Managing Niger State: A Candid advice to Governor (elect) Abubakar Sani By Ibrahim Muye Yahaya
Mr. Governor elect, I did not vote for you in the gubernatorial election neither your opponent, but as a Nigerlite, I am one of your constituents because what you said or do will affect me, my people, my community and our State as well. I welcome your promise for change. Certainly our State needs a lot of changes and development. Congratulations on having been elected the fifth governor of our state. I think you and your team deserve a lot of credit for a landslide victory that surpassed all expectations and gave you an unquestioned mandate. The total vote cast that brought you to power wasn’t even close. Your party, All Progressive Congress (APC) routed the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in what looked like a game between the varsity team and the junior high kids who had just picked up a football for the first time. In your race against Umar Nasko; you ran a careful, well-scripted campaign that minimized your exposure, kept you on message, and insulated you from attacks. In other words, you played the role of the front-runner and never looked back. You did not only ran hard against Nasko, but against the State government under the leadership of out-going Governor which did not only oiled the PDP campaign, but support him with every necessary machinery, something we all know wasn’t an easy task. Your political skills are considerable, having been a formal Commissioner in the State, though most of your career has been in private sector, but now you find yourself as the chief executive of a State. A new government needs to be pieced together in less than two months and to see who you are and what you’re going to offer. As governor, you will lead a state that has been a redder, and you will be heading up the State wandering for too long. The State is dire in need of leadership that will transform its natural resources and potentials into reality, utilize and channel it resources to the sectors that will benefit the masses not white elephant projects. Only then can we live with dignity and our young live better than us. The State has waited too long for leaders who know that quid pro quo should not be the status quo. The State’s graceful decline can be arrest if you can run a clean, focus, accountable and transparent government. With this we can overturn deficits into surpluses, reduce our state debts, increased our assets and reserves, and managed to save billions of public funds into proper use. It’s high time we move forward to an international and intelligent state – one that educates and nurtures talent; one that practices integrity, justice and people-centric policies. The proverbial dog has caught the car, and now everyone is wondering if you and your team can govern. Or if it even wants to.
Complicating matters for you will be the countless phone calls, lobbying, e-mails and texts from campaign supporters and those looking for that invite or job-appointment or favour. That’s the easy part. What to do with those who spent the past years but now scramble to cover their tracks. They, too, now want to be “in” with the new administration. But be warned: The short-term rentals, new best friends and sycophants will return to form at some point over the next four years. And never forget that even deep pockets of goodwill are more short-lived in this era of social media. So deal with these obstacles as required, and always remembers that your real friends and supporters will be there regardless of circumstances. This knowledge will keep you going through the roughest of patches. We want to see our State under your leadership and appointed officers who will initiate projects and policies that have direct positive impacts on the masses. As the measures will help root out corruption and waste from government agencies. This will guarantee that taxpayers can see how every of their Kobo is been spent. The State have had enough of elected and appointed officers who have turn the state agencies and programs into their own personal piggy bank, granting favours to their family, friends, God-fathers, thugs, ballot-box snatchers, election riggers, mistresses, rewarding donors, and furthering their own interests.
The Governor’s job is too important and demanding to be left to incompetent and untrustworthy staff. When it comes to personnel, it’s my opinion that you must seek, recruit, and empower men and women who are professional, trustworthy, experienced, and loyal to the institution of governorship. In addition to hiring and surrounding yourself with good people, setting priorities is essential. For example, scheduling, administrating, delegating, lobbying, and governing the affairs of the state will require that your staff are taught to run interference you have to balance a lot of things, got to have thick-skin, sense of humour, and be a change agent-all in one. We’ve got to be true to ourselves, our principles, and to be pragmatic. Public service should be about serving the public, not setting up a future payday. Learn the rules, master the rules and play by the rules. You have to like people and let them know that you remember them and like them. The stunning economic boom of the past few years was not a blessing to the masses as it wasn’t utilized prudently to help reduced the State’s problem. The boom didn’t solve the long-standing problems with our educational sector; the boom didn’t help our decayed infrastructural sectors; the boom didn’t ease our health care problems; the boom didn’t improve our agricultural sector and the boom didn’t help in creating jobs. The economy boom of the State from 2007 to 2015 was channelled to white elephants projects that have no positive impact on Nigerlites.
There is this fear that our best years are behind us, but we want you to proof to us that our State’s best is still ahead under your leadership. It is now a time for healing. We want to have faith again, we want to be proud again, we want the truth again, it is time for the people to run their government and it is time for us to take a new look at our own way of governance to strip away the secrecy of governance. We need a new vision for the State, a fresh mind-set. We need to move beyond material progress to a society which places people at its very centre. A State where people will see a difference, make a difference, where each citizen and resident is valued and where people will feel a positive impact of governance. We want you to work day and night to ensure our children’s have access to a great and better education, affordable college, and a good paying job after graduation, to work day and night to see that farmers have enough fertilizers, seedlings, Tractors, pesticides and insecticides to boost their agricultural activities, to work day and night to see that our hospitals are renovated and equipped so that it didn’t continue to wear the look of abattoirs, to work day and night to see that our schools didn’t look like abandoned farm houses, to see that our roads are fix in a good to shape to enable free movement within and outside the State, to work day and night to see that masses have portable drinking water, to work day and night to see that more communities are connected to electricity and embarked on policies and programmes that has direct and positive impact on the masses instead of white elephant projects.
Mr. Governor elects Sir, don’t fall into trap and allow you to take a knee-jerk stance on funding. During your campaign you called for an end to diversions, the trick budget writers have used to take money that is supposed to go to one area (School, Hospital renovations and equipments, for example) and redirect it to something else (e.g. Hotels, Water fall and Cable Cars). Let’s be honest, no one favours diversions, and you’re not the first politician to call for their demise. Our state is powerful enough to invest in the future in a way that is prudent without shirking our responsibility for generations to come. But it will require your leadership—and your steadfastness in the face of predictable criticism. You have the opportunity and know-how to manage government spending especially with your experience of private sector. As the State celebrates your journey to the highest office, there is a thrill of recognition that Niger State is still alive and walking. We want our State to move ahead when you are walking and awake. If the destiny of Niger State under your leadership remains crafted in such dilapidated Schools, Hospitals, infrastructures and Roads— history will judge you to be a part of that karma as well.
Sir, you need not to remain confined to chessboard manoeuvres inside the government house. I hope you will inspire politics of conviction that has been usurped by the politics of convenience. We have had a plethora of leaders in the State who behave more like statues than statues themselves. Even statues are demolished when regimes change. However, it is difficult to demolish the statuesque inertia in dealing with corruption. I hope you will reflect on how a land of opportunity for all does not degenerate into the big bazaar of a few opportunists. The real threat to the State come not so much from external sources — it is from our inherent inconsistencies in dealing with issues critical to the State. We want you as a Governor who will close the credibility gap between rhetoric and reality about the state.
Finally Sir, Your true victory will be when the State is back on its track, don’t forget that you are surrounded by the hawks, professional politicians (looters), cabals and Godfathers that contributed to the failure of Kure’s administration and also that of the out-going administration who are on standby to find their way into your administration soon now or later in other to maintained status quo of having their personal and domestic bills been oiled by the State’s treasury. Under your leadership we want Niger State where there will be a sound, effective, reliable and affordable agricultural, health, education, job creation and infrastructural development policies. Our State has lived through a time of torment and let us feels that your leadership will be the golden opportunity for healing. May Allah guide, protect and give you the zeal to lead the State to the expectation of the masses.
Mr. Yahaya wrote from Jagbele Quarters of Muye, Niger State. Danmuye@yahoo.com.