YNaija Governors’ Ranking: The good, bad and terrible | March 2020

From late February to the last day of March, conversations and expectations around governance in Nigeria has been centered around the effectiveness of state governments across Nigeria to contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). There were also quite a number of political drama which confirmed the pattern of intolerance to opposing voices, moving from state to state. All of these and sundry issues forms key part of our assessment for 10 Nigerian state chief executives across the 6 geo-political zones of the country in the last one month.

The good:

  1. Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos, South-West)

If anything has tested the capability of Governor Sanwo-Olu to show true care and responsibility during times of crisis since he assumed his ‘Alausa’ office in May, it will unarguably be the handling of the novel Coronavirus which was confirmed in the state on February 27 following the entrance of an Italian citizen from Milan, for a brief business visit on the 25th of February.

Under Sanwo-Olu’s leadership, the health authorities in Lagos were so proactive to the point of transferring the index case from Ewekoro, Ogun State (via ambulance) to the Lagos State Biosecurity Facilities for isolation and testing in order to prevent a major disaster. Also importantly, the governor made it a point of duty to update Lagosians on the status of the index case and subsequent cases, thus dousing tension in Nigeria’s most populated city. Lagos recorded the third reported case of Coronavirus in Africa after Egypt and Algeria; and in spite of the relatively low 20 deaths and 600 coronavirus cases that have been confirmed across the Africa continent of 1.2 billion people, “Mr. Governor” played a major role in ensuring these low numbers.

Similarly, his swift and solution-driven response to Sunday’s gas inferno that engulfed the Abule Ado and Soba areas of the state; the actions of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), as well as the Governor’s setting up of a 2billion naira relief fund for the victims, all reflect a true understanding of his role as Incidence Commander in these times.

2. Dapo Abiodun (Ogun, South-West)

In announcing the discharge of the index COVID-19 patient late Friday, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu praised the collaborative efforts of the Ogun State and Federal Health Authorities, as instrumental towards limiting the transmission of the virus (from that patient) to a single contact. In many instances, people who live in the outskirts of Lagos hardly remember that they live in Ogun because of free movement between both states and as such, it is clear that what affects the centre of excellence has high tendencies to affect the ‘Gateway State.’

The above reason is why the Ogun Governor ranks top in our list for this month. Working in consonance with the Lagos Government, the pandemic is being contained in the most reasonable manner possible. This is evident in the complimentary order by his administration to shut all educational institutions and restrict religious gatherings to not more than 5o persons in the state. The government of Ogun created a Twitter account for regular updates of residents in the state.

3. Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna, North-West)

While no case of COVID-19 has been reported in the state so far, the El-Rufai led-administration has taken bold steps in ensuring that everything is done to reduce the chance of the disease taking root and spreading in the state, including closure of all schools (nursery, primary, secondary schools and tertiary institutions) restricting religious services, social events, and all large gatherings to not more than 50 persons as well as cut overhead expenses by 50% and centralise expenses like purchase of equipment, vehicles, fuel and stationery.

Governor El-Rufai also proved his worth once again when he intervened in the Kano crisis that saw the banishment of deposed Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II.Although the Kano Emirate is obviously not within his jurisdiction as governor, it is important to note the role he played in relocating the deposed monarch from Awe in Nassarawa to Lagos shows support for the inalienability of human rights.

Beyond the personal relationship with the former CBN chief, appointing him as Vice-Chairman of the state’s Investment Board as well as Chancellor of the State University, barely 72 hours after his dethronement as Emir of Kano is strategic to attracting investments to Kaduna through his network of contacts around the world as well as implementing a growth roadmap for the multi-campus varsity expected to operate with presence in seven out of the 23 local government areas of the state.


4. Seyi Makinde (Oyo, South-West)

Beyond the social media frenzy around the premature call on him to warm up for a shot at the Presidency in 2023, ‘GSM’ understands what 21st-century governance is.

In the wake of new COVID-19 cases in Lagos and Ekiti, he was roundly criticised for holding a political rally in the state capital that attracted thousands of people. Although there are rumours that he was discouraged from going ahead with such initially, the Governor displayed a true grasp of leadership principles when he took responsibility for the ‘insensitive action’ and apologised accordingly- without joining issues with his opposition as many would have expected the typical ‘Nigerian politician’ to do.

Apart from giant strides in the educational sector, his administration made remarkable progress in the health sector this month as his cabinet approved the purchase of 3 specialised ambulances for intensive care units and 7 new ambulances for each zone in the state, in order to support the emergency centre response in ancient state.  This is in addition to the flag-off of Free Health Mission across the state to ensure that poor and vulnerable people have access to medical care.

5. Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta, South-South)

Communication remains a vital tool in governance and at the heart of this is reaching the people and hearing from them through platforms as townhalls and media parleys/chats. This is an area Governor Okowa is doing well at, especially in making government accessible to the people as well as in engendering accountability.

Taking a cue from the South-West Governors, the governments of the six South-South states under the aegis of the BRACED (Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo and Delta) Commission are working hard at establishing a regional security outfit that will serve the states and pushing for an aggressive implementation of the 13 percent derivation for oil-producing states from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC). These bold initiatives are under Governor Okowa’s leadership and it will in no small way promote the core principles of federalism which is a dire need for governance in the country at this time.

The bad:

6. Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia, South East)

With the spread of COVID-19 across the continent and its attendant effect on economies around the world, one would have expected the governor and his team to emulate the examples of other state executives even from within his party where he’s Deputy Chair of its Governors Forum to prepare the facilities in his state to contain any possible case of the scourge in his state.

Governor Ikpeazu, a biochemist, however, chose to inform the world in a viral interview he granted that the state will not record any coronavirus case because Abia is the only state mentioned in the Bible (whatever that means),God will not allow any disease touch His people, adding that like Ebola and monkeypox which didn’t get to the state, there was only cause to ponder not panic. This is in spite of a recent resurgence of Lassa fever in the state which led to the death of a 28-year-old man at Olokoro community, Umuahia South Local Government Area.

On Monday, his administration only just directed that “all should be done to acquire testing kits for at least three centres in the state” and as well announced ‘plans’ to establish three coronavirus testing centres in the state, while blaming the Federal Government at the dying minutes for establishing only three testing centres in the country instead of in all the geo-political zones.

7. Abubakar Bello (Niger, North Central)

Ever since his assumption of office, Governor Bello has been repeatedly accused of spending greater part of his term in Abuja and Kaduna.

The worse was done when he reportedly signed the state’s 2020 Appropriation Bill of N155 billion into law in Abuja, alongside top government officials, including the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Bawa Wuse, and the Secretary to the State Government.

8. Darius Ishaku (Taraba, North East)

After spending 87 days in Abuja without initially disclosing the reason for his illness, Ishaku returned to Government House on March 20, although there are reports that he had a domestic accident, following a slip from a staircasein his house amidst power outage.

Rather than take responsibility for the abysmal progress of governance while he abandoned his office, the governor while informing journalists that he was involved in a domestic accident which led him to undergo surgery during his long stay away from the state, noted that that governance in Taraba did not suffer while he was away.

In refusing to transmit power to his Deputy, Haruna Manu, pursuant to Sections 189 and 190 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, Governor Ishaku displayed disrespect for the people he was elected to govern and abused his powers.

The terrible:

9. Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe, North-East)

All appears not to be well with democracy in Gombe as it joined the growing list of state executives in the country intolerant of opposition.

Political watchers were taken by surprise on March 1st when a Premium times report revealed how two members of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) – Atiku Boza-Boza (personal assistant to former Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo) and his associate, Adamu Babale are being detained on the orders of an area court following their arraignment on allegations of “conspiracy and intentional insult” following a charge from a Police First Information Report (FIR) where both men were said to have called the governor “leader of promise breakers.”

Worriedly, “the two politicians were docked before the court on Thursday, a day declared as work-free for all courts in the state and even though the Governor has claimed “not being behind their travails.” how does one explain his inaction towards ensuring that their rights to freedom of expression isn’t trampled upon by fifth columnists who may be acting in his name.


10. Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano, North West)

After about three years of a long-drawn battle between Governor Ganduje and his arch-rival, Muhammad Sanusi II; he went on to take his pound of flesh against the (now) deposed Emir of Kano and leader of the Tijaniyya Sufi order, over what the state government described as total disrespect to lawful instructions from the office of the state Governor and other lawful authorities

While it is clear that Governors have constitutional powers over traditional rulers in Nigeria, Ganduje’s action more than anything else smacks of an uncanny intolerance to opposition. His media aide is quoted to have said that the genesis of the ‘war’ between both men started with the deposed Emir’s criticism of a multi-billion naira light rail project by the state government in April 2017, describing it as a misplacement of priority.

The governor’s aide also accused Sanusi of supporting the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2019 state governorship election, adding that “Nobody will be able to let this go on and fold his arms.” To add salt to injury, Sanusi, having been deposed was ‘officially kidnapped’ like common hoodlums and ‘banished’ to Loko, Nasarawa State where he was held hostage before a court quashed the draconian action. For a democratic society, the right to freedom of expression, movement and association is sacrosanct. Moreso, the brazen and hasty dethronement carried out by the governor wastes no time in confirming his gross abuse of power.

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.

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