Kemi Olaitan, James Danjuma, Chukwuemeka Chukwuka, Aza Msue, Sola Busari, Tony Anichebe and Dennis Agbo
The just concluded governorship election in the country has, no doubt, tilted the equations in Nigeria’s political landscape with new faces thrown up as chief executives in their respective states. And the governorselect are savouring their sweet victories even as they await their swearing-in on May 29. But, how prepared are they for the daunting challenges before them in the next four years? What really are these challenges? Would they justify their elections and rise up to the challenges or would it be business as usual? Our correspondents, Kemi Olaitan, James Danjuma, Chukwuemeka Chukwuka, Aza Msue, Sola Busari, Tony Anichebe and Dennis Agbo looked at the peculiarities of the issues confronting the incoming governors in their various states
For the governor-elect in Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the road to electoral victory in the governorship contest was one strewn with many thorns, the memory of which would linger in the mind of the Ibadan-born businessman cum politician, for a long time to come. He rode on the back of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) to victory, defeating the incumbent, Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). However, as Ajimobi is getting ready to occupy the Agodi Government House, there is no doubt that he would have to prepare himself for the many challenges ahead so as to endear himself to the people of the state.
For a state in the politically sophisticated South-West geographical zone of the country, it would be particularly interesting to see how Ajimobi and his other new-elects in the region would justify the confidence reposed on them by the electorates. One task Ajimobi would have to contend with on assumption of office will be how to resolve the problematic crisis in the state Council of Obas and Chiefs. The out-going government appears to have set a trap for him with the hurried signing into law of a bill, stripping the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi 111, of the Permanent Chairmanship position of the Council.
To analysts, Ajimobi, who is coming in as a first time governor, would require the wisdom of Solomon to ensure that he would not be seen to have taken side in the matter, most especially when the royal father of Ibadan where he hails from is also involved in the contest. The governor-elect would also have his hands full with the crisis over the ownership of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso. While the state government under Alao- Akala maintained that the school remains the property of the state, his Osun State counterpart, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, has been insisting that the university is a joint property of both Oyo and Osun governments.
Ajimobi would be expected to bring in his administrative pragmatism to resolve the protracted feud. He is equally not expected to toy with the new minimum wage to avoid being on collision course with workers in the state. Many see the issue of minimum wage as a delicate one, which they anticipate the governor-elect should handle with care. There are also those who believe that the state still yearn for meaningful development. To them the issue of infrastructure, health, education, and good roads are things that should occupy the agenda of the incoming government. Indeed, the outgoing government has been accused of profligacy by most people who accused it of not having much on ground compared to the revenue which accrued to it from the federation account in the last four years.
One of such analysts, Barrister Wale Olajide, is of the belief that the change, which he said the people of Oyo State clamoured for, can only be meaningful if the governor-elect aligns with the peoples’ needs. According to him, the most important element in determining progress in any society is peace, thus it is necessary for Ajimobi, to serve as a rallying point for all in the state irrespective of political, religious or ethnic affiliation. Also, one of the traditional rulers in the state, the Aseyin of Iseyin, Oba Ganiyu Adekunle, Ologunebi 1, urged Ajimobi to appoint people of impeccable character into his cabinet. “I urge you to appoint people of intellect, honesty and integrity as members of your executive for the development of our dear state,” Oba Adekunle said. As the people of the pace setter state wait for their governor-elect to assume the mantle of governance, his performance in the next four years, based on the expectation of the people would determine whether by 2015, he could, with confidence face the people and tell them, “I have delivered on my promise.”
Just like the neighbouring pace setter state, the people of Ogun State, is anxiously waiting to welcome Senator Ibikunle Amosun, to tackle the issues they consider most important in their lives. The issues have been broken down for Amosun, the ACN governor-elect.
Adequate water supply
The greatest problem facing the people of the state right now is the issue of acute water shortage, which has persisted over the years. As at now, many residents of the state, especially in Abeokuta, the state capital have to pay heavily to meet their water needs. For instance, in major parts of the town like Isabo, Isale-Igbehin, Sapon, Ijaiye, people now have to queue even to buy well water. According to Mrs. Grace Salako, a fashion designer, who resides in the area of the town, a 20-litre keg of well water sells for N25 and getting it to buy is always a difficult task.
Many of the roads in the state, especially in the state capital, Abeokuta are in a terrible state of disrepair. But, with Otunba Gbenga Daniel’s initiative on the Ogun State Roads Maintenance Agency (OGROMA), which was a huge success before mismanagement set in, the Amosun government is expected to resuscitate OGROMA to ensure that good roads are back in the state.
Hike in school fees
Another major and very profound problem Amosun would inherit is the issue of hike in the fees paid by students in higher institution of learning in the state. A concerned parent, who pleaded anonymity and who has three children in the state polytechnic (MAPOLY), said he had already withdrawn one of them from the school due to his inability to cope with incessant increase in fees in the school. According to reports, the situation is not different in all other higher institutions owned by the state government.
Issue of garage take-over
There is also palpable tension in most of the major garages and motor parks in the state. It is a well-known fact that whenever there is a change of government, garage officials loyal to the new administration would want to assume leadership of the garages. This often leads to violence and with unfortunate blood-letting. This, according to informed opinions in the state, is a situation the governor-elect cannot afford to be associated with.
Although the incoming administration of Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has set an agenda for itself, when the governor-elect admitted that high level of joblessness in the state is largely responsible for pockets of crisis Kano has recorded over the years. Kwankwaso, who is coming in through the PDP after defeating the incumbent Governor, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), has promised that something has to be done to salvage the situation. Aside that, many residents in the state believe that Kwankwaso’s government would have a lot of job to do if he must endear the people to his government. Kwankwaso, who was Kano State governor between 1999 and 2003, and who is known to be plying a familiar terrain is promising massive job creation that will engage the teeming youths, who have become vulnerable because of their idleness and are being used as foot soldiers, particularly by desperate politicians.
“My priority in my second coming would be to explore the possibility of creating massive employment opportunities that will gainfully engage the idle youths, so as to contribute to the economic development of the state and this I intend to do by embarking on the resuscitation of industries in the three industrial estates of Bompai, Sharada and Challawa,” he said. Kwankwaso has also noted that with the current epileptic power situation in the country, there is no way he could accomplish his goals and has therefore decided that his government will root for Independent Power Project (IPP). He said with this done, the ailing industries will have the opportunity to bounce back and in the process offer employment to the youths. “And this in my opinion would a go a long way in checkmating the mischief of politicians, who engage these boys in nefarious activities to promote their selfish ends,” the incoming governor promised.
In the view of some major stakeholders in Kano, another vital area the incoming administration should focus on is security. With the volatile nature of Kano, residents are of the opinion that security should be a priority in the next four years. There has been open confrontation between the non-indigenes, particularly and the government over the issue of Sharia. This conflict came about following the activities of the Hisbah Guards, the Sharia Enforcement Agents, popularly called the Sharia police, some of whom have displayed high sense of overzealousness in prosecuting their assignment, such that pitched them with the non-Muslims and non-natives. Apart from pockets of conflict over the Sharia issue, the eight-year tenure of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau has been mostly peaceful and residents expect further improvement on security from the incoming administration. Shekarau will also be remembered for his accommodation of nonindigenes in his cabinet. There were three non-indigenes appointed during his tenure; one each represented the South-East, the South-West and the Middle Belt.
This action, in the opinion of many, went a long way in not only promoting co-existence but also brought the government closer to the non-natives, who were known to have been given some sense of belonging. The non-indigenes will not expect anything different from this laudable policy of the outgoing administration. Eze Ndigbo in Kano, Chief Boniface Ibekwe, has this message for Kwankwaso, “He should as much as possible try to keep peace in the state as well as restore the confidence of investors so that people can come to Kano and invest. The state has lost its glory, due largely to crisis because most investors have fled Kano because of insecurity. He should see this as a challenge and again the conflict between Muslims and Christians over Sharia is not healthy.
So, in his second coming and as someone who started Sharia in the State, he should take practical steps to end this conflict by ensuring that those charged with the responsibility of implementing the Islamic legal code know their limit and should be told that Sharia in the state should have no business with non-Muslims,” Ibekwe advised. Dr. Jimpat Aiyelangbe, a medical doctor and Yoruba leader in the north also said that Kwankwaso’s government should emulate the kind gesture of Shekarau, who gave non-indigenes positions in his cabinet. “Under Shekarau, we had three special advisers on inter-community relations. In Kwankwaso’s regime, we should hope for more, not just three special advisers, we expect to have commissioners in his government. We all know that Shekarau tried in the area of security, it is our belief that the incoming government will improve upon the security situation in the state as well as strive to promote coexistence among natives and non-natives, Christians and Muslims living in Kano so as to avoid the occasional conflicts the state has recorded in the past over religious intolerance,” he said.
For Bishop Ransom Bello, the Kano State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and overseer of Calvary Life Assembly Church, “Kano used to be a great state economically, only next to Lagos; what brought Kano down? This is what we should find out; of course it is incessant violence, which has promoted instability in the state. ”
Much of Katsina State is rural and agrarian with over 70 percent dwelling in villages and hamlets. The dearth of basic amenities like electricity, good drinking water and roads, as well as government incentives to boost agriculture, often leads to the search for better opportunities in the urban areas. This trend must be reversed if, according to opinions, the governorelect, Ibrahim Shehu Shema is aiming to make appreciable impact to improving the lots of the people. Shema would also have to facilitate the joining of many rural communities to the national grid, increase effort to avail them of basic amenities as well as construct more roads that would open such areas to the outside world. Apart from those, he would have to deal with the issue of quality education as well.
The state often allocates high budget to education and its school structures are some of the best in the country. Yet, the quality of pupils and students being produced from these schools are often source of worry for many stakeholders in the state. Not only does substantial number of the students perform woefully in final-year examinations, as recorded in the last Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) and National Examination Council (NECO) examinations; they also often have problem of expressing themselves when speaking and writing in the English language. The state in the next four years would have to make plans for the education sector that would provide for effective training and retraining of teachers as well as recruitment of teachers with English background.
The enthusiasm that greeted the emergence of Hon Abdulaziz Yari as Zamfara State governor-elect no doubt goes to show the kind of acceptability his government would enjoy when it comes to power on May 29. Yari, a House of Representatives member, had contested on the platform of ANPP to defeat the incumbent Governor Aliyu Shinkafi of the ruling PDP. With his victory at the poll, Yari is set to face the task of state building, to justify the confidence reposed on him by those who voted him to power and for the general interest of the people in the state. One of such challenges is in the agricultural sector.
The state’s slogan ‘Farming is our Pride’ is based on the fact that agriculture is the most important occupation of the people, with substantial budgetary allocation going to the sector on yearly basis. Yet, agriculture in the state remains majorly at the subsistence stage, with commercial farming seemingly reserved for the wealthy few. Analysts say Yari would have to initiate policies that would reverse the trend, including helping more farmers to grow local and cash crops in commercial quantity, and providing an enabling environment for easy access to loans for those interested in expanding their farming businesses. There are also those who say he would have to build on what the outgoing governor is doing where agricultural inputs and seed monies are distributed to entrepreneurs.
Yari would also have to deal with the problem of poverty and dearth of basic amenities in the rural and urban areas of the state. The rural areas, citizens of the state say, need to be provided with basic necessities of life like good drinking water, good roads and affordable housing for the populace. The problem of illegal miners would be another headache for the governor-elect. The outgoing governor had recently said that there were about 10,000 illegal miners in the state. Some of them, according to Shinkafi, ignorant of needed precautions, had fallen victims of lead poisoning, which led to loss of hundreds of lives, including children. A strong policy to ensure risk-free harnessing of mineral resources as well as maximizing mining activities to bring more income to the state government, should be the target of the incoming government. In the area of health, Yari would have to face the problem of maternal mortality and how to effectively reach the rural areas with needed health facilities.
The north is generally adjudged by international bodies like World Health Organisation (WHO), to have one of the highest mortality rates in the world. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) deputy Mission Director in Nigeria, Mrs. Mikaela Meredith, in Gusau last year, called on the Northwest state governments to intensify efforts toward reducing maternal and child mortality rate in the region. Meredith said available data showed that the region recorded the highest rate of child and maternal deaths in the country, and that the deaths were due to ignorance, inadequate health facilities, and abject poverty. Yari would have to put modalities in place that would help move the state away from one of those affected by high mortality rates in the country. This, they say, would improve what the previous administration had achieved.
Governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, a minority Southern Kaduna-born politician made history for being the first from his zone to occupy the famous Sir Kashim Ibrahim House through the ballot despite serious odds against his ambition. Yakowa was Secretary to the Government of Kaduna State in September 2003. He later became deputy Governor in 2005, following the death of Stephen Shekari, the then deputy governor to former governor, Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi. He returned as deputy to former governor Namadi Sambo, now Vice President, in 2007. However, as the governor re-elect is set to be sworn in on May 29, expectations are high within his party and other stakeholders alike. Prominent among the impending challenges is how he can bring peace and unity in the state to restore peoples’ confidence. In his view, the former governor of old Kaduna State and governorship candidate under Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa said even though the governor-elect did not win any election, people still expect him to work.
“He has been imposed on the people of Kaduna, because he didn’t win election. Although we have military governors that were imposed on the people; People expected them to perform even as military governors, the same thing to him. In fact, that he was imposed on the people, makes him more prone to scrutiny,” Musa told Sunday Mirror on telephone. According to the president, Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, Malam Shehu Sani, the governor-elect should first and foremost tackle his image problem and try to be fair to all people in the state. “If INEC declared him as the winner, he can still be sworn him but if the court judgement goes against him, he will still have to step down.
There cannot be a power vacuum in the state, somebody must be there; the image he has now is that of a sectional leader, sectional governor, to implement the agenda of his own people, the Southern Kaduna people against the people of Northern Kaduna. So, the challenge before him now is to prove his critics wrong by implementing policies and programmes that would demonstrate that he is the man for all people,” Sani advised. To, the Public Relations Officer of Kaduna State chapter of PDP, Alhaji Ibrahim Aliyu Wusono, “the governor-elect should tackle the major problem of rural development confronting the state, roads construction and focus more on education, rural electrifications, rural development and youths empowerment. ”
The Akwa Ibom people have again reaffirmed their support for Governor Godswill Akpabio’s administration for another four years. However, Akpabio’s administration has been charged by different segment of the state to get back to work immediately as, according to them, much is still needed to be achieved. Areas of interest to the people include: agriculture, education, infrastructural development and industrialisation.
A university Don, Mr. Nkereuwem Udoka of University of Uyo said, “the state government should go into partnership with communities and private individuals, both within and outside the country on mechanized agriculture in the state.” In the envisaged partnership, “communities should provide land for large-scale faming while the state government and private investors will provide funds and technical expertise.” In the education sector, the former speaker, Nigeria Youth Parliament, Mr. Onofiok Luke said the government’s introduction of free and compulsory education policy should be given a legislative backing to ensure that no Akwa Ibom Child is denied basic education at the primary and post primary levels in future after Akpabio’s administration.
To elder Joshua Eyo Asuquo, an accountant and tax consultant “the pace of infrastructural development witnessed in the state since 2007 should be sustained. It is my belief that no effort should be spared in building more roads linking the various rural communities in the state. This is why road construction should be devoid of political consideration as this will ensure rapid development through quick accessibility of all nooks and crannies of the state. Contracts for road construction should also be given to qualified contractors and constructing firms with reputation of quality job,” said Asuquo Mrs. Evelyn Anwana, a house wife and mother of five children also pleaded with Akapbio to ensure that the free medical treatment for children under five years, pregnant women and the aged granted by his administration does not suffer set back in his second term.
From the oldest man in Enugu-Ezike to the traditional ruler in Ikem, down to politicians and the ordinary people, they all had similar reason for exercising their franchise. For instance, 90-year-old Elder Gabriel Abugu, who is the oldest man in Amaeze- Ugbaike in Igbo Eze North Local Government Area of the state, told Sunday Mirror that he was interested in seeing jobs being created by the government for the youth. However, the traditional ruler of Ikem community in Isi-Uzo, Igwe Francis Okwor, would prefer Governor Sullivan Chime to use his second chance to provide his area with water. Senior civil servant, Ralph Ngwu agrees that water has remained a huge problem in the state, especially for residence in the developing layouts like New GRA, Ugbene 2 and community layouts. He also wants Chime to try more on creation of jobs.
But, Okwor wife, Lolo Elizabeth Okwor, differs when she said that attention of the governor should shift to women’s welfare, like good antenatal and post-natal services. And former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, is of the belief that Chime should reach out more to Enugu indigenes and carry people along. ‘His intra personal relationship is not very good. He should continue with his infrastructural provision and create more employment in the next four years.’ For the former opposition leader and two-time commissioner in the state, Deacon Okey Ogbodo, who said the governor did not do well in his first term. ‘If he wants to do well now, he should think of developing human capacity in the state,” said Ogbodo.