Ortom’s Second Term and The Task Before Him
As Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom takes oath of office today to mark the commencement of his second term, our correspondent CHRIS GAGA, examines his first term in office and the expectations of Benue people from his last term as governor.
It was on the 29th May 2015 when governor Samuel Ortom ascended the throne of power as the 5th democratically elected governor of Benue State.
Of course his reelection by the people of Benue state may be a clear pat on the back and a repose of confidence that the governor has tentatively performed optimally during his first term, after all, reelection into such offices ought to be the collective resolve of the people to reward hard work in terms of performance. Thus, whether this was the basis for his reelection or not, it is probably not the crux of this analogue.
While the event of his inauguration for the second term is historic, many Benue people may rarely see his second term as a time for consolidation, but rather a time for the governor who is said to have performed poorly in his first term to cut his stint in the annals of development of the state. No doubt, the expectations from the Benue masses are high.
Considerably, a cursory throwback on governor Samuel Ortom’s first four years in office becomes key as he renews his oath to occupy the Benue Peoples House in the next four years. This perhaps may give the people insights into what the governor is set to achieve for the state in his last term.
Memorably, the governor in his first term had a developmental blueprint christened, “Our Collective Vision for a greater Benue.” This blueprint had five cardinal areas of focus which encompasses; Agriculture-driven Industrialization, Steamed Based Education, Security, youth empowerment and job creation, and Improved Infrastructure. But while the governor has obviously done well and is applauded in the area of Security, it has remained a tantalizing mirage as to whether any of the other cardinal areas of his blueprint have been implemented even averagely.
Largely, his efforts in tackling insecurity is the greatest achievement of his first term. This is cognitive of the peoples Anti-Open Grazing and Ranches Establishment Law as firmly implemented by his. administration. His amnesty program which yielded minimal impact is never to be left out, same as his dexterity in handling internal and inter-border disputes recently.
Although the governor has listed his achievements in the various sectors of Agriculture, education, health, infrastructure, youth empowerment and employment, his critics and many other Benue citizens say such achievements as highlighted in his scorecard are not feasible. His critics may be fair, they may not.
But while it will be highly unfair for anyone to say the governor has failed woefully in his first term, it is definitely not out of place to say the state deserve better developments than where it is staggering presently.
Positively, the Benue State governor is not unaware of the task ahead of him in his next four years in office. He has admitted repeatedly that costly “mistakes” were made in his first term, but “lessons” have been learnt, and he was ready to relaunch Benue into its pride of place amongst other states in his second coming.
Of course, one of the major problem governor Samuel Ortom promised and was expected to tackle in his first four years, which is the welfare of Benue workers has remained unsolved but rather degenerated. Benue workers are now owed salaries to the tune of 5 months(state), 10 months(Teachers), 11 months(LGs), and over 14 to 18 months(pensions) respectively as against 3 months(state), 4 months (local government) he inherited in 2015.
Investigations also have shown that the first term of governor Ortom administration is alienated from the rural areas. There seems to be little or no government presence at the grassroots, a situation that has caused gross decay in rural infrastructures such as feeder roads, bridges, lack of electrification and other basic amenities in spite of claims that his government has carried out over 800 water projects in the rural areas. Obviously, the 23 local governments of the state deserve better transformation in his second term.
The hopes and expectations are still high even as the governor takes oath of allegiance to mark the commencement of his second term in office. For many, it is time for Samuel Ortom to make the people reposed or redevelop confidence in his government through robust and physically viable developmental projects that tends to transform the state and improve the livelihood of every Benue citizenry.
Expectedly, our Correspondents spoke to some Benue citizens who spoke on their expectations from the second term of governor Samuel Ortom One of them, an elder statesman and former permanent Secretary in the state, Engr. Peter Torjum, expects the governor to take development to the rural areas of the 23 local governments of the state. He also wants the governor to address the issue of welfare of workers and pensioners in the State.
“The governor should take development to the rural areas because his first four years witnessed low presence in the rural areas of the state. So he should focus on the grass roots.
“Let him bring in technocrats who can perform very well so that his second term will not be abysmal. He needs competent hands run his second term. It is key.
“In the area of welfare, I know the salary is regular now, except for the arrears. So he should try to pay we pensioners our wages as at when due, that is most important. And he should then pay some gratuities and pensions arrears. All these things if he pays then we will be very happy and support him to run his second term very well,” Engr Peter Torjum said.
A youth, Mr. Terseer Bamber wants the governor to cash in on agriculture which is the main stead of the people so as to improve the economy of the state.
“The expectations of an average Benue person is development beyond what we have seen in time past. We expect job creation, infrastructural development and most importantly assuming our position in the comparative advantage we have, which is agriculture. In the past four years of Ortom administration, we have not seen these things as Benue youths, come to limelight.
“So my expectations in his next four years is to see him prioritize these areas I have mentioned. First of all, commercializing agriculture, moving to improve infrastructure both within the cosmopolitan centres of the state and the rural areas, and then most importantly paying particular attention to youth employment and empowerment, because if that is not addressed, we are definitely sitting on a time bomb,” Mr. Bamber noted.
Mr. Odaudu Owoicho opined that, “as a Nigerian and an indigene of Benue State, my expectations from Ortom’s first and present administrations have been high. But, like the saying goes: “Expectations Kills”, so, for this singular reason and experiences of poor leadership from the past political administrations, I expect nothing, but if this present leadership led by the Samuel Ortom’s (PDP) gives us a new direction and thought, I will expect nothing but the best. More particularly in the areas of salary payment and augmentation, job creation/youth empowerment amongst other things – industrialisation, infrastructural development and other basic amenities for the wellbeing of the people.”
Another Benue indigene who preferred to be addressed as Martins, said bluntly that governor Ortom has nothing to offer Benue judging by his antecedents in his first term and even others positions.
“GOING BY HIS ANTECEDENTS IN THE THE FIRST TERM, I DON’T EXPECT MUCH FROM HIM, BECAUSE HE HAS SHOWN THAT HE LACKS VISION. This is without sentiments, but as a keen observer, going by his past records, he has nothing to offer Benue.
“I have been a keen observer of Ortom’s leadership right from when he was chairman of Guma local government in the early 90s. He did nothing, I think he is just very good in media propaganda. I see, he has demonstrated incapacity so I can’t expect much from him,” he said.
Miss Annabel Zegeor said she expects alot from Ortom’s second term, but especially welfare of Benue workers and pensioners in the State.
“I expect him to be very focus and particular about salary of workers especially the arrears. People are suffering much. The pensioners are also suffering; he should look into their issue.
“And again I suggest the governor choose new advisers because he couldn’t do well in his first term to be honest. No one knows, the kind of advisers he had then been part of the reasons for his poor performance. So he should take care of that, if he wants to do something.
“For me, even though we are not expecting too much from him, he should at least make Makurdi clean and safe to stay by constructing drainages because when it rains, it is usually difficult for some residents to even cope with the level of water,” she said.
Miss Joy Johnson wants the governor to at least open up some streets in Makurdi to easy movement and make the town look neat.
” I don’t expect too much from the governor. But he should try his best and construct some major streets in Makurdi metropolis. That alone is something,” Joy Johnson noted.
Mr. Benedict Terhemen is of the expectations that the governor will do his best for the state during his second term, having parted ways with his godfather, Senator Akume was which the governor said was his detractor.
“We voted him the first time but he didn’t do the things he promised to do for us, and he said his Godfather was the reason for his poor performance, but thank God the God father is not there again. So we expect that his second term will be different and better unlike his first four years.
“He has not even chosen his cabinet yet, so we expect that he will select those who will truly help him in developing the state, but not selfish persons,” Terhemen noted.
Comrade Cletus Aruta, a youth, expects the governor to emulate his counterparts in the neighboring states of Ebonyi and Enugu states who are far doing well in the area of infrastructure and other things.
“I want His Excellency to continue with the payment of monthly salaries to Benue State, Local Government Workers and Pensioners and clear the backlog of salaries owed to them especially the Pensioners who had served the State meritoriously and now retired with a lot of family responsibilities such as payment of school fees, house rents and feedings.
“Secondly, I want him to use his 2nd Term in office to embark on massive urban and rural infrastructural developments in Benue State like we are seeing from his counterparts in our neigbouring States of Nasarrawa, Enugu and Ebonyi State which Benue State is far behind right now especially the
construction of Aliade-Mbakinde-Obarike Ito and Oju-Awajir roads which he promised Igede people during his first tenure. He should create an enabling environment for Private enterprises to come and invest in Benue State as almost all minerals and raw materials in Benue State are wasting and untapped into finished goods which will in turns create job opportunities for Benue youth and curbs youth unemployment and insecurity in the state.
“Finally, I want him to use his second term to build and equip our Public Primary and Secondary Schools with the State of Arts facilities such as good class room blocks and toilets, Libraries and provision of Chairs and desks and other office equipment as you know how important is Primary and
Secondary education which are the foundation of learnings and child development,” Aruta said.
For every Benue citizenry, there is a basket full of expectations and they are quite high, but interestingly, governor Samuel Ortom is not unaware of the dilemma before him.
Perhaps, his first four years were laced with excuses, mistakes and administrative blunders, but of course none of such feeble excuses may be entertained by the sovereign people of Benue State that refrained contemplating his replacement even against all odds during the 2019 elections.
The public outcry is alarming. Yes, not very many may have had it juicy during his first term, but the decision of the people to retain governor Ortom is a thunderous statement that, he the governor should not be taken for granted.
The people want good infrastructures such as good roads, schools, hospitals. The state desire industries, factories that can process their fruits, yam, etc, thus investment is what should be encouraged. The rural dwellers are cut off from the scheme of things, they yearn for feeder roads to help convey their farm produce to the markets.
The governor must understand that Agriculture remains our main stead and as such explore every opportunity available especially facilities provided by the federal government to encourage and transform the agricultural sector as well as generate revenue for the state. If possible, as the food basket state, the people expects the governor to romance with the federal government which is channeling huge resources into the agricultural sector with the aim of driving the policy and making the proceeds available for the development of the state.
The welfare of the people as it concerns their wages is an over trashed issue which the governor should deal with without any backslide. It is also instructive to urge the governor to consolidate on his gains in the area of Security through firm implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law already in use. This as many others believe may put a permanent end to the incessant clashes. This is not forgetting the many Benue citizens who are victims of the invasion and have been suffering in various IDPs camps. It is a necessity for the governor to liaise with the Federal government to make sure that these innocent people return to their homes in safety as soon as he settles for his second term.
It is indeed an epoch-making event as the fifth democratically elected governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom renews his vow. But as he commences his second term, may his conscience be pricked to live a legacy befitting the goodwill the people have shown him, may he aim for success, and may he not disappoint the confidence bestowed on him. May the governor summon unusual courageous and be focus in implementing his developmental blueprint, “Our Collective vision for a greater Benue”. He may have meager resources at his disposal, but prudent and careful management and appropriation of such resources will do the State a great deal indeed.
Justices of the Apex Court and the Verdict of History
By Eugene Winful
With knees on our necks, gasping for the last breadth of hope for our nation, Nigerians are keeping vigil, by keeping hope alive to witness history in real time. Nigerians, Africa and the world are watching as our legal luminaries and judicial juggernauts take the center stage in these trying times of the State of our Union —adorning their horsehair wigs and gowns.
On whose side will history be? The onus is on their Lordships to prove their mettle as the distinguished jurists they are (or meant to be) in the discharge of their sacred duties.Banish the thought that we might be constrained to say — As the court pleases! —even when we are not quite pleased!
Below are 3 quotes I find interesting from a great Chinese Philosopher, Confucius.
* Isn’t it a pleasure to study and practice what you have learned?-Confucius.
* If I hear the way of truth in the morning, I am content even to die in that evening.-Confucius.
* When we see men of worth, we should think of equaling them; when we see men of contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves- Confucius.
For a lawyer to rise through the ranks to attain the position of a Judge of the Supreme Court in any country in the world, is a feat worthy of the highest recognition.
In the same breadth, where one who has risen to such enviable pedestal, is found wanting or compromised in one fell swoop, he or she would have completely eroded the years, the honor and dignity the position bestows on him/her.
If Judges have to be put in a position where all they are taught to stand for can be rubbished by greed, by all means, use the prospective baiter as an example to others who might be nursing such thoughts.
I don’t know if this is “lawful”, but pray, can Judges collect the inducement, tender same as evidence in court, and lodge the loot into the coffers of the Judiciary?- just the way Customs and Border Patrol, Police Officers of repute do in developed countries. Then, proceed to deliver judgment against the inducer to set precedent not only to up and coming Judges, but also as a valuable lesson to those who might contemplate indulging in such nefarious acts in order to deter prospective criminals that may think they could buy their way to favorable rulings and judgments.
If Judges can stand for the truth no matter what is dangled before their eyes, rest assured their names will forever be etched in stone.
No dignity equals that of “robed men” who have risen through the ranks in the legal profession to be counted amongst those that discharge fair and unbiased judgments sitting on the Apex Courts. But for such highly placed “supermen” to fall prey or be caught pants down, risking everything they have worked hard for and achieved over decades to attain would be a huge shame to be borne by their families and their generation.
If our Honorable Judges live up to the oath they have so sworn to uphold, by delivering judgments devoid of bias and strictly based on law and facts, it would be a new dawn in the writing of the opening chapter of Hope for a New Nigeria.
Where the other two arms of government are complicit, the Judiciary should stand tall by standing out.
Towards a Democracy-sensitive, People-oriented Judiciary
By Tunde Olusunle
That Nigeria’s very highly regarded *The Guardian* newspaper published a two-part editorial in the immediate past week on the nation’s judiciary, attests to the seriousness with which this arm of government is taken. *The Guardian* has deservedly earned its place in the nation’s media space, having survived four full decades, consistently making regular, daily showings on the newsstands.
Little known Bashir Machina had won the senatorial ticket for Yobe North, while Lawan was contesting the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress, (APC). Udom Ekpoudom a former deputy inspector general of police, (DIG), had also contested to represent Akwa Ibom North West zone in the senate, while Akpabio from the same zone, sought without success, the ticket of the nation’s top job. To the consternation of most followers of Nigerian politics, however, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Lawan and Akpabio! Lyrics from *Unknown Soldier,* one of the classic hits of the maverick Afrobeat precursor, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, appropriately capture such bewildering turn of events. Fela alludes to “government magic” which turns “red into blue and electric into candle!” The January 2020 “installation” in confounding circumstances, of Hope Uzodinma, by the Supreme Court, as governor of Imo State a few years ago, and the displacement of Emeka Ihedioha, remains fresh in popular consciousness.
Unsettled by accentuated public angst and vituperations against the Lawan/Machina and Akpabio/Ekpoudom twin-rulings, the Supreme Court through its director of information and press affairs, Festus Akande, issued a rejoinder. Titled: “Be mindful of unwarranted attacks on the judiciary,” the statement countered insinuations to the effect that sections of the judiciary had been compromised. Akande had stated that the concoctions to the effect that its justices were bought over “by some unknown and unseen persons, was nothing short of a bizarre expression of ignorance.” The release was very obviously a response to public bewilderment to the apex court’s arbitration in the substantial political litigations of Lawan vs Machina, and Akpabio vs the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) and other interested parties. The Supreme Court, Dr Akande noted, was overburdened with nearly 600 cases deriving from the primaries of the various parties. The topmost arbiter in the land, Akande advanced, “was duty-bound to adjudicate on the matters brought before it to the best of its ability and in accordance with the law.”
Our recent very highly controversial and largely opaque general elections, have spawned additional responsibility for the Supreme Court. From parliamentary, to gubernatorial and thenceforth to the presidential elections, fall-outs, without doubt, will engage election tribunals and be escalated to the Supreme Court, in the weeks and months to come. Of the multilevel petitions emanating from the polls, that of the presidential election engenders the most interest and attention of Nigerians and indeed the global community. This is understandable given the pivotal place and preeminence of the president to the superintendence over, and guardianship of the people and the state. A winner, Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), was in the early hours of Wednesday February 28, 2023 returned by INEC.
There are, however, crystal clear, convincing and compelling reasons to interrogate the authenticity and veracity of the electoral exercise which produced him, in its totality. INEC which supposedly, had been preparing for the recent elections for four full years since the last general polls, pooling resources close to the one billion US dollar mark, delivered a complete sham, a shameful string of elections. INEC’s pretences and deceit of Nigerians about technological innovations to enhance and ensure seamless, fraud-proof, open, transparent and believable elections, was a colossal scam. The process was a perfidious bouquet of gross impunity, unashamed indiscretions, unparalleled and unpardonable lawlessness, unacceptable violence, brazen electoral thievery and mass disenfranchisement among others. The Centre for Democracy and Development, (CDD), reports that Nigeria’s recent electioneering, claimed 109 lives, which means more than one death per day within the period.
Mahmood Yakubu, a professor of History and INEC’s chairman for a second term of four years, delivered the most preposterous general elections this fourth republic. If the performance of Maurice Iwu, also a professor and Yakubu’s last but one predecessor was presumed controversial, Yakubu has unwittingly beatified Iwu. Yakubu’s outing fell way below the basement of global best practices. The characterisation of the elections by the local and global media, has been most unsparing. *The Economist* described the presidential election as “a chaotically organised vote and messy count.” An editorial by *The Financial Times* said the poll was “deeply flawed” and the winner “a wealthy political fixer.” *Aljazeera* wrote about “How violence robs Nigeria of their votes.” A Canadian newspaper also writes that “depression, anxiety, uncertainty be-clouds Nigeria’s political space as a drug-kingpin wins the election.”
Yakubu’s regime which popularised the culture of “inconclusive elections,” has equally introduced the dismissive expression, “go to court,” to the nation’s electoral vocabulary, in direct reference to disaffected parties. Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria’s former vice president, flew the flag of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP) at the recent presidential poll. There is substantial, even mind-boggling evidence to the effect that he won the election. Theories and hypotheses about the pre-election cannibalism of his vote tally by Peter Obi’s breakaway from the PDP to the Labour Party, (PDP), and the *G-5* governors, fall flat in the face of tangible evidence. Obi, by the way, filed his petition investigating the process of the emergence of Tinubu as president-elect, 24 hours before Atiku’s.
There is apprehension that electoral malfeasance as already committed and legalised by the issuance of the apposite “Certificate of Return,” (CoR) is *fait accompli.* Atiku, however, is calling for the withdrawal of Tinubu’s CoR, on the basis of “noncompliance with the electoral act, which invalidates Tinubu’s election.” While observing that by-passing and non-use of BVAS in the transmission of results impugned the integrity of the polls, Atiku also listed a dozen corrupt practices perpetrated by INEC to swing the election in favour of Tinubu. The suppression of votes; manipulation of ballots and ballot boxes; manipulation of BVAS machines; manipulation of accreditation and collation, and the manipulation of election material(s) delivery, feature among these infractions. Manipulation of election material(s); reverse logistics; massive thumb-printing of ballot papers, destruction of electoral materials; mutilations, cancellations; overwriting on result sheets, have also been highlighted in the petition. Atiku urges the court to either declare him Nigeria’s president or order a fresh election. Atiku’s core desire is that the votes of the people, their franchise, should count, consistent with global democratic traditions and expectations.
Flowing from recent experience where the judiciary has been repeatedly kicked around and disrespected by the executive, there are palpable concerns that the judiciary as presently constituted may not be in a position to deliver justice. The homes of revered judges and justices were breached under the cover of night in places, by operatives of the secret police, ostensibly to search for monies paid to them to influence judgements, under the present regime. The manner of the suspension, arraignment and summary retirement of Walter Nkanu Onnoghen, former CJN within the 2019 electoral season, reaffirms the dilemma of the judiciary under an all-powerful executive arm of government. There are apprehensions about the plausibility of objective, dispassionate, independent opinion and adjudication, by the Supreme Court. Yet, there is no better time for the judiciary to exercise its professionalism, forthrightness, and alignment with popular will and democracy, than at this time in our national and democratic evolution.
Certain video clips have been trending of late, depicting the incumbent CJN, Olukayode Ariwoola as presumably politically partisan. Ariwoola spoke at a banquet in his honour in Port Harcourt late last year, expressing delight that the governor of his state, Seyi Makinde, was a member of the *G-5* faction of governors in the PDP. Whereas Ariwoola said he intended to recommend to the Oyo State governor the handbook of infrastructural development in Rivers State, the manner of his expression lent itself to dialectics. There are also salient doubts accentuated by the nepotistic governmental manual operated by the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari. Faith and ethnicity, more than anytime in our political trajectory, sadly, have played very critical roles across the broad canvas of governance and administration under Buhari.
There are reservations that justice may be difficult to get under a judiciary headed by a kinsman of the president-elect, if the latter, who hails from Lagos State, gets sworn-in. CJN Ariwoola hails from Oyo, in the same south west geopolitical zone like Bola Tinubu. An online newspaper has just reported that Ariwoola was in London on a short vacation, during which he will hold a secret meeting with Tinubu who himself was reported to have travelled to Paris earlier this week. Will all of these impact on honesty, believability and transparency at the coming arbitration? This is a unique opportunity for the judiciary to rediscover and reassert itself as the irrepressible temple of truth and justice in the service of democracy and the people.
*Tunde Olusunle, PhD, is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Atiku Abubakar, GCON, presidential flagbearer of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP)*
Governors: Right Versus Wrong People
We all hope that these elections, flawed as they may seem, would deepen our democracy and that we have elected leaders who will stir the ship of the various states in Nigeria to a glorious destination.
By Dakuku Peterside
The gubernatorial and state Houses of Assembly elections have come and gone in most states. Unfortunately in some states, it was characterised by drama, unnecessary tension, flawed processes, violence and broad daylight electoral robbery. The victors are celebrating, and the losers must be feeling bad.
The few coming weeks will see election petitions on account of obviously flawed processes. And the judiciary will play its role in deciding the fate of most governors. As sad as this may be, this has become an unpalatable aspect of our democratic process. A critical reason for the massive interest in the governorship election is the vital role governors play in our democracy and our federalism. The state level remains the closest to the people and governors are crucial development actors who are often forgotten in discussing development in Nigeria because undue focus is on the Federal Government, and most people attribute progress or the lack of it to the Federal Government.
The combined total budget of the 36 states of Nigeria for 2023 is over N11 trillion, which is more than 50% of the Federal Government’s 2023 budget of N21.83 trillion. This vast fund accruing to the states, if properly harnessed and managed, could shepherd the development of Nigeria.
Just as in all federal systems, attention must divert from the centre and focus more on the constituent parts of the federation. It is at this local level that development is planned and executed. The Federal Government should play more of the role of a central facilitator and only get involved in the country’s strategic security, economic and social interests. It is appalling and an anathema that the Federal Government controls more funds than all the states combined, which has led to the states going cap in hands monthly to the Federal Government for monthly allocation. In most federal systems, the case is the opposite – the states fund the Federal Government through a specified allocation formula. It is also disheartening that some state governments cannot survive without total reliance on Federal Government projects and allocations. This is at the root of Nigeria’s lack of progress – having states that are liabilities to the nation, because they are unproductive and not viable.
It is utterly absurd that instead of elected governors to focus on making their states economically viable and developing their states from down to up, many governors have turned the states into fiefdoms and domains where they rule as absolute dictators, controlling not just the resources of the state, but all the state institutions with impunity. We see governors who unashamedly use public funds as their private funds and use it anyhow they want, with little or no accountability whatsoever. The job of a governor requires that s/he is less wasteful, less grandiose in lifestyle and cost of governance.
Nigerian state governors, by virtue of our constitution, have enormous powers and resource bases that, if properly deployed, can create oases of development. Some of the revenues accruing to certain states in Nigeria compare to those of some smaller African countries. To illustrate this, Lagos State’s 2023 budget of about $4 billion is higher than the 2023 budget of the Republic of Togo ($3.2 billion), almost equivalent to the Republic of Benin’s 2023 budget ($4.5 billion), and nearly half of Ghana’s 2023 budget of $11.7 billion. Other states have a similar revenue trajectory. How states manage their resources directly correlates with the their development levels.
A cursory look at past governors and their performances will highlight the good, the bad, and ugly shades. I am incredibly grateful to some governors who, in the past four or eight years, were able to articulate their visions clearly, set their priorities right, and who ran disciplined and inclusive administrations. There are only a handful of them. A few have grown the economies of their states, raised the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) profiles, and made considerable strides in the infrastructural, social, economic, and technological development of their states. That way, they succeeded in improving the standards of living of residents of the states. My basis for measuring the governor’s performances is devoid of propaganda and sheer theatrics that most governors exhibit to confuse their citizens about their performance. Building a few roads, flyovers, and community centres does not qualify as development, especially given the enormous resources accrued to the state.
Proper assessments can be based on the Human Development Index (HDI). This measures each state’s social and economic development by focusing on the following three factors: critical education parameters; relevant health metrics; and the standard of living assessed by gross national income (GNI) per capita. The average HDI for Nigeria in 2021 was 0.535 (the possible highest is 1), and this is lower than for countries like Angola (0.58) and Egypt (0.73). Lagos and Ogun States ranked the highest, with 0.68 and 0.67 respectively. The governors of these states are doing their best to maintain this quality of living among their citizens.
There are examples of bad governors who squandered the resources of their states. They spend a lot of resources of the states on politics and political survival to the detriment of the payment of salaries, pensions and investment in capital projects. Where there are capital projects, they tend to be for display and vanity. Some of these governors are under investigation, and others will soon to be investigated when they leave office. In the past eight years, a South-South state had a cumulative revenue of over N4 trillion but has little or nothing to show for it. The quality of life of the people of the state is declining, and unless there is some drastic measures, all the advantages the state had in the HDI during the previous administrations will erode. Many governors were not able to translate their mandates to any tangible results and this manifests in low HDIs that are below the national average. Most of these states unfortunately are in the Northern part of the country. We appreciate the current level of insecurity in these areas and applaud any governor who did his best with the resources he has to improve the lives of his people and heavily criticise those who squandered their commonwealth.
We have elected a new set of governors and re-elected a handful to serve another term. I believe the old governors would have learnt from their experiences and the new governors will be ready to learn from the mis-steps of their predecessors. This is the time to set agenda for them and hold them accountable. This is the time to remind them to think beyond the exigencies of the moment and think “legacy”. Emeka Anyaoku, in 2011, advised newly elected governors to be “harbingers of change” by investing in their peoples and pursuing socioeconomic policies to create employment for the youth, restore quality education, diversify the productive base of their economies and work for improved healthcare. The advise is still relevant till date. All governors should strive towards sustainable revenue inflow tied to economic productivity. As the CEO of the states, governors should map out ways of relying less on federal allocations by improving IGRs through sustainable resource mobilisation.
Growth is possible through productive activities. Sound economic policies and good leadership will stir the states away from the financial crisis that often cripples some states, makes them borrow funds for recurrent expenditure, and neglect critical human development activities that will improve the people’s lives. New state governors must realise that they cannot focus on one development aspect and completely neglect the others, which is counterintuitive and anti-productive. The governors must cover, simultaneously and concurrently, critical areas of development such as quality education, quality healthcare for all, good security, and job creation. We have passed the era of providing basic infrastructure (roads, flyovers, beautification of city centres) as the only indices of development. Development must be holistic and improve people’s living standards, and anything short of this is unacceptable.
I congratulate all the elected governors, irrespective of whether their elections were flawed or not, and implore them to be courageous and determined to make an impact. The task ahead of developing Nigeria is enormous and calls for selfless leadership and sacrifice. I hope for healthy competition among the governors to outperform each other. They should learn from each other to do the right thing and shun all forms of greed and reckless impunity that have marred some other governors. I advise them not to become little emperors and sabotage state institutions for their selfish interests. Each governor must set up a team of experts to determine the best strategy to harness the state’s tremendous economic, social, and political potentials. There are no excuses this time for failure. Developing Nigeria is a task we must accomplish, and state governors are critical stakeholders and catalysts in shaping a new Nigeria. We have a young population that we must engage for greater productivity. The consequences of allowing our youth to wallow unproductively are dire to consider. The governors must allow for checks and balances and make for a healthy function of the legislature and judiciary in their states. They must create enabling environments for growth and development and support the private sector to grow. The problem between the government and the private sector now is caused by the excessive taxation imposed on the private sector. I sincerely hope that the new set of governors will change the Nigerian narrative only if they are ready to face the task of making Nigeria great.
Read Our ePaper
Gunmen Kill two NSCDC Personnel, Two others in Imo
Share Post Views: 42 Unidentified Gunmen have killed two personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in...
Police Arrest 781 Offenders over Electoral Infractions
Share Post Views: 53 By Gom Mirian, Abuja The Inspector General of Police(IGP),Usman Alkali Baba, has said a total of...
Benue PDP Chieftain Faults Ayu Suspension by Ward EXCO
Share Post Views: 60 From David Torough, Makurdi The Convener, Atiku Grassroots Movement, Terzungwe Atser, has said the officials of...
Plateau Guber: Tribunal Grant Nentawe, Mutfwang Permission to Inspect Election Materials
Share Post Views: 34 From Jude Dangwam, Jos The All Progressive Congress (APC) Governorship Candidate in Plateau State, Dr. Nentawe...
EU Allocates N75m to Prevent Diphtheria Spread in Nigeria
Share Post Views: 42 By Laide Akinboade, Abuja In order to help Nigeria to prevent the spread of diphtheria cases...
Citizens Hub Urges Plateau Gov-elect to Avoid Praise Singers
Share Post Views: 49 From Jude Dangwam, Jos The Citizens Observers Hub has called on the Plateau State Governor-elect Caleb...
We’re Trailing over 9,000 Tuberculosis Patients for Treatment, Says KNCV Official
Share Post Views: 61 By Laide Akinboade, Abuja The KNCV Tuberculosis foundation has said over 9,000 potential Tuberculosis patients in...
Zenith Bank Boss, Onyeagwu Bags UNN Doctorate Degree in Business Administration
Share Post Views: 52 The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank Plc, Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, was on Saturday,...
Ramadan: Society Urges Muslims to Reflect on Islamic Lesson
Share Post Views: 49 By Salihu Ali, Abuja Muslims have been reminded to reflect on the teachings of the Ramadan...
Buhari, Tinubu, Abiodun, Others Pay Tribute as Diya Dies at 79
Share Post Views: 55 By Mathew Dadiya (Abuja) & Kunle Idowu, Abeokuta President Muhammadu Buhari, President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and...