Opposition parties, residents condemn North absentee governors


There is a sustained and worsening public outcry from several residents and stakeholders in the north over the absence of their elected governors who rather than sit in their various states prefer to govern the people from Abuja and other parts of the world, Arewa PUNCH reports.

The Gombe State helmsman, Mohammed  Inuwa Yahaya who doubles as the Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, and his Kwara State counterpart and Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, AbdulRahaman AbdulRazaq have been fingered as the worst culprits in this category of absentee governors.

Apart from the two, other governors also identified as being always absent from their domain are Kogi, Sokoto, and Zamfara state governors.

This development, Arewa PUNCH investigations reveal, has attracted the hue and cry of their citizens and residents who say it negates the principle of good governance.

According to the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress during the 2023 poll in Gombe State, Nafiu Bala, the continued absence of state governors is no doubt impacting negatively on good governance.

Bala faulted a situation whereby the governor spends most of his time in Abuja, Dubai, Turkey, and other parts of the world and from where he governs the citizens of the state “who elected him to office.”

He argued that the development is completely at variance with the constitutional provision that governors as Chief Security Officers must not stay outside their states for more than two weeks.

“It affects good governance because the governor has a statutory duty to sit and ensure lives and property are secured and protected. He is not expected to stay outside for more than two weeks because he is the Chief Security Officer of his state.

“The critical insecurity situation in the country is another reason why governors should stay more in their states,” he declared.

The governorship hopeful further decried the inability of the affected governors to transmit power to their deputies as legally required by the law for the sustained governance of their states.

“Most annoying is that these governors, including the Gombe State governor, don’t hand over to their deputy governors. Since Governor Inuwa Yahaya resumed, he had never anointed his deputy to take office as acting governor. This is wrong,” Bala stressed.

Also speaking with Arewa PUNCH, a social critic and an advocate of good governance and best leadership practices, Cliff Stanley, said Governor Yahaya’s repeated absence from the state in the name of “Abuja politics” has robbed the state of the much-needed good governance.

“Gov Yahaya’s emergence as the Northern States Governors’ Forum’s  Chairman has made him concentrate more in Abuja politics to the detriment of governance in the state. Most times,  he is not even in the state, and the  Secretary to the State Government would always stand in for him at very important state functions and critical moments requiring his attention.

“So bad is the situation that most people in the state are now of the opinion that Abuja is his primary abode. Compare this is flight of fancy to his first tenure as the state governor, and you will know that the people are being shortchanged,” he said.

On his part, the Global Pan-Africanism Network North East Regional Coordinator, Musa Maishanu, who is also the National Director of GPAN Security and Intelligence Nigeria Chapter, said the governor’s continued absence is impedinńg good governance, thus, describing the situation as “unfortunate.”

There was no official response from the governor’s quarters as repeated voice calls initiated into the  Director-General, Press Affairs Gombe Government House, Ismaila Misilli’s phone rang out with no response just as the text message forwarded to his mobile telephone as of the time of filing this report had yet to be responded to.

Also, in Kwara State, opposition parties admonished the Governor, Malam AbdulRahaman AbdulRazaq, to spend more time in Ilorin, the state capital, and ensure that the residents get the dividends of democracy.

The opposition parties informed Arewa PUNCH that since the emergence of the state governor as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, he hardly settles down to preside over the state again.

First to throw the salvo is the Kwara State Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, Alhaji Babatunde Mohammed, who knocked the governor over his incessant absence from the state.

Mohammed said, “Since the governor took up the mantle of leadership of NGF, he hardly comes to the state to either oversee projects or spend time with the people,” he said, adding “the continued absence of Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq led to the illegal conversion of security vehicles procured to enhance local security into private use by the impostors he put in charge of our local government areas as the Transition Implentation Committee chairpersons.

“It should be noted that none of the vehicles have been put into any serious use by the security agents it was meant to serve, as the TIC chairmen still cruise in them as though they are their official cars.’’

He added, “We are calling on Governor Abdulrazaq to return to Kwara fully and face the business of governance which he swore an oath of office to. The governor should draw an example from the leader of the PDP, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who was also a former NGF chairman but did not only stay in Kwara to run an efficient and people oriented government, but he also turned Kwara into a tourist attraction for other governors in Nigeria who thronged the state daily to learn from Saraki’s transformative prowess in the state.”

The National Publicity Secretary of the Nigeria National People’s Party, Mallam AbdulSalam AbdulRazaq, who noted that the residents did not only need the much-mouthed and hyped change mantra insisted that they also needed a total transformation.

He urged the governor whom he accused of not spending quality time in the state since he became the chairman of the NGF to attend more to his job of governing the state instead of junketing across the country.

He added that the governor’s appointment of inexperience technocrats into his cabinet had further exposed his absence from the state.

“If the governor has good hands in key positions in government and he gives them the free hands to operate, no matter how long he stays away from the state, his administration won’t suffer and people won’t know for how long he has been away from the state,” the NNPP spokesman observed.

Although AbdulRazaq hailed the governor for closing the gap in gender equality by giving more appointments to women, however, he noted that most of the women and the youth appointed into the cabinet, and other key areas in government are without the requisite experience in government business.

As a result, he admonished him to always appoint experienced people into key positions in the government,  “so that no matter how long he stays away from the state, his administration won’t suffer if he gives them the free hand to operate.”

On his part, the state chairman of the Labour Party, Chief Kehinde Rotimi while acknowledging the dual position of the governor, defended that, “as the chairman of the NGF, he does not only govern Kwara State but the entire 36 states.”

Nonetheless, he urged the Kwara State Governor to create a balance such that the state would not suffer, even as

he hailed him over some achievements which included prompt payment of salaries to the state workers and the implementation of the minimum wage of N30,000 which he described as a big departure from the past administration which was paying salary of workers in percentage.

The State Commissioner for Communications, Mrs Bolanle Olukoju, while defending the governor, told  Arewa PUNCH that the additional responsibility of the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum given to Governor AbdulRazaq hasn’t in any way affected his performance as the governor of the state.

According to her, the NGF chairman appointment has been a worthwhile thing to the governor, who has always been in the state to perform his role as the governor.

“In fact, His Excellency, governor AbdulRazaq has always been in the state to perform his role as the governor. He is presently at home, and he visited the State General Hospital to inspect some projects on Monday. He was also with the Traders at Oja Oba, where he met the women. The additional role as chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum is a worthwhile appointment in which he has been functioning effectively,” the Commissioner declared.

Residents of Sokoto State too urged the state governor, Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto, to “spend more time with his people at home,”instead of spending more days outside the state.

They decried a repeat of the previous administration of Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who was accused of spending more time in Abuja than in the state.

Mallam Bala Bello, a resident of the state while speaking with our correspondent, described the previous administration of Tambuwal as not too good for the state.

“I am sure you are aware of the Tambuwal tenure in the state when he spent more of his time outside the state than in the state.

“Tambuwal was the worst in the history of the state in terms of governors staying at home.

“He hardly stayed a week in the state without travelling either to Abuja or other parts of the country attending one function or the other in the name of national politics.

“The most annoying part was when he travelled to Imo State during the yam festival. Can you imagine our governor paid a whopping N50 million to buy two tubers of yam.

“That was the same year all available data indicated that Sokoto State was the poorest in the country in terms of poverty, rate of out of school children, and other negative indices one could think of,” Bello reminded.

He appealed to the incumbent governor to halt his frequent trips outside the state and focus more on the job at home.

Continuing, he declared, “We voted for this administration in order to have a change on how things are done here in Sokoto by staying more at home rather than always being on the move from one place to the other searching for what is not lost.

“Things must change, and it should be quick. After all, we once had a governor in the state who rarely travels, even to Abuja, not to talk of abroad.

“We have to do everything humanly possible to appeal to Mr Governor to spend more time at home and face the work he was voted to do.”

Another resident, Bello Nasiru, who spoke on the development, also condemned the attitude of governors in the region over their flights of fancy, stressing that the situation is not too good for the development of the state in terms of infrastructure among others.

“Sokoto State has not been lucky in terms of being blessed with excellent governors, especially after the exit of Aliyu Wamakko. Our governors hardly stay at home for one week. Rather, you see them jumping from one flight to the next available flight, searching for what is not lost.

“We voted for this governor to correct the previous one, but all are the same. It was in the beginning of his administration that he stayed at home, not in recent times, that he has always been moving up and down.

“We need him more at home than before. Things need to change if we want to have rapid and quality development in the state like our peers across the country.”

Efforts to speak with a former special adviser to Tambuwal on SDGs, Mallam Kabiru Aliyu, was not successful as he neither pick his call nor replied to the text message sent to him as at the time of filling this report.

Further checks by our correapondent in Gusau, Zamfara State capital indicated that the state governor, Dr.  Dauda Lawal hardly spends a week in the state since his inauguration in May 29.

The development, it was gathered, is becoming worrisome to the residents as

“they are expecting much from the Governor who had during his electioneering campaign promised to rescue the state from total disintegration.”

The situation has also led to public outcry and complaints, especially by the opposition who say they can not imagine that the governor whose state is under the control of bandits, terrorists and is ravaged by insecurity challenges would still be traveling out of state, leaving the residents to their fate.

A chieftain of the opposition All Progessives Congress in the state, Kabiru Shehu, berated the Lawal for “abandoning his primary responsibility of presiding over the state and traveling out at all times in order to attend his private businesses.”

He said, “we are tired of this absentee governor who is always out of the state just for his business activities living behind his hired consultant friends to manage the affairs of the state.

“He should stay in the state and stop wasting our resources fueling his vehicles and using our resources for his personal trips both within and outside the country.

“Since he came to power, Governor Dauda never stayed for a week in the state. The security situation is always worsening by the day because of his persistent absence,” he insisted.

Rising in defence of his principal, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Dauda on Broadcast Media and Press Affairs, Mustafa Jafaru said, the governor’s frequent trips outside Zamfara were for the benefit of the state.

Jafaru disclosed that the governor has been going out of the state with his cap in hand,  seeking assistance to develop the state because he met the treasury empty.

“You see, when he (Dauda Lawal) took over the mantle of leadership, he inherited an empty treasury with a lot of debts.

“So how can he rule the state with an empty treasury.

“As a political scientist and a banker, he decided to go and meet people who can donate to the state for developmental projects to take palace.

“As I am talking to you now, the Governor has been able to convince many people including international donour agencies who have promised to give helping hands and very soon, people will see changes,” he assured.

In Kogi State, the story is different as our correapondent learnt that the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, is more at home in Lokoja “compared to before now.”

Our correspondent observed that, the governor who before now had been running the affairs of the state from Abuja has of recent been more at home helping his party, the All Progressives Congress candidate, Alhaji Ahmed Usman Ododo effectively prosecute his  campaign strategies so that the ruling party can maintain its dominance in the state.

According to the Arewa PUNCH findings, since Bello lost the APC presidential ticket, which led to the emergence of President Bola Tinubu, the governor has been more visible in Lokoja.

He has equally been visible at most state functions, unlike when he used to  delegate his duties to his Deputy Governor, Edward Onoja, who stood in for him most times in the past.


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