year 2019.
We acknowledge his commitment to improving the education sector in the Northwest state, especially the recent declaration of free education for public primary and secondary schools in the state.
We concede that this important move is a strategic one capable of enhancing literacy, and by extension, development in the state, especially with the reality that most of the out-of-school children are largely on the streets for lack of means.
We applaud El-Rufai’s frankness in admitting to Nigerians that, despite the N1.7 trillion the ruling party had reportedly spent on the power sector, electricity supply in the country remained abysmal, contrary to daily assurances by government officials that the sector was being revived. However, we challenge him to also lead the crusade to establish how the humongous sum had been appropriated and or frittered away.
4. Hope Uzodinma —Imo State
Freshly baked Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, may be barely two weeks old in office but makes the top 5 spot for publicly declaring that he would jettison the now controversial security votes for governors which usually runs into several billions.
We concede that refusing to take the monthly security vote is a reasonable way to go, especially with the paucity of funds most states in the country are facing. We reckon that his utterance remains a promise until the new governor is confronted with the everyday temptation of dealing with unfettered access to state vaults.
Indeed, we are not unmindful of the fact that his predecessor, Rochas Okorocha, made the same promise until stories began to emerge of his alleged wanton abuse of state resources. We, therefore, warn that we have only propped Uzodinma to keep close watch over his early promises and the contract he has signed with citizens of Imo State.
We welcome his pursuit of integrity and resolve to probe his predecessors. However, we hope that the planned exercise will not be another smokescreen to go witch-hunt imaginary political opponents. Indeed, we encourage him to also wean himself of the several alleged baggage hanging on his neck to make him a fit and proper champion of integrity.
1. Ben Ayade —Cross River State
Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, again, makes the bottom five for January, 2020. His inexplicable appointment of 90 aides at a time of economic hemorrhage is confounding.
This is coming after the governor appointed 39 commissioners and created new ministries that were obviously duplications of others in functions, thereby exerting undue pressure on the the lean resources of the state.
We are disturbed that in an era when governments are looking for ways to cut cost, Governor Ayade has continued to embark on frivolous appointments and spending spree.
We condemn the continuous detention of Journalist Agba Jalingo and Ayade’s attempt at shifting attention of Nigerians from his culpability in the persecution of the detained activist, a known critic of his administration.
We find it curious that, after months in detention, Ayade is telling Nigerians that the journalist is being held for allegedly attempting to topple the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
We find this lame and only an attempt to save face and push responsibility to the Federal Government.
2. Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq —Kwara
Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq makes the bottom five in January, 2020 for his shoddy handling of the crisis surrounding ‘Ile Arugbo’, allegedly belonging to the Saraki family.
We condemn the hasty demolition of the property amidst shooting and use of tear gas against old women who protested the move by the state government.
We note that the state government under Governor Abdulrazaq moved into the disputed property just few days after announcing that it had revoked the allocation of the property, claiming it was illegally acquired.
We are not convinced that the state government was completely altruistic in its handling of the demolition exercise, suggesting vendetta and some other ulterior motives. Its concession to settling the dispute out of court clearly vindicates us and shows that the move was not well thought out and processed abinitio.
It’s clear to us that the bungled exercise has left the government reputation damaged and fabrics that once held some sections of the society together torn significantly.
3. Muhammad Badaru —Jigawa State
Jigawa State Governor, Muhammad Badaru makes the January, 2020 ranking for the first time, and notably within the bottom five. The poor rating derives largely from the failure of his administration to institute transparency in its finances.
We note the statement credited to the state Commissioner for Water Resources, Honourable Ibrahim Garba Hannun Giwa, that the state had spent N20 billion on the provision of water in the state in the last three years.
While an investment of such humongous sum for the provision of water is commendable, we are, however, worried that there is no public information on how the money was spent.
We also contend that spending N20 billion for construction of “hundreds of hand water pumps and conversion of 172 urban motorised water scheme to solar power” over a period of three years may fail an objective public scrutiny. We challenge the Badaru administration to go a step further and make public facts surrounding the N20 billion spent on water projects.
We are also worried that the once peaceful Jigawa State is fast becoming a theatre of assorted crimes, including kidnapping and destruction occasioned by farmers/herders clashes, as recently witnessed in Fulata Village in Taula Local Government Area of the state.
Governor Badaru, who came into office with so much promise, will have to up his game and change the negative narratives currently plaguing his administration.
4. Godwin Obaseki —Edo State
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State makes the bottom five for the month of January, 2020 for his increasing failure to stem the heating up of Edo polity.
We note that governance is not just being affected but peace and public safety also.
We condemn the recent violence, under his watch, that marred a political rally which sign posts a breakdown of law and order. We are disturbed that the incidence is indicative of intolerance and lack of accommodation for dissenting views, a development that could hurt the institutions of democracy and stir a descent into anarchy.
We encourage Obaseki to ensure that nothing is spared to guarantee personal liberty, freedom of speech and lawful assembly as means of building a united and prosperous society.
5. Abdulahi Ganduje —Kano State
Governor Abdulahi Ganduje of Kano State gets a mention in the bottom five because of attempts by his administration to interfere with the operations of media houses in the state.
We are unequivocal in our condemnation of any move to gag the press and limit the freedom of expression. We, therefore, urge the Ganduje leadership to steer clear of the media, especially radio stations which the administration believes are giving undue exposure to opposition parties and figures in the state.
We also find it curious that a former President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mohammed Garba, who is the state’s Commissioner of Information, is at the forefront of alleged moves to muzzle the press.