There is an evident and explicit difference between Governance and Governor, which has led to a couple of several issues and questions raised by concerned citizens, which are plaguing the Nigeria of today mostly due to unclear and uncut difference between the duo.
Let me, as a matter of emphasis, differentiate between governor and governance as simply as I can relate to this article.
According to Wikipedia, a governor is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the executive branch of a non-sovereign or sub-national level of government, ranking under the head of state. In federations, the governor may be the title of a politician who governs a constituent state and may be either appointed or elected. The power of the individual governor can vary dramatically between political systems, with some governors having only nominal or mostly ceremonial power, with others having complete control over the entire government.
Governance is a multi-faceted concept and skill that particularly borders on administration and management. According to the 2009 Global Monitoring Report, governance is perceived as power relationships, formal or informal processes of formulating policies and allocating resources, the process of decision-making, and mechanisms for holding government accountable.
When closely applied to government and politics at large, governance would espouse structural interactions of institutional inputs and outputs that are designed to ensure accountability, transparency, responsiveness, rule of law, broad-based participation, empowerment, and all-inclusiveness. No doubt, all these outlined features of governance must be imbibed by any governor, if his state must enjoy the dividends of democracy, for, if power is a vehicle, the governor is the driver. He must be knowledgeable about the features of the car for a comfortable ride. To this end, there is an innate relationship between governance and democracy, which many states in Nigeria so desire.
Let me digress a bit by sharing an experience I had while I served as a Chief of Staff to Governor Theodore Ahamefula Orji of Abia State, between 2007 and 2010. At the time when kidnapping in Abia State was at its pinnacle, a director in the state civil service was killed on his way home while resisting kidnappers; at that time, the motorcycle, popularly called Okada, was the easiest means of transportation for the hoodlums because of its ability to navigate even the roughest and toughest of terrains. The governor next day proposed to ban the use of motorcycles (Okada) as a means of transportation in the state in order to check the excesses of kidnappers.
This, however, was the major means of affordable transportation for the citizens of the state, which I brought to his attention in a private meeting, and this prompted him to call a meeting of transport unions in the state, with a strong warning to members not to be used by criminal elements to perpetrate any form of crime. He also directed that only members duly registered and recognised by the unions should operate commercial motorcycles in the state.
In essence, His Excellency, Governor T.A. Orji, abrogated his plans to ban the use of Okada as a means of transportation in the state.
This singular move helped save the state from undue hardship that would have been brought upon the citizens that depended on the Okada either as a means of transportation or as the breadwinners of their homes.
Not forgetting that the essence of this piece, however, is to accentuate in perspectives the significant differences between these two most important factors in government, “Governor vs Governance.”
The act of governance, in any case, is serious business that should not give any room for unseriousness and ineptitude. Thus, once a governor is elected into office, politics is over; what ought to take center stage is the primary purpose of governance. Unfortunately, however, many governors in Nigeria waste a handful of their years in the office playing politics and chasing shadows by vindictively probing their immediate predecessor, thereby neglecting governance.
For one to nurse the ambition of becoming a governor, it should ordinarily mean that the person aptly understands the intricacies of governance and how to improve on the fortunes of his state through the available scarce resources of the state. Therefore, for one to be a governor, such a person must understand the in-depth problems of the state he wants to govern, not just the problem alone but how to use the machinery of government to solve such problems.
Instructively, a true governor is not one that was pushed by the people around him to contest for the post, but one who genuinely has been innately built in the capacity of occupying such office. In contrast, though, governorship positions in Nigeria have been occupied by many governors who never had the prerequisite of holding that office but were pushed and sponsored by their cronies for some selfish interests. However, if someone must succeed as a governor, he must be propelled by these cardinal forces to contest: you think your state deserves better and would also want to do things differently from the way they have been done before, or perhaps improve on the achievements of your predecessor(s).
Over the years, the pseudo-federal system of Nigeria has affected the quality of governance at the state level. Beginning from 1999 in particular, many governors have lost the ingenuity of governance, as most states dependently wait for monthly allocation from the Federation Account to run their domains. Of course, this has made many states not to explore other means of generating revenue or expand their sources of internally generated revenue (IGR). Consequently, most states, aside from federal allocation, are not economically viable.
Governance at the state level should be shifted from waiting on federal allocation for state revenues. States must be run as business enterprises capable of sustaining themselves economically; and for this to be achieved, the innovative ideas of a governor and his team of advisers would come into play. Lagos State is one of the states in Nigeria that have been able to move to the level of revenue sustainability. Over 50 per cent of the state’s budget, for instance, is internally generated.
If other states must follow suit, then governance must be narrowed to the ability to convert state resources to revenue, which would create a value system that impacts positively on the people. Each state must, as a matter of necessity, devise means of generating revenue internally, without necessarily over-taxing her citizens. Fortunately, though, every state in Nigeria is endowed with all the natural resources to be economically viable and independent; all that is required is the innovativeness to explore them.
The measure of governance in Nigeria should no longer be based on the ability of governors to pay salaries alone, which many Nigerians ironically use to measure the performance of state governors. Payment of workers’ salary is one of the recurrent expenditures of government that should not in any way be detrimental to capital expenditures, for capital and infrastructural projects have far more important multiplier effects that impact the citizens. The resources of every state must be tapped into to improve on the standard of living of her people.
In all, while infrastructural development is very essential to governance, projects must not be awarded and executed by governors with impunity, neither should they be done as a conduit pipe for siphoning state resources. Infrastructural projects have to be executed in a manner that they not only benefit the elite but everybody, particularly the masses. And this is where the quality of transparency and all-inclusiveness comes into play.
For the deliverables of good governance to be achieved, the quality of a governor’s list of commissioners and other key special advisers (SAs) becomes a precondition. The list should be timely (at most, within two weeks of swearing into office) and consist of people who are not just professionals but were appointed based on qualifications and merit. Also, these professionals must be placed in the respective ministries where their expertise is relevant. In other words, a lawyer by profession should not be assigned to the ministry of agriculture, and vice-versa.
Once the right commissioners are assigned to the right ministries, then the economic sustainability of the state has to begin from every ministry. Each commissioner and his team should come up with ideas on how to generate revenue for the running of the ministry. This, indeed, would eliminate the “jamboree mentality” of political appointees, which, has characterised governance in Nigeria.
Now, we do know, and let it be stated for the umpteenth time, becoming a governor is one thing, while achieving governance is another thing altogether. In my political career thus far, I have come across many people who had what it took to win governorship elections but would have been terrible at governance.
The act of governance is where the bulk of our problems is; the ability to differentiate between right and wrong, and empathize with our citizens while growing the economy can only take a leader with the skills of governance to achieve. As long as we continue to choose governors based on their financial ability, without commensurably assessing their intellectual skills and tolerance to issues, then we may continue to govern our states from the shadows.