Victoria Ngozi Ikeano
Their Excellencies the (new) executive governors as most of them like to be addressed, are having their first full week in office this week, having been sworn-in last Wednesday which was midweek. Though Tuesdays and Wednesdays are public holidays, an elected governor really has no off days, his residence being an extension of his office as such; and receiving all manner of visitors is part of the duty of a public officer especially governors who should keep their doors open to their citizens because they were elected by all strata of the society. It is inelegant for a governor to ensconce himself in his porsche Government House built by taxpayers money, like an imperial majesty. They should never forget that they are supposed to be servants, not masters as most of them portray themselves.
Expectedly particularly for those governors that are taking over from out gone chief executives that are of opposing party or those with whom though of same party, they did not have a cordial relationship, they spent the first days touring some key places to see things for themselves, reversing appointments, contracts of their predecessors. Underlying such actions is distrust. Such was the case in Oyo and Ogun states, among others. In Imo state, Governor Emeka Ihedioha who reportedly said that the former governor did not release any money for his inaugural ceremony is yet to move into Government House.
His first actions included a tour of the Government House itself with pictures of dilapidation and vandalisation of both its offices and residential rooms like bedrooms splashed on social media. It is hard to believe that this was the same splendid structure where the former governor had addressed a crowd on its lawns, on the last day of his tenure. I refrain from blaming its former occupant personally for the ‘vandalisation’. Rather, I think it is the handiwork of miscreants. Perhaps if former governor Rochas Okoroocha had formally handed over the keys to his successor as happened in Nasarawa State, this bad public relations would not have occurred as the Government House would have been locked up and the keys in safe custody.
For Yobe state’s new governor, Alhaji Mai Mala Bunu, it was also bad public relations as news of his inauguration was overshadowed by his marriage to the daughter of his predecessor whom he wedded just 24 hours after he stepped into the exalted office. Apparently, Governor Bunu was not well advised on the timing of this action. Be it noted that there is a thin line between a governor/president’s private and public life, they all come under public scrutiny. So, although the governor may consider this a personal/private affair, the history books are recording that his first actions upon assuming office was to take a new wife. Zamfara’s new governor Bello Matawale literally walked from the courtroom to the Gusau Government House few days to inauguration day and so did not have the benefit of working with a transition committee or proper handing over from his predecessor because another person was readying to take over instead. Nevertheless, Matawale has already signed off his first project. Guess what it is, an airport. One of his first pronouncements upon mounting the saddle was reportedly to say that he would commence work immediately on construction of an airport for the state.
Zamfara is about the foremost state that is ravaged by banditry. One would have thought that one of his very first acts would be to visit some of the victims of these high wire criminal acts, people who had lost their dear relatives, houses and other properties, in hospitals or makeshift camps, to empathise with them and assure them of better days ahead. That would have been a massive public relations boost for him. Consider that in neighbouring Katsina, the returning governor, Aliyu Bello Masari had long ago declared that this year’s sallah celebration would not witness the traditional durbah festival as a mark of solidarity with those that had suffered in the hands of the criminal bandits while urging that prayers be offered during the Ramadan on the issue. As one keeps emphasising, peace is the plank on which every other thing is built. There can be no meaningful progress without peace, a very invaluable commodity which however, cannot be quantified in naira and kobo.
Borno’s Professor Babagana Zulum also new on the bloc, whose state is the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgents which has now been “degraded” to a large extent, paid an unscheduled visit to the state’s secretariat without informing beforehand his protocol team to insert it in his itinerary. The governor met just about one per cent of the 12,000 staff on their desks when he arrived at 8.30a.m. One should not expect to find a full house at that time given that many are fasting in this month of Ramadan. Still Governor Zulum said that is not enough excuse because workers have to show commitment to justify their salaries. Thus the new helmsman in Borno made it known from the outset that “there will be no food for a lazy man”.
One does not know what the schedules of his excellencies the executive governors are in this their first full week in office as I am writing this on Monday. However, it is interesting if not somewhat odd that the new Lagos governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu will on this first working day of the week, Monday, sign into law the 2019 Budget prepared and presented to the State House of Assembly by the outgone governor, Akinwunmi Ambode. Governor Sanwo-Olu and his team had no input into that budget. You could argue that government is a continuum and that the APC government in Lagos state has a master plan which its governors are mandated to follow. But why didn’t the former governor sign his own budget into law before vacating? Elections are over, new and old governors have taken over, all intrigues should therefore stop.
Ikeano writes via [email protected]