For Governors, “Tomorrow” Never Comes, By Zainab Suleiman Okino

Before he got a respite via a high court order last week, ex-Governor Rochas Okoracha had become a political orphan of sort. Such was his waning influence that he had to revive his 1990s-2000s video clippings to be aired on television, in which he was presented as a caring philanthropist, sponsoring orphans and the indigent to school, and had to feed some at a public event to prove his proximity to the poor and vulnerable of the society.

In one of the clippings, Okorocha was seen wearing a punk hairstyle, to prove the time-tell-tales. Before then, he had been left high and dry after his questionable senatorial election victory, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s refusal to give him a certificate of return. (INEC is yet to heed the court judgment).

Whatever may be his motivation, I believe the ex-governor ordered the re-airing of the old documentary to prove something akin to the Okorocha we thought we knew, even as I do not trust the charity work of would-be politicians, because it almost leads inexorably to the fulfilment of their political ambitions. Within the transition period, Okorocha even organised and gave an award to President Muhammadu Buhari under the aegis of the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s Progressive Governors’ Forum; whatever that was meant to achieve. You see, governors are the most powerful set of politicians we have in Nigeria, such that they can squeeze, make and mar a president, and leaving office without anything to hold on to is unthinkable for them. The flurry of activities Okorocha has engaged in lately is obviously geared towards reviving his sagging reputation, as the loss of political relevance stared him in the face.

Even those who had successfully “arranged their next political destination as Senators-elect” are still nostalgic. At least that was what ex-Governor Umaru Tanko Almakura proved when, a few days to handing over, he wished he could have three more months in office. I dare ask what magic he would do in three months to transform his home State of Nassarawa that he could not do in eight years. “Because of the good intentions I have for this state, the eight years given to me was not enough; how I wish the governor-elect would borrow me three more months. If not because the Constitution would not permit, I would have begged the governor-elect to borrow me three months to finish something I have in mind for this State”, Al-Makura said.

Elsewhere in Yobe State, the newly sworn in governor, Mai Mala Buni, took the ex-Governor Ibrahim Gaidam’s daughter as a third wife. What a way to show gratitude to ex-boss Gaidam and godfather, in a fusion of the past and the present, to entrench a seamless family bond in Damaturu Government House.

Those who pass through Lafia, the State capital, should please confirm to us the Eldorado that the capital has become, at least, courtesy of Almakura’s leadership in eight years. In other climes, people in this kind of leadership position look forward to the end of their tenure in order to take their deserved rest, but ours work themselves to death, simply because of their self-interest.

While the ex- was asking for more at the twilight of his administration, the incoming governor, Mr. Abdullahi Sule had a more grandiose plan. He took a new wife from Katsina to mark his grand entry into Lafia government house. The new wife, according to reports, would serve as the first lady, perhaps because his first wife, now a grandmother, is no longer fit for that role. If this is not a misplaced priority, I wonder what else is. Trivialising governance, it appears, is the hallmark of their “excellencies the governors” of our 36 states. Elsewhere in Yobe State, the newly sworn in governor, Mai Mala Buni, took the ex-Governor Ibrahim Gaidam’s daughter as a third wife. What a way to show gratitude to ex-boss Gaidam and godfather, in a fusion of the past and the present, to entrench a seamless family bond in Damaturu Government House. Among Buni’s three wives, who will serve as the first lady? Your guess is as good as mine.

The antics of these governors, whether to impress or settle political scores are sometimes so illogical; they would abdicate the business of governance in pursuit of frivolities. Some probe, some fight the enemies within and without, while some go for the things of the flesh. From among these illogical issues comes the case of the governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha. The newly sworn in governor did not think of pushing out the policy thrust of his administration. Instead, he started with the deconstruction of everything Okorocha stood for. Recall that during Okorocha’s hey days as governor, he built monuments, one of which was the Akachi Tower, measuring over 40 feet. However, Governor Ihedioha was said to have ordered it demolished. Although, the governor appears to have retraced his steps (after a national outcry) and has even denied the demolition story, the thought of the monument being demolished is sickening and smacks of vendetta. Even if Okorocha was wrong to have embarked on building purposeless structures, it is equally wrong to demolish a structure that does not require food or water. As a matter of fact, it would amount to another waste of public funds to demolish it after the initial wastage. Ihedioha was not done. He has set up an eight-man committee to probe Okorocha’s tenure, just as he has complained that the former governor was such a bad loser, and never called to congratulate him. Probing a previous government is controversial and diversionary; it has never produced desired results. Why waste time on petty issues and lose focus?

Elsewhere in Zamfara State, the man who became governor by default, Governor Bello Mutawalle is trending. At least he has been up and doing, visiting areas affected by banditry. Good as this gesture is, he has also indicated his intention to make the Gusau Airport project a priority. Although, ex-Governor Abdulaziz Yari was said to have invested in the airport project without much to show for it, the new governor wants to complete it. The question is, does the State need an airport for considering its proximity to the nearby Sokoto Airport? The answer may be ‘yes’ and ‘no’. In the face of the security challenges facing the State, the governor surely wants to protect himself and Zamfara State officials from harm’s way involved in travelling by road. If governance is first about self-protection, Zamfara needs an airport. But is it a priority for a new government of circumstance that Mutawalle is or for a State ravaged by banditry and kidnapping? The answer is ‘no’, but the new governor has decided. No background work and no development related policy pronouncement yet.

For all you know, political marriages are not new in Nigeria; it is part of the game. Remember the Yar’Adua girls. When in office, President Umaru Yar’adua married off two of his daughters to the then Governors Dakingari and Yuguda of Kebbi and Bauchi States respectively, while General Babangida’s daughter was once married to the governor of Zamfara State, Mahmood Shinkafi. It is not a surprise that most of these marriages could not stand the test of time. They were in most cases built on quicksand, which collapsed with the passage of time.

Some of the weird things governors do, to say the least, is not even anticipated by the Constitution, except for its moral implication, thus it is neither justiciable nor enforceable. You would expect good conscience and logical reasoning to prevail in the scheme of things, but for our governors who rule the roost with high-handedness, it is as if tomorrow never comes.

Contact the writer: zainabsule@yahoo.com, http://www.zainabokino.blogspot.com; 08098209791, text only.

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