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Governance, infrastructural development suffer setback as elections draw near

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Expectedly, every pre-general election year in Nigeria is always crowded with pre-election activities, ranging from party primaries, electioneering campaign to elections. This year is not different, as it has been observed that politicians and elective office holders have abandoned governance in pursuit of their 2019 political ambitions. This is the true situation across the country. Henceforth, governance, provisions of basic amenities and completion of capital projects have taken back seat.

Of adequate attention and concern for the politicians are political meetings, gatherings and schemings that will secure victory for them in the forthcoming elections. First term governors hardly sit down in their states to work these days, so also second term governors who want to go to the Senate in 2019. The language they hear now is politics and campaign at the expense of good governance and other pressing issues calling for their attention.

There has been arrangement for endorsements and counter-endorsements of political office seekers by different groups, who at the end of the day will be appreciated in cash or kind by the government.This is a period of bumper harvest for party faithful, especially those selected or elected as delegates for primary election. Aspirants woo them with huge cash to have their votes at the primaries. In all these, it is governance that suffers, while project execution receives less attention.

Roads Abandoned After Grading In Cross River, Governor Ayade Travels Less
From Anietie Akpan Calabar
With the activities for 2019 politics gather momentum, the level of governance, projects execution and other services have slowed down drastically in Cross River State. The state executive council meeting has not been regular but surprisingly, the governor Senator Ben Ayade still creates time to visit and inspect progress of work at the industrial park.
 
The rate of travel by the governor has also reduced drastically as he plots for his reelection in 2019. However, source close to the governor disclosed that memos and other correspondences have not been receiving required attention. “Most documents are left untreated except that of extreme importance.”Work has drastically slowed down at the industrial park, Obucheche-Obudu road, Tinapa-Odukpani dual carriage which after the initial grading have been abandoned, thereby posing great danger to motorists.
 
Apparently embarrassed by the level of dangerous potholes in Calabar, the governor last week called on members of the public to draw the attention of government to potholes as work has commenced to fix them.Former Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal impressed with the efforts of Ayade described him as a great achiever with the best ideas in governance.
 
The PDP presidential hopeful and Governor of Sokoto State stated that Governor Ayade has performed credibly well, despite the fact that the nation is facing the most trying times in terms of economic development.“We know that we are governing at very difficult times in the history of our country as governors of our respective states, but I must commend you for all your efforts to improve on the wellbeing of the citizenry, coupled with the various developmental strides you have recorded.”

Listing the various industrial interventions initiated by Ayade and the benefits, Tambuwal said: “The Rice seeds and seedlings factory will be a source of foreign exchange,” the garment factory with over 3000 employees is aimed at creating jobs,” even as the cocoa processing factory and banana farm will boost export and generate revenue for the state.”
Other projects he listed were, the power plant aimed at boosting industrialisation and making factories self reliant, the deep seaport which will reinvigorate export business and the superhighway which will serve as a corridor while linking the state to the rest of Nigeria.
 
Commenting on the National Assembly, former Leader of the 7th senate, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba said, “I was in the senate for three terms, out of these for two terms I was in leadership first as deputy leader and then as leader.  For two terms under the senate presidency of Senator David Mark, there was no scandal in that senate. There was no rancour that became public and at some point in the history of this country and those two senates, they had to provide stability for the country. Remember especially during the tenure of President Yar’Adua (may God bless his soul) when he was absent, we were on the precipice of a major constitutional crisis and it was the senate that held the balance.
 
“Historically, that is the role of the senate. The senate is not supposed to descend into the arena but hold the balance for the country when the country is in crisis. Yes the national assembly is an independent arm of government but it is still an arm of government and the three arms need to work in synergy with some cooperation for things to happen. I think that to move the nation forward, the legislature and executive must work out a system of promoting the interest of the nation so it’s a delicate balance. Let me say this, the presidential system of government is designed with conflicts inbuilt because without the conflicts you cannot trigger off the checks and balances so the answer is constant dialogue and finding ways round problems. So the difference I will make is to get the senate to appreciate its responsibilities and at the same time, know when to work with the executive to move the nation forward.”
 
He said, “I don’t want to be personal but I know for certain that where a leadership of either of the legislature is home grown that is generated from the members it is difficult to change that leadership. It’s easier to change the leadership that was foisted on the house externally. Secondly, the legislature in plenary is said to be a legislature on display, a legislature in committees is one at work and so the committees are where the work is done. Plenary is where one shows that maybe he can speak English but the real work is done in committees.
 
“But members of the legislature were sponsored to parliament by political parties and one of the reasons you had the stability you had in the eight years of David Mark as Senate President is that caucuses were very strong. Then PDP was in the majority and we used to have PDP caucus meeting twice a month in the senate leader’s house and the only person that did not attend was the senate president who was seen as neutral. So issues were trashed at that level so by the time you came to the floor, all the fears would have been dealt with and you had where you needed to take a partisan position and you had a party position on both sides of the isle. I think one of the weaknesses I have seen now is that the caucuses have ceased to function…So I think the caucuses will be the key in my view”.

Many Roads Are Inaccessible In Owerri As Government Blames Acid Rains
From Charles Ogugbuaja, Owerri
For sometime now, governance in Imo State has slowed down. The major political event that took place in August was the conduct of the local council election, which the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) won.Projects execution seemed to have been abandoned. The urban renewal programme, especially the expansion of roads in the capital city of Owerri such as Wethdral and Douglas Roads appears to have been stalled. Only politics of parties’ primaries are ongoing in the state now.

Road users in the various parts of the capital city are having hectic time driving around due to bad roads with potholes, even the newly constructed roads are not left out. Some persons have accused the state government of channeling funds into the politics. Others hold the view that perhaps the governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha had been waiting for another tranche of Paris Club refund to do something.
 
But statements from the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Sam Onwuemeodo, and Secretary to the State Government, Chief Mark Uchendu, urged the people of the state to bear with the government, attributing it to the delay in road construction to incessant rain. According to Uchendu, the governor had directed immediate emergency repairs of roads in two weeks. The two weeks had elapsed, but not much has been done. Many roads are still inaccessible.
 
Many building projects and other infrastructural projects have also either been suspended or at snail pace of execution. This is despite that the rains have slowed down.Speaking to The Guardian recently, a former two-time member of the Imo State House of Assembly, Mr. Oliver Enwerenem, blamed the state government for not fixing the roads after breaking down people’s properties for road expansion.
 
Enwerenem decried attributing “acidic rain” to bad roads in the state. To him, construction of quality roads and other public infrastructure would make such projects last longer and durable than what the people are witnessing.He cited the projects executed by a one-time governor of the old Imo State, Late Sam Mbakwe noting that they still exist after 40 years of execution.His words: “It is wrong for anyone to claim that acidic rain is destroying roads recently constructed. It is about constructing such projects strong enough with resources available. It is horrible to move from one point of Owerri to the other. The roads are terribly bad. You cannot compare the quality with what the late Sam Mbakwe constructed during his administration of old Imo State about 40 years ago.”

‘Adamawa Govt Has Failed In Providing Basic Amenities’
From Emmanuel Ande, Yola 
The immediate past director of finance in the ministry of local governments affairs and Peoples Democratic Party House of Representatives flag bearer for Michika/ Madagali federal constituency, Mr. Zakaria Nyampa Dauda is unhappy with state of affairs in the sate. He claimed that since Governor Muhammed Jibrilla Bindow took over the mantle of leadership, there is no single projects in his constituency executed by the state government.

The youthful Dauda said that the only projects in the area were executed by Victims Support Funds (VSF) under the leadership of Lt.Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd) pointing out that the present government did not consider the area for any meaningful projects, despite the fact that it was affected by insurgency. “The problem we are having in the state is not link to election campaigns. The question is if government cannot perform in three and a half years, what can such a government do in four months during campaign period. So, electioneering campaign is not the issue, the truth is that Bindow’s government lacks vision and focus,” he said.

“The two local governments mentioned have border with Cameroon Republic and the Sambisa Forest in Borno State where the Boko Haram are based. It is expected that Adamawa State government will give serious attention to this area, for security reason first and for the purpose of resettlement of the returned Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), but unfortunately, Bindow is not concerned or lack the capacity to act appropriately to arrest the situation,” he stated. 

Dauda said that there is no halt in government operations, because the Bindow’s administration has never been operating in the interest of Adamawa people. And there is no different between what he was doing in the past three years and now during the election campaign.According to him, the present administration did not inherit any outstanding salary from the past government, but wondered why workers are not paid despite the huge increase in federal allocation to the state.

He said that it is not possible for election campaigns to affect smooth operation of a state, because civil servants who are policy executors are always available to carry out the directives from top government officials. The House of Representatives candidate dismissed the idea that elections campaign can affect effective running of government activities, arguing that states like Lagos, Rivers, Kano, Sokoto and others are campaigning, but still government activities are not interjected or suspended like the situation in Adamawa.

Lagos Residents Decry Bad Roads, Potholes, Say Governance Has Nosedived
By Tobi Awodipe and Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
Despite an official directive from the Lagos State government to fix the bad roads in Lagos, two weeks after this directive, many major roads and inner roads are still very poor. The inner roads are even worse according to Lucy Temitope.“Lagos roads have been badly neglected and the more the rains fall, the more glaring this becomes. Almost all the roads we have been managing have been totally destroyed this rainy season. Unless the government has a plan to do the roads after the rains, it’s obvious the roads were abandoned because of the second term bid. He thought he would do this during his second term, but with the way the situation is right now, I don’t know if this would still happen.

“Roads under construction have also been abandoned, Ikorodu road, Badagry road and so on. Abandonment started during the rainy season but with this recent second bid issue, it’s obvious that the rains were not the cause of the abandoned roads. Most of the streetlights that were fixed some time ago no longer work and I personally have called them to complain; yet nothing has been done. There is a bad spot at Mile 12 that causes very terrible traffic coming out of Ikorodu for months now, it has not been fixed. Most of the inner roads that would have reduced pressure on the major roads have become so bad, causing terrible traffic. I usually pass the Ilasa-Cele route and that road has completely broken down now. Robbery while in traffic is also on the increase now and the constant traffic and bad roads are not helping matters; this is not the mega city we were promised,” she said.

Tony Adesanya says the abandonment of responsibilities is to be expected. According to him, a government elected to a four-year term, only has the first two years to implement its promises. The third year is usually a consolidation year, where they strive to complete projects and line up achievements they can point to in the final year. Nothing much is achieved in the fourth year, as it is an election year. Therefore governance will take a back seat in that year. This is not peculiar to Nigeria; it is common where governments are elected to four-year term.

“Unlike in advanced democracies, Nigerians do not empower political parties financially, yet expect these parties to self-administer and put forward people that will run for elections. The parties and the politicians in them need money to run for elections. Since money is not coming in from external sources, the parties look to their elected representatives to raise the badly needed financial resources. There is an urgent need for Nigerians to brainstorm and come up with ideas as to how to properly fund our political parties.”

He continued, “Nigerian politicians embezzle the country’s scarce financial resources for two main reasons, they are not sure how long they’ll be in power, so they want to secure and maintain the lavish lifestyle they have become accustomed to, if no longer in power and secondly, they need money to run for elections or to buy access to power.
They therefore not just amass fortunes few months to elections, but throughout their stay in office.”

As for Kunle Adeola, politicians tend to behave the same way everywhere. The only difference is having a citizenry that demands good governance from elected leaders.In Nigeria, he reasoned, “most of us just want a handout. We don’t challenge our leaders enough and demand not just good governance but accountability from them. In the last few months, it is like governance ground to a halt and we are just counting the days to 2019 while nothing gets done! This is not the way to go. We need to actively tackle these leaders to face the jobs they were elected for, make them more accountable and sit down in the country and suffer the problems together. Politics is the art of looking for, acquiring and holding on to power and while a few have made this their birthright, we have to tell them that it is not their birthright and power belongs to the people and until we realise this, we would continue to get incompetent people to rule us.” 

According to Francis Denedo, a political analyst and concerned citizen, “I don’t think governance took the backseat because of the upcoming elections. Governance took a nosedive since the Senate decided to hold Nigerians to ransom. Imagine over two months, the Senate, which is the second out of the tripod which holds democracy has been under lock and key because some people believe Nigerians are dumb enough to accept this; the effects must be felt in due time.

“Since the swearing in of the incumbent, there’s been one problem or another between the executive and the legislature. If it were not withholding of bills sent by the executive, it would be budget padding; unfortunately, it is coinciding mainly with the recent politicking.”Denedo said that the Senate has inadvertently arrogated to its self-executive powers. “Agreed, every arm is independent, but the Senate has today decided to jettison the principles of checks and balances. The executive cannot (in our case) prosecute members of the legislature without being tagged ‘witch hunt’, this is so sad.”

He recalled, “since the last invitation of the IGP to the Senate President to answer questions relating to the empowering of boys caught in connection to robbery that led to the death of over 30 persons at Offa, the Senate has been under lock. To what do we attribute that? The SP wrote to confirm receipt of the invite, till today we are at crossroads of sorts. Yet citizens turn the other cheek. Ask them what’s up, they say, ‘God knows’. Left to me, we’ve resigned ourselves to living at the mercy of those in power. The elephants are fighting (or mating), either ways, the grass suffer.”

Recent Political Events Do Not Inspire Confidence, Says DG Lagos Chamber Of Commerce
By Daniel Anazia
For Muda Yusuf, Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), recent events in the political space do not inspire confidence. It has worsened the political risk perception of the country and the implication on the economy is not a cheery one.According to him, there is a strong nexus between political instability, uncertainty and economic progress.“An unstable political environment naturally escalates the risk of investment; it creates anxiety and undermines confidence of investors. “Already the effects are beginning to manifest with the increasing outflows of capital from the Nigerian economy. The foreign reserve is beginning to come under pressure, so is the naira exchange rate,” he said.

Yusuf notes that the latest development is a sort of distraction to governance. He stressed that the elections are fast approaching and political activities have major crowding effect on governance at all levels of government. “Already we have seen a gale of resignations from cabinet by those seeking elective offices. We have seen numerous defections across party lines. We have seen escalation of tension that have characterised the primary elections of the political parties, driven by the desperation for political offices.The National Assembly has been practically shut down, because of political intrigues. This implies that all the important bills pending before the assembly may not see the light of day. Some of these bills are necessary to move the economy forward,” he added.

While calling on government not to create a situation where citizens and international community would lose confidence in the state institutions, the LCCI boss stated that no meaningful investment would take place where there is no regard for rule of law. According to him, Nigeria’s investment inflow, especially the stock market, is taking a hit as political intrigues gain momentum ahead of the 2019 general elections. He added that already, investors have lost over 50 per of the gains recorded in 2017; a development that has pushed the country’s equity market into dangerous waters.

Yusuf explained that as the elections inch closer amid a gale of defection, yet without a clear economic plan by the politicians on how to revitalise the economy the risk of downturn is heightened. “Public institutions are very important factors in regulating behavior of citizens and stabilising the society. A loss of confidence in state institution is a recipe for chaos and anarchy. We can only appeal to the political actors to demonstrate restraint and refrain from activities that could undermine the stability of the polity, put the security of lives and property at risk; and create avoidable social tension.” 

While calling on those seeking elective offices to revitalise the economy by coming up with a clear economic plan, he notes that as the elections inch closer amid a gale of defections, it is very critical to ensure the credibility and integrity of some strategic institutions at this time, particularly the electoral body, the security agencies and the judiciary.“Their independence and neutrality is crucial at this time, and indeed at all times. The loss of citizens’ confidence in this institution could lead to complete breakdown of law and order.”

 


In this article:
Ben AyadeNyesom Wike
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