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Friday, June 21, 2024

State governors are the real problem of Nigerian democracy

State governors are the real problem of Nigerian democracy

By Dominic Kidzu

The Fourth Republic is already in ruins. What is left is the debris from the fall of the ancient empire. And the state governors are the suitable undertakers.

Having plundered and killed the republic, they should feel no scruples about burying the carcass. The carcass is their trophy. The suffering citizens are their emblem, the grand imprimatur of their reign. Life and death are theirs to give or take. They are the new gods, stealing, killing, coverting. They are the inscrutable ogre before whom the people tremble in obeisance and in fear.

Every governor is the King of Abyssinia with the single ambition of becoming the richest man in Babylon. They sit in regal majesty on Mount Olympus, dispensing from the patrimony of the people according to their whims and caprices.

If the appetite takes them, they give you an appointment or a contract. Otherwise, they are pretty comfortable with allowing you to wander in obloquy, while members of their families run the state at will. To know the governor or a member of his family is great advantage, to know none is to stand and stare in misery.

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They use poverty as a form of political control. The poorer the people, the more likely they are compelled to sing and dance and kneel at the celestial glory of the sovereign who does no wrong.

Every single project is magnified as the greatest, ever. He knows the truth, but what the heck! The wealth of the state belongs to the Governor and his family. Account books are crooked in earthen pots on the firewood hearth.

Huge properties are openly and hurriedly developed or bought in the full glare of the starving populace, behemoths dedicated to the atavistic gods of sudden power and money without end. And the suffering people have lost their reason as you hear them whispering “na him time abeg, make him chop.” You see, they know.

The state as a subregion was envisioned to synthesize development in the broad spectrum of its region as both a political unit and an economic bloc within the federal republic. But most of the governors have mostly concentrated on the state capitals and neglected local government areas in both physical infrastructure and economic development.

The third-tire which is the closest to the people and therefore most critical in their development has been unconditionally seized by the governors who have consistently taken their funds with surprising impunity giving them nothing in return. They are happier when there are no elected chairmen, because the civil servants are mighty malleable and simple thieves anyway.

Governors in Nigeria are stealing the states blind. They are not developing the economy or developing creative and unique revenue options outside simply collecting allocation from Abuja every 30 days.The Joint Account Allocation Committees (JAAC) in the states are a great constitutional travesty. It is in those monthly meetings that the local government as a tier of government is murdered. Once salaries are removed and the chairmen are given a little something under the table, the governors grab the rest in a monthly heist that is simply disgusting.

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Stephen King once said that “monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes they win”. The governors have won, the Fourth republic is theirs. Yet these are people who looked good and smelt nice before swearing in, but transform to Gorgo Medusa, the very next day and are no longer recognisable.

Abraham Lincoln also warned that “nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”. The so-called politicians in the states are willing slaves. They are suffering and smiling, some are actually clapping.

Even though Albert Camus had warned that “Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear”. Have you ever wondered why state governors find mediocres attractive? It is because they resent a second opinion, or a brilliant head with other ideas. They can’t stand another bright bulb in the chandelier. There can only be one chair in the room they occupy.

Everyone knows that Agriculture is the next big thing in Nigeria. All the governors know this and mouth it. But none will put 200 willing farmers in business by giving them seed grant of 20 million Naira each. That is a mere N4billion.

Such a scheme will enable massive food production, give people work and create self-sustaining entrepreneurs in their states. But they won’t do that. Four billion is too much, yet this is the kind of money they themselves grab on a not so good day. No governor has created  500 independent millionaires in their eight years. And it doesn’t take a whole lot to do so. Their real interest is themselves. They rather prefer to have both young and grown men on a flagpole, sharing food palliatives to them as if they are crippled or the state is at war. We have all been made cripples anyway, a shameful legacy of this Fourth republic. There is no genuine attempt to develop the people, either in business, innovation or agriculture.

Cultivating just 10 hectares by each of these 200 people suggested above amounts to 2,000 hectares of cocoa, oil palms, cassava, yams, rice, beans, milet, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, et al. Repeat this investment in each of the eight years of the two-term and you are likely to have created about 800 millionaires in one state. That is massive! This is how prosperity is created by a thinking leader who desires to leave a legacy behind. Legacies are made of people too, not only cement, stones and sand. The greatest legacy of all is how a leader was able to transform his people from poverty to prosperity, from being dependent to becoming self-sustaining. Refer to Lee Quan Yew.

The removal of petroleum subsidy has ushered in tremendous amounts of revenue to the states, but the governors won’t tell you that. They prefer to continue to behave as if nothing new has happened. Winning about paucity of funds, debt profile, wage bills, and just about anything. If the governors can put their heads down to work and suspend their own self- enrichment for just one year the impact on the citizens would be massive.

Nigerians blame and pilory the federal government on a daily basis, perhaps they don’t know that there is enough in their home states for everyone ready to work and prosper. Most states are now receiving three times what their predecessors got as allocation and their IGR is growing in leaps and bounds, but the people are not feeling the impact in any way. Same complaining, same exotic lifestyles, globetrotting, long motorcades and properties on land and sea. while the people are left holding the can.

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State governors have been too greedy, too selfish and overly criminal minded. They have shown neither love nor commitment to the genuine development of the states, and a bewildering lack of ideas in taking their citizens out of starvation and inevitable servitude. They have destroyed the local government tier and rendered the federal system inoperable in their preference for electoral monarchy which creates a new king every eight years.

I am at pains to find something positive to say about the contribution of state governors to the development of their people or this democracy. Regrettably, I am unable to find one thing to defend their crass performance politically, economically or morally.

Kidzu writes from Calabar

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