Art and Culture

Nigeria Governors’ as Counsellors

todayAugust 13, 2022

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As Nigeria continues to experiment with a burdensome federalism which in its many imperfections is as flawed as they come, the experience with the governors of the 35 states in Nigeria has been a difficult one.

  For many of them, within their states, they do whatever they feel like and get away with it, for who would question them? Is it the state legislatures they usually have under their heels or the state judiciaries they have increasingly been known to manipulate as they see fit to tighten their grip on power? When they manipulate the power structures within the states to relegate their local government system to the background in defiance of the constitution, it is because they are dictators within their states.

 For many of them, performance brings up the rear on the list of their priorities. They are usually more interested in remaining in the good graces of the government at the center. So, many of those that become governors on the platforms of opposition parties usually defect. In their defence, they say it is to attract benefits to the state.  Nigeria`s joke of a federalism would seem to lend some credence to this by giving too much power to the government at the center.

Aligning with the center has also been known to bring with it a wide range of benefits over time.  The recent release of two former governors jailed for stealing billions of naira from the coffers of their states when they were governors provides an example of the benefits camping with the center could bring.

  So, to instill fiscal discipline and prevent the nation from imminent economic collapse, State Governors in Nigeria recently advised the federal government to retire Civil Servants who are older than 50 years by offering them a one-off retirement package to exit the civil service.

 This proposal also included urging President Muhammadu Buhari to begin the implementation of the updated Stephen Orosanye Report, which recommended mergers and shutdown of agencies and parastatals with duplicated or contested functions as a way to address bureaucratic inefficiency and reduce the cost of governance.

 Expectedly, the backlash has been swift and cutting, especially from the labour unions in the country, and given the circumstances, the criticisms are well founded. Because dubiety is a national disease in Nigeria, the message has come to matter as much as the messenger.

 If the governors had a point in arguing that the cost of governance should be whittled down, the force of their argument was diminished by the fact that many of them  have done nothing to reduce the cost of governing their states by  abolishing many of the offices they have created in their states  serve as rewards for their thugs, cronies and concubines.

  For the governors, it is very much a case of kettle calling pot black. It is a known fact that many of them absolutely lack any form of fiscal discipline whatsoever. Under their indulgent watch, public funds are reduced to the expense accounts of their family members.

That two former members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum who stole their states blind between 1999-2007 recently walked away from Kuje prison four months after they received a dubious presidential pardon tells a sufficient tale in this wise.

Yet, they it is who would advise the federal government to pay off many hardworking civil servants. If their counsel is to be considered worthy of any credit whatsoever, they have to heed it first.

Kene Obiezu,

Twitter: @kenobiezu

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