Criticism trails Northwest governors’ performance after five years in officePolitics

‘Insecurity, unemployment, poor youth engagement biggest challenges’
The performances of Northwest states’ governors, who took office in Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Jigawa States after one year have been marked with outright criticisms by the people who believed that they have not in any way impacted on the welfare of the citizens. When the governors were sworn into office in 2015, millions of people in the various states were full of hopes and expectations that the transformation of the Northwest states by the political leaders in the geopolitical region would be fulfilled.
In other words, they expected the leaders to mitigate their sufferings and improve on the issues of unemployment, agriculture, infrastructure, and security of lives and another socio-economic wellbeing of the people.
Specifically, the governors promised speedy development in the geopolitical region and pledged to provide more employment opportunities and develop agriculture. They also promised to look into the welfare of their people who were confronted with the problems of insecurity like kidnapping, armed banditry, a sectarian crisis which diverted the attention of most of the governors and were forced to divert more funds to security matters. This inevitably slowed down issues of economic and infrastructural development.
For instance, Kaduna State which has been the headquarters of the Northern region since the First Republic, and which is being looked upon by the other Northwest states for political direction was bugged down by insecurity and poor governance vision that fails to provide for the people’s welfare and invest in socio-economic development to enhance the living standards of the people.

However, Governor Mallam Nasir el-Rufai debunked arguments of critics of his first term in office during his 2019 inauguration but highlighted his achievements in the office instead.
According to him, “During our first term, we successfully completed the long-delayed Zaria Water project. We shall continue to build, expand and maintain infrastructure to promote the well-being of our people, enhance commercial activities and attract investors.
“While we have done well to attract over $400m of investments, we need to bring more businesses to create jobs and expand our revenue base. Our endowments in agriculture can benefit from locating more processing activity and agribusiness in our state.
“In 2018, the World Bank ranked Kaduna State as number one state in Nigeria in its Ease of Doing Business rankings. We shall continue to uphold a positive climate for investors. Investment creates jobs. Jobs put food on every table. We will continue to focus on creating an environment in which people can take care of themselves and their families”.
He further stated: “We did our utmost in the first-term to leave no one behind, designing programmes for children, young adults and senior citizens. These programmes will be strengthened to provide skills for the young, and support for the vulnerable. We have demonstrated that we believe that the answer to poverty is to enable people to achieve economic independence. Our approach has been to empower people with the tools to make the most of themselves.
“We would continue to reduce waste, combat fraud and cut costs in government. Our first inaugural address committed us to shrink the size of government. We achieved this by reducing the ministries by more than a quarter, from 19 we inherited to 14, appointing fewer commissioners and significantly reducing the number of permanent secretaries.”
In Kano State, the case was not different, as Governor Abdullahi Ganduje also articulated the achievements of his government and reeled out projects the state embarked upon in his 2019 budget, which he said would attract more development to his state. The governor pointed to the development of infrastructure, provision of water and school construction received the lion share of the state. But his critics have perforated his argument, saying that there was nothing to show in Kano for the huge amount of funds the government spent as capital expenditure.
Analysts are of the view that the proposed pattern of public spending in the state is not different from what it had been since the advent of the administration in 2015, faulting Ganduje’s biggest allocation of N38.31 billion for provision of infrastructure in 2019.

The water sector received the second-highest allocation o N26.4 billion, also followed by the education sector which got the third biggest allocation of N18 billion.
According to Ganduje, “The 2019 budget is designed in a way so as to attain the developmental agenda of the administration which is geared at developing the state in all ramifications”.
Noting that the budget was the fourth and the last budget presentation of his first tenure in office, he said under his leadership, Kano State was among the few states which managed to withstand the impact of the 2016/2017 recession occasioned by the related global financial crisis.
“By maintaining an expansionary fiscal policy stance, we were able to improve the revenue generation drive, with a view to minimizing dependency on the grants coming from the Federation Account,” he said. “This accorded our government the fiscal strength to invest in critical economic and social infrastructure such as water, energy, roads, schools, and health facilities across the state”.
However, Governor Ganduje’s critics in the state continue to taunt him with the alleged Gandujegate, which they say places a dent on his administration.
Besides, Katsina State governor, Alhaji Aminu Masari has insisted that the biggest challenge is in the agricultural sector, pointing out that “the mainstay of Katsina State is agriculture and livestock, and these areas have suffered for the past 30 years either because of the failure or abandonment of agriculture. We need to have capital put into farming and animal husbandry [which will enable the] emergence of small and medium-sized industries that would add value to whatever we produce here, which includes corn, cotton, rice, hibiscus and sesame seed. We believe that a special focus on agriculture will allow us to produce enough for our consumption and to export”.
While apparently saying that his administration would consolidate on his average achievement in agriculture, Masari argued: “there are many opportunities, and all these are centred around agriculture and energy through solar [installations]. There is also an opportunity in processing, added value, value addition. There are opportunities in textiles. There are opportunities along the whole value chain of cotton.
“When we came to power in 2015, we found the educational institutions in a deplorable state. Our priority is foundation education – primary and secondary school – to prepare children for any type of job they intend to do. Those who can make it to higher education can go. Others can train as craftsmen, artisans, skilled workers and entrepreneurs. We maintain the promises that brought us into office in 2015. We said that our number one, number two and number three priorities are education”.
Security in terms of banditry and cattle rustling has been a major challenge for Katsina that forced Masari into some awkward romance with the bandits in the forests. The result of that misadventure has been mixed; residents continue to sleep with one eye opened as activities of bandits are yet to abate.
Meanwhile, what obtains in terms of achievements by the governors of Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi and the Jigawa States when they came into office in 2015 were not fundamentally different. Their citizens continue to demand better welfare and security of lives and property. However, many opinion leaders have criticized the performances of the governors of the Northwest.
The Joint Action Committee of Northern Youths Association (JACOM) National President, Alhaji Murtala Abubakar, who spoke with The Guardian on the performances of the Northwest governors said, “to be the first tenure of the Northwest governors is not so remarkable. Our thinking then was that probably because they were new, so they could not immediately grasp the demands of their responsibilities in the office. It is expected that in the process of learning the ropes, trial and errors are expected. But, all the same, given the opportunities available to them, they have not been able to meet the expectations of northern people to a very large extent.
“The poor performances of these governors can be seen in the area of security. You can see that when the Southwest governors came into office, during their first term in office was when the issue of
security deteriorated in their states. Everywhere, particularly in the Northwest, there were and are serious cases of kidnapping, armed banditry and so on. They could not tackle the problems, up till now. So, fundamentally that was what characterized the tenure of our governors in their first term in office.
“And we expected that they will bring about a remarkable change in the area of agriculture where the Northwest geopolitical region is known for in the past. So many people have been displaced out of their farms because of the issue of insurgency. The governments no longer concentrate on the delivery of good governance to the people; no fertilizers for farmers; the governors could not deliver on good education and the school feeding programme they engaged was a big scam. The statistics provided last year showed that about 13 million children who were supposed to be in school in Nigeria are roaming the streets. And 12 million of these children are from the north, and the Northwest shares the bulk of the figure.
“The governors in the Northwest particularly have not been able to capture our priorities and deliver on their promises. Again, you cannot talk of development without talking of infrastructure in a very fundamental way. For example, in Kaduna, throughout the first tenure of Governor Nasir El-Rufai, you cannot point out to one single infrastructural project that the man actually embarked on.
“So, it was more or less a wasted four years. If you go to Kano State, the story is the same; go to Sokoto and other states in the Northwest, the story is the same. In the case of Zamfara State, the people were not happy with the performance of Governor Yari; that was why they were satisfied with his removal from office”.
Also, the Secretary-General of National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Kaduna State branch, Comrade Danjuma Bello Sarki, further criticized the Northwest governors for not delivering the dividends of democracy to the people in the geopolitical region during their first tenure in office, and even now in their second term, noting, “ I will tell you without mincing words that the governors in this geopolitical region failed in their first tenure in office. If you look at the Northwest, there is no state that you can find tangible infrastructural project or development. Likewise, you cannot hear the people praising the governors for the contribution to development.
“There are only a few states in the Northwest that are free from insecurity such as kidnapping, armed robbery and other violent crimes. There is no state in the region today that you can find a good healthcare system. If the Northwest states had developed the healthcare system, they would have been competing with Lagos under this Covid-19 pandemic. And again, there is no state in Northwest that you find the standard of education improving significantly.
“There is no state that you can find the number of school dropouts decreasing. There is no state that employment has increased. Look at the case of Kaduna, where instead of creating employment, the government decided to sack tens of thousands of workers, destroyed sources of incomes of innocent people who are toiling so hard in order to earn a living. The governor has destroyed markets, shops and other small businesses across the state which today have impoverished the people and put them under poverty and abject squalor, such that today government lock up people under this very condition the government created, under the present Covid-19 and people are suffering greatly.
“The insecurity has not in any way hindered them from performing. But today they are hiding under it to show their underperformance. When they first came into office, the insecurity was not as prevalence as it is today. There were pockets of issues of Boko Haram that was even reducing. And they had a relatively stable economy and polity when they assumed their first terms in office. But today things have deteriorated.
“You can see what the governor of Zamfara has done. Under his 100 days in office, he nipped the problems of insecurity in that state in the bud. And that has now provided a veritable opportunity for him to now begin to develop that state. One wonders what is happening to the governors of Kaduna, Katsina and Kano to lag behind in terms of tackling insecurity and developing their states.”

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