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 October 2019, we again present a ranking of Nigerian governors, highlighting top 5 and bottom 5, in no particular order.
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.
1. Governor Nasir el-Rufai – Kaduna
Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State returns to the top five for the second time after featuring in that class for September 2019.
We find Governor el-Rufai a potential example of what governance is all about; meeting the real needs of the people.
We take particular note of Kaduna State’s proposed 2020 budget as presented to the state’s House of Assembly and the governor’s decision to allocate 73.7 percent of the budget to capital project while 26.3 goes to recurrent expenditure.
We are also attracted by the fact that education, infrastructures and health topped sectoral allocation with 25.07, 25.34 and 15 percent in that other.
We note that this is unprecedented in government budgeting in Nigeria and hope that other state governments can take a cue from Kaduna.
The public apology Governor el-Rufai tendered to the people of the state recently over cases of banditry and loss of lives in the state is the way to go. Public officers must take responsibility for failings of governance, and not try to explain things away all the time.
We, however, urge that tendering a public apology to residents must not be the end, but that the government should be spurred to collaborate with security agents to put an end to insecurity in the state.
2. Governor Seyi Makinde – Oyo
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo in October returned to our Top 5 governors in Nigeria largely on account of his commitment to revamping the education sector in the state.
We take cognizance of the provision of a N1.5 billion counterpart funding that will enable the state access an equal amount of funds from the UBEC/FGN fund. The cummulative fund of N3 billion are to be used for the rehabilitation/provision of classrooms and furniture.
We concede that a combination of the above with the recent order by the governor for the recruitment of teachers is capable of giving education a new lease of life in Oyo.
The recent approval for the governor to access the N7.6 billion CBN loan for agriculture, by the state’s House of Assembly, also caught attention. This followed revelations that the money is to be used in converting the two farm settlements in Eruwa and Akufo areas of Ibadan to farm estates for the purpose of enhancing the Agriculture Value Chain. We believe this could enhance the state’s internally generated income if well harnessed.
3. Aminu Masari – Katsina
Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State leaped frogged from Bottom 5 in September to make the Top 5 in the month of October, largely for his commitment to initiatives taken by the state government to end banditry and kidnappings in the state.
We note that several of the bandits have turned a new leaf due to the Masari-led process of dialogue while scores of victims of abductions have been released.
We welcome the negotiated release of indigenes of the state who were sold into slavery in far away Burkina Faso by bandits, another success credited to the state governor and his team.
We also take cognizance of the appointment of an Imo State indigene, Prince Uche Okonkwo by Governor Masari as his Special Assistant on Nigerian Indigenous Christians. This, we believe, will help build and deepen a culture of diversity in the state and engender a more inclusive government.
4. Governor Babagana Zulum – Borno
Borno State governor, Babagana Zulum made a dramatic return in the month of October after he was listed in the Top Five for August.
We note the act of courage exhibited by Governor Zulum with the hosting of a retreat for top officials of his government in Damasak, an insurgency-ravaged town on the fringes of Lake Chad, the hotbed of ISWAP, a breakaway faction of Boko Haram.
Damasak was the seat of the Boko Haram Caliphate when the insurgency group controlled vast territories in the Northeast state.
We concede that dragging his entire cabinet for a retreat in the troubled area is not only an act of courage but a way of building confidence in the residents of the area.
We equally acknowledge the various steps the governor has taken to ensure the state enjoys relative peace and end the Boko Haram burden, including the recruitment of 10,000 local hunters as part of the state’s answer to the terrorists. Though fighting the insurgents with local hunters may be a tall order, it, nevertheless, shows a governor who wants peace at all cost.
The building of 1100 housing units in two villages in Gwoza Local Government area that were destroyed by Boko Haram is a welcome development, as it helps those that were displaced by the terrorists return home to befitting abodes.
5. Governor Dave Umahi – Ebonyi
Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State gets his first listing for the month of October for his Zero Oil Economy direction for the state.
We acknowledge Governor Umahi’s new thinking of a state economy that does not have to depend entirely on allocation from the Federation Account but one that can generate enough revenue from sources different from oil-dependent money from the centre.
We note the governor’s One Man One Hectre policy that makes it compulsory for government officials and others in the state to own a farm. This has turned the state into one of the largest producers of rice in the country.
We also take cognizance of the three Rice Mill clusters in the three Senatorial Districts in the state with over 560,000 rice farmers profiled.
We consider the zero oil economy direction that focuses on agriculture, mining, infrastructure, human capital development, enterprenuership, skill development, health, education, and industrialization, amongst others, the right way to go for any state in the country that wants to become financially viable.
1. Yahaya Bello – Kogi
Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State again maintains a spot on the Bottom Five list for the third consecutive month.
We are concerned with the seeming rape of democracy and the rule of law currently playing out in the state as it reflects in the impeachment of the state’s Deputy Governor, Elder Simon Achuba.
We take cognizance of widespread reports, especially on the judicial panel constituted by the State Chief Judge, Justice Nasir Ajanah, which absolved Achuba of any wrongdoing and was cleared by the investigating committee which said he did not commit any impeachable offense.
It is also disturbing that in a bid to have his way, Governor Bello arm twisted the state House of Assembly to impeach Achuba without considering the report laid before it, while also threatening the judiciary into swearing in his former Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja as the new Deputy Governor.
Also worrisome is the last minute profligacy of the Bello administration, which has been described as desperation for victory at the November 16 governorship election in the state. This is exemplified in the recent gift of a Rolls Royce Phantom to the Attah of Igalla.
2. Governor Okezie Ikpeazu – Abia
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia retained his position on the Bottom Five list of governors, largely because of the general outcry that Aba, the commercial nerve of the state, has been overwhelmed by mountains of refuse.
As stated in the September ranking, the eyesore is not limited to the inner crevices of the city. The environmental shame envelopes a substantial stretch of the Aba-Port-Harcourt Expressway, leaving a stench that dominates most part of Aba. The associated risks have turned Aba into a huge mass of urban slum, with residents fearing eruption of an epidemic.
We obseved that the problem got to a head in October with over 200 women marching to protest the extremely bad condition of roads in the commercial city.
The women, who tagged the protest ‘Aba Women Riot Part 2, demanded urgent attention to be given to the city, its road and sanitation problems. They also bemoaned the non payment of salaries.
The Ikpeazu government gets our poor rating for manifesting incompetence and for its failure to initiate appropriate legislation or practical steps to reinvent Aba which fame goes beyond Nigeria for its unique inventions and industry.
We are disturbed that Ikpeazu, who before coming to office was the head of the state’s environmental agency, would allow the city that practically generates most of its internal generate revenue to be one in which residents would have to clutch their nostrils in order to move around.
3. Seriake Dickson – Bayelsa
Seriake Dickson, the outgoing governor of Bayelsa State got our first mention in the Bottom Five for his unpopular decision to appoint 60 new aides in the twilight of his administration.
We consider his reason ‘to help him finish strong’ as lame since whatever did not happen in the almost eight years he has been in office may never happen again.
We view this as an unnecessary burden on the finances of the state and mere political patronage, considering the forthcoming November 16 governorship election in the state, in which his close ally is one of the candidates.
We are also concerned that Dickson may be unwittingly shifting the focus of campaigns in the governorship, from issues, to mudslinging, and petty verbal exchanges.
He has over the last few weeks dwelt more on rubbishing the image of the candidate of the opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) than he has done in throwing up issues of concern in the state for healthy debates, and challenging candidates in the contest to tell Bayelsans how they intend to lead the state forward.
4. Ben Ayade – Cross River
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State retained his position in the Bottom Five for the second month running.
We recall that his first stint in September was largely due to the persecution of dissenting voices against his administration, as represented by the travails of Journalist, Agba Jalingo and a lawyer, Joseph Odok, using state security apparatus.
We note that the persecution has continued till date, with the court granting the request of the prosecution to call masked witnesses against Jalingo. Nothing much though has been heard of Odok.
We concede that the decision of the governor to return to school to acquire a Master’s degree is not a bad move in itself. We are, however, disturbed by reports that the governor goes to class with a large convoy of vehicles, no doubt, fueled by state resources.
We are concerned that going to class with the complete compliment of his office is capable of intimidating, not just other students but even his lecturers, making the class environment non-conductive for proper learning.
5. Kayode Fayemi -Ekiti
Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, has been everywhere lately, with constant mention in the news. This, no doubt, is due to his current position as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF).
We are, however, concerned with one of his recent statements to the effect that the local government system in the country is not constitutionally the third tier of government.
We are even more disturbed that Fayemi, a former minister and now a second term governor, never saw anything wrong with perceiving local governments as third tier until the issue of financial autonomy for LGs came to the front burner, with the Nigeria Intelligence Unit (NFIU) breathing down the necks of state governors.
We find it curious that Governor Fayemi is saying LGs are not a tier of government despite the listing of the local government areas in the country in the constitution, just like states in the Federation, with constitutional provisions for creation of same.
We demand Fayemi to tell Nigerians if he had been engaging in illegality over the years with his official relationship with LGs since they are not recognized by the constitution as the third tier of government, and why he had been accepting the allocation of revenue to LGs in his state directly from the Federation Account!
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