Tony John (Port Harcourt), Paul Osuyi (Asaba), Noah Ebije (Kaduna), Gyang Bere (Jos), Stanley Uzoaru (Owerri), Billy Graham Abel (Yola), Laide Raheem (Abeokuta), Timothy Olanrewaju (Maiduguri)
In keeping with inauguration rituals, newly elected and re-elected governors on May 29, reeled out long lists of things they would do during their tenure in the their various states. In some of the states, some of the governors have begun in shaky starts while some others took unnecessarily controversial steps. But what do the people really want their governors to do in the next four years? To answer this question, we present the desires of citizens from across the states in the country.
As would be expected, the 18-year-old protracted conflict in Plateau State is uppermost in the minds of the people, who earnestly desire a resolution of the inter-tribal and religious crises, which have claimed countless lives and resulted in wanton destruction of property. Achieving this goal would enthrone enduring peace.
Some eminent personalities in the state applauded Governor Solomon Lalong for driving the state to where it is today and tasked him to work more on peace building, and thereby cultivate harmonious working relationship among communities to arrest the cycle of killings in the state.
Speaking in this vein, former Ambassador to Ukraine, Ibrahim Kasai, advised Lalong to focus more on peace building and agricultural development, which is capable of creating employment opportunities for the youths.
Kasai also said that sound infrastructural development, construction of well-planned road network, good education and human capital development would altogether boost the tourism potentials of the state and create employment for youths in the state.
Also human rights activist, Gad Shamaki, agreed with Kasai, and added that peace is the necessary ingredient that every society solidly depends on for survival.
“I would like Lalong to concentrate on the peace process in Plateau and to create employment opportunity for youths. Apart from peace, infrastructural development of the state is equally important. If you look at the road at NNPC Mega Station to British American Junction in the state capital, the road has totally failed. I hope he will look at it because it will boost tourism potentials in the state and create employment,” Shamaki said.
Former chairman of Plateau Peace Practitioners Network, Godwin Okoko, reiterated that peace development, quality education and human capital development are what Plateau people need most in the next four years.
Okoko said: “His administration did well in the area of peace in the first tenure, but there is need for consolidation. We need more improvement on peace, when you look at the pockets of killings and attacks in the state like what happened in Riyom, Rikkos and Bassa local government area recently.
The state is experiencing the issue of commercial kidnapping within communities. You have situation where children, orphans and adults are kidnapped for ransom. There is need to deal with substance abuse which is growing within communities as a result of lack of employment.”
Tackle insecurity, poverty, Rivers people tell Wike
The people of the state who market their potentials with the pay-off line, ‘Rivers of Possibilities’ have asked their governor, Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, who they love to describe as Mr Projects, to give priority to the issue of insecurity, poverty alleviation, unemployment and community infrastructural development within the next four years of his administration.
Prominent among these people, who expressed their views were a traditional ruler and National Leader of South-South Chiefs, Elders and Opinion Leaders Association of Nigeria, Chief Omubo Harry and Mr Festus Ogwuche, a Port Harcourt-based legal practitioner.
Harry stated: “Yes, the governor did well in his first four years. Now, he is talking about consolidation. But, we, the people, are talking about how to curb youth restiveness and employment. We agree that he executed construction projects, but there is acute problem of unemployment, and this has led to youth restiveness. That is why we are having kidnapping and other security challenges. Rivers people will also want him to inculcate what we call community governance. It will help address the security challenges we have in the state.
For these past four years, we appreciate him for the road network, which was perfectly done. We also need a form of decentralization in this second term. Everything has been centred on Port Harcourt, the capital. Let him also talk about Degema and Ahoada axis. Let there be decentralization of projects. Not all of us would come to live in Port Harcourt. Industries should be revamped.”
Speaking in similar manner, Ogwuche urged Governor Wike to focus on alleviating the people’s hardship because of the level of poverty in the state.
Ogwuche said: “One of the cardinal things the governor needs to do is in the area of poverty alleviation. The level of poverty in Rivers State has risen to high level. And this poverty is also contributing to the rise in criminality in the state. The crisis, violence and instability in Rivers communities are as a result of high poverty level that has ridden the entire state. Government should not be too elitist. I am not saying that this government is like that. But what I am saying is that government must ensure that abject poverty does not come to stay. Apart from that, he should do more on constructing community roads. Working on Olusegun Obasanjo or Azikiwe roads is good, but constructing roads that link communities is where the need is now.”
In Delta State, the people have commended Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for raising the bar in his first term, and urged him not to slack in the second term. Rather they want the governor to consolidate on the achievements recorded so far.
Former Secretary to the State Government and chieftain of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Ovuozourie Macaulay stressed the need for the new administration to place more emphasis on education and health, as well as consolidate on infrastructure across board by completing ongoing projects.
Macaulay said: “He must consolidate on his projects by completing them. He must lay more emphasis on health and education because they are the hallmarks of human existence. Okowa should know the right calibre of people to appoint, individuals who are ready to build people and institutions rather than enrich themselves. They must be people who are committed to helping him deliver good governance.”
The state Chairman of Labour Party, Tony Ezeagwu praised Okowa for his achievements in the area of road and drainage construction in the past four years, but noted that much still had to be done on road infrastructure.
“We want him to put in more effort because there are still many roads begging for attention. Previous governments did not do much on roads. In fact, the immediate past administration did shoddy road jobs, hence they all failed. The better part of the last four years was spent on rehabilitating failed roads. Like the Mariam Babangida Way in Asaba, which was sub-standard when the previous administration did it, but today, you see what this administration has turned it into. We want more of that especially the road leading to Ezi from Onicha-Olona, which has become a den for kidnappers. There is no day they don’t kidnap people on that road because of the dilapidated nature. The governor should do something about it. He should do something that will uplift the people and etch his name in the heart of the people so that when he leaves office, his legacies will continue to speak for him.”
On the other hand, state Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Michael Ikeogwu, state chairman of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Emeka Nkwoala and state chairman of Accord Party, David Ashikodi, urged the governor to focus more on human capacity development and employment creation.
Ashikodi implored the governor to upgrade the Agricultural and Rural Development Agency, Ibusa, to a College of Agriculture while the College of Technical Education should be established to produce teachers for the state technical and vocational colleges and centres.
For the people of Kaduna, a major social problem they want Governor Nasir el-Rufai to deal with is the problem of Almajiri children roaming the streets. They also want the government to build additional bridges across Kaduna River, to connect communities to civilization even as they want him to unite the Christians and Muslims in the state.
Public affairs commentator and veteran journalist, Mr John Aduku, told Sunday Sun: “The governor can build another bridge from Kabala Doki to link Narayi and Barnawa areas. The governor should also relocate railway market because that place is congested. Also, the workshops of mechanics, car dealers and others like that should be relocated to decongest the city centre.”
A community leader in Agwa, Kudenda area of Kaduna city, Chief Isaac Aga said: “We expect the governor to bring up an initiative aimed at finding lasting peace in the state, which has been bedeviled by sectarian and religious conflict. The governor’s approach to religious violence should go beyond curfews, arrests and promises of prosecution while the violence keeps recurring.
He should strive to build spiritual and moral bridges in communities divided by conflicts by encouraging peacemakers and peace-builders like religious and traditional leaders to do more to combat intolerance and extremism and its associated violence.
“This initiative will go a long way to break the wall that separates Muslims and Christians, while they both stand up for peace and against those working to tear them apart.”
In Abia State touted as ‘God’s own State,’ landlords, unions, workers, religious bodies and other stakeholders have reeled out their expectations from Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
Speaking to Sunday Sun at the International Conference Center, Umuahia, an Abia-based journalist, and President of Abia Landlords Protection and Development Association, ALPADA, Chief Alphonsus Udeigbo, urged the governor to do more in the next four years.
His words: “He has done well on Faulks Road, but we want him to focus on Port Harcourt Road because it will alleviate the sufferings of the people in Aba. That road has a lot of advantages because people from Port Harcourt and other states come into Aba through that road. It will be a lot of relief for them. Besides that, there are many people who live on the Aba-Port Harcourt axis, from No 1 to Asa-Nnentu Market. He should put it on his priority list of first things to do in his second tenure. Let him tackle that road because it will give Aba residents a lot of joy before other things will follow.
“We also call on him to overhaul the civil service system, because in a situation where many people are crying about payment of salaries, we are of the belief that the problem may have emanated from the managers of such institutions like the hospital management, school management etc, he has to overhaul them and know what is the problem. Those institutions generate funds, it is sad that they are not able to pay salaries to their staff. He should do that so that Abians will be happy, if the civil servants are not happy, traders will not be happy, because when civil servants are paid, they will visit the market to purchase goods.”
Speaking also, Comrade Chief Uchenna U. Obigwe, chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Abia State Council, told Sunday Sun that: “The agenda organized labour has set for him is that he should within one year ensure that all issues of unpaid salaries, pensions and gratuities are cleared in Abia State. We want him to implement, without delay, the circular on new minimum wage once it comes out. We also want him to ensure that he finishes all the projects he started and possibly roll out new ones, for the betterment of the people of Abia.
The end of what Imo people have come to know in local parlance as ‘Iberiberism’ governance now provides the new Emeka Ihedioha administration, at a historic juncture to re-engineer the state and start off the infrastructural development effort on a clean slate.
Former President, Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU), Prof Ukachukwu Awuzie said that his earnest desire is that the new governor would lead the people to take their destiny in their own hands.
Elder statesman, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu wants Ihedioha to, among all other things, attract investors, tackle insecurity, improve agriculture and create conducive environment for the private sector to create jobs for people of the state.
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ahamba, simply asked the new administration to rebuild the civil service, which he said was completely messed up by Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the immediate past governor.
“What I am expecting from him to do is too much, but of utmost importance is for him to follow due process and obey the rule of law and court judgments,” Ahamba said.
Mathew Onyeukwu, an indigene of Owerri West Local Government Area tasked Ihedioha to retrieve all landed property illegally acquired by the immediate past government and its key officials.
Another indigene, Ugochukwu Oguamanam, demanded that the Ekeukwu market be rebuilt on its original location.
Adamawa State had at various times borne the pain of the insurgency in the Northeast. That is why Ismaila Numan, who headed the Adamawa Transition Committee, expectedly expressed worries about the security situation.
“It is gratifying that the governor has already said he would accord priority to security issue for obvious reasons and one being that it affects his own community. The government should also extend further support to all security services, as well as vigilance groups and hunters, who have been screened by appropriate security agencies and adjudged to be driven by patriotic zeal, and provide them logistics in the fight against all types of insurgencies.
“Adamawa hospital in Adamawa has been in a deplorable state. Facilities across the state, which are currently in state of disrepair should be revived; communities should be encouraged to participate in the maintenance of the assets, hospitals in their respective domains while free drugs should be provided for under-aged children and pregnant women.
“The governor should also increase funding in agriculture and efforts should also be geared towards increased funding of government agencies. The state of both teaching facilities and welfare of teachers equally call for declaration of emergency in the educational sector. It is worrisome that there are substantial numbers of unqualified teachers who really go to work without having anything to offer.”
Joshua Abu, a technocrat and a public affairs analyst advising the new governor said: “It is honest advice that the governor should appoint people of proven diligence, integrity, zeal and commitment. People who will not be afraid to tell him the truth at all times and to help in midwifing his lofty ideals.”
Also the outgoing Vice Chancellor of the Modibbo Adama University, Prof Kyari Mohammed, would want the governor to run an inclusive administration, where every ethnic group would have a sense of belonging.
“It should be a people-centred government and not a government run by some power brokers,” Mohammed said, adding that “the governor should also help Adamawa by building institutions not individuals, because a successful government builds institutions that outlive and survive beyond the periodic change in government.”
The euphoria of Dapo Abiodun assuming the governorship of Ogun State has been replaced by reality of the expectations of the people.
For Bisola Adeniran, a student of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, the major desire is to see the new government find solution to the impasse which arose from the change of the polytechnic to a university of science and technology by the Ibikunle Amosun administration.
According to her, the polytechnic, which was one of the best run in the country, was thrown into crisis, with both the students and staff left in limbo.
“Payment of subventions to state-owned tertiary institutions, halted by the past government, should be revived by the new administration,” Adeniran said.
Akinola Adeoye, a civil contractor, advocated that the government should patronise local contractors in order to stop capital flight from the state, stressing that this would stimulate local economy.
He noted that total reliance by the immediate past government on Chinese and other foreign contractors did severe damage to the local economy and greatly affected contractors in the state.
In the view of Mrs Awoyemi Adekemi, a boutique operator at Omida Mall, Abiodun should continue where Amosun stopped. She explained that government is a continuum, hence the new governor should not abandon the projects, particularly roads, started by the last government.
However, Adekemi listed education, health, youth empowerment and security as major areas Abiodun should focus on.
The huge crowd that converged on the Ramat Square in Maiduguri, Borno State capital venue of the inauguration of Prof Babagana Umara Zulum as the Seventh Governor of the 43-year-old state on May 29 underscored the equally huge expectations of the people.
Though the new governor enumerated several things he would do, a very senior civil servant in the state told Sunday Sun on condition of anonymity for fear of persecution: “Let him keep to his words. We will be glad if he pursues even seven out of the 10-point agenda and do them well. The former governor made similar promises in 2011 and 2015, but everybody in Borno knows he didn’t keep to his promises. This is the problem of our leaders in this country.”
Samuel Orahii, a humanitarian aid worker, urged the new governor to focus more on job creation rather than embarking on projects.
“The new government should create more jobs because much of the security challenge we have here and in Nigeria is due largely to unemployment. When people have means of livelihood, their attentions will be diverted from violence or other criminal acts to more productive areas,” he said.
Another resident, Ibrahim Mshelizza, said that the governor should ensure equity and fairness in the execution of projects and appointments. “There should be justice in citing projects across all senatorial areas. Equal opportunity should be given so as to recruit competent hands in the civil service rather than allowing mediocrities take public position which could lead to disaster. Appointment in the civil service should be on merit not to meet quota system. Qualified people should be given responsibility not on the basis of their local government of origin, religion or other sentiments.”
The Senator representing Borno South in the Senate, Ali Ndume, advised the governor to have a master plan for his four-year tenure. “Government should not be run on ad hoc basis. The first thing is that he should have a master plan, a blue print and follow it religiously,” he counseled.
He also advised the governor to focus on security, food production and improve on food distribution to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), primary health care facilities, education and payment of gratuities and pension to retirees.
*TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK