One year ago, the Board of Ripples Nigeria thrust upon itself the mandate of a monthly assessment of performances of state governors across the country.
We have stayed the course since August, 2019.
Admittedly, governance is a daunting task. But even in the face of challenges, some helmsmen have shown exceptional capacity to improve the lot of their citizens while others have struggled with the people’s mandate.
For August 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 towards the path of lifting its citizens from abject poverty to prosperity.
1. Rotimi Akeredolu —Ondo State
The Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, gets a mention in the Top 5 for his unequivocal stance to suggestions that the Western Nigeria Security Network, popularly known as Amotekun, would be under the control of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
The announcement by a presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, that the Southwest security initiative would remain tied to the apron strings of the Nigeria police had been received with reservations, especially after an understanding had been reached with the federal authorities that the outfit be given a force of the law through legislation, which had been done.
Akeredolu’s unequivocal response shows him as a man of conviction and one deeply committed to safeguarding the lives and property of citizens, a primary responsibility of any serious government.
We find his uncommon stance to be a test for the much queried federal structure that has continued to generate mutual suspicions between the centre and its federating units.
We also acknowledge Akeredolu’s intervention in the education sector wherein a reduction in the school fees of tertiary institutions was initiated to tidy over the COVID-19 challenge.
Though some critics have branded the governor’s move as a gimmick intended to buy over electorates in the October 10 guber poll, we consider the gesture to be a relieve to parents and guardians.
However, our radar will remain focused on Ondo to observe how Akeredolu keeps to his promise of alleviating the suffering of parents and empowering equal access to education.
2. Babagana Zulum —Borno State
Governor Babagana Zulum makes a return to the top 5 after a mention in the month of July. This is on account of his continuous stately actions geared towards the restoration of peace and rehabilitation of victims of the more than decade-long insurgency in the Northeast.
We acknowledge the government’s concerted efforts to return life to many of the insurgency-ravaged local government areas and towns, especially in its commitment to rebuilding destroyed infrastructures and provision of much needed palliatives for returnee Internally Displaced persons (IDPs).
We note the rebuilding efforts in Ngoshe, Baga, Buratai and Biu, including construction of schools for the planned return of IDPs to their the towns.
It is also comforting news that IDPs, who have spent years in camps, are being relocated back to Mafa and Kukawa, while plans are on to return people to Kawuri.
3. Okezie Ikpeazu —Abia State
The Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, receives a mention in the top 5 for the month of August, 2020 after hovering at the bottom 5 for months.
The symbolic shift is a result of his fresh attempts at infrastructural renewal in the state that was hitherto renowned for decayed roads and other critically needed infrastructures.
We take cognisance of the planned restoration of pipe borne water in Umuahia, the Abia State capital and its environs, at the end of September 2020 after several years of lack of it.
We shall track this project aimed at ensuring that the people of Abia have access to clean and safe water, and report on how well it has been executed for the good of the community.
We also acknowledge Ikpeazu’s recognition and reward for six health workers in the state who were adjudged to have shown immense courage and dedication in handling the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. We believe that the due recognition given these courageous health workers is capable of spurring others to redouble their services to the state and mankind.
4. Samuel Ortom —Benue State
For consistently speaking truth to power, especially against rogue herdsmen, and taking institutional steps to address the challenge, Ortom makes the top 5 for the month of August, 2020.
We note, though with a bit of reservation, his call for the licensing of guns for ‘credible Nigerians’ for the purpose of self defence. We believe that the country can leverage Ortom’s radical views to further the conversation on how the nation can better manage the frightful descent into anarchy.
A similar argument can also be advanced for his thoughts on the once discredited Water Bill that has curiously made its way back to the National Assembly.
Again, Ortom’s tough stand portrays him as one who is never afraid to throw his hat in the ring, especially in defence of his people.
5. Aminu Tambuwal —Sokoto State
Governor Tambuwal takes the front row in August, 2020 for quietly strategizing and executing plans that have been able to tame the activities of bandits in the state, leading to the return of several residents of ravaged communities to their homes and farms.
It is our belief that the culture of building a stakeholder mentality, as idealized by Tambuwal, is one that is capable of creating a stable polity in which a sense of belonging is assured and peace is guaranteed.
We hope that Tambuwal never detracts from this stakeholder path even as we continue to track his commitment to building a secure environment for people and business to thrive.
1. Nyesom Wike —Rivers State
Governor Nyesom Wike gets a mention in the Bottom 5 due to what the Board perceives as his profligacy in the handling of the finances of the state.
We are concerned that in this period of global economic downturn, accentuated by COVID-19 pandemic, the Rivers State governor found it expedient to lavish several millions of Naira in procuring brand new SUVs for certain categories of state functionaries, including judges and legislators.
We are even more peeved that Governor Wike, against known practice, wasted the state’s scarce resources in procuring luxury cars for members of the National Assembly from the state.
We are at a loss at the rationale behind the Governor’s ‘Father Christmas’ disposition towards the federal lawmakers as they are not officials of the state government who are entitled, either statutorily or otherwise to such.
This is despite the fact that provisions have been made for the same lawmakers when it comes to official or utility vehicles by both chambers of the National Assembly.
2. Nasir el-Rufai —Kaduna State
Kaduna State, under Governor Nasir el-Rufai, has proven to be the most troubled state lately after Borno, the epicenter of the Boko Haram insurgency.
We are disturbed by the unabated killings and destruction of property in the Southern part of the state, allegedly by bandits and militias who have remained beyond the reach of security agents.
As the Chief Security Officer of the state, Governor El-Rufai has disappointingly continued to speak in ways and manners unexpected of him.
We note with concern, statements credited to the governor concerning the alleged culpability of leaders of Southern Kaduna to the effect that they are only interested in collecting brown envelopes and when they don’t get it, orchestrate the killing of their people.
We reckon that the statement, if truly was made by El-Rufai, was most irresponsible and insensitive of a leader who is desirous of a lasting solution to the carnage, and the killing field the Southern part of the state is fast becoming.
We are also wont to ask why the governor is unable to bring these individuals to book, if he’s certain of his assertions.
3. Bello Matawalle —Zamfara State
Governor Bello Matawalle gets another mention in the bottom 5 for the second month in tow on account of his now obvious preference for a theocratic state, even as the Nigerian constitution proclaims the country a secular state.
In particular, we note with concern his order that all schools in Zamfara (primary, secondary and tertiary) must henceforth make use of the Islamic calendar.
Though we acknowledge that Zamfara is a predominantly Muslim State, we however note that the fraction that belongs to other religions, either orthodox or traditional, deserve the right to abide by whatever calendar is recognized by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
We are concerned that the pronouncement of Governor Matawalle is capable of weakening the already feeble religious harmony in the state, and paint the picture of a state-sponsored oppression.
It is also reprehensible that the governor, despite the status of Zamfara as one of the most backward economically, would dole out N50 million for 50 copies of the Islamic calendar at N1 million per calendar! This, we reckon, does not make any economic sense, especially with the current economic downturn worsened by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
4. Kayode Fayemi —Ekiti State
The Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, again, gets a mention in the bottom 5 for his less than impressive handling of the strike action embarked upon by health workers in the state.
Though the healthcare professionals, mostly doctors appear to have a genuine cause for agitation, especially on grounds of welfare, Governor Fayemi opted to wield the big stick, threatening outright sack.
It is our conviction that workers have a right to agitate for their rights without recourse to bullying, intimidation or threats, the way the Ekiti State Government has done, especially during a major ravaging pandemic that has overstretched the endurance and professional resilience of health workers.
5. Ben Ayade —Cross River State
Professor Ben Ayade of Cross River State is one state governor known for his ostentatious dreams and fabulous aspirations and grandiose utterances.
These features, again, became obvious in his new ‘work in progress’ Calas Vegas, a touted ‘luxury destination comparable to what is obtainable in Mexico, Dubai and Indonesia.
We acknowledge the tourism potentials of such a tourist city perched on a twin island in Calabar, but are quick to question its viability, especially in the face of the practically moribund and abandoned Tinapa, a $450 million project.
Tinapa, a business and resort centre, was also touted by a former Governor of the state as one that will reshape the tourism industry in Nigeria and Africa, but has largely remained un-utilised since its completion, while Obudu Cattle Ranch, which also held so much promise years ago, is now a shadow of itself.
We note, with concern, that Calas Vegas, whose cost and completion date has not been stated or made known, may again become a white elephant project that will never see the light of the day, especially if not completed within the lifespan of Governor Ayade who appears to have abandoned the lofty dreams Donald Duke had for Tinapa.
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