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ICYMI: Top 5, Bottom 5; How first term Governors fared in their first year (May, 2020)

Top 5, Bottom 5; How first term Governors faired in their first year (May, 2020)

Consistent with our promise in August, 2019, to hold Nigerian leaders accountable, the Board of Ripples Nigeria has reviewed the performance of governors whose first year in office climaxed on May 29, 2020.

Our traditional Top 5, Bottom 5 ranking model is retained, and has been guided by policy initiatives and execution as gleaned from the states.

Consequently, 10 out of the 12 first term governors who completed their first year in office are ranked for the month of May on the strength of their individual aggregate performances in the last 12 months.

1. Babajide Sanwo-Olu —Lagos

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu makes the Top Five again for the month of May, having enjoyed similar runs since the inception of this series.

Though he had what many called a slow start at the beginning of his administration, the pace of governance has since gained commendable momentum with social and economic infrastructures receiving keen attention.

The governor has shown remarkable leadership, taking tough decisions, and standing by them.

Notable projects include the over one hundred roads rehabilitated by the Lagos State Public Works Corporation (LSPWC) and a tech-driven security architecture that has provided succour for residents of the state.

We note the deliberate crafting of a communication strategy that has helped to build a stakeholder mentality in the area of project execution, with many residents showing a better understanding of the inconveniences that have trailed various construction works.

The expansion of the Lagos Health Insurance Scheme to accommodate 500,000 households and the increase in the health budget of the state from 8.6 percent to 15 percent also caught our attention.

Sanwo-Olu’s initiatives in the health sector are complemented by the responsiveness of his administration to the global COVID-19 pandemic, an exemplary performance acknowledged by many.

The Sanwo-Olu led government has also received positive reviews for committing more resources to the education sector. The budgetary allocation has grown from 12.07 percent to 18 percent, while capacity building for teachers has taken a front row.

2. Babagana Zulum —Borno

Professor Babagana Zulum has featured prominently in the Top 5 due largely to his visionary leadership and commitment to the security and welfare of residents of the state.

Despite inheriting a highly insecure state in which the people were subjected to the worst form of terrorist attacks, Governor Zulum is restoring hope by building a local fighting force to complement the operations of federal troops.

Through these efforts, some ravaged communities are being resettled and social infrastructure restored.

Though many are quick to criticise the unconventional deployment of hundreds of hunters as local security operatives, Governor Zulum has shown that he is a man in a hurry to drive development.

We acknowledge his courageous disposition in speaking truth to power, especially over the leaky performance of soldiers in his territory. Never afraid to challenge the status quo, Zulum has pursued disruptive programs that are bringing development closer to the doorsteps of the more vulnerable in society.

Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the education sector where his initiatives have seen the emergence of world-class structures as public schools. It is hoped that these would be complemented with proper staffing and ultimately lead to a rise in the quality of education in the state.

3. Seyi Makinde —Oyo

Makinde, adjudged Ripples Nigeria Governor of the Year 2019, came into governance looking prepared. His decision to publicly declare his assets, an act almost alien in our clime, was exemplary and cut the picture of a man on a mission.

Makinde has distinguished himself as a proactive administrator, providing visionary leadership in the areas of education, health, agriculture, and other social infrastructure.

Aside embarking on a massive renovation of schools across all local government areas, he has made access to education a lot less cumbersome by declaring primary and secondary education free.

Visible progress has also been recorded in the health sector where several hospitals in the state have received attention through physical and equipment upgrades.

We recognize the attempt at building a culture of financial discipline, especially through cost savings. The governor, who has donated his monthly salaries to pensioners in the state, continues to use his personal vehicles and has refused to buy new vehicles for officials of the state government, a practice common with new administrations.

Particularly outstanding in his anti-corruption fight is the institutionalization of an anti-graft agency by an act of parliament.

4. Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq —Kwara

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Riding on the back of collective dissent against the supposed domination of the politics of Kwara State by the Saraki dynasty, Abdulrazaq quickly settled into work, endearing himself to many through people-centric programs and policies.

With a preponderance of females in his cabinet, obviously in fulfilment of campaign promises, the governor has continued to ensure that financial discipline remains a hallmark of his administration. His austere approach to governance includes, among others, placing personal assets at the disposal of the administration.

In the education sector, payment of relevant counterpart funds has brought back development partners, and taken the state off Universal Basic Education Commission’s (UBEC) blacklist. The initiative has set the state on the path of reviving a once moribund sector.

Read also: RANKING NIGERIAN GOVERNORS, MARCH, 2020: Top 5, Bottom 5

Huge investments in the health sector have seen the state resuscitate its long-dead oxygen plant, making her to be self-sufficient, with a possibility of commercializing the venture to boost internally generated revenue.

Having taken an initial wrong step in dealing with persons alleged to have looted state resources, Abdulrazaq has since recreated the processes to ensure that rule of law permeates his governance structure.

5. Dapo Abiodun —Ogun

Dapo Abiodun makes the Top Five of the ranking for first-term governors on the strength of concerted efforts being made to guarantee security, improve social infrastructure, and grow the agrarian potentials of the state.

His work in the deprived border communities, especially in the Sango-Ota axis of the state, has been remarkable and impacted lives.

Abiodun’s roadmap for the establishment of an agency to light up Ogun is helping to build a competitive economy and revitalize industries, especially the emergence and sustenance of small and medium scale businesses.

The big corporations are also tapping into the enabling environment created by Abiodun. This is noticeable in the growth of industrial estates, most of which are now housing firms finding Lagos a more challenging hub.

The migration is creating employment opportunities and this has helped to systematically manage the growing army of unemployed in the state.

Abiodun’s decision to maintain a database of the jobless has been referenced as a good initiative given its import for strategic planning and scientific response to issues of unemployment.

Bottom 5

1. Abdullahi Sule —Nasarawa

Sule has remained largely anonymous for exhibiting poor vision and showing contentment for the ordinary.

We are unimpressed that a personal donation of N10m by the governor in support of the fight against coronavirus could attract accolades rather than a more deliberate response to fix a moribund health sector.

Neither do we consider the settlement of a debt owed by the National Open University of Nigeria, Lafia study centre, an accomplishment.

Sule had promised to settle the debt, being the cost of Certificate of Occupancy which had been pending against the university, with his outstanding June and July salaries.

It is also curious that the governor has not been able to pass the stage of signing MoUs and raising committees on his 14 point agenda as contained in his inaugural speech on May 29, 2019.

As laudable as the installation and provision of solar-powered streetlights in each of the 13 local government councils might seem, we wonder the impact of this on the capacity of citizens to effect a shift in their poverty levels.

We, however, commend Governor Sule for expressly granting full implementation of financial autonomy to the 13 local government areas of the state, and hope it empowers the local authorities to bring governance closer to people at the grassroots.

2. Ahmadu Fintiri —Adamawa

Governor Fintiri of Adamawa State has few accomplishments standing in his name.

The little bursts of developmental strides noticeable in the administration have mostly been associated with the commissioning of projects initiated and executed by his predecessor.

Fintiri admits this much but argues that he adopted a strategy of attending to all uncompleted projects left behind by successive administrations, noting that the projects had been impactful.

We acknowledge the re-introduction of feeding in boarding schools, reclaiming of land belonging to schools, and regard these as mere tokenism.

We hold a similar view as it concerns the recruitment of vigilante members in Madagali and Michika, as well as donation of patrol vehicles and motorcycles to security agencies.

3. Mohammed Yahaya Inuwa —Gombe

Inuwa’s one year in office can best be rated as less than average.

Though he lays claims to initiating a couple of projects, much of what is visible are traceable to his predecessor, former Governor Dankwambo.

For residents of Gombe, especially Gombe metropolis, access to potable water has been herculean, as they have continued to depend on water vendors to survive.

Under Inuwa, gaps in the health sector have manifested more with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We find the state’s response less than satisfactory, and are disturbed by images of some patients taking to the streets to protest alleged neglect and lack of care while at the isolation and treatment centre.

Inuwa ingloriously holds the record as the first Nigerian Governor to hastily declare that he would not be able to keep faith with the N30, 000 new National Minimum Wage, offering lame excuses where his contemporaries are developing creative means of enhancing their capacity to meet regular commitments to workers and other citizens.

We also find reprehensible his continued delegation of local government administration in the state to secretaries of the LGs, one year after the caretaker chairmen were dissolved, a clear contravention of the Nigerian Constitution.

4. Bala Mohammed —Bauchi

Bala Mohammed’s election as Governor of Bauchi State was not without drama.

Given the intrigues that attended his emergence, many had believed that the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory would hit the ground running. Contrary to expectations, Mohammed has allowed himself to be distracted, pursuing unpopular decisions.

Rather than fight corruption, Mohammed has been enmeshed in contract scandals, one of which were allegations of double award of the same contract to a company in which he had an interest.

He has also been accused of buying an official vehicle, with the state government’s money, for the chairman of the party in the state.

If the absence of executed projects can be excused as part of the building process by Mohammed’s administration, his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been less than impressive.

We are appalled that the governor, who had the privilege of attacking the pandemic from a position of experience, having contracted but survived it, would resolve barely 24 hours after coming out from isolation and treatment centre to attend a crowded service at a time other states had ordered the suspension of religious gatherings.

Not done, Governor Mohammed was one of the first state governors in the country to lift the suspension on religious gatherings shortly after mysterious deaths were reported in Azare, though no direct links were established between the deaths and Coronavirus.

5. Mai Mala Buni —Yobe

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Gov Mai Mala Buni

Mai Mala Buni gets a Bottom 5 mention more for his inactions, and sometimes intolerable actions.

We are disappointed that Yobe, a next-door neighbour to Borno State, and the second worst-hit state when it comes to terrorism in the country, is yet to show the kind of commitment his Borno State counterpart has exhibited in confronting the over-one-decade insurgency.

We equally find unacceptable Buni’s decision to invest N.6billion in the purchase of luxury vehicles and a bus each for 14 Emirs in the state when students still learn under conditions that are grossly not conducive.

Yobe’s literacy level, which stands at 24.3 percent, is one of the lowest in the country, according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Indeed, we find amusing his declaration of a state of emergency in the education sector without corresponding funding to address the matter.

Worse off is the fact that Buni conveniently forgot that in gifting luxury cars to 14 emirs, he was owing retired civil servants in the state gratuities running into several billions of naira.

We searched and found no concrete steps being taken to lift Yobe, one of the states with the highest poverty rates in Nigeria, from the poverty pit.

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