Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Nigeria: The need to manage the Emperors of State

Emperors of State
Executive governors of states in the Federal Republic of Nigeria appear to have untrammelled fiat almost equivalent to absolute monarchies of old within their fiefdoms.
I do not intend to cover that particular matter but they are also granted immunity from prosecution which has the somewhat unintended consequence of many acting with impunity as they project the personification of absolute power that corrupts absolutely.
Thankfully, they only have that megalomania for the tenure of their offices before they become ordinary citizens again. Usually, to forestall a wholesale jettisoning of the things they put in place they would most likely attempt to interfere with the succession process with the hope of putting in a stooge that will for gratitude or other allegiances be their marionettes in power.
Deficiencies in governance
One thing is evident with our system of democracy, there are no strong institutions that make for ensuring that the governor acts within the sometimes grey areas of the law, the state legislatures tend to be overly partisan and factional rather than work as a moderating chamber more representative of the people and the powers the governor exerts are sometimes unreasonable that they will almost always be reviewed and the acts rescinded.
In many states where the new governors have been elected especially where the successor has come from another party or there have been differences within the same party that the erstwhile governor has not been able to influence the succession process the states have been in radical flux.
Basically, it is like the new governor is on a crusade to expunged every act and idea of their predecessor which all fall within the spectrum of atrocious through commendable to excellent, you rarely find areas where these governors attempt to build on the previous successes and take the state forward.
Consequences of the lack of continuity
Obviously, each governor has their own agenda and manifesto; it is their prerogative to act and hopefully in the best interests of fairness, justice, of the people and of the state rather that follow through their personal animosities in a show of sheer pettiness masquerading as leadership.
However, other things suffer if the system is not built to manage the acts of the executive governors at their most powerful and guarantee continuity after they have left. In fact, it feeds a vicious circle of counter-productive measures that give a lie to our democratic experiment.
On the matters of contracts, land ownership, business confidence, long-term enabling environments for development and growth the looming uncertainties that are generated by the musical chairs of quadrennial elections mean many projects not completed within the tenure might get abandoned and other thriving initiatives might be jettisoned.
Examples of breakdown
Worse still will be actions the old governor took for their own benefit when the new broom puts the old person in their place as is now happening in Ogun State - the once promising potentate at the advent of office who by the end of his term was probably the worst thing that ever happened to Ogun State who for his power-drunk egregious and megalomaniacal excesses plundered the state and appropriated lands that are now subjects of dispute.
If the new governors do not do well to spell out their intentions, many might read their actions as an all-out vendetta especially when one read the placards of student protesters whose university was downgraded to an institute of education amongst other things happening there and all around the country.
Constitutional review
There is a need to review the powers the executive governors had and what they can do, the state legislatures need to rise to the challenge of being better moderating influences on the governors whilst ensuring that the ideas and projects put in place have every prospect of continuity no matter who sits in the governor’s house.
Our constitution after almost 13 years of use is in need of radical amendments and subtle refinement to make our democracy more representative whilst also making leadership more responsive and accountable to the electorate.
Most importantly, there is a need to redress the matter of public service with more emphasis on the service over just having a public – these changes must happen soon, if we are to have a more enduring union and the hope that the best minds do vie for office and bring forth the change that Nigeria so badly needs.