Out-going Governors & Democratic Accountability In Nigeria: Time For Stock Taking
(Democracy & Good Governance, Onitsha Nigeria, 28th April 2015)-The 2015 General Elections with their supplementary segments; involving one Presidential, 29 Gubernatorial, 109 Senatorial, 360 House of Reps and 1,152 State Legislative polls, have come and gone. What lies on the table of the out-going governors and the Presidency is democratic accountability and stock taking. On 19th April 2015, we (International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law) issued a public statement titled: “Revisiting & Institutionalizing Obinomics Governance Approach As A Standard Benchmark For New Governors In Nigeria”. The Obinomics remains an indisputable standard of measurement for public governance accountability in Nigeria. It involves the beginning and end of a democratic governance process.
How Obinomics Statement Unsettled Corrupt & Failed Governors: The referenced statement not only received wide readership within and outside Nigeria, but it also received gloomy ovations from the loyalists of some, if not many gubernatorial office holders in the country who saw it as an attempt to ridicule their bosses and incite the public against them. The jittery disposition of the referenced gubernatorial aides and their bosses’ camps is not unexpected. This is more so when public governance in Nigeria is largely dominated by psychology of politics (use of public sentiments and social anomalies to gain power for the purpose of running deceitful, deficit and mercantilist governance).
Governance Disasters In The Fourth Democratic Republic: The 1999 return to civilian rule in Nigeria saw military apologists, military retirees and white collar criminals including drug barons and couriers moving in droves, hijacking most of the country’s 13,483 elective public offices comprising 11, 788 LGA chairmen, deputies and councilors (8,692 councilors and 3,096 executive chairmen, deputy chairmen, etc) of the country’s constitutionally recognized 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs); 72 State governors and their deputies, 360 Federal Reps, 109 Senators, 1, 152 State lawmakers and the President and the Vice President.
The elected public office holders under reference also ensured that their likes dominated the country’s 4,070 top public appointive offices. For records, there are a total of 17, 500 top elective and appointive public offices in Nigeria recognized in the Salaries & Allowances for Top Public Office Holders’ Act of Nigeria 2002 as amended. The top public offices comprise 472 federal executives, 172 federal top judicial officers, 109 senators, 360 federal House members, the President and the Vice President, 36 State Governors, 36 State Deputy Governors, 1, 152 State lawmakers, 2, 664 State executives and 762 State top judicial officers.
The inglorious entrance of the referenced military apologists, military retirees and white collar criminals as well as their appointed puppets into Nigeria’s hallowed public governance offices brought to bear the era of disastrous governance in Nigeria’s Fourth Democratic Republic. A disastrous legacy of electoral banditry and rigging, judicial corruption, State sponsored violence, governance thievery and civil unrest was put in place leading to public governance being left in the hands of criminals and renegades. While the criminal class took the center stage in governance, the noble class stayed away for fear of contamination and violence against their persons.
As a result, public governance in the country became shapeless and directionless. Service to humanity became replaced by consumption and profligacy. Attempts by few members of the noble class to make an inroad into democratic governance were crudely resisted by the criminal class who also visited the former with death and threats of unimaginable proportions.
Obinomics As Standard Of Governance Accountability Measurement: One of the few exceptions to the democratic governance disasters in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic was the Obinomics governance concept in Anambra State. For records, Obinomics is a totality of democratic governance style used in Anambra State under former Governor Peter Obi between March 17, 2006 and March 17, 2014. It has electoral, judicial, social and economic elements and founded on input and output legitimacies. In other words, it is a democratic government that has beginning and an end. It fought enemies of democracy not through the Yorean eye for eye, but through political civility, tolerance, accountability, creativity and decency. It met the State in a state of barrenness, parasitism, mal-administration and fiscal deficit and left it in a state of self-sustenance and buoyancy as well as governance integrity and credit. It ended with a world class scorecard and stewardship contained in a 500-page book.
Governance or democratic accountability or stewardship is a leadership stock taking containing the true state of governance in the executive arm of government usually laid before the public documentarily towards the end of tenure. It involves quantum of services to humanity or fulfillment of social contract obligations delivered to the public by those elected to serve. There are credit and deficit democratic accountabilities or stewardships. Governors who run status quo or establishment governance are usually credited with deficit governance accountability whereas governors that run extra establishment or creative/innovative governance always produce credit or positive governance or democratic accountability.
The governance stewardship under reference is such that contains exploits or otherwise made in education, physical and key infrastructures, environment, health, transport, tangible and intangible security, entertainment, human rights, rule of law, job creation, private sector, investments, economy, etc. It also involves governance costs, financial receipts, loans borrowed or credits received, cleared or un-cleared workers welfare arrears, total unpaid or paid domestic and foreign loans, reasons behind the borrowings, contractors’ arrears on completed jobs as well as cash or otherwise left in government coffers.
What Out-going Governors & Ors Must Do: In the light of the foregoing, therefore, we challenge all the out-going governors in Nigeria to be excellent enough to prepare and present their accounts of stewardship to their States and the generality of Nigerians before their official handover on 29th May 2015. The affected governors are those completing their eight years in office and those who lost their second tenures. Failure of the affected governors in whole or in part to heed to this democratic clarion call simply means that they are bequeathing a disastrous legacy of governmental banditry and kleptomania to their various States and the citizens of Nigeria. Because anything that has a beginning must have an end, the affected governors are inexcusably tasked to give their governance a direction and a destination by articulating for public reading, consumption and judgment as well as for eternal records how they governed their States.
By Social Contract principles, the governors under reference are obligated to govern and render public account of their leaderships. By Section 13 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, under Fundamental Objectives & Directive Principles of State Policy, it commands all authorities in Nigeria including the in-coming and out-going governors as follows: “it shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive and judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of the Constitution”.
The Chapter Two of the Constitution under reference is Nigeria’s version of Social Contract obligations for all its elected public office holders including the in-coming and out-going governors. This sacred demand of ours is also extended to the out-going President and headships of the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly. The N250M & N150M quarterly allocations to the Senate President and the House of Reps Speaker in the form of overheads should be publicly accounted for; likewise all constituency projects funds of the 469 federal lawmakers and the 1,152 State lawmakers.
At the Presidency, Nigerians must publicly be put in the know of its stewardship. In 2007, for instance, the Yar’Adua/Jonathan presidency inherited $15.5 billion cumulative debts comprising foreign debts of $3.5 billion and local debts of N1.8 trillion or about $12 billion (N150.00 per US$); today, it is bequeathing to Nigeria and Nigerians a whopping sum of $55.5 billion according to its official records; showing that it has borrowed over $40 billion since then. Nigerians collectively demand to know how the earth-shaking loans were spent and conditions for their borrowing as well as the totality of its governance accountability.
Roguish Finances Of Various States: This sacred demand of ours is further necessitated by shocking discoveries we made in the course of our recent investigations on the finances of the States in Nigeria; whereby most of the States were found enmeshed in serial borrowings and other indebtedness. Public financial records of the affected States as it concerns local borrowings were also found roguish and distorted. Many of the States under reference were found owing their retired and serving workforces billions of naira. Bauchi State, for instance, owes its workforce about N11billion. For governors completing their eight years tenures, they are found in Lagos, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Niger, Benue, Plateau, Kano, Kaduna, Adamawa, etc. For single term governors, they are found in those States won by the former federal opposition party.
Lagos State As A Case Study: In Lagos State, out-going Governor Babatunde Fashola who prides himself as Mr. Clean Governor should clearly come clean publicly by rendering his stewardship of the State he ran for eight years. Apart from public knowledge of the fact that his State is the most indebted State in Nigeria with official local and foreign debts of over N512 billion or about $2.6 billion (N200.00 per US$) comprising local debts of N278.8 billion (DMO December 2013) and foreign debts of $1. 169 billion or N234 billion (DMO December 2014); he should tell Lagosians and Nigerians where the heavy loans were channeled into and what necessitated the huge loans in view of the fact that his State generates average of N22 billion monthly and N270-N300 billion yearly from its internally generated revenues excluding its huge federal allocations with annual average of N100 billion as well as other statutory non loan earnings.
The out-going Governor under reference also owes Lagosians and Nigerians an explanation as it concerns the monthly wage bill of the State and the state of public infrastructures and social services in the State. He has to come clean publicly by disclosing in an excellent manner the true picture of the State’s local debts stocks. This is in view of the fact that they have not been updated by the Debts Management Office (DMO) since January 2014; a period of 11/4 years.
Out-going Governor Babatunde Fashola’s account of stewardship under firm demand of ours should be excellent enough to answer the following noble questions: How much does Lagos State actually owe in debts locally? Is Lagos State the best State in Nigeria in terms of provision and maintenance of key public infrastructures? Does the State parade the best medical facilities and personnel in the country? What about the costs of medical treatment and public education in the State? Through its Independent Power Project, is it the best State in Nigeria in terms of electro-density? How many children are children of the street and children in the street in Lagos State? What about its housing scheme and how many citizens still sleep under the bridges in the State? In whose possession are public properties in Lagos? Are they in public hands or hands of thieving individuals and entities? What is the state of road network and its maintenance in the State? Is Lagos State Africa’s ocean of poverty or richness? What exactly is the monthly wage bill of Lagos State? Is the cash left in the State coffers, if any, greater or less than its total debts? How much is the State’s liquid investments, if any, within and outside the State?
Governor Babatunde Fashola as a lawyer was appointed into the government of Mr. Ahmed Bola Tinubu in 2002 and he was reported to have to gone to the Alahausa Government House for his SA appointment with a 200 Mercedes Flat Booth car and a Sagem Mobile phone. If this is true as once revealed by the Afenifere Socio-cultural group per Mr. Yinka Odumakin; Governor Fashola owes Nigerians a duty and should come clearly clean publicly by disclosing his current assets and liabilities visa viz his actual worth in 2002. Other out-going governors and presidency under reference should also do same.
Rivers State As Another Case In Point: In Rivers State, out-going Governor Rotimi Amechi, who ran the State for eight years on account of judicial coronation; owes the people of Rivers State and Nigerians detailed account of his stewardship, which must include his personal worth in 2007 and his present assets and liabilities. He should also be excellent enough to let Nigerians know how much his administration borrowed internally and for what projects. The State is presently credited by DMO with official debts of N138.3 billion comprising foreign debts of $44.7 million or N8.8 billion and local debts of N129.5 billion (DMO 2014 &2013).
In view of the fact that Rivers State is the richest oil State in Nigeria receiving about N20billion monthly from its preferential oil earnings excluding other statutory earnings, it saddens our heart as why the State enmeshed in serial borrowings. Independent sources have also continuously maintained that the State cumulatively owes over N200 billion in debts.
This position is further sustained by the fact that its local debts profile has not been updated by the Debts Management Office since January 2014; a period of 11/4 years. Out-going Governor Amechi is called upon to be excellent enough by telling the people of Rivers State and Nigerians the true state of domestic loans profile of his State in terms of actual amounts owed.
Abia State & Ors: In Abia State, out-going Governor Theodore Orji should come clearly clean as well. He once alleged that former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu left the State in debts of over N29 billion. In view of this, our question to the out-going Governor is “how much did his administration borrow internally and how much was his State owing before he became the governor from the EFCC interface room? Our demand for democratic accountability in Abia State also stems from the sorry state of public services and infrastructures in the State particularly in Umuahia and Aba. Presently, Abia rivals none as Nigeria’s newest Ghetto State.
The sacred demand of ours also goes to out-going Governors Martin Elechi of Ebonyi, Sullivan Chime of Enugu, Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, Goodswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State, Liyel Imoke of Cross River State, Gabriel Suswam of Benue State, Jona Jang of Plateau State, Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso of Kano State, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero of Kaduna State as well as other second and single terms governors. The States of the out-going Governors mentioned above presently owe a total of N699.1 billion in local and foreign debts according to the official records of the Debts Management Office (DMO).
Finally, as the official handover of the baton of democratic power to the new set of crookedly or popularly elected office holders remains one month or thirty days from today, we call on all citizens of conscience and democratic consciousness to join hands in demanding from their out-going elected officers mandatory accounts of their stewardship clearly shown how they developed or under-developed the States and the country entrusted in their hands in the past eight or four democratic years. This is the only way the country and its citizens can advance democratically and socio-economically.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, B.Sc. (Hons), Criminology & Security Studies
Board Chairman, International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Uzochukwu Oguejiofor-Nwonu Esq., (LLB, BL), Head, Campaign & Publicity Department
Chiugo Onwuatuegwu Esq., (LLB, BL), Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program
Obianuju Igboeli Esq., (LLB, BL), Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program