Some governors recently unveiled their achievements in their first three months in office. TAIWO AMODU examines the claims and counter-claims trailing the landmarks of the first-term governors.
IN the last two weeks, the traditional and social media have been awash with news of ‘giant strides’ or achievements of governors in their first tenure in office. Across the geopolitical zones, some of the chief executives of states were seen showcasing what they had been able to do in the last three months.
In a polity where people are used to appraising governors in their first year in office, stock-taking in the first 100 days was dismissed in certain quarters as misplaced priority, an aberration.
Conscious of the reactions that could trail such internal auditing of their stewardship in the last three months, some of the governors refrained from the fanfare, while sharing their achievements with the electorate.
In Ogun State, Governor Dapo Abiodun offered a hint of his motive, as he said it would not be an indulgence in self-glorification, but to engage his people and renegotiate their minds on his vision for the state.
He said: “I don’t know whether our administration will be marking a milestone. I think what we believe in is sharing with you what we have been able to achieve in 100 days and those things are the foundation of our vision.
“As we have shared with you during the campaign, we have laid the foundation of all those things. You have started seeing them, like the roads we are constructing, the Information Communication Technology (ICT), the Tech-up and so on. They will be unveiled to you in the next few days.”
His Oyo State, counterpart, Mr Seyi Makinde, in his speech on the occasion, said the stock-taking became imperative to convince the electorate in the Pacesetter’s State of his fidelity to his campaign promises.
“Hope is a great value to have. But hope is about things you have not seen and, as one writer said, ‘hope is better served as breakfast.’ When promises are made, it is so that people may believe something good will come in the future. So, campaign season is always a period of making promises, of feeding hope. But as our people say, ‘dry smoked fish is delicious, but what is one to eat before the fish is smoked?’
“Yes, it is good to have hope, but it is better to see promises fulfilled. I have chosen to document our accomplishments, not because I intend to boast. Rather, I am going on record so the good people of my state can place my campaign promises alongside my actions. And so, they can reference the documentation and judge for themselves whether they are true or not. While at the same time, answering the all-important question, they must keep asking at regular intervals over the next four years: Did we make the right choice?” he submitted.
Sunday Tribune checks revealed that some of the governors actually focused on critical sectors abandoned by their immediate predecessors in office to inspire public confidence in their people: To show that their assumption of office was the birth of a new dawn in their respective states.
In Lagos State, for instance, the governor, Babatunde Sanwo-Olu, has been trying to walk his talks in ensuring a cleaner Lagos and rid the state of the filth that was almost becoming the past-time in the ‘Centre of Excellence,’ as a result of the logjam over sanitation contract.
As part of activities marking his first 100 days, the governor inaugurated the Olusosun Dumpsite Building to rid Lagos of the heaps of refuse that have dented its image, while simultaneously creating jobs in the subsector.
His Oyo State counterpart believes welfare of workers, concern for pensioners and education of their kith and kin are paramount. Besides the prompt payment of workers’ salaries and payment of gratuity to about 1,000 teachers who retired between 2010 and 2012, the governor cancelled the N3,000 school fees for senior secondary school students, to encourage the enrolment of some of the 400,000 out-of-school children in Oyo State. He equally abolished the examination fees from primary school to junior secondary school, a development that has led to an unprecedented turnout of pupils to write the entrance examinations. The government has also announced its plan to begin to return a total of N28 million to parents who paid for entrance forms for secondary schools and technical colleges in the state, among others.
In Ogun State, “the last 100 days,” according to the governor’s media aide, Kunle Somorin, “have also been of strategic interactive sessions with stakeholders in the seven critical areas of Prince Abiodun’s governance, i.e. security, healthcare, rural development, agriculture, human capital and workers’ welfare, infrastructure and technology.
“Whether it is meeting farmers, security personnel, civil servants, union leaders, healthcare workers, business leaders or international development partners, Prince Abiodun has unequivocally and constantly affirmed that his ultimate goal is the growth and development of Ogun State and its people.”
In the North-Central state of Kwara, riding on the crest of the Oto ge (enough is enough) slogan, the public outcry which summed up the depth of denunciation of Senator Bukola Saraki’s alleged vice grip on the state, the beneficiary of the ‘revolution,’ Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has since hit the ground running. To convince the people of Kwara State of a paradigm shift in public spending, his inauguration was reportedly low key, as he told the All Progressives Congress (APC) faithful that «Kwara doesn›t have the resources to waste.”
According to information released to the public by the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to governor AbdulRazaq, Rafiu Ajakaye, his boss has taken concrete measures to restore water supply to the state, as well as restore the people’s confidence in public schools and its health sector. State-owned institutions, which were moribund, have since been revived.«Within 100 days, Radio Kwara is back on air. Kwara Television is back to our screens. The Herald is back on the newsstands. Water is now running in most parts of Ilorin, including at the General Hospital. The rehabilitation and upgrade of the state’s four major water works in Ilorin, Lafiagi, Patigi, and Igbaja are over 95 per cent completed.
“Four hundred boreholes are also being rehabilitated across the state, to further ease water crisis. No more water tankers.
“Colleges of education are back to work, with prompt payment of staff salaries and arrears owed by the last administration. And we are engaging in re-accreditation of their courses. With prompt payment of the N450 million debt, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) has readmitted Kwara from its pariah status. The Kwara State School of Nursing and Midwifery has now been reaccredited,” he added.
Opposition parties kick
Opposition parties have, however, squealed against the claims of some of the governors in their 100 days in office.
In Lagos State, the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dismissed Governor Sanwo-Olu’s 100 days as “very bizarre and unfortunate record breaking that has taken Lagos 20 years backward.”
The Lagos PDP Publicity Secretary, Mr Taofeek Gani, said there was nothing on ground to address the traffic gridlock and waste management in the state.
«In a few days, our children will be resuming school. No rehabilitation has taken place in the schools. Everything is in shambles.
“The governor is not prepared for governance. He is expending his energy on the probe of his predecessor, Akinwumi Ambode. We are disappointed,” he told journalists.
Chairman of the National Conscience Party, (NCP) in Lagos State, Mr Fatai Ibuowo, equally claimed that «nothing has been seen in the governor’s 100 days in office.»
Ibuowo said that there was no effort by the present government to address the issue of unemployment and infrastructural development in the state.
“We are expecting Sanwo-Olu to do more in the area of education. Lagos needs another university. As a party, we can still give the governor more time to prove himself. We have sent him a blueprint on how we think Lagos should be governed,” he said.
In Kwara, the disaffection seems to be within the ruling party. The electorate and party faithful are confounded that the governor is yet to unveil his cabinet. In a state where party patronage gives all a sense of belonging in governance, top chieftains of the ruling APC are bemused and already getting agitated.
A chieftain of the party who spoke with Sunday Tribune in confidence expressed concern that Governor AbdulRazaq’s popularity could be short lived, as he noted that the governor lacked a coherent blueprint to administer Kwara State.
He said: “That AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq had merely engaged on cheap populism, as if he was still campaigning for election. Up till now, there is no indication of what his priorities could be.
“His manifesto is rich in promises; but so far, he has not demonstrated that the manifesto is going to be anything more than a campaign document. Up till now, he has neither constituted a cabinet nor announced any articulate policy. He prefers sporadic actions that could make his predecessors look bad, while alienating his own party men. It is too early to conclude, though. But if the last 100 days is anything to go by, it is going to be a long four years for him and Kwara people.”
National chairman, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Gani Galadima, however, defended the celebration of first 100 days by the governors. He told Sunday Tribune that the first three months was enough for the people to praise or condemn their leaders, as it offers an illumination of what the chief executive of a state could do in terms of performance.
“I see nothing wrong with that. In my place, we say Friday that will be better, you know from Thursday. What I am saying is that a governor that will perform in one year, you know in 100 days. Go to Kwara and see the transformation going on. Go to Oyo State where Governor Makinde is doing wonders.
“It is the new set of governors that have made us realise that you can pay salaries of your workers as and when due. So, 100 days is a good sign in the life of an administration. Look at what is happening in Zamfara State, the proactive measures to check banditry. You can recall that the immediate-past governor, AbdulAziz Yari, threatened to relocate to Abuja. But the people are gradually enjoying relief now. So, I support the celebration of 100 days,” he said.
He, however, called on governors like AbdulRazaq of Kwara State to hasten the process of composition of their cabinets.