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Governor's Ranking

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



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 of policies and concrete actions or otherwise of state governors in the course of the month, using a 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 outside the box, Nigeria and Nigerian states would not be in the sorry states they are in, being so abundantly endowed.

It remains a fact that in 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.

It is, however, disappointing that the reality on ground is a near-total disconnect with 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.

This current publication of Ranking Nigerian Governors is a special edition, focusing on the verdict of the people in the just concluded 2023 general elections. The election, in our estimation, was a direct verdict on the performance or otherwise of state governors in many instances.

As it has been observed, the outcome of the 2023 general elections witnessed some of the greatest upsets in the history of elections in the country, where sitting governors lost reelection bids, lost their bids for the Senate, and got their preferred candidates for governor defeated.

Samuel Ortom, Benue State

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State presents a pathetic picture of an outgoing state chief executive who got his hands burnt in the twilight of his administration.

From presenting himself as a champion of his people in his many rancourous engagement and altercation with the Federal Government, Ortom assumed too much, believing the people of the state see him the way he saw himself. Unfortunately, Benue people rejected his senatorial ambition, rejected his preferred governorship candidate, as well as his endorsed presidential candidate, Peter Obi.

While Governor Ortom actively took on the Federal Government over the killings of residents of the state by suspected militia herdsmen, this publication warned that there was a difference between activism and governance and that at the end of the day, the people of the state would be the worse for it except Governor Ortom sought more constructive ways of engaging the government at the centre to combat insecurity in the state.

Aside Ortom’s misplaced activism, we recollect that payment of salaries and pensions presented another sour point in his administration of the state, with pensioners embarking on protests regularly, an indication that there are discontents and that the people of the state wanted much more than his faceoff with the Federal Government.

We also note that while other state governments, including Rivers State, whose Governor, Nyesom Wike led the G5 Governors that Ortom belongs to, were busy inaugurating projects, not much was done by the Benue State government. For many in the state, Governor Ortom was hiding under the insecurity in the state as an excuse for his below average performance in governance, provision of much needed infrastructures and payment of salaries and pension.

We also note that the faceoff of the G5 governors, to which Ortom prominently featured, against the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and it’s National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, a kinsman of Ortom, played a major role in the electoral misfortune of the governor, his candidates and the PDP in the state.

We further note that while Governors Wike and Seyi Makinde of Oyo State locked down their states politically, Ortom could not, basically because of noticeable disconnect between him and his people, and of course, rancours within his party in the state.

READ ALSO:Ranking Nigerian Governors, 3rd Quarter, 2022: 2023 distraction, selfish rivalry amid nagging insecurity

It is our belief that the political fall of Governor Samuel Ortom remains a lesson for politicians, especially those who cannot differentiate between governance and activism. It is also trite to say that collaboration and not antagonism is the way to go if the interests of the people are to be served.

Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia State

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State is another member of the G-5 Governors who bit the dust in the just concluded 2023 general elections.

Just like Ortom, Ikpeazu lost his bid for the Senate and had his candidate for the governoship election defeated by the candidate of the Labour Party, Dr Alex Otti in the March 18, 2023 election.

Ikpeazu, though not as vociferous and outspoken in the G-5 group like Ortom and Wike, was, however, largely found wanting over the years in governance, delivering little in the much-taunted ‘dividends of democracy’.

We recollect his arrogant comment when residents of the state queried why the first and only flyover in the state was not ready on time. Ikpeazu, in his wisdom, asked why Abians who had no car were concerned and agitated over the completion of the flyover.

According to Ikpeazu, he embarked on the project without promptings from residents of the state and as such he could not be harassed for not completing it on time. For many, the governor’s comments were arrogant and unbecoming of someone elected to serve the people.

We also recall that Ikpeazu once boasted about giving N500 as post-delivery assistance to women in the state. For the governor, giving N500 to such women as postnatal palliative was a big deal, asking “do you know what N500 can do for a woman who just delivered?”

Such simplistic, mundane and misplaced policies unfortunately characterised Ikpeazu’s almost eight-year administration, making Abians look elsewhere for quality governance and service delivery.

Ikpeazu, we believe, prepared the ground for his and that of his party’s failure at the elections, as he was unable to get the confidence of the people to support him, his candidates and party during the election.

Bello Matawalle, Zamfara State

Ranking Nigerian Governors notes that Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle was one of the governors that came into government with so much promise, especially as regards insecurity that has kept the state prostrate for years.

Matawalle, who came to power courtesy of infighting in the All Progressives Congress (APC) that made the courts declare that it had no candidate for the 2019 elections, shocked many when he elected to defect to the same APC from the PDP. The defection came after several denials of any intention to defect.

Matawalle, however, told the people of Zamfara that he defected because of his desire to team up with the government at the centre in order to be able to secure them. This, however, did not materialise as the state remains the hotbed of banditry, killings and kidnapping for ransom.

We note that 85 persons, kidnapped from Wanzamai village in Tsafe Local Government Area of the state by bandits are still in captivity as at the time of this report. The bandits, who had reduced an initial N50 million ransom demand to N1.7m, on Tuesday, demanded for extra N850,000 to replace the two motorcycles destroyed by the military when their camp was destroyed. Such is the level insecurity has gotten to in Zamfara.

The Zamfara electorates, dissatisfied by the seeming directionless handling of insecurity in the state, chose to ditch Matawalle by voting for the candidate of his former party, PDP, Dauda Lawal.

We note that the governoship election in Zamfara was both a payback for Matawalle for his treachery against PDP and a vote of no confidence on his handling of insecurity in the state.

Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Enugu State

Though Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, another member of the G-5, got a consolation price with the election of his governoship candidate, Peter Mbah in the March 18 election, he suffered a personal loss, failing in his bid to proceed to the NIgerian Senate after the expiration of his second tenure as governor on May 29.

We note that the victory of Mbah may not even be associated with Ugwuanyi, as the PDP candidate was said to have enjoyed the support of people across party lines, including chieftains of the Labour Party in the state, who actively campaigned for him.

Ugwuanyi’s personal loss of his senatorial bid is another testament to the disapproval of his stewardship in the last eight years and an indication that Nigerians would no longer sit back and watch non-performers further impose themselves or successors on them.

His defeat by the candidate of the Labour Party, Okey Ezea can only be said to be humiliating, as Ugwuanyi scored 46,948 votes to Ezea’s 104,492 votes.

For a man who spent 12 years in the House of Representatives before becoming governor for another 8 years, nothing can be more humiliating than such a wide gap.

We note that In the build-up to the election, opposition parties had accused Ugwuanyi of owing retirees pensions and failing to provide critical infrastructure in the state. They also alleged that he failed in the aspect of human capital development.

Ugwuanyi had also been accused of nepotism in the way he cited projects in the Senatorial zones.

Watch out for part 2 of this special edition of Governors’ ranking

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