Saraki, Okonjo-Iweala, others unveil blueprint for govs at NGF induction
New, returning and outgoing state governors were admonished, yesterday, on how to avoid pitfalls and boost the fortunes of their states.
This was at an induction programme, organised by Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The event featured several speakers, including former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; former Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu; his Gombe State counterpart, Ibrahim Dankwambo; Director General of the World Trade Organisation, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed.
Saraki, who urged outgoing governors to brace up for life after office, said: “When you are no longer governor, allow your successor to do their work. Go back to your family. I am sure your wives, children and grandchildren are counting the days. You are bracing up for a new phase of life, which is completely different. Spend more time with your families. Save your money for hampers and rams because they won’t come as usual.”
He also advised newly elected governors to start planning their exit from their first day in office.
Aliyu, on his part, called on incoming governors to prioritise people’s welfare, irrespective of political affiliations, saying: “Let’s work diligently, so that after our tenure, people will come back and say you did well. To have elected you, it means the people chose you as their servant. Every time, do what your conscience and the law say you should do.”
He warned of danger in personalising power at expense of the people. “At times, people will say, ‘this is our time’. Don’t make that mistake. A former governor who made that mistake is now walking on the streets,” Aliyu said.
He reminded: “That you are governors today does not mean you are the best. Some of us were not the brightest in class. Perhaps, we were in the last 10 in the class. So, don’t think because you are governors, you must impose your successor.
“Get something to do to augment your income. Don’t be the type that will always be at home. Be active and don’t allow your brain or physical body to go down.”
Dankwambo narrated how an unnamed former governor missed a flight to Benin City because he idled away at the departure lounge, sipping coffee, and waiting for aides to brief him of when the plane would take off.
He said: “You are retiring from work, not life. Avoid meddling in the affairs of your predecessors. As you get older, your health cannot be taken for granted. You have to bear with the pressure.”
He urged the incoming governors to “begin to prepare for retirement as soon as you are sworn in. Be prepared for visits of such institutions, like Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit who may ask some questions that need answers.”
OKONJO-IWEALA said a key task before governors is to put in place measures to attract Nigerians who had gone out of the country in frustration and search for greener pastures.
She noted: Businesses, like our tech startups, will struggle to thrive if we keep losing so many of our most skilled young people to emigration.
“Over 15,000 Nigerians emigrated to Canada in 2021, joining 19,000 who had moved there in the previous two years. Estimates for 2022 are 20,000. That is over 50,000 skilled Nigerians in the space of four years.
“In the first half of 2022 alone, the United Kingdom granted skilled worker visas to nearly 16,000 Nigerians. Thousands of Nigerian-trained medical doctors work in the United States. The most popular phrase in Nigeria now is, ‘I am going to Japa’.
“I am not telling people not to go, but what I am saying is, how many of these Japas can we afford?”
Mohammed noted that failure of governance has increased peoples’ resentment towards government.
She said: “When we fail to deliver for people on their rights and their futures, we erode their faith in power, in politics, in the state. And that results in a loss of trust, in resentment between generations and towards elites; and in greater tensions between groups, cultures, ethnicities and religions.”
Mohammed said the only way to build a more cohesive nation and a more harmonious world is to deliver “better services, better opportunities, better safety, better government and a healthier environment.”