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Governor's Ranking

Ranking Nigerian Governors… July 2023: Cost of living crisis demands the best of governors; so far, they’re falling short



Ranking Nigerian Governors, a special monthly publication of Ripples Nigeria, is focused on the review, on a monthly basis, of the performance of state chief executive officers in the country.

At the core of the publication is the quality policy statements and concrete actions or otherwise of state governors in the course of the month, using the Top 5 and Bottom 5 ranking system. This has been the case since August 2019 when the publication made its debut.

However, with the decline in governance at all levels in the country, a new approach was adopted, albeit temporarily, in assessing them. This approach focuses on identifying those worth mentioning either positively or negatively, while giving a verdict on the general state of governance by the governors.

It is however important to note that in carrying out this self-imposed duty in the interest of Nigerians and lovers of good governance, we are mindful of the several challenges facing governance in this part of the world. These challenges range from paucity of funds occasioned by dwindling allocation from the centre and lack of commonsense initiatives in revenue generation, to insecurity and social strife, among others.

The above challenges, however, do not take away the fact that if those at the helm of affairs in the states were proactive enough and willing to think out of the box, Nigeria and Nigerian states are more than well endowed to be stuck in the current sorry state they are in.

It remains a fact that Nigeria, given its God-given natural resources, and huge intimidating human assets, should be on a steady path to greatness with visionary and forward-looking leaders at the helm.

It is, however, disappointing that the reality on ground is a near-total disconnect from the expectations of the people, leading to widespread mistrust, largely because those saddled with governance at the state level have been unable to prudently manage the meagre resources available, and are bereft of creative and future-looking approach in their planning and policy formulation.

The July 2023 edition of Ranking Nigerian Governors is another special edition just like the last three, in which we seek to challenge and task state governors up their responses to the current hardship in the country occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy and the clamour for palliatives by citizens.

It is an incontrovertible fact that the times are hard and that Nigerians are barely getting by. The cost of movement from one point to the other has skyrocketed, the prices of food items and virtually every other commodity is almost beyond the reach of the poor masses, with many, all over the country, employing extreme measures to survive.

We note, most unfortunately, that with the current situation in the country, almost all the responsibility has been placed at the doorstep of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to provide cushioning palliatives for citizens who are currently going through a lot to get by on a daily basis, leaving out state governors, who are closer to, and directly responsible for their citizens and residents.

Though we agree that President Tinubu bears a huge responsibility in finding cushioning palliatives for Nigerians as the focal man in the country whose economic policies are directly responsible for the current hardship, we are convinced that state governors have equal, if not more responsibility in alleviating the pains occasioned by the policies.

READ ALSO:Special Edition of Governors Ranking: 2023 Elections — The People’s Verdict (Pt 1)

Luckily, from the last revenue shared by the three tiers of government in the country, state governments had improved earnings compared to what obtained in previous months, making it possible for them to do more for the people. Nigerians are of the opinion that state governors should not be able to mouth their usual excuse of lack of funds to provide basic services and needs of their people.

Though we believe that government is not and should not be seen as ‘Father Christmas’— which doles out money and gifts to everyone on the street— it is still incumbent upon it to come up with impactful policies that will make life better and easier for the people. We also contend that special situations require special approaches by government.

We acknowledge the steps and efforts being already taken by some state chief executive officers in trying to make things easier for their citizens and residents.

Ranking Nigerian Governors acknowledges the governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Zulum, who recently gave out cash and food items to 1.8 million residents of the state as the state government’s way of cushioning the effects of subsidy removal.

We also note the slashing of fares by the Lagos State Government under Babajide Sanwo-Olu by 50 percent for the state’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and 25 percent for privately-owned yellow buses. The state government has also promised to distribute food packages to the most vulnerable in the state.

Lagos residents will see reason to be excited by this, since the cost of moving from one point to the other is one of the most crucial challenges facing them following the removal of subsidy.

Though many consider it tokenistic and limited in nature, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State is also commended for his N10,000 monthly palliative payment to workers in the state for the period of three months. This is aside the conversion of state-owned mass transit buses and privately-owned minibuses to run on CNG at government expense. This will no doubt bring down the cost of fuelling the buses and ultimately drive down the cost of transportation in the state.

We must acknowledge the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, for increasing the minimum wage of workers in the state civil service from N30,000 to N40,000. He also reduced the number of work days from 5 to 3 for workers in the civil service. The same goes for Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, who increased minimum wage by N10,000 to make it N40,000 for workers in the civil service.

Aside the above, we note that governors Nwifuru Francis Ogbonna of Ebonyi State, Duoye Diri of Bayelsa State and Simi Fubara of Rivers State have also taken some steps in providing cushioning effects for their people.

We, however, note sadly that except for Lagos and Borno states, most of the palliative measures taken by state governors have largely been directed at workers in the employment of the state government, a development that leaves more than 97 percent of residents of each state excluded.

The current hardship in the land affects everybody and we reckon that whatever steps need to be taken in providing relief must be all-encompassing, touching the most vulnerable in the society, who are most times outside the civil service.

We reckon that apart from increasing minimum wage and providing additional buses for the use of civil servants, state governors must come up with policies and actions that will have direct impact on the lives of the greater majority of the people, especially those who are most vulnerable.

We believe that policies and actions that will reduce the cost of movement of goods and services, like transportation of farm produce from rural areas to urban centres in the states, and providing support to entrepreneurs whose businesses have direct effects on the daily living of the people will be more impactful in reducing the current hardship.

We challenge state governors to put on their thinking caps and consult widely to be able to come up with cushioning palliatives that will have greater impact on the greater number of their citizens and residents, because the current measures are limited in scope and reach!

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