Cases from the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be on the decline in Nigeria, thus the focus of governance in the states shifted from health to other sectors. Insecurity in the form of banditry, insurgency, kidnapping, cattle rustling and ethnic/religious clashes however, rose to an alarming proportion in many states in Northern Nigeria, posing a huge task for the chief executives in the affected areas to handle.
As always, issues of human rights, impunity and abuse of office also reared its head in some of the states with the governors playing key roles in many of the cases.
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)
Banditry in the North West of the country has become a booming business, especially in Katsina. The state has also become a haven for kidnappers and cattle rustlers. Being the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari who has security as one of his cardinal programmes, one would expect that the worsening crisis would have improved. This is sadly the opposite, as the attacks have reached unimaginable heights.
In this month, armed bandits numbering over 200 riding on motorcycles attacked Yar Gamji village of Batsari Local Government Area despite the ongoing military operations village reportedly killing 15 people and injuring several others. Armed bandits were reported to have also attacked Kandawa village in Batsari Local Government Area of the state, killing three persons in the village including the religious leader and in an ambush on July 18, killed at least 16 soldiers and officers dead with 28 others wounded.
The state government initiated amnesty programme and peace accord with repentant cattle rustlers and bandits, to ensure peace across the state did not last for long as the the bandits failed to fulfil the agreement reached with government on attack of communities and Governor Masari had last month while speaking with journalists, openly admitted that he has failed in his primary responsibility of safeguarding the lives and properties of residents within his state.
“I don’t know what to tell them. I cannot look at them in the face because we have failed to protect them, contrary to our pledge to ensure the security of lives and property throughout the state,” he said.
9. Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai (Kaduna, North West)
It is disheartening that for months in Southern Kaduna, scores have been killed, houses and other valuables destroyed by bandits without security agencies doing anything to quell it. Gory images from wanton violence floods social media almost every other week; attracting both national and international attention.
While the state government insists that attacks by bandits are not localised to any part of the state and that it has taken steps to secure the southern part of the state, including ensuring that a military base and two mobile police squadrons were located there for enhanced security presence amongst other initiatives, the killings and lives being maimed under different guise (communal clashes, reprisal attacks, ethnic/religious cleansing) have continued unabated.
Zangon Kataf and Kauru local government areas appear to be the most affected, evident in the state government’s imposition of a 24-hour curfew in the areas on June 11. Governor El-Rufai appears to be struggling in handling of the crisis and therefore has a huge task on his hands to ensure that no one is allowed to get away with crime and wanton violence under his watch.
8. Willie Obiano (Anambra, South East)
Section 7 of the 1999 constitution as amended, stipulates that there shall be elected local government chairmen across the country.
Since March 17, 2014 when he became Governor, Obiano is yet to conduct Local Government Council elections in the 21 councils in the state, an action that is not only unconstitutional and denies the people of at the grassroots of their electoral power, but breeds corruption, lack of accountability and good governance.
“It is incredible but existential reality that Anambra State is the only state in the federation that has conducted election once in 11th January 2014 by former governor Peter Obi administration since the inception of current democratic dispensation on May 29th, 1999,” human rights group, Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) said.
The tenure of the last elected chairmen expired on January 11, 2016 and the state governor was expected to reconstitute the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) ahead of the conduct of the polls to usher in new council chairmen. He opted however for the appointment of 19 out of 21 elected council chairmen and 326 councillors as transition committee members to pilot the affairs of the council areas for three months. He went further to renew their unconstitutional stay in office for 3 months and has maintained same approach since then until the extended tenure of the transition committes expired this July.
Following reports that the State Assembly on 21st July approved the reconfirmation bid by the governor, there appears to be no sign of proper elections in sight.
7. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri (Adamawa, North East)
Governor Fintiri failed to display exemplary leadership when he and his entourage flouted safety and health protocols at the Port Harcourt International Airport on 14th July. The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) called him out on social media for refusing to have his temperature checked at the Port Harcourt airport and rejecting the hand sanitiser handed to him.
The action was widely condemned across social media as irresponsible, with many calling for a stiffer sanctions on the governor and other VIPs who seek to put the lives of others at risk. The negative influence of such action was further manifested on 17th July when Safiyanu Abba, Head of the Department of State Services (DSS) at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, not only breached the security procedure at the airport, but also slapped a security officer who wanted to ensure further searching of a visitor who had just walked through the metal detector and activated the alarm.
2. with 8 others, and who flagrantly refused to observe the Airport Security and Public Health protocols as directed by the Federal Government through the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on #COVID19 by refusing to have his temperature checked, or being sanitised by the health….
— Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (@FAAN_Official) July 16, 2020
6. Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo, South West)
Governor Akeredolu in June became the fourth Governor in the country to contract the coronavirus. While receiving treatment, unlike some of his counterparts who handed over power to their deputies when they contracted the virus, the chief executive did not hand over to his deputy, Agboola Ajayi pending his recovery. According to the state’s Information Commissioner, Donald Ojogo, “handing over the governance of the state to Agboola is a non-issue and we are not even considering that,” describing the number 2 citizen as the greatest threat to good governance in the state.
Today I tested positive for #COVID19. All is well. I'm asymptomatic and have been self isolating. Work continues. Your continued prayers over my well being are most appreciated. pic.twitter.com/P5UH0SmBiw
— Arakunrin Akeredolu (@RotimiAkeredolu) June 30, 2020
While it is a known fact that Akeredolu and Ajayi have had a long drawn battle, culminating in the deputy governor’s defection from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and attempted impeachment by loyalists of the governor at the state legislature, Akerodolu as a former President of the National Bar Association (NBA) more than anyone else knows that such action of amounts to putting personal sentiments above the provisions of the law.
5. Bello Matawalle (Zamfara, North West)
According to the Governor, “the state is the epi-centre of banditry in Nigeria” as it is home to forests from where the bandits go to other states and operate, and return. His handling of the crisis in the state appears however, to have been impressive with his deployment of what can best be described as ‘carrot and stick’ approach, as he reintegrates repentant bandits who have embraced peace, while those who have shunned dialogue face the full wrath of the law.
“For every rifle submitted by a repentant bandit, there would be compensation of two cows. We don’t want to give them money, so they wouldn’t use the money to purchase new weapons,” he said.
“We said we will compensate them with cows, they need the cows to advance their economic interest.” “Most of them are residing in forests under the shades of trees and inside caves. That is why we came up with RUGA policy to help them.”
Governor Matawalle put party differences aside as an ‘opposition Governor’ and established collaboration with the Federal Government which has resulted in the gains recorded within the last one month. In the month under review, he supported security operatives in the state with 200 brand new operational vehicles with a promise of continual support so as to bring the problem to a logical conclusion.
Quite disappointing however is his consideration to spend resources of the state in building a luxurious Government Lodge in Kaduna. With the socio-economic effects of the pandemic yet to be off, such project can only be described as wasteful and insensitive to the times. He visited the lodge earlier in the month to inspect the level of work and was roundly criticised on social media.
— Abdulwali Anwar Tahir (@AbdulwaliTahir) July 4, 2020
4. Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos, South West)
Governor Sanwo-Olu in the month under review approved N1billion seed capital for investment by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) operators in the tourism sector as a loan, with the aim of bolstering the hospitality sector and positioning the tourism business as a new frontier for job creation and economic prosperity in the post-Coronavirus era.
According to him, while the seed capital will be domiciled in the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), the State would also be collaborating with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to further create access for funds to support the hospitality business.
Also worthy of commendation was the state government’s repeal of 2018 laws on Land Use Charge to further create incentives for more growth in the corporate sector and address controversial provisions and removed ambiguity in the levies paid by companies in Lagos. This is in addition to a three-year waiver on penalty for those that defaulted the payment of land use charge (covering 2017, 2018 and 2019), as well as 25 per cent special discount on early payment.
We are not oblivious to the issues faced daily by Lagosians on the roads, hence the round the clock rehabilitation, upgrade and improvements of inner roads, streets, highways and major roads being carried out by @LSPWC_Official
— Babajide Sanwo-Olu (@jidesanwoolu) July 26, 2020
3. Godwin Obaseki (Edo, South South)
The September 19 Edo Governorship Election is around the corner and it definitely is a good time to score political points but ‘Technocrat Governor’ has sure earned the bragging rights on making giant strides in changing the narrative of poor power supply in the state with an estimated population of 4 million and 88MW of electricity.
On July 20, Governor Obaseki’s administration inaugurated the 33KV Transmission line of the CCETC-Ossiomo 55MW Independent Power Plant (IPP); a product of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between the state government and CCETC-Ossiomo which would increase the electricity need for residential and industrial purposes, beginning with the supply of stable electricity to government buildings and public utilities such as hospitals, offices, street lights, the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium and other public facilities.
The feat by the state government under the leadership of Godwin Obaseki is a bold move geared towards the provision of an alternative source of electricity supply to support its industrialisation drive and create a competitive energy market. Another important recognition for the state government is its listing by the National Pension Commission (PenCom) as been among three states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) that have been consistent with their subscription to a valid Group Life insurance cover for workers while some other states are still at the preliminary stage of implementation.
2. Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa, North Central)
The Nasarawa State Chief Executive appears to be going to great lengths to prove that issues concerning women and the youth remained topmost in his agenda, as he approved the establishment of mobile courts to handle cases of rape and other forms of violence against women across the state, along with a vow that his administration would spare no efforts in tackling violent crimes in the state.
This development is in addition to plans by his government to launch a portal in the first week of August, to register unemployed youths across the state, afford them the opportunity to select skill acquisition of their choice and be trained to be self-reliant.
Another laudable inititative in July is Governor Sule’s renovation of 67 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) and 11 General Hospitals through the 2020 intervention from the Save One Million Lives (SOML), a programme of the World Bank as well as the distribution of hospital equipment worth over 300 hundred million Naira to General Hospitals and Primary Health Care Centres across the state.
1. Nyesom Ezenwo Wike (Rivers, South South)
July delivered to a Nigerians great doses of drama especially from the National Assembly in carrying out its oversight functions over the executive. Chief among these dramatic events was the probe of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) that saw Dr. Joi Nunieh, a former Managing Director of the commission accuse the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Godswill Akpabio of sexually harassing her during her stay in office.
That such an allegation generated massive reaction is highly predictable. What was however shocking to Nigerians was the attempted arrest of the former MD by security agents, having surrounded her Port Harcourt residence as early as 5am and even attempting to break into her home. Governor Wike’s intervention in the fiasco that saw him visit the home of the embattled ex-NDDC boss before driving her to safety in the Government House, Port Harcourt is highly commendable. For many, standing up for an elite may not be so much of a big deal but putting into consideration the fact that he went all out to save Ms. Nunieh who is on a different political divide as himself is worthy of praise.
— Gov N E Wike Information. (@GovWike) July 16, 2020
Equally commendable is the state government’s distribution of COVID-19 sanitary and hygiene kits to 257 schools approved for the 2020 West Africa Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in the state as part of government’s effort to ensure that students are not infected with coronavirus as they return for their exit examinations. The hygiene kits include hand sanitisers, gloves, masks, detergents, running water buckets and disinfectants.
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 Political Journalist, Analyst and Social Change Advocate with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.