Mixed feelings as new helmsmen take charge in states
Last Wednesday marked the beginning of another political dispensation in Nigeria. That was the day President Muhammadu Buhari and the 29 state governors were sworn into office.
Like Buhari, some of the governors were inaugurated for a second term in office while others are having a taste of executive power for the first time. Among the latter, there are those who had to overcome very stringent obstacles to grab the mantle of leadership in their states. The governors of Zamfara, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Imo, Kwara, Bauchi, Gombe and Adamawa states fall into this category.
So, beyond their luscious campaign promises and fabulous inaugural speeches, these governors have a huge task in their hands. They have a duty to prove their mettle by delivering dividends of democracy to their people.
In Zamfara State, for instance, Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle, emerged courtesy of a Supreme Court judgment that sacked all those elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) following the non-conduct of primaries by the party and ordered that the candidates that came second at the polls be issued Certificates of Return by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The judgment effectively bequeathed all the elective positions in the state to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Given that the state had been governed by the defunct All Peoples Party (APP), which morphed into the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and then the APC, in the last 20 years, Matawalle is expected to bring a fresh perspective to governance in the state in a manner that would win him the confidence of the people.
In Oyo, Ogun, Kwara, Gombe and Imo states, Governors Seyi Makinde, Dapo Abiodun, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya and Emeka Ihedioha, in that order, defeated the candidates of the immediate ex-governors at the polls and are expected to repay the trust reposed on them by the people with good governance.
In Bauchi and Adamawa states, the people rejected former governors Mohammed Abubakar and Jibrilla Bindow at the poll for Bala Mohammed and Ahmad Umar Fintiri, respectively. Thus, the new governors need not be told that they have to toe a path different from that of their predecessors if they would not suffer the same fate in 2023.
Somehow, the case of Lagos State is a special one as Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu dislodged the immediate past governor, Akinwumi Ambode, right during the APC primaries and went ahead to win the gubernatorial election.
Given the controversy that surrounded his emergence, including allegations that he is the puppet of APC National Leader and godfather of Lagos politics, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Sanwo-Olu is compelled to prove not only that he is his own man but also that he has something better to offer the state than Ambode, who many residents believe did well in office.
Interestingly, the people are eager to see these governors succeed. They are at home with the challenges facing the states and have ideas of how they can be addressed. They have ideas about what the states should look like in the next four years and the kind of policies to drive it to reality. Above all, they don’t want a repeat of the mistakes of the past by the incumbents. They gave insight into their expectations in the reports from across the states below.
Lagosians Want Sanwo-Olu To Focus On Effective Traffic Control, Infrastructure Re-Birth, Others
By Laolu Adeyemi and Maria Diamond
Barely three days after the new Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, were sworn into office, residents of the state are already looking forward to witnessing a new dawn in the areas of traffic management, security, roads maintenance and others. Expectations are high that the new helmsman in the state would address the challenges bedeviling the mega city and turn it into a haven.
Relying on his track record, some stakeholders believe that Sanwo-Olu would deliver on the expectations of the people. Obinna Jite, a graduate of Library and Information Science said the state government has been doing well in the area of road construction but noted that most of the roads lack streetlights. He, therefore, urged Sanwo-Olu to introduce solar powered streetlights on the state’s roads, saying it would help reduce the crime level in the state.
Jite, who hails from Abia State, also wants the new governor to concentrate on empowering the youth in Lagos.
He said: “If government empowers the youth, the level of crime in the state would definitely reduce drastically. Meanwhile, I also want the new governor to improve on the security of the state and guard against any form of external attack by any terrorist group.
“Under Sanwo-Olu, the state should also work towards generating its own electric power with a view to solving the issue of power outage that is bedeviling many businesses in the state and thereby hindering the economic growth. So, Lagos State should generate its own power. Doing this would attract new investors to Lagos and create more jobs for the teaming unemployed graduates in the state.
“Lagos drainage system is also in a bad shape and Sanwo-Olu needs to improve on it. People experience flood virtually in all parts of the state whenever it rains and this doesn’t portray the megacity in a good light. Residents should not be battling with the flood anytime it rains. Sanwo-Olu should work with the ministries involved to achieve it.”
For Elder Okey Ukwunna, a retiree, the new governor and his team should secure Lagos from criminals, herdsmen attacks, kidnappers and others.
Ukwunna believes that the primary thing Lagosians need now is security. He urged the governor to encourage the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) to support the conventional security agencies in the state.
He added: “The new government should also help improve on the drainage system in Lagos and make it function well. This new administration needs to make a policy that will check erection of illegal structures on Lagos canals to prevent flood. He should also work with all the building stakeholders in the state to investigate all buildings in some waterlogged areas in Lagos with a view to preventing cases of building collapse.”
Ukwunna also wants Sanwo-Olu to strengthen the already established health system in the state, by creating more clinics across all the local councils. He noted that new clinics, if created, would help reduce the pressure on other major hospitals in the state.
Mr Deola Ariyo, a computer scientist, simply wants Sanwo-Olu to ensure that he makes Lagos safe for residents and investors. “Government needs to work on how to reduce the overwhelming number of touts and hoodlums on Lagos streets. There are many hoodlums in some areas in Lagos and it’s really affecting the security of the state,” he observed.
A resident of Ajao Estate Isolo, Habib Ismaila, said: “My expectations are high. This is because the newly sworn-in Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has been in the system and he knows the loopholes. So, I don’t expect him to be handicapped or wait for the sky to fall before getting into action. Lagos is in disarray. There is no electricity, yet we are compelled to pay insanely high electricity bills.
Also, the supposed electricity distributors have refused to evenly distribute prepaid meter to all for free as it ought to be. There are a lot of other issues in Lagos but if Sanwo-Olu can help fix and bid the issue of poor electricity goodbye forever in Lagos without necessarily waiting on the Minister of Works and Power, then his tenure would be a success and Lagos would rise again as the mega city of excellence,” he said
A resident of Lawanson, Surulere, Alfred Imoh, expressed optimism in Sanwo-Olu’s capacity to clear the Apapa gridlock as promised. He said: “I am eager to have a governor who is very affirmative about dealing with the Apapa gridlock because that place is presently a dead spot and the entire country would be better for it. So, whether it takes him 60 days or more, what we want is for that place to be brought back to life again as soon as possible irrespective of how he intends to do it.
Also, he should find a permanent solution to the issue of electricity, especially the ineffectiveness of the two major distributors in Lagos to give out prepaid meters so people can get value for their money. In a nutshell, I expect him to work, make a visible difference in infrastructure development that would be great enough to earn him best governor.”
A market woman in Ikotun, Mrs Lara Akinkunbi, wants Sanwo-Olu to listen to the people and make life comfortable for them through the provision of social amenities and infrastructure.
“We need electricity, we need good roads, water, transportation and house-rent reduction policy. The rent charged by landlords in Lagos is too high and puts a lot of people under financial duress. First, they asked them to stop collecting two-year rent and they complied immediately. But they doubled the rent such that the rent for a year now equates two years. I voted for Sanwo-Olu and I expect him to be the people’s governor through fixing all these issues one at a time,” she said.
Security, Employment Creation Top Agenda For Matawalle
From Isah Ibrahim, Gusau
In Zamfara State, the PDP has fulfilled its desire to govern the state after 20 years. Since the return of democracy in 1999, this is the first time the party was declared winner of the governorship election and also produced 100 per cent members of the National Assembly and state House of Assembly.
According to political analysts, the party needs to make good use of the opportunity and deliver good governance beyond the expectation of the people of the state with a view to building confidence and trust that would enable it to retain power come 2023.
Some residents of the state interviewed by The Guardian advised the new governor to diversify the economy from total dependence on federal allocation. They want the governor to mobilise for investments from local and foreign investors into the rich mining industry in the state. They believe that when investors are motivated to invest in the state, there would be more job opportunities for the people.
A cross section of the residents also pleaded with the new governor to prioritise the issue of insecurity, creating employment opportunities for graduates, implementation of new minimum wage for the state and local government workers, payment of outstanding pension and gratuity for retired workers, construction and rehabilitation of roads, improving the health care and education sectors, and improving access to portable water in the state.
The immediate past chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Zamfara State council, Mainasara Muhammad, particularly wants the Matawalle administration to construct new roads in communities and towns that find it difficult to transport their farm produce to major cities and towns in the state. He lamented the deplorable condition of most of the feeder roads linking the local government headquarters across the state, noting that armed bandits were taking advantage of the inaccessibility of the roads to perpetrate their nefarious activities.
His words: “I am using this opportunity to appeal to the new governor to consider construction of roads as part of his priority areas which would facilitate positive developments to the communities. For example, Ruwan Doruwa – DanMarke road, which was awarded by the immediate past government but later abandoned, should be completed. This road is a very important road that provides access to many villages to transport their farm produce,” Mainasara said.
Other residents like Jamilu Iliyasu, Birnin Magaji, Hashimu Yusuf and Bilyaminu Dahiru, opined that the issue of insecurity, quality education and civil service reform should be top on the agenda of the new government. They appealed to the governor to reach-out to all stakeholders particularly the security personnel and traditional rulers towards identifying and exploring new strategies to fight armed bandits and kidnapping in the state.
“Security, civil servants’ welfare through the implementation of new approved minimum wage of N30, 000, settling outstanding payment of pensions and gratuity and recruitment of more workers into the state civil service should be among the immediate challenges to be addressed by the new government,” Hashimu said.
In his inaugural speech, however, Matawalle assured the people that his administration would provide good governance in the state. He particularly promised to provide free health care services, education and reinstate the 1,400 workers who were employed in 2014 by the immediate past administration but later relieved of their appointments.
Matawalle noted that the workers were recruited in line with civil service rules and regulations. “Therefore, this administration will reinstate them. We are going to set up a committee to verify them and put them into the state core civil service, except those who secured another job.”
Imo People Task Ihedioha On Payment Of Salaries, Pensions Arrears, Others
From Charles Ogugbuaja, Owerri
As Chukwuemeka Nkemakolam Ihedioha steps into office as the sixth Executive Governor of Imo State, scores of Imo people have urged him to ensure that he restores the past glory of the state.
Most residents who spoke with The Guardian expressed the hope that Ihedioha would rebuild the people’s confidence in government through regular payment of workers’ salaries and pensions and execution of developmental projects across the state.
Joe Aku, an artisan, expressed joy that after eight years of former governor Rochas Okorocha, his property was still intact.
“I must sincerely tell you that the coming of Emeka Ihedioha has brought hope. He spoke with vigour and a reassuring mind during the swearing-in ceremony at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Wethdral Road, Owerri. We expect an enormous work from him by rebuilding all that Okorocha allegedly destroyed,” Joe said.
A member of the Imo State House of Assembly representing Onuimo constituency, Chinedu Offor, urged that the new governor should take the issue of “stomach infrastructure” serious by ensuring that people have food on their tables through timely payment of workers, contractors and pensioners.
For a retired school teacher, Mrs. Nma Olebara, the new governor is expected to pay workers and pensioners their 100 per cent entitlements and restore the dignity of the civil service by ensuring due process in their affairs.
“We expect the new governor, Ihedioha, to pay all that are due to all. This is important. Pensioners and workers should have their pay accurately,” she said.
The Imo State Chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Austin Chilakpu, on his part, regretted that under Okorocha, civil servants were receiving 70 per cent of their total monthly emoluments while pensioners took even less, if paid, since February 2017 or thereabout. He lamented that many had died as a result of the policy, saying the immediate past governor rebuffed all efforts by labour to change the narrative.
Chilakpu said workers in the state expect Ihedioha to right the wrongs of the past administration by ensuring that workers receive their full entitlements as and when due.
Others who spoke with The Guardian urged Ihedioha not to embark on worthless projects but rather fix roads that require rehabilitation in the state. They also want the rule of law take its place in his administration, including respecting the autonomy and financial independence of the 27 local councils of the state.
Abiodun Should Overhaul Education, Health Sectors, Say Ogun Residents
From Charles Coffie Gyamfi, Abeokuta
IN Ogun State, Pastor Taiwo Bankole would like Governor Dapo Abiodun to run a government that is people-oriented.
He explained: “Government is about the people so the government’s programmes must be geared towards advancing the cause of the people. Another area the government must pay attention to is fighting poverty. There is too much poverty in the land.”
Bankole suggested that the government should create conducive environment for businesses to thrive so that there would be employment opportunities. He also wants the new administration to declare a “state of emergency in the health and education sectors”. He noted that the two sectors were “criminally neglected” by former governor Ibikunle Amosun-led administration.
He also wants Abiodun to see the local governments as catalysts for rural development. His words: “This new government must not make the mistake the last government made by not allowing any of the local councils to function. They (councils) must be given their monthly allocation from the Federal Government so that they would be able to carry out projects in their areas.”
Ogbeni Lanre Banjo, a politician, wants the governor to first of all “look at the pitfalls of his predecessors.”
His words: “Nobody is infallible so one can make mistakes and it is the duty of the new governor to ensure that he doesn’t repeat such mistakes. I expect the new governor to realise that this is not a seat that he is going to occupy forever; eight years will be gone in the twinkle of an eye. He should therefore make the best use of the first four years by taking a critical look at infrastructure and the health sector.
“If a good hospital is somewhere in Ogun State, our President will not have to travel out of Nigeria to receive medical attention. So, you can’t blame the President for travelling out of Nigeria to take care of his health since there are no good hospitals anywhere in Nigeria,” Banjo said.
He added: “Secondly, I don’t believe government should wash its hands off education. It is in the constitution; providing a good educational system is one of the primary responsibilities of government.
“I also expect the new government to invest in human capital development. Human capital development is very important. If China didn’t do it, we would not be paying extensively for bringing them to Nigeria to either construct bridges or roads for us. When they started in China, they constructed the bridges and they fell off. But they picked it up, learnt from it and they are benefiting from it today.
“The new governor has a lot of work to do, so I don’t think he should add probing the last administration to it. For now, I think he should focus his attention on administering the state well and giving the people good governance.”
For Remmy Hassan, the new government should ensure that every sector of the Ogun State economy would witness uncommon departure from the old order.
He said: “First, the government should look at the employment generation policy it will bring so that it (the government) will not just be having success without commensurate impact on the people.
“Secondly, the government should have an uncommon economic development plan. The state has the potentials but we have remained at the latency level. We cannot continue like that; we must harness the potentials. Our proximity to Lagos is a major benefit. We must translate it into results this time around so the state will have an economy that even Lagos will struggle to catch up with.
“The last one is that we must have good governance in a way that we have never seen before — transparency, efficiency and inclusiveness, among others. The government must not go the way the last government went, that is, assuming for the people what they need.
“The last administration did that by taking bridges to places that they are particularly needless. Maybe some of the people just needed water to drink; borehole would have cost far less to put in place. But they were not done and so many things were also left undone. So, we are saying to Dapo Abiodun that we want to build our future together. Stakeholders’ input should be a major determinant to what will propel the choice of development we need.”
You Can’t Afford To Fail Us, Kwara People Tell AbdulRasak
From Abiodun Fagbemi, Ilorin
THE people of Kwara are savouring the advent of a new government, describing its emergence as arguably the first time “a truly elected government” would be on the saddle in the 52-year-old state.
It was a radical departure from the past where the political hegemony was firmly controlled by a ‘godfather’, whose word was a determining factor on who would win any elections in the state.
According to AbdulRaheem Ajuloopin, a member of House of Representatives representing Oyun/Oke Ero/ Irepodun Federal Constituency of Kwara, “we are indeed now under a true democracy in Kwara State. We are free from one man age-long control. People’s votes are now counting and it will be the very first time that a progressive minded political party will lead our dear state. It is the government of freedom for all our people.”
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo, said the party was fully conscious of the high expectations of the people of the state.
Oyedepo, therefore, said Governor AbdulRaheem AbdulRasak, who he described as a technocrat “with great passion for the development of the state and her people” would run a people oriented government.
Simeon Adewole, a student of Kwara State University (KWASU), urged the new government to assemble eggheads across board to pilot the affairs of the various sectors of the economy of the state.
“I am not saying that the politicians should be shoved aside, but the government should not play politics with people’s lives and destinies. It is now or never because many of us are seeing the APC government as people’s choice and it should live up to expectations,” Adewole said.
For Taofeek Salman Babatunde of Agaka area of Ilorin, Governor AbdulRasak should hit the ground running via prompt restructuring of the economy of the state. He noted that the masses would rate the performance of his government based on the percentage in the reduction of poverty among the less privileged.
Lawrence Arokoyo, a borehole expert in Offa, canvassed a prompt proactive measure from the APC controlled government that would create more conducive environment for the private sector.
According to Arokoyo, good governance is not just about constant payment of workers’ salaries but also about driving along those in the private sector through favourable environment and “investors friendly tax policies.”
A retired Principal in Ilorin, David Akintola, an octogenarian, urged the new government to formulate policies that would engender free medical services to the aged. He also advised the government to open up rural roads to bolster the movement of farm produce to the consumers residing mainly in urban centres of the state.
Mrs Rukayat Yusuf, a provision seller at popular Yoruba Road market, Ilorin, canvassed the immediate suspension of alleged “multiple taxation system” against traders in the state, “where both the local councils and state government will through their various agents collect similar taxes from us.”
Alhaji Ariwo Mohammed a member of Ero Omo branch of National Union of Roads Transport Workers (NURTW) urged the government to fix all the bad roads in the state just as he canvassed car loans from the government for his colleagues to “bring them back into commercial driving business.”
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