As some governors resume offices with promises of probing and reviewing the actions of their predecessors in office, some Nigerians express concern that this may be counter-productive
In the run-up to his election as the fourth democratically elected governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun had promised free education from primary to secondary school levels and free health care services for the young, pregnant women and the aged.
But by the time he was sworn in on Sunday, May 29, the governor’s first act in office was to rename the state-owned stadium complex located in the Kuto area of Abeokuta, Ogun State. The 33,000 capacity sporting complex was initially named MKO Abiola Stadium but renamed Gateway Stadium by the immediate past administration of Gbenga Daniel. Amosun has reverted to the old name. He also renamed the Ijebu-Ode Stadium after the late Dipo Dina, who was the Action Congress, AC governorship candidate in the state in the 2007 elections.
He did the same thing for the state-owned television and radio stations, which had hitherto been renamed Gateway television and radio respectively. Effective from the time of his swearing in, Amosun reverted the names of the two broadcasting institutions to Ogun State Television and Ogun State Radio respectively. This was apparently before the state House of Assembly could sit to consider such change of names.
By the time he was done with the change of names, Amosun continued by promising 10,000 jobs in his first 100 days in office as well as ensuring that the education sector gets 20 per cent of the state annual budget. Promises aside, the magazine learnt that the decision to revert names of the stadium and broadcasting stations was borne out of the desires of the new governor to distance his administration from that of his predecessor. In renaming the stadium and broadcasting stations, TELL learnt that Amosun was simply reacting to widely held belief that Daniel had named those public utilities ‘Gateway’ because he runs a non-governmental organisation called Gateway Foundation.
There are also indications that Amosun may be planning to probe his predecessor especially the manner Daniel handled the crisis that rocked the state House of Assembly in the twilight of his administration. A similar scenario is playing out in Ibadan, Oyo State. Shortly after he was declared winner of the 2011 governorship election in the state, Abiola Ajimobi stated that his administration would probe that of Adebayo Alao-Akala, the immediate past governor of the state. In the same vein, a transition committee set up by Ajimobi also complained that Alao-Akala was stonewalling by refusing to allow it access to certain documents that could have helped in determining the financial standing of the state government.
Beyond the probe and threats of probe, Ajimobi was sworn in on May 29 with a lot of funfair and merry-making. “This is not just a mere party celebration, it is a celebration of the dawn of a new era in the state. This is a celebration of successful transition because many Nigerians had earlier categorised the state as one of the most volatile states in the federation where hell might be let loose,” says Sharafadeen Alli, leading member of Ajimobi transition committee.
Aside from the parties, Oyo State indigenes and residents are looking forward to the fulfilment of electoral promises from their new governor. For instance, Gloria Adebayo, a civil servant wants Ajimobi administration to give more attention to the education sector. “Apart from the few secondary schools that are owned by the missionaries, the rest are nothing to write home about. I believe these are the challenges Senator Ajimobi should give priorities to. He must restore the glory of public schools,” Adebayo said.
If promises are anything to go by, then Adebayo needs not fret about Ajimobi’s chances of fixing Oyo State public schools. The Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, leader is certainly not short in promises. In his mission statement, Ajimobi listed areas where he intends to better the lot of Oyo State indigenes and residents to include infrastructure, education, health care delivery, agriculture, poverty alleviation, social welfare, sports, media welfare and food security.
But all of these can only be possible if Ajimobi is not distracted. As it is for Ajimobi so it is for Rochas Okorocha, the newly sworn-in governor of Imo State. In the course of the campaigns, the philanthropist-turned politician promised Imo State indigenes and residents, qualitative, free primary and secondary education. He also promised employment opportunities for the teeming population of young graduates who are unemployed in the state.
While Okorocha, Ajimobi and others may have a choice about choosing to dissipate energy on probes or not, Patrick Yakowa, Kaduna State governor may have been left with little or no choice. Less than a week after the federal government announced Ahmed Lemu, a notable Muslim cleric and jurist, as the head of a 22-member probe panel on the recent post-election crisis that rocked states in the North, the Kaduna State government also announced it was ready to set up its own probe panel to investigate the post-election violence in the state.
Saidu Adamu, the former commissioner for information and home affairs in the state, announced early last month that the state executive council had resolved to set up a judicial commission of enquiry of its own to fish out those behind the post-election crisis in the state with a view to prosecuting them.
The state government’s intention to probe the violence that followed the April presidential election was hardly surprising. Yakowa, who won the governorship election in the state, had been under attack by Hausa/Fulani Muslims in the state who accused him of supporting the alleged “ethnic cleansing” perpetrated by Christians against Muslims in Christian-dominated Southern Kaduna.
The Jama’at Nasirul Islam, JNI, headed by Abubakar Sa’ad, the Sultan of Sokoto, issued a press statement shortly after the election accusing Yakowa of supporting the killing of Hausa Muslims in Kafanchan, Zonkwa and other parts of southern Kaduna. The JNI alleged that while the state government declared curfew in the northern parts of the state in the wake of the post-election violence, the curfew was not effected in the southern parts, thereby allowing what it described as the “genocide” against Muslims.
Saleh Jema’a, secretary of the Southern Kaduna Muslim Community, also alleged that Christian youths armed with sophisticated guns surrounded Muslim communities in the southern parts killing and maiming. He said over 3,000 innocent Muslims were killed in the process while curfew was on in the northern parts of the state.
This claim has, however, been refuted by Southern Kaduna Christians. The Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, SOKAPU, headed by Ishaya Haruna, a professor, claimed the Hausa/Fulani Muslims were the aggressors and that Christians were also killed and churches burnt by the Muslims.
While Yakowa may have been left with no choice than to probe the past, his colleagues in Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta and Benue states are singing songs of reconciliation. For Godswill Akpabio, the Akwa Ibom State governor whose election is still being contested at the tribunals by John Akpanudoedehe, the ACN candidate in the governorship elections, it is time for reconciliation. Akpabio who had just been sworn in for a second term of office promised to work with the opposition and also ensure that his second term of office signify the final burial of ethnicity and hatred in the state.
Gabriel Suswam, his Benue State counterpart, is equally singing a similar song. Also a second term governor, Suswam obviously cannot embark on any probe. Rather, he promised to continue with developmental programmes in the state while also calling on Benue State indigenes both at home and in the Diaspora to join hands with his administration to move the state forward.
A similar scenario is playing out in Delta State where Emmanuel Uduaghan, a second term governor is also suing for peace and reconciliation. Speaking after his inauguration, Uduaghan said, “the time for partisan politics has passed. The time to unite and build the Delta State of our dream is now, a state where the future of our children born and unborn will be guaranteed.”
For Chibuike Amaechi, Rivers State governor who has come in for a second term, it is time to consolidate on the infrastructural developments of the first term and also make peace with Peter Odili, former governor of the state who he had severally described as “my former boss, my mentor and father.” In Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola who has been sworn in for a second term of office, simply told Lagosians to expect more infrastructural developments, job creation, security and safety of lives from his administration.
Perhaps if other governors spoiling for a probe can borrow a leaf from their Lagos and Rivers counterparts, then the states would witness more progress than probes in the coming years.
Additional report by TAJUDEEN SULEIMAN.