One year in office: Dissecting state govts’ score cards
Despite Infrastructure Developments, Insecurity Remains An Issue In Rivers
As the country celebrates Democracy Day tomorrow amidst a challenging economic situation, State governors, especially those on first term may likely roll out the drums to celebrate their achievements, challenges and possibly failures. While some of the governors have achieved some giant strides, others are still struggling to find their bearings due to lack of leadership ideas and the challenging economic situation. Basically among the problems being faced by the state governments in the last one year is the paucity of funds, which was occasioned by the sudden crash in the price of crude oil price. Many Nigerians have advised the state governors to put their thinking caps and explore other avenues to shore up their revenues, instead of our present over-dependence on crude oil.
The last one year in Rivers State has been quite eventful and twisty as the government has tried to put smiles on faces of the people by offsetting backlog of salaries owed civil servants and pensioners by the past administration, improve infrastructure and empower the people. In the face of all these, the administration is facing the serious challenge of violence and killings. The crime wave in the state is daunting.
Governor Nyesom Wike also saved the judiciary and State Assembly workers from insolvency as he opened the Judiciary Complex and State House Of Assembly Complex which were under lock and key for over one year.
Reeling out the achievements of the administration, the State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dr. Austin Tam-George said development to Governor Wike is not incidental, but an ideological commitment to meet the needs of people.
Tam -George said: “As a matter of that, over the past one year, Governor Wike has constructed over 150 kilometres of roads scattered across the State, nobody in this political administration has been able to achieve this feat. So, in terms of development, Governor Wike is ahead of every public officer in this political dispensation.
“He is not constructing the roads simply because they are very bad, he is using the position of critical infrastructure as a way of re-industrializing the state itself. So, as you have these roads to travel on it you are able to conduct business through it as well. The other aspect of development is empowerment, for instance, the Governor took a loan of N2 billion from the Central Bank to support small and medium scale enterprises. As I speak, 35, 000 SME’s business owners in the state have been empowered. Also 200 youths are going to Israel for skill acquisition programmes. The intention is to break the independency syndrome where government is expected to employ all unemployed people. Some of them are going to learn skills like pipe fitting, industrial welding, ICT, etc”.
The Commissioner noted that the mentioned projects have been funded by monies from the Internally- generated revenue which has risen from N4 billion to N9 billion.
He said that despite the dwindling revenue from the Federal allocation which has degenerated from N25 billion to now N3.6 billion, the State government was able to clear all the inherited backlog of salaries and pensions and paid workers up to date except those who have not submitted themselves to the advanced biometric exercise.
“We inherited huge backlog of salaries, three months of salaries were not paid to workers. Seven months for pensioners, eight months for teachers’ salaries were not paid by Amaechi’s administration, but as soon as Wike administration came on board, he cleared those backlog. The most important part is that since then, not a single penny has been owed to workers. Those who have not received salaries are those who have not submitted themselves to an advanced Biometric exercise.”
He commended the governor for the introduction of BVN saying over N1 billion has been saved from the exercise.
“We want to do more, but we are limited by paucity of funds. The allocation since this government came into office has not risen beyond N5 billion. Three months ago, the allocation was N3.6 billion, the wage bill for the State Civil Service is N5.3 billion. The bill for pensioners is over N1 billion. So monthly wage bill of salaries and pensions is close to N7 billion and when you have something like N3.6 billion, you are already on the flat ground but the government is not complaining, he continues to find ways to cover up the leakages to manage the resources so that with little resources, you can achieve a lot.”
On the security situation in the State, the Commissioner blamed the killings on fight among rival cult groups, stressing that Governor Wike gave maximum support to the police and the Joint security task force in his first 100 days in office to enable them fight crime in the state.
However, the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the State has described Governor Wike’s one year in office as an unmitigated disaster.
Speaking with The Guardian, the spokesman of APC in the State, Mr. Chris Finebone said: “ Wike’s government has been catastrophic, because it failed on the single most important responsibility of government all over the world, which is safety of lives and property of citizens. Any resident of Rivers state will easily attest to this because killings, rapes, robberies and other violent crimes have hit the top roof since Wike became Governor on May, 29, 2015”.
On the area of infrastructure, the APC spokesman said it was untrue that this administration embarked on many infrastructural developments.
He pointed out that all the government had done was to complete a handful of projects that were conceptualized and started by Former Governor Chibuike Amaechi .
“The fact remains that Wike is yet to separate politics from governance, and when he does, we will perhaps begin to see some development but we doubt that with what is happening, he lacks the capacity and understanding of governance and leadership”.
Some are however angry with the security lapses in the state, as they lamented the increasing killings, robberies, and other pockets of crimes across the state.
Emmanuel Chima who lives in Diobu axis of Port Harcourt said: “Though we are grateful for the good roads and other infrastructural developments across some parts of Port Harcourt, especially in Diobu area. We have smooth roads now but we are very much concerned about the security situation across the state. These days, one cannot move freely again in Port Harcourt. In the last administration, we enjoyed relative calm and peace but nowadays, Rivers State is really scary”
On his part, a pensioner who worked with the primary school board, Mr. Bobmanuel Frank, cried out that him and his mates have not been paid for the past three months. He argued that he has been going for the BVM capture, all to no avail, pleading with the state government to pay them.
PLATEAU: Peace Returns, Uncompleted Projects Get Govt Attention
Isa Abdulsalami-Ahovi, Jos
The All Progressives Congress (APC) government in Plateau State, led by Governor Simon Bako Lalong, came into office following protest votes against the immediate past administration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for allegedly failing to abide by the zoning of the governorship seat in the State.
On assumption of office on May 29, the state governor rolled out a five–pillar policy thrust which he planned to implement for the development of the State.One of the greatest achievements of the administration in the last one year is the relative peace being witnessed in the State.
According to an octogenarian and a second republic politician in the state, Pa Gambo Ndam, “Lalong has promoted peace and harmony among different ethnic nationalities including religious groups in the state by establishing the Department of Peace and Security under a Director– General.”
Ndam said: “Another giant stride the governor took immediately he came into office was to immediately eliminate the so-called ‘no-go-areas’ in the State.”
The no–go–areas came into existence in the State, following the ethno–religious crises that claimed many lives, which forced residents to live segregated lives along ethnic and religious divides.
Although the stoppage of the artificial barrier by the governor does not mean people are not conscious of where they live, since they still live along religious lines, but movement to any part of the state by anybody is free.
The elder statesman continued: “The governor displayed an uncommon courage by completing the uncompleted projects which were initiated by his predecessor, like the Secretariat Fly – Over which he completed and put to use.
“The ongoing Mararaba–Jama’a–British– American road projects which are ongoing. You should also look at the Little Rayfield Government House which he completed and moved in. Federal Low Cost road which is over two kilometres was immediately awarded and completed. It is now in use. You can see the patching of potholes within Jos/Bukuru metropolis.”
He said the rate of attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen has reduced drastically, especially in Riyom, Barkin Ladi, Jos South, Langtang North and South, Bokkos and other villages. He added that in the area of training of manpower development, several categories of civil servants have been trained for efficient services.
According to Ndam: “Before Lalong came into office, local governments were owed over seven months salary arrears but he has been able to pay in most councils up till March this year except for the arrears of ‘no work, no pay’ which was initiated by the previous administration.
“Now, government has a cordial industrial relationship with the Organised Labour in the State because he intervened to make an out-of- court settlement between labour and government at the industrial court, a case that was initiated also by the previous administration. Appointments into government’s key offices are fairly spread across the state.”
He said that the governor has boldly revisited the issue of the creation of chiefdoms, districts and village areas which he said were gazetted under the government of Senator Joshua Dariye when he (Lalong) was the Speaker of the State House of Assembly.
“But the gazette was unilaterally set aside by the immediate past administration which generated unnecessary political interest and division by some ethnic nationalities.”
However, a chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the State, Chief Ishaku Jaspa Joshua, said that the governor had no option but to complete the unfinished projects left by his predecessor, adding that leaving the projects uncompleted would have been a blessing in disguise for the opposition, because he would not have been able to initiate any.
Joshua also accused Lalong of making appointments that put square pegs in round holes. “People who are not professionals were put in professional positions.”
He alleged that Lalong’s administration has sunk the State into huge debts, stressing that at the last count, the state is indebted to the tune of N40 billion.
He said: “The governor appointed caretaker committees for the local governments who are performing below expectations, and he has continued to extend their tenure every two months without anything to show in the area of rural development.
“You know each time the caretakers’ tenure is extended, it has to be approved by the House of Assembly who must get their mandatory sitting allowances. Some people told me that the caretaker chairmen, too, lobby to ensure their tenure is extended.”
ENUGU: Govt Makes Giant Strides, Despite Cash Crunch
From Lawrence Njoku (Enugu)
On assumption of office in May 29, last year, Enugu State governor, Mr Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had undertaken to leave a better and more organized Enugu state than he met. In what many has dubbed “article of fate”, Ugwuanyi had listed employment generation, enhanced social services and good governance, rural development and security and justice as focal points of his government.
One year down the line, his government has faithfully worked, despite the cash crunch occasioned by slump in the prices of crude oil in the international market.
For instance, the govt has promised to “deploy government services to create fair and equal opportunity for every willing citizen to make a living and create wealth, educate our children, and enjoy life in a peaceful and secure environment.”
Ugwuanyi said that he would pay a special attention to rural development, because majority of the people live in the rural areas. He said his administration would create more urban areas to boost economic growth, adding that Nsukka, a University town founded over half a century ago and the second largest town in the State, must be equipped and modernized to compete with other University towns in attracting technology and knowledge-based businesses and other industrial support ventures.
Taking a view of the one year in office of the governor, Senior Special Assistant (Media) to the governor, Mr. Louis Amoke said: “One year down the line, it is heartwarming to state that in spite of paucity of funds caused by the harsh economic situation in the country, Governor Ugwuanyi’s administration has fulfilled over 50 per cent of its promises to the people of the State, as contained in the inaugural address.
“Under Infrastructural development, Ugwuanyi’s administration has completed the New Lion Building Government House with asphalted internal roads, flood lights and security lights. Also completed is the Nike-Lake Road in Enugu East Local Government Area, which was often congested in the past. The Amaeke-Ngwo-Nsude- 9th Mile bypass road in Udi Local Government Area which now provides an alternative road to the popular 9th mile corner road has been completed. So also the Airport Roundabout/ Orie Emene/ St. Patrick’s College/Eke-Obinagu Road, the Holy Trinity Street and Bishop Michael Eneje Street, Independence Layout, Enugu among others.
“The Opi-Nsukka dual carriage road in Nsukka Local Government Area is at the stage of asphalting, the Ohom-Orba Junction-Imilike Ani- Ezimo Uno- Ezimo Agu-Imilike –Ogbodu Aba-Obollo Etiti-Amalla-Obollo Afor (Udenu Ring Road), at the stage of asphalting, Orie Emene–Adoration Ministry Ground Road in Enugu East Local Government Area, ongoing, Enugu Road (Nsukka) Junction-Umuezebi-Nru Junction-University Gate in Nsukka Local Government Area, already at stage of asphalting; Post Office Round About- Odenigbo Round About- Ogurugu Road-Ikenga road in the University town of Nsukka and Obechara Road Junction-Umuakashi-Mechanic Village-Ikenga Hotels Junction road in the University town of Nsukka –ongoing”
“Ugwuanyi has regularly paid salaries of workers and has cordial relationship with the Organized Labour. He has laid foundation for a 200-bed Ultra-Modern Specialist Hospital at Amalla, Orba in Udenu Local Council among several humanitarian, justice and security activities of the government.”
But State Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mr John Nwobodo said that Ugwuanyi’s administration has not been effective, stressing that the government is expected to make impact almost in the entire sector.
He said: “This government anchored its objective on four- point agenda mainly on continuity. In terms of personal attributes of the governor, he is a nice man, good at large and accessible. In terms of projects execution, he had embarked on roads in Nsukka Township and some places in Enugu-east and ninth mile, but infrastructure is not enough to judge the performance of any government.
“In the area of employment generation, good governance and social services, Ugwuanyi’s government needs to do more.
CROSS RIVER: Mixed Reactions Trail Govt’s Score Card
From Anietie Akpan, Calabar
Since assuming office, Cross River State governor Ben Ayade, has been busy with a lot of programmes and policies. While some persons have scored his government low in performance, others scored it high. Ayade’s government has regularly paid workers’ salary and has signed into law the Anti-kidnapping law.
Speaking on his government’s giant strides in the last one year, Ayade said: “Preliminary work have started on the 260km superhighway and a deep seaport which is going to be the deepest seaport in Africa at 16 metres draft. Work so far done on the project include soil studies, detailed survey, route survey, and EIA, that is ongoing”.
“The Cross River Garment Factory is to be commissioned as construction work has been completed. It is reputed to be the biggest single floor garment factory in the world with a floor size of 5,000sqm. 3000 Cross Riverians, mostly women, have been recruited to start work in three shifts.”
Other projects embarked on in the last one year according to the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Christian Ita, include the Calabar Pharmaceutical and Cosmetic Company (CALAPHARM) along the Goodluck Jonathan Bypass. On completion, the company is expected to create at least 2000 jobs; the Calabar Rice City and Calabar International Convention Centre (CICC) which the Ayade-led administration has completed the 5000 seat capacity purpose-built convention centre started by his predecessor, Senator Liyel Imoke. The administration has also completed work on the Calabar monorail, making it the first functional monorail in sub-Saharan Africa.
The monorail connects the Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort with the Calabar International Convention Centre located at the Summit Hills.
Under the urban infrastructural renewal programme, he said, “the administration completed a number of road projects including Channel Two Anansa Road by the West African Peoples Institute (WAPI) and EdemEkpenyong/Akim Timber Market Road, all in Calabar Municipality, opening of new roads besides Botanical Garden and OkoroAgbor extension, rehabilitation of road networks in Calabar Metropolis (operation zero potholes), rehabilitation and construction of drainages in Calabar Metropolis, intervention works on Alege Road in Obudu Local Government Area, intervention works on Amana Road in Obanliku Local Government Area, intervention along Calabar-Odukpani-Itu Road, intervention at Atimbo Road and erosion control at the Obudu Ranch Resort.”
Ita said: “In the administration’s new city development strategy, government intends to establish three new cities in the three senatorial zones of the state with Calas Vegas in the Southern Senatorial Zone; Centicort City in the Central Senatorial District and Northstradam in the Northern Senatorial District. Already, the design for Calas Vegas, which is the most ambitious real estate project in Africa, has been done. The new city will be located on the Twins Island, overlooking the Calabar River from opposite the Marina Resort.
“In the Power sector, he said, Governor Ayade has recorded quiet but laudable successes with “$30million Indian loan for 26 megawatts of electricity for Cross River, installation of four megawatt power turbines in Obudu Local Government, Provision of street lighting for Obudu metropolis, Hydro power in Ikom, Provision of power turbines for Tinapa Business Resort, 132 transmission line from Calabar to Obudu, Purchase of over 200 transformers of various sixes to boost power supply in the state, among other ongoing projects”.
He stated that the design and completion of the first Calabar Smart City Network is ready and a Memorandum of Understanding for the construction of 5000 housing units has been signed.
However, the State Vice Chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Mr. Cletus Obun said: “I think it is very clear that we are heading to the wrong direction if this is what governance is all about. It is a thorough embarrassment in all sectors. Take the salaries, you come on the first of the month and pay salary to workers for the month to come. It is the height of ridicule, you don’t run government for fun; even in private sector you don’t do like that. That is not motivation because salary payment is given and taken for granted because it is statutory. For a government not to pay salary is irresponsible. It is even a sin not to pay workers salary. So when people come to government as governors and pay salary as if it is an achievement, is wrong”.
The APC Chieftain said: “In the area of infrastructure development, we have been operating a government of deceit and fraud when it is clear that the so- called garment factory is a private company that is owned and incorporated by two individuals (names withheld). The name of the factory itself is clear, “Cross River Garment Factory” and not “Cross River State Garment Factory”, the signpost is there for all to see. It is not a state government enterprise.
“Looking at the deep sea port, Akwa Ibom is closer to the deep sea and not Cross River state which it will need dredging just like the Calabar Port that needed dredging since 1989 to accept bigger vessels but that has not taken place. Why do we have to start a white elephant project and you cannot complete it in eight years even if you have the opportunity given the swamp to be dredged.”
BENUE: Opposition Gives Govt
From Joseph Wantu, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom like many other governors in Nigeria assumed the mantle of leadership in Benue State on May 29, 2015 as the first candidate of an opposition political party (All Progressives Congress (APC) to defeat the candidate of the then ruling party (Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a gubernatorial election.
Commenting on Ortom’s one year in office, an elder statesman and Chieftain of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Abu King Shuluwa, said the governor has performed despite the fact that he took over from a government that was corrupt.
“To me, the people of Benue should appreciate Ortom for trying to develop the State because his government inherited an empty treasury.”
Shuluwa said Ortom on assumption of office ensured that about 40 medical students that were stagnated at Benue State University graduated, the School of Nursing was rehabilitated and some roads rehabilitation are going on.
On the issue of workers’ salary, the PDP chieftain commended the governor and the federal government for bailout fund for workers, but questioned why pensioners were not included in the bailout.
The PDP chieftain advised the governor to fish out ghost workers in the State’s civil service.Also assessing the one year in office of the governor, a social critic and Coordinator, Justice and Rights Initiative, Justin Gbaghir commended the amnesty programme of the governor which culminated to drastic reduction of crimes in the State, but called for a review of the scheme to include the actual beneficiaries in the management of the programme.
On salary burden in the State, Mr. Gbaghir, blamed it on the past administration which left a lot of arrears behind, accompanied with the fall in federal revenue to the state. He urged the governor to think outside the box to tackle it rather than continue to rely on recovery of looted state funds, which he said would take a long process.
“Recovery of looted funds from the past administration in the state is a judicial process that would take a long time. The Governor should explore other means of generating revenue to develop the State.”
He also urged the Board of Internal Revenue Service to go back to the drawing board and educate the public through sensitization on their activities as well as do a monthly pronouncement of what comes into the government coffers in line with the transparency posture of the administration.
Speaking with The Guardian, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ortom, Mr. Terver Akase lamented that his boss inherited not only an empty treasury but also a deficit one.
“A lot has been achieved. Remember we inherited numerous economic challenges like non-payment of workers’ salaries and abandonment of projects in different parts of the State.
On the much-talked-about accountability and transparency posture of Government, the Chief Press Secretary said it was in line with this that his boss set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into funds which accrued to the State from May 29th 2007 to May 29th 2015 and an administrative Commission of Inquiry into Sale and Lease of Government Property by the immediate past administration.
According to him, the result of the Judicial Commission’s report indicted the immediate past governor, Gabriel Suswam and 51 other individuals and 10 corporate bodies who are alleged to have diverted N107 billion belonging to the state government.
In the education sector, Akase said Ortom has raised N7.6 billion for the construction and rehabilitation of over 700 primary schools in the 23 local government areas of the State as well as arranged for the procurement and installation of 100 computers and portal construction in some of the primary and junior secondary schools in the State.
KWARA: Security Tops Govt’s Priorities
From Abiodun Fagbemi, Ilorin
ONE basic truth the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Kwara state government has failed to conceal as it marks one year in office tomorrow is that there is paucity of funds. Demola Banu, State Commissioner for Finance said: “In spite of the glaring financial challenges confronting our state, we are lucky to have a dynamic Governor Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, who is prudent in the management of resources.
“He is not just managing, it well but equally ensuring even spread of the scarce resources.”
But the State Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Iyiola Oyedepo, criticized the performance of the Ahmed-led government noting, “We have never had it so bad in the history of our dear state. Let the government point at a visible project it will commission for the use of the people since coming into office. There is none.”
Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Communications, Dr. Muideen Akorede said kudos must be given to the Governor for maintaining peace, security and order in the State through the creation of a synergy among all the security operatives in the State.
The Chairman of the state’s branch of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) Alhaji Musa Abubakar believes that the state government could not lay claim to 100 per cent success rate in the area of salaries payment “for as long as primary school teachers are owed by the Local Government Areas. The State cannot separate itself from the LGAs administration after all the two operate Joint Accounting System.”
Poised for more proactive future interventions in the lives of its people, the State government recently constituted Kwara State Internal Revenue Services (KWIRS) headed by a University Don, Muritala Awodun. The KWIRS, with automated revenue collection system has succeeded in blocking alleged high diversion rates of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) collected on behalf of the state government. The KWIRS had since replaced the Kwara Board of Internal Revenue (KWBIR). Sources told The Guardian in Ilorin that the new board was given a mandate by the state government to churn in N2billion IGR on monthly basis.
Ugwuanyi’s One Year In Office And The Igbo Mythology Of “Omenuko”
By Uwakwe Abugu
Viewed from every ramification, Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has within his first year in office cut for himself the image of the Igbo mythic personage of “omenuko”. That is, he who achieves feats when it mattered most.
Since Ugwuanyi assumed office, the State has continued to witness uncommon transformations, especially viewed against the present harsh economic situation weighing down on the country. Therefore, as the present administration in Enugu State marks its one year in office, it is heart-warming that in spite of the debilitating economic melt-down caused by the glut in the global oil market, the state is celebrating a harvest of capital and other people-oriented projects executed within the period.
The long list of achievements recorded by the governor’s administration, just within one year in office, has become more particularly a giant stride considering the fact that in the monthly Federation Account allocation, Enugu is one of the states taking the very distant rear positions, about the third from the bottom.
The achievements of the governor’s administration so far have been in line with his promises in his inaugural address on May 29, 2015 when he told the people of the state gathered at the historic Michael Okpara Square, Enugu that, “I recommit myself to employment generation, enhanced social services and good governance. Enugu State under us will pay special attention to rural development because the bulk of our people live in the rural areas. We will create more urban areas to boost economic growth”.
So far, in the actions of his administration, the governor has walked his talk. And this could be seen in the following projects executed and other on-going projects it embarked upon in the past one year.
In the roads infrastructure, eight roads among which is a cluster of roads grouped as Udenu Ring Roads were awarded. Out of these, an important by-pass at the intractable Ninth Mile Corner near Enugu metropolis has been completed just like the very important Nike Lake Road in the metropolis. In the university town of Nsukka which has suffered years of neglect, work has reached an appreciable advanced stage on the Opi– Nsukka road, Obuechara-Ikenga Junction to Odenigbo Roundabout to Post Office Roundabout and then Orba road. Similarly, on the Udenu Ring Roads, work has reached advanced stage. It has also been heart warming for the residents of Abakpa Nike in Enugu metropolis as Abakpa Nike Road reconstruction work has been in progress, being among the first eight roads awarded by the administration.
The State Commissioner for Works, Dr. Patrick Ikpenwa, explained: “We also continued with the on-going road projects like the Airport Roundabout to Orie Emene Road in Enugu which has been completed. Then, the Orie Emene Adoration Ground Road brought it to number 10 roads we have embarked upon”.
Besides, within this period, there are some other ongoing roads too in Enugu metropolis like Nawfia Street, the Court Avenue, Holy Trinity Road and the adjoining Bishop Eneja Street, among others that have been completed.
The state government has also gone extra miles by helping junior public servants (grade levels 1-10) to obtain apartments in ELIM Housing Estate, Enugu by paying over 30 per cent of their equity contributions to qualify them to own the facilities after they emerged from a balloting system he personally witnessed.
In his eventful governance, the governor is spreading development to all sectors. Education, agriculture, security (he donated 18 vehicles to security agencies within the first 100 days in office), among others, received ample attention within this first year in office.
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