All is now set for the much-expected exchange of batons. With genuine anxiety, Nigerians can’t wait to see the inauguration of the Next Level administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to lead them out of the present economic doldrums with full assurances of safety of their lives and property. The same goes for the governors-elect who are expected to hit the ground running notwithstanding the booby traps, which many of them claimed have been laid on their ways by their predecessors. Either way, this handover ceremony is not likely to be the usual tea party. The dilemma is the enormity of the challenges before the new government at all levels and the scarcity and competitiveness of resources available to attend to them.
Depending on how the incoming governors handle the differences in the assets and liabilities inherited from their predecessors, a situation may likely arise in which all contracts and appointments made in the twilight of the outgoing administrations may ultimately be jettisioned or reversed. Indication to this effect has already emerged in most of the states where the incumbent governors have been accused of making last minute appointments with reckless spending. In Ogun State, for instance, Governor Ibikunle Amosun and his successor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, have been engaged in horse trading over some new appointments and contract deals.
This followed his recent elevation of some 18 directors to Permanent Secretaries and appointment of two General Managers for the state-owned media organisations. Along the new appointees, he also allegedly created a new agency named State Investment and Promotion Agency and constituted the governing council of a university that is yet to admit students. This is in addition to the alleged last minute recruitment into the state civil service, which is believed to be already over-bloated.
In doing all of this, Amosun appears to be walking the old path. At the inauguration of his first term in 2011, he had accused his predecessor, Gbenga Daniel, of allegedly lying booby traps for his incoming new administration with N50 billion debt burden, as well as sales of government property in the guise of concessioning, among others. Now, he is involved in the same controversy with Abiodun who has warned that the appointments may not stand.
Similarly, in Bauchi State, the governor-elect, Bala Muhammed, has raised the alarm over “the decision of the outgoing administration to recruit over 1,200 “unqualified persons” into the state civil service, the hurried creation of additional districts, villages and hamlets and the alleged appointment of the governor’s cronies to head them, describing them as “clear acts of sabotage.”
The governor-elect who spoke through the Head, Transition Media Team, Ladan Salihu, said: “In the last five days alone, the outgoing administration of Governor Mohammed Abubakar has employed over 1,200 unqualified individuals into the civil service and deployed them across state owned tertiary institutions and MDAs.
“Information available to us indicates that most of those employed were transferred from local government councils in order to circumvent laid down procedures of employment into the civil service.”
This is just as his counterpart in Adamawa, Alhaji Ahmadu Fintiri, has also cautioned the out-going Governor Mohammed Bindow’s administration against what he described as “last minute employment and award of bogus contract.”
Fintiri, in a statement issued in Yola by his media aide, Mr Solomon Kumangar, urged banks not to give “arbitrary loans” to the out-going government.
He charged Bindow to show statesmanship in his action by not making things difficult for the in-coming administration.
The statement read: “The governor-elect wants all unnecessary expenditure and last minute employment, not done in the past four years, halted forthwith.
“Similarly, all last minute awards of bogus contracts without following due process should stop.
“Adamawa belongs to all and any action to the contrary would not be condoned.
“Banking institutions are hereby cautioned against giving arbitrary loans or overdrafts at this time as this will be at their own risk.
“Civil servants who get involved in shoddy transactions, aiding and abetting fraud will have themselves to blame, if discovered.”
The governor-elect, therefore, urged the out-going administration to cooperate with the transition committee set up to oversee a smooth handing over come May 29.
The same scenario is also playing out in Oyo State where the Governor-elect, Seyi Makinde, has cautioned out-going Governor Abiola Ajimobi to halt the planned concessioning of Agodi Garden.
A statement signed on his behalf by Prince Dotun Oyelade, he said: “the plan of the outgoing administration to concession the Agodi Gardens and some landed property at Trans Amusement Park to a government insider will not materialise as it does not follow due process”.
He further alleged the plot by the outgoing government to mismanage the $610 million special intervention fund for the state, explaining that questionable N2.47 million special projects had been hurriedly released for each of the 33 local governments while similar amount was doled out to the Oyo State Road Maintenance Agency, OSTROMA for the same purpose, totalling N4,950,000,000.
According to him, the money was taken from the Excess Crude Account and released through the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
The statement added: “the hasty contracts being awarded at SUBEB has also caught the eyes of the public, likewise the many other last-minute hanky-panky going on”, adding that relevant anti-corruption agencies had been duly informed.
All these, he said, were aimed at crippling his incoming government, saying his team has been keeping track of activities on the state’s bank accounts and would take steps to correct all the anomalies.
The narrative is not different in Imo State where Governor Rochas Okorocha has been accused of turning the state upside-down since the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Emeka Ihedioa, was announced the winner of the March 9 governorship election in the state.
A statement issued by the state Chairman of the PDP, Charles Ezekwem, at a press conference accused the governor of withdrawing over N17 billion from different bank accounts belonging to the state government within two days, after Ihedioha was announced winner of the gubernatorial poll.
The party also alleged that the governor transferred and re-registered over 150 government vehicles to some individuals, majorly his aides and cronies.
He further accused Okorocha of moving government property, including furniture and electronics away from the Government House, Owerri, as well as all uninstalled transformers numbering about 300 in the Government House to his personal home in Ogboko in Ideato South. On the allegation of last minute appointments, the statement reads in part: “The incumbent governor also embarked on mass recruitment of workers with their letters of employment being backdated allegedly to cause problem for the incoming government.
“We are aware of the rampant issuance of Certificates Of Occupancy (C of O) to family members and friends of the Okorocha family. The party warns those involved that they do so at their own peril.
“These massive and fraudulent looting of Imo treasury is in addition to the previous looting of Paris Club refund, the bailout funds, and plunging the state into huge indebtedness.”
Accordingly, the party warned financial institutions against collaborating with the governor in the alleged continued looting of the state treasury, adding that all such institutions would be held accountable.
A statement issued by the governor-elect through his Media Aide, Chibuike Onyeukwu unequivocally warned: “Any bank or financial institution, which fails to heed this warning, does so at the risk of her future business relationship with the government of Imo State. You have been sufficiently warned.” Okorocha had also hurried announced the coming on stream in the state of four tertiary institutions with boards.
In Kwara State, despite the black-log of arrears of workers’ salary, the outgoing governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, has been accused of recruiting into the state teaching service commission and State Universal Primary Education Board (SUBEB) new members of staff.
Lagos State is not an exception, as governor Akinwumi Ambode refused to heed the note of caution passed on him by the state establishment not to rush some ongoing projects and thus playing hide and seek game with the incoming governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
A source close to the ruling All Progressives Congress told Sunday Sun that the recent commissioning of some projects by the governor when President Muhammadu Buhari visited the state was to spite the establishment.
The intrigues trailing the signing of the 2019 budget is already a familiar story. These are some of the issues that often account for trajectory of abandoned projects and policy summersault that retards the growth of the economy at all levels of government. The likely result is that many of the old policies initiated by the outgoing governments would be thrown overboard, even with the best of intentions while starting some new ones afresh. Whereas, it would have guaranteed sustainable development where everybody sees governance as a continuum.