New Governors To Watch Out For
May 29 brought in a new set of state Chief Executives who promised to hit the ground running once sworn into office. Few weeks after, some are already matching words with actions. ANDREW ESSIEN, PAUL CHIAMA and ADAH ABAH write.
From the beginning of the last election’s campaigns, Nigerians were bombarded with promises that ranged from the believable to the unimaginable and then the outright ridiculous. It has been over two weeks now since the inauguration of new helmsmen across the states. Some have started to make good on their promises and define their administrations for the next four years (at least), while others are lamenting the huge financial commitments they inherited from the previous administrations and how it will take them ages to pay back talk more about settling down to work.
In what will define their leadership style and bring constant focus to them in the next four years, the following are some of the governors whose emergence and actions in the last few weeks after the swearing -in ceremonies has captured public interest and attention.
Nasir el-Rufa’i (Kaduna State)
Governor Nasir el-Rufa’i of Kaduna State is one of the new governors that the citizenry is expecting to make serious impact in governance. Apparently aware of the huge responsibility that rests on his shoulders, the governor declared during his swearing -in that “We pledge to avoid ostentation and foolish bigmanism, and to value transparency, modesty and accountability.”
He kick-started by forfeiting 50 per cent of his salary pending when the financial situation of the state improves, the pay cut also affects the Deputy Governor, Mr. Barnabas Bala, while cutting down on the number of commissioners including the declaration that the administration would “guarantee free and compulsory basic education for every child up to JS3, regardless of gender, religion or ethnicity.
On security, the governor promised to work with law enforcement officials to drastically reduce violent crime in the state including “communal violence, cattle-rustling and armed robbery.” if the successes recorded during his time in the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) and Ministry of the Federal Capital is anything to go by, the people of Kaduna state are in for a big treat.
Abdullhai Umar Ganduje (Kano State)
Since the return of democracy in 1999, the name of Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has always been heard in corridors of the Kano state government House. Having been a two-time deputy governor in the first and second coming of Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso from 1999 to 2003 and 2011 to 2015, a lot is also expected of him.
In view of the dwindling resources and as part of efforts to reduce cost of governance, the governor is rationalizing Ministries and other agencies in the state in order to reduce the cost of governance, as well as to increase its internally generated revenue.
Ganduje has promised that his administration will complete all inherited on-going projects and initiate new ones even as he added that priority attention would be given to environmental sanitation in view of its importance in the scheme of things. This has led to a contest between local governments across the state to contest on which will emerge the cleanest.
Muhammadu Abubakar (Jigawa State)
Governor Muhammadu Abubakar’s private sector background may be a breath of fresh air for Jigawa state as he is eager to justify the mandate given to him. After his swearing in, governor Abubakar declared that he is going to ignore the debt profile inherited from the past administration asserting that “debt should not hold down government and governance.
He also invited technocrats and business tycoons, notable is Aliko Dangote, who has even promised to start a Sugar and rice factory which will create jobs and boost internally generated revenue for the state. The vibrant youths in the state are not left out as the administration is re-engineering the youth empowerment programme so that it trickles down to the very people it was intended for, irrespective of political affiliations and without unnecessary protocols.
Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar (Bauchi State)
In what looks like taking a leaf from his counterpart in Kaduna state, Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, after taking over the reins of government, in a state-wide broadcast announced 50 percent reduction in his salary alongside that of his deputy Engineer Nuhu Gidado. This, he said, is done in good faith as a mark of leadership by example apparently to provide the best leadership to the people of the state and in keeping with his campaign promises.
He also dissolved the council care-taker chairmen of 20 LGAs including heads of boards and parastatals, froze all government accounts in every bank, suspended pending transactions except for MDAs with essential services who were, directed to apply from the governor’s office, and suspended the resignation of civil servants from the services of Bauchi state government all in a bid to ensure equity and accountability in the business of government.
While promising to tackle the enormous challenges facing the state, the governor said he will institute a robust monitoring and evaluation framework in the areas of both service and project delivery audit to ensure better planning, prioritization and implementation of policy and programmes of the government.
Simon Lalong (Plateau State)
One Governor who is likely to bring the desired democratic change to his state in no time from now is Simon Lalong of Plateau State. Lalong, whose emergence as governor of the state marked the end of the over three-decade rule of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), spoke hope into Plateauans when he said “The policy thrust of our administration will anchor on peace, security and good governance, human capital development and social welfare.”
Lalong is one of the governors who inherited huge debt and social crisis; yet he appeared undeterred in his resolve to bring the state of peace which has not known peace for a long time out of the wood: in his inaugural speech, he urged the unpaid striking workers to suspend their action, promising them a better deal from his administration.
Without wasting time, Lalong has swung into action; he has appealed to the police as well as the Fulani and Berom community leaders to end the incessant attacks on innocent citizens in the state. And the State has enjoyed relative peace in the last three weeks of Lalong’s reign.
If his grand plan for commerce and trade in a peaceful atmosphere is prosecuted to the latter, there is no way Lalong will not make the list of best governors at the end of his tenure.
Darius Dickson Ishaku (Taraba State)
To say that there are high expectations before Governor Darius Ishaku is an understatement owing to the state record in the past few years. Infact, Ishaku had, on one of his campaign tours across the 16 local government areas of the state, assured the people he would ‘rescue Taraba’ from its socioeconomic, infrastructural and security challenges if voted in.
Ishaku promised to rescue Taraba State from the stranglehold of illiteracy, disease, poverty, unemployment and social vices while assuring that his administration will harness the potentials and endowments in agriculture, tourism and commerce and industries, as well as pay attention to education, health, water and sanitation and strategic infrastructure, using leverage from development partners and engaging public-private-partnership (PPP) option.
Abubakar Bello Sani (Niger):
Given the inaugural speech and the commitment of a true compatriot professed by the just sworn in Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello, immediately he took the oath of office exactly three weeks ago, many would have been convinced that the people of the 39-year-old state will be among the top beneficiaries of the political wind of change that have started blowing across Nigeria.
Referring to himself as a change agent, Governor Bello says his immediate concern is to make an impact: “I see myself as a Change Agent-whose primary mission is to chart an effective and sustainable development path for the State….”
Bello made passionate promises of a better living standard for the people of the state which include among other things, charting an effective and sustainable development path for the state, running a transparent and people focused government, leading by example, proper assessment and management of the state’s resources, repositioning the civil service for optimal performance.
His determination to bring to an end the 16-year rule of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, with a focus on Education, Healthcare and Youth empowerment, will definitely place him among the best performing governors in due course. Now the die is cast; the Governor has started with appointing principal officers of his administration. Nigerians are eagerly waiting and hoping for the best that is to come.
Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos State):
it is not in doubt as to the fact that Ambode ran one of the most vibrant campaigns in the view of many stakeholders in one of the largest states of the federation. In an interesting twist of fate, the governor, born on June 14, 1963, became the 14th governor of Lagos State. Even though he inherited what is arguably one of the best performing states before the general elections, the reality that poverty still pervades the land is not in doubt.
On assumption of office, Ambode created three totally new offices to project his development plan for the state; the Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment, Office of Overseas Affairs and Investment and Office of Civic Engagement came into being.
Going forward, he has promised to “run an open government of inclusion that will not leave anyone behind. No matter your age, sex, tribe or any other status, as long as you reside in Lagos”, knowing how fierce the period of politicking was, he also pledged to make Lagos work.
Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta State)
Counting on the succour and improved life his campaign promises are to present them with, Deltans, especially youths, are looking unto the government of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa with huge expectations. Before the April 11 governorship election where he emerged as governor of the state, Okowa had promised youth and women empowerment as an issue to be tackled by his administration. Deltans can still remember this if they recount Okowa’s speech when he visited Bomadi and Patani local government areas of the state during his pre-election campaign. There, he stated his resolve to engage Delta youths and women in productive ventures which could improve their lives.
Okowa’s promises also included all-round development in the state, to boost agriculture, improvement of health sector, industrial growth and massive infrastructure development.
After assuming office, one of the first steps the Delta governor has taken is the recent sack of about 3,000 workers engaged in the state from 2013 to 2014 on the ground that the process of their recruitment was a complete fraud. This step, he took, regardless of the relationship existing between him and the immediate past governor of the state, Emmanuel Uduaghan under whose administration those workers were employed by the state. This gives an indication of the governor’s commitment to place the interest of the state above personal interests in his resolve to give Delta a face-lift.
Ben Ayade (Cross River):
If the campaign promises heaped in the minds of the people of Cross River State is anything to go by, then, there will be great improvement which will put smiles on people’s faces in the state. The state governor, Senator Ben Ayade, seems to have adjusted his trouser in readiness to fit into responsibilities that need to be performed in the state.
Ayade has earlier indicated his familiarity with the poor masses when he emphasised that he came from a very poor background which will be an advantage to be explored in governance of the state. According to him, he knows what it means to be poor, having come face to face with poverty earlier in his life. He, therefore, promised to do everything within his disposal to improve the welfare of the people of the state.
During his electioneering campaign period, Ayade promised job creation for youths in the state. He strengthened this promise by adding that his government would create 1000 jobs within his first 100 days in office. Similarly, the governor has promised to establish a garment factory in Cross River both for job creation and revenue generation.
During his inauguration, Ayade promised to set in motion a process for the realisation of a new Cross River. The people of the state are also filled with hopes over his promise to establish a seaport in his first term as well as dualize Calabar-Ikom-Ogoja-Obudu road.
Considering these, the governor could be said to have filled his hands with promises that will ensure wide impacts in the state during his administration if faithfully implemented.
Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia State)
Abia State governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, is not left out. He seems to be poised to move Abia to greater fortune. As rare as it is, he recently banned courtesy visits by supporters and well-wishers to allow him to concentrate on the responsibilities ahead in the state. This is at parallel with the interest of some governors and other public office holders who are very comfortable with receiving delegation of visitors as a way of gaining popularity.
The governor made his reasons clear when he said that “Because of the enormity of the task ahead, I require all the time I can get to plan to ensure that I justify the enormous confidence you have all reposed in me”.
Indeed, Ikpeazu has a good understanding of the need to consolidate on the economic potentials of the commercial city of Aba in the state. He, therefore, quickly announced the creation of the Office of Aba Urban Renewal. This, according to his government, is to demonstrate the level of importance he placed on rebuilding the commercial city.
This singular step places the Abia governor in the eyes of the public as one who intends to leave the state better than he met it, considering especially that Aba is a huge contributor to the economic sustenance of the state, apart from presenting youths from the state and beyond with entrepreneurial opportunities. To have given this industrial and commercial city widely referred to as “Japan of Africa” this timely attention is, to say the least, a positive step and an indication of readiness to make impact in the state soon. The governor has also decided to operate from Aba in order to be able to monitor the works going on there.