I went to a friend’s house and, in the kitchen, I saw on their kitchen refrigerator this message: “If Momma isn’t happy … ain’t nobody happy.” It’s funny because we all know it’s true. If the person in charge is upset, we should pay attention.
I want to make one for us who says, “If the people aren’t happy … give them Ruga, give them COZA or Krest and they forget their real issues.”
So let’s talk about the Nigerian governor. The Nigerian governor is Nigerian. He more often than not is an indigene of the state he governs/rules/controls. They hardly govern. In some cases, they are controlled too.
In rare cases, we know a state governor has actually hailed from another state, and in those cases we have kept the matter under the realm of gossip and conjectures, like one of the governors in the North whom we know originally hails from ‘Agenebode’ or so in the Niger Delta.
What do these men do? What really is the job of a governor? Nigeria has 36 of them, split into the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, PDP Governors’ Forum, APC Governors’ Forum, Progressive-cum-Opposition Governors’ Forum, Northern Governors’ Forum, South-South Governors’ Forum, South East Governors’ Forum, South West Governors’ Forum, and recently I heard of the Former PDP Governors’ Forum composed of ex-governors (some governors have actually been members of both ruling and opposition parties).
What do these men contribute to nation-building or even state-building?
It is not so much about what these governors do, as in also what they do not do. These governors have many commissioners, ranging from 20 to 30, depending on the number of local governments and other political considerations. They are entitled to senior special assistants/special advisers (both senior and junior)/countless aides and, yes, consultants on various subject matters.
This allows for governors to spend an average of seven days only in a month at the office and in the state. They attend meetings in Abuja, and flex in caucus meetings of how to remove this person and put that person, or how to extricate themselves from their godfathers and make more money.
Of course, all these happen when they are not in Kosovo, Kabul or Khazastan seeking investors.
There is no governor in Nigeria who has, in the last four years, spent an average of four hours every day, 15 days a month and nine months a year in his office, taking his leave as at when due and handing over to the right person temporarily. Have you visited a state without big billboards with one motto or the other attached to a life size photo of the governor, state mass transit buses with his picture on them, soccer clubs like Plateau United once christened (Dariye Boys, briefly Botmang Boys, then Jang Boys and finally Lalong Boys)? If there’s a state where similar things don’t occur, then the state has no governor, or it’s a new governor is apparently a learner.
Our governors tell us how difficult the art of governance is, and you sure would agree, contending with the opposition, with political enemies from different camps, and spending billions unaccounted for must be one hell of a job.
A long time ago, I asked, how much do our governors earn for all the hard work? And very few could say. No wonder every one of them tells us how they were all millionaires before they became governors. So, the people should be happy for the humanitarian service they render as governors at the expense of their former billionaire jobs.
I watch people say governor XYZ is doing well, and I ask where else do people praise a governor for using your money to give you utilities that are not priorities, but our beloved Nigeria?
If there is any Nigerian governor with just two cars, with kids in public schools, and less than N100 million, then I will show you a lazy governor. Today, in assets and cash, there is no governor who is not a billionaire, and that is 36 hardworking billionaires!
These hardworking governors spend millions on healthcare, and yet the hospitals are not good enough to check their health. In one of the progressive South West states, all of the governor’s kids are schooling in London and the governor flaunts his hard work in the educational sector.
We need to start asking questions. We need to demand answers to issues of governance. If the people ain’t happy the governors should not be happy.
An old axiom speaks of not touching a blind man’s hand while eating with him. For how long will our leaders continue to touch our hands while the eat?
•Dickson, PhD, is a developmental and policy analysts