It has been an eventful year for Governors of the 36 states in the federation and for a good number of them, May marked either their first year anniversary as Chief Executive or the first year anniversary of their second term in office.
However, with the coronavirus pandemic still a thing in the country, our effectiveness rankings will focus on the usual monthly performance of 10 among these governors across the 6 geo-political zones.
10. Nyesom Wike (Rivers, South South)
As in April, the Rivers Government sparked off a debate in the country as Governor Wike in enforcing his Executive Order 6 on COVID-19 in the state, supervised the auctioning of vehicles that allegedly flouted the lockdown order as well as the demolition of Prodest Hotel and Etemeteh Hotel without the order of a court.
While many have tried to justify this action, it amounts to killing a fly with a sledgehammer. Such high-handedness discourages investment in the state. Analysts have also argued that such orders should have prescribed lesser punitive measures such as converting it to an isolation centre or making the violators pay huge fines to the government.
The Governor appears to also be increasing tension in the state with consistent allegations about threat to peace as he said that there were plans by some persons to cause breakdown of law and order so as to force the declaration of a state of emergency in the state.
9. Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe, North East)
Reports from Gombe more than anything else put a dent on the national fight against COVID-19, as the state witnessed two rounds of protests in May by patients at its isolation centres. The first which saw about 20 patients force their way out of the facility to take over the federal highway linking the state with neighbouring Borno, chanting that the state government lied against their status went viral and lamenting alleged poor treatment by the state government.
Days later, in similar fashion, some COVID-19 patients at the Federal Teaching Hospital staged a protest on the streets claiming they had not been given drugs and were left to fend for himself alongside other patients at the hospital. Sadly, the explanation by the government didn’t do much and health workers are also complaining about their unpaid allowances.
The Governor has also come under criticism over a bill that was recently passed into law for the establishment of the Joint Development Project Agency. Described as obnoxious, the joint agency is alleged to be a conduit for siphoning local government funds and making them mere appendages of the state government.
8. Yahaya Bello (Kogi, North Central)
After months of being only one of the two states without a case of COVID-19 in the country, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced two positive cases of COVID-19 in the state, but the Kogi government quickly issued a statement rejecting the results while maintaining that the Confluence State was free of the coronavirus.
The development is worrisome as the Kogi Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) had persistently cried out over the lack of adequate testing for coronavirus in the state describing it as a great risk for doctors and other health workers. Doctors at the Federal Medical Centre accused the Yahaya Bello-led government of frustrating the efforts to ascertain the presence of the virus in the northcentral state, while investigative reports suggest that many patients report to the Kogi Specialist Hospital with symptoms similar to those of COVID-19, but none of them gets tested for fear of being punished by the state authorities.
At the centre of these fears are statements by Governor Yahaya alleging that the NCDC wants him to declare false cases in the state, leading residents of the state and beyond to describe COVID-19 as a hoax with little or no attention to measures as use of face masks as well as social distancing while movement flows freely through the streets, entry and exit to and fro boundary city -Abuja (which has recorded not less than 500 cases) were without hitches despite the ban on inter-state travel.
7. Dapo Abiodun (Ogun, South West)
All appears not to be well in the Ogun health sector as doctors under the state employment are having a running battle with the government over the unexplained delay in the payment of its members’ salaries and agitations on the need for improved welfare package for its members.
The doctors under the aegis of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu alleged that compared to other workers in the state whose salaries for April and May were paid promptly, their April salaries were paid mid-May despite working during the period of the lockdown, while May salaries were yet to be paid as of May 21.
While it is commendable that the Ogun Government announced a review of hazard allowance for State health workers from 200 to 300 per cent as well as a life insurance policy for frontline workers, it is worrisome that the Governor is putting the life policy on hold from taking off immediately, opting to wait for the Federal Government to put in place a similar programme. The state government has a lot of work to do in ensuring that all issues leading to industrial action at a critical time of the COVID-19 pandemic is resolved.
OGUN HEALTH WORKERS TO ENJOY LIFE INSURANCE, HAZARD ALLOWANCE UPGRADED TO 300 PERCENT
Ogun State Governor, @dabiodunMFR states that his administration has put in place life insurance policy for State health workers, and also reviewed the hazard allowance from 200 to 300 percent pic.twitter.com/zXtdRNlGSV
— Ogun State Government – OGSG (@OGSG_Official) May 8, 2020
6. Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna, North West)
The Kaduna Governor in the month under review waived the Right of Way (RoW) charges for broadband and related communication infrastructure in the state. As described by the Minister of Communications, Isa Pantami, one of the key benefits of the decision is the rapid growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) of any country that increases its broadband penetration.
In the fight against the Coronavirus, apart from threats of prosecution to any Islamic cleric who enrolls children into an Almajiri school in the state, the government has ensured optical screening and rehabilitation of 200 children in the Almajiri system of education repatriated from Nasarawa in the wake of the pandemic, bringing the total number of repatriated Almajiri pupils to 900 from Kano, Bauchi, Plateau and Nasarawa states.
The unpleasant news from the North-Western state this month however, is the attack on inhabitants of the Southern Kaduna communities by gunmen leading to the death of women and children. Such inhuman act despite the lockdown is very worrisome and there is a great need for proactive measures to avoid a reoccurrence.
5. Godwin Obaseki (Edo, South South)
The state’s COVID-19 response team headed by the Deputy Governor have taken commendable steps in managing the pandemic in the state especially with regular updates and boost of its isolation facilities in the state to over 600-beds spread across different health facilities in Benin, Auchi and Irrua; making it the state first outside Lagos, to have three testing centres in the country.
This is evident in acclaimed credits from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Health on its recent inauguration of a 300-bed isolation centre and molecular laboratory at the Stella Obasanjo Hospital in Benin, along with a third Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) molecular laboratory established at the Edo State Specialist Hospital.
The recent completion of a substation at the Edo State Secretariat complex and installation of 33KVA lines ahead of the test run of the CCTEC-Ossiomo Power Plant, with a capacity of 55 megawatts is also a major move towards opening up the state’s power sector to competition for the benefit of residential and industrial consumers.
While the governor cannot be solely blamed for the heightened tension arising from the actions of political actors warming up for party primaries ahead of the September 19 Gubernatorial elections in the state, he has a critical role to play in dousing tension in the state being generated by the political class, as well as ensure the security agents stay on top of their game in the fight against incessant kidnappings and rape cases in the state.
4. Hope Uzodinma (Imo, South East)
The Hope Uzodinma administration took a bold move to ensure judicious use of the state’s commonwealth by assenting to a bill repealing the law that created pension allowances and gratuities for former Governors, Deputy Governors, Assembly Speakers and Deputy Speakers.
As rightly pointed out by the governor, not only does the repealed law run contrary to the provision of the 1999 constitution as amended, which stipulates that a pensioner must have worked for at least 10 years and must be up to 45 years of age, some beneficiaries of such payments also earn salaries and allowances in other positions they occupied such as serving as Senators or Members of the House of Representatives.
1/Today, 20th May 2020, I signed an Executive order No. 002, 2020, significantly reducing Right of Way (ROW) of telecommunication companies in the State from N4500 to N145 per meter in tandem with Federal Government policy. pic.twitter.com/dUPODBFRv4
— HE_HopeUzodimma (@HE_HopeUzodimma) May 20, 2020
Another commendable move by the Governor was the signing of an executive order that slashes the Right-of-Way (RoW) charges for InfraCos in the state from N4,500 to N145 per metre. The review will ease the cost of deploying the necessary infrastructure that would aid the National Broadband Penetration plan by Telcos, trigger ancillary on-line services, especially in the field of education and in turn usher in innovations across the sectors.
3. Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom, South South)
The Akwa Ibom Government in the month under review slashed the salaries of all political office holders in the state by 20% in what it described as a response to the prevailing economic realities of dwindling revenues, caused by the crash in the price of crude oil in the global market. As expected of thinking leadership, the step is considered a good move as it will go a long way in showing it is paying beyond lip service to call for sacrifice.
A major feat for the Udom administration in May was the addition of a Bombardier CRJ 900 aircraft to the Ibom Air fleet in line with his plans to open the State up for industrialization through land, sea and air, with plans underway for another aircraft to increase the fleet to five aircraft.
The administration also provided computers, cameras, printers, scanners and other essential work tools that will aid in the profiling of convicts and overall efficiency to the State Command of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS). The support will go a long way in ensuring the implementation of all non-custodial sentencing such as community services, probation, parole, restorative justice and others as enshrined in the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019.
2. Ben Ayade (Cross River, South South)
Governor Ayade received massive commendation from Nigerians across the federation this month for the new policy of his administration’s which exempts micro and small businesses from the payment of taxes as well as the inauguration of an anti-tax agency to put an end to illicit taxes on the people while ensuring the small business owners do not come under the harsh hands of the desperate search for money by tax consultants.
The initiative which he tagged as part of post-COVID-19 palliative to the people in response to the level of poverty in the state, exempts all Okada (commercial motorcycle) riders, taxi drivers, small saloon owners, small catering and restaurant points, street food vendors, hotels with less than 50 rooms across the whole state and all others who sell basic things or struggling to earn a living,
For a country where multiple taxations are a big deal, such policy will encourage basic entrepreneurship and wealth creation in the state. Judging from the state’s revenue, concerns have been raised however as to how the government hopes to meet up with his obligations and carry out its “ambitious projects” with such policy. The administration also employed additional 1,000 workers as demand for Cross River Garment Factory facemasks skyrocketed in this month.
BREAKING: Cross River State has by this notice, exempted small businesses in Cross River from paying tax. These include hotels with < 50 rooms, small farmers, taxi drivers, mama-put sellers, and so on. Commendable move in the era of #COVID19. The Gov cried on camera. Watch. pic.twitter.com/2FkFHy2PT0
— Royalty (@royaltyuso) May 21, 2020
1. Bello Matawalle (Zamfara, North West)
The award of N3.1 billion contract for the construction of 423 classrooms in the state and decision to accommodate as many street children known as Almajiri expelled from any state with open arms as well as integrate the Almajirai model into western education for the purpose of acquiring qualitative education in both western and Islamic knowledge is very positive.
This will go along way in promoting a sense of belonging and reduce the “stigmatisation” meted on the Almajiri Islamic teaching and learning in the country when most of the Governors in the Northern part of the country have toed the line of repatriation.
Quite importantly, with low testing capacity posing a major challenge to the fight against the pandemic in the country, one great feat of the Matawalle administration in the last one month is the launch of the largest zero-contact testing centre for COVID-19 in Nigeria.
With a capacity of collecting 70 samples in an hour, this will significantly protect health workers who are on the front line and ensure timely delivery of collected samples since the booth can be deployed in border towns and remote areas. The sample collection booths are also said to be convertible into telemedicine booths post-COVID – 19; which will also boost the people’s access to healthcare and their overall wellbeing, especially in the hinterlands of the state.
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.