The month of August was another defining month for state governors across the country. From curtailing insecurity within some domains, to the issue of salaries and pensions as well as general provision of governance in their state post-COVID. Providing leadership in these times remains tough but some have been able to rise above the challenges to ensure residents of the state feel the impact of government.
These among other developments shaped our effectiveness assessment for 10 Nigerian state chief executives across the 6 geo-political zones of the country in the month of July.
10. Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina, North West)
Katsina has in the last few months been in the news for notorious reasons, largely borne out of the heightened state of banditry in the state. There are reports that the bandits occupy large parts of the state and run their own government. The Governor has (on at least 2 occasions) admitted failure in carrying out his constitutional duty of protecting his people but the issue remains a nightmare for the people of the state.
Added to this disturbing news is the Governor’s revelation in this month that banditry activities have contributed greatly in the increase of rape cases in the state. Governor Masari while addressing the Trade Union Congres (TUC), lamented that a number of the rapists escape because people hardly come out to give evidence against them. He asked women to be bold enough to raise the alarm for culprits to be apprehended and dealt with by the laws while assuring that sanity will be restored in the society.
The state government has through the State Assembly promulgated death sentence a law making rape with murder to be followed with death sentence while rape without murder should be given capital punishment. Promulgating a law is good but the state must be seen to enforce same and intensify effort to bring the root cause of the epidemic to a halt.
9. Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai (Kaduna, North West)
The last few months have not been the best of times for Governor El-Rufai especially as it relates to the spate of insecurity in parts of Kaduna. He was also was one of the Governors who made the news in August following the withdrawal of the invitation to speak at the 60th Annual Conference of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) by the association on the heels of a petition against his handling of the security crisis in the state.
There have been accusations and counter accusations on the cause of the crisis, including the allegation by the Governor that the Southern Kaduna crisis persists because some leaders in the area want money for peace to reign. The crisis however, persists as the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU) alleged that 33 people were killed in the attacks on Wednesday, August 5, when “truckloads of armed Fulani militia made their way through military checkpoints under the curfew and stormed Apiashyim and Kibori villages, killing, looting and burning houses.”
Although the Governor appears to be working hard to overcome the issues, they haven’t brought the desired results while he’s been accused of not showing enough sympathy. The primary purpose of government remains the provision of security and welfare for the people and it would be a delight for the residents of Kaduna and the country at large to see the issue become a thing of the past.
8. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu, South East)
Many things in Nigeria happen in Nigeria daily that may appear strange in some other climes. But an industrial action by health workers in the middle of a pandemic isn’t one that we find everyday. Apart from the fact that we still record COVID-19 cases in the country despite declining numbers, there is a need to have the health care facilities open especially as a lot of citizens with ailments and illnesses were largely neglected during the peak of the pandemic.
The above development is what makes it unacceptable for the Enugu State Government not to do all that is required to get the hospitals to stay open. The Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), comprising members of National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives; Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria and the Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals embarked on a strike following the expiration of deadline given by the workers for the state government to implement the 2009 CONHESS salary structure they said had become belated.
It is worrisome that the Ugwuanyi-led administration would allow such a situation where all hospitals owned by the government would be deserted following the indefinite industrial action. The government’s best response has been to commence recruitment into strategic tertiary hospitals, to fill the gaps created in the hospitals with the indefinite strike by the health workers. One can hardly consider this as a permanent solution but we hope for a timely and peaceful resolution of the issues between the labour unions and government, for the safety of lives.
7. Nyesom Wike (Rivers, South South)
The Rivers Governor has come under intense criticism after his administration’s purchase of 15 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado VX and TXL to lawmakers representing the State at the National Assembly. The charge to the lawmakers was to defend the interest of the state fearlessly. One may wonder if the parliamentiarians aren’t paid salaries or don’t get vehicle allowances from the incredibly bogus pay package gotten by National Assembly members regularly.
It is important to note that the gift of Prado Jeeps follows an earlier gift of 41 Range Rover Discovery SUVs (latest model) to judges of the state High Court in order “improve the working conditions and enhance effective delivery of justice in the state.” The Chief Judge acknowledged the governor had in 2016 provided all judges in the State Judiciary with 35 Porch Ford Explorer four wheel drive cars. While it may be commendable to do that for the judiciary, especially as it relates to the announcement on completion of the judges’ quarters in the state, there are pressing priorities one would expect the administration to handle.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the month under review wrote to Governor Wike over the issue of a backlog of unpaid salaries owed workers in the states, lamenting non-payment of gratuity and pensions to pensioners since the assumption of the governor into office in 2015. It also threatened to shut down activities in both states should their demands not be met. Such priorities would have been given speedy attention if paucity of funds appeared to be the issue.
6. Hope Uzodinma (Imo, South East)
As in Rivers, the Imo Government also received a letter from the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) over backlog of unpaid salaries to workers in the state. Quite disturbing is the highlight that workers in both states have endured various anti-labour practices, ranging from unpaid pensions to staggered and even slashed salaries.
According to the letter addressed to the Imo Governor, less than 70% of public and civil servants have not been paid salaries since March 2020, while retirees have unpaid pension for up to 3 months. In addition to this, the Imo Government is alleged to have suspended negotiation between workers’ representative organisations on saiaries adjustment consequent on the new national minimum wage.
There are equally reports that officers of the Department of State Security (DSS) allegedly acting on the orders of the Governor, invited retirees who recently protested their unpaid pension arrears and warned them to stop disturbing the peaceful nature of the State. Chairman of Imo Pension Intervention Committee (PIC), Amaechi Ohaneje, in an interview noted that apart from being attacked by thugs, the DSS recently
Although the State DSS Director denied any such intimidation while the State Government dismissed the PIC Executive as mercenaries being used to cause disharmony in the state, it remains a very disturbing development.
5. Dapo Abiodun
In a bid to cushion the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on taxpayers in the state, the Ogun Government announced tax relief packages for citizens in the state.
The packages range from a 6 month extension of the 2019 income tax returns deadline for self-employed residents from March 31, 2020 to September 30, 2020, an 8-month extension of filling of 2019 annual PAYE returns by PAYE operators/tax agents from January 31, 2020 to September 30 as well as a waiver on weekly tax payments by operators of betting and pool businesses from April 1 to June 30, 2020.
Other packages granted by the government include a total waiver of interest and penalties for late remittances of PAYE for the extended period, and a waiver for late payment of Personal Income Tax, which would run from January 1, 2020 to December 31.
I have approved certain tax reliefs to be immediately effected by the Ogun State Internal Revenue Service towards cushioning COVID-19 economic effects on our taxpayers. These include: pic.twitter.com/SIyEBt26G4
— Prince Dr. Dapo Abiodun – MFR (@dabiodunMFR) August 8, 2020
4. Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos, South West)
Although the state remains the epicentre of coronavirus in the country, the Governor is putting up efforts to provide governance in other areas including ameliorating the pains of residents and commuters around the Apapa corridor who usually experience gridlock. This is made possible with the ongoing rehabilitation of road networks leading in and out of the port area, which is expected to open for public use in October.
Another commendable action of the Lagos Government under Governor Sanwo-Olu in the month under review is the award of N100 million worth of innovation grants to start-ups and science research initiatives from various universities in the state, in line with the administration’s pursuit of a developmental agenda anchored on turning the state into a 21st century digital economy.
This comes at the same time with the governor’s approval of a 20% reduction on the operational license fee placed on the ride-hailing companies operating in the state, following protests and wide criticisms on the adverse aspects the new regulations has brought.
3. Bello Matawalle (Zamfara, North West)
Doubling on its commitment to overcome the challenge of banditry currently ravaging the zone and the state in particular, the Zamfara Government acquired toll free lines for security and emergencies. The Matawalle administration says it is poised to promote digital governance in the state through the introduction of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) centres, especially for reviving security.
I had a fruitful meeting with HM for Comm. & Dig. Econ @DrIsaPantami. We acquired Zamfara State toll free lines for security & emergencies, ICT centers & much more to be unveiled towards reviving security & promoting digital governance in Zamfara State. pic.twitter.com/RIMlmhdpOK
— Dr. Bello Matawalle (@Bellomatawalle1) August 13, 2020
Also laudable is Governor Matawalle’s desire to fast track the development of education in the state, as he directed the construction of a N400 million National Open University Study Centre in Gusau. This he says is necessary because NOUN is one of the few public teritiary institutions in the country not hindered by bottlenecks. The directive is in addition to a pledge to sponsor an initial 200 students into the university.
2. Seyi Makinde (Oyo, South West)
The Oyo Government in August committed to ensuring the repatriation of all its indigenes confirmed to have been trafficked to Lebanon for slavery. This development according to the governor is part of the state’s resolve not to stand by and watch its indigenes suffer dehumanisation, under any guise, in any part of the world. The state promised to pay for their flights and fees requested to conduct COVID-19 tests on each of them, urging them to use donations already received from some well-meaning individuals and groups, as pocket money.
Following through on its commitment to curbing crimes in the state through regional cooperation, the state government also approved N59.7 million for the take-off of the Western Nigeria Security Network (WNSN) popularly known as Amotekun.
In the month under review, the state government also flagged-off the remodelling of the popular Lekan Salami Sports Complex to perfectly fit in into international standard and reclaim the lost glory of sporting activities in the State. According to the Governor, the initiative is aimed at positioning the state to attract investments.
1. Babagana Zulum (Borno, North East)
“I’m not after second term, if God allow me to complete this term Alhamdulillah. But for me as a governor to keep quiet while 6 million population of Borno to die, to perish, will never be good for me. It’s a covenant between me and Almighty God that I should be truthful to my people.”
The last few months have been challenging times for the Borno Governor even as he continues to show zeal and passion in amidst a humanitarian as well as an economic crisis in the North Eastern State. This zeal to see peace restored to the state has earned him criticism from the Army on a number of occasions as demoralising troops with his comments.
Zulum had accused the troops of extorting road users and even threatened to replace soldiers with local hunters if they are unable to secure Baga. He also accused the military of sabotage following a July 29 attack on his convoy by Boko Haram insurgents on Maiduguri-Damaturu highway leading to the death of five persons (three policemen inclusive). Some residents of the community believe the attack was staged tp prevent the Governor from setting his foot in Baga town to substantiate the allegation that the military allegedly hijacked and are illegally running a multi-million Naira fishing business in the town;
Of significance however, is his administration’s construction of 6,544 sub-urban and low-cost houses for the resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees across the state. This is as arrangements to return 1.86 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees to 19 communities in Borno kicked off this month.
The Borno Government in the month under review also distributed assorted food items to 3,000 people in Dusuman community in Jere Local Government Area of the state to cushion the effect of economic hardship.
Editor’s Note: The YNaija Effectiveness Ranking is a perception index by our special editorial programme as determined by correspondent assessment, news reports, and opinion surveys. It is graded on the following parameters: campaign promise, social impact, and infrastructural development.
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Journalist, Political Analyst and Satirist with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.