At a time when all hands should be on deck in returning Nigeria back to the path of growth from the current economic recession, nothing can be as disheartening as the failure of the 36 state governors to realize that the times call for seriousness and not clowning. Yes. The entire 36 governors without exception. They have all failed to live up to billing and the ones that Nigerians may think are being useful appear so only by way of relativity. Their performance is so dismal across board that any governor that is able to complete and commission a culvert or a track road is deemed a performer.
To be clear, the governors are a beneficiary of the failure of Nigerians to mentally migrate from the unitary mindset, a refusal to hold the other tiers of government other than the centre accountable for our wellbeing. The governors have thus been able to use the federal Government as a smokescreen to mask the joke that their stay in office have become.
This cover provided by concealing their misrule under the Federal Government has opened the gateway for the absurd. Katsina State governor, Bello Aminu Masari thought the most pressing need of his state was to buy 3000 metal biers, used for conveying corpses for burial (which people have dubbed metal coffins). He must have concluded that his inept government would somehow kill off the state’s population and they will need to simultaneously convey 3000 corpses to the cemeteries for burial so the need for that capital outlay – that macabre purchase would be retired under capital project by the way.
In nearby Kano state, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje’s preoccupation was with stopping mass weddings. He must have somehow come to the conclusion that the children that would be born from those marriages would increase the state’s population hence the number of people that would demand good governance.
In Ondo and Ekiti states, Olusegun Mimiko and Adams Oshiomole, practically took leave of absence to be on the campaign trail as they abandoned governance to ensure they plant pliant successors. It does not matter that they become so preoccupied with trouncing the opposition that they forgot the economies of their states were priorities.
Neglecting the economy would have been good fortune for the people of Benue state since at least white elephant projects that will worsen the people’s life would not be embarked upon. In that state, Samuel Ortom thinks building a cargo airport, in a state without finished goods to freight anywhere, would be the perfect excuse to ass to add to his numerous borrowings and attempt to the lack of desired response since the outrage over the airport is shifting attention away from the failure of governance across the state.
Benue might have been dubbed “The Food Basket of the Nation” but it is now one of the places where the people have been forced to do 0-1-0 and some families 0-0-0 meal patterns resulting in numerous deaths across the state. Knowing that he has comprehensively failed in addressing the problems besetting Benue state, Ortom has chosen to blackmail “God” by forcing down the opium of religion down the people’s throat. It is far easier to direct an impoverished people to take their problems to God when their prayer points are requests that should have been presented to the government.
The people in neighboring Kogi state are being insulted to their own very faces as, Yahaya Bello decided that the best that can happen in a state where workers are owed in perpetuity is to borrow N3.7 billion from a commercial bank to buy 109 cars for officials. What happened to getting homegrown mechanics and artisans to overhaul the existing fleets – that would circulate much needed cash in the state’s economy without having to borrow money that would be injected into the economy of the country from where those cars would be shipped.
Ekiti and Rivers states have Ayo Fayose and Nyesom Wike, who, tired of irritating the people of their respective states have found added bonus in peeving residents of other states. It either they are spending their states’ scarce resources in futility attempting to influence elections in other states or they become the pro-corruption activists that prevent security agencies from arresting corruption suspect; while at it they whip up such media storm that the space for discussing productive issues are swamped.
Bordering Ekiti is Kwara state whose governor manages to stick to only what concerns his state, which is basically to continue servicing the dynasty that installed him. Abdulfatah Ahmed, somehow found time off from his godfather to construct an underpass over a dilapidated road at the mind-boggling sum of N3.7 billion. He has of course, continued the tradition of illegal deductions from local government councils account like all his other colleagues and succeeded in bringing the amount so cornered to N33.6 billion from the reckoning of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) in Kwara state.
Ahmed is also in the league of the junketeers-in-chief alongside the governors of Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Zamfara, Adamawa, Bauchi, Niger and Borno states who have no qualms about taking estacodes in USD to attend symposium in the almighty United States of America. They somehow lost that ability to demand the higher ground and demand the US specialists who want to educate them should come host the event in Nigeria. That would have given us a few hundred USD in tourists spending when the experts are done dispensing knowledge to our student governors. Of course, the governors know they could crack a few jokes about their trip and the citizens would keep quiet as they worry about the source of their next meal.
Lagos may not be in the north but Akinwunmi Ambode caught the same travel virus as his colleagues. He thus makes it a point to duty to pop into those well run countries when he is not thinking of the latest way to sell his state short even though unlike his Imo state counterpart, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, he does not deliberately leave smelly refuse to punish residents. In Ebonyi state, David Umahi’s preoccupation is shadow boxing perceived opponents while the state has nothing to show economically and the story is no less dismal in Abia state where Okezie Ikpeazu is an absentee chief executive officer.
A complete list of the governors would yield stories of failures is so compiled. Some of them have even resorted to playing religion and sectarian cards to distract citizens from addressing the issue of incompetent leadership that has practically buried state economies.
Sadly, the malady, as seen from the foregoing is spread across geographical and party divide, which means that it must be tackled as a national emergency. In all of the 36 states the media are reporting the bizarre extremes to which poverty has driven the poor ones.
The state governors may be enjoying the joke they have reduced governance to – pictures of them at the National Economic Council always portray them laughing among themselves even when the economy is discussed in the most perilous terms. Citizens are however at their breaking point and something will give at some point. Directing attention to the federal government would not continue to work for ever and sadly for the governors they do not have state police to quell the pockets of uprisings that will herald the end of their misrule.
****Agbese writes from the United Kingdom.