2023 Induction Programme for Newly Elected and Re-elected Governors

In a bid to drive good governance at the state level and enhance the capabilities of governors, the Nigeria Governors Forum recently organized an induction program for newly elected and re-elected governors. With the theme “Governing for Impact: Building Sub-national Governance,” this event aimed to equip governors with the necessary skills to deliver on their campaign promises and prioritize the needs of the people.

The growth and development of any nation largely depend on effective governance at the state level. In Nigeria, there exists a misconception that the federal government alone bears the responsibility for delivering good governance throughout the country.

Consequently, many state governments have evaded accountability, using the federal government as a scapegoat for their own incompetence.

To unleash Nigeria’s full potential, good governance must prevail at the state level. Alarming statistics reveal that over 133 million Nigerians currently live in poverty, with a significant portion residing in the states. Addressing this dire situation requires competent leadership capable of uplifting people from poverty.

Recall that gubernatorial election was held in 28 states during the last general election with 18 first-time governors coming on board.

In a bid to drive good governance at the state level and enhance the capabilities of governors, the Nigeria Governors Forum recently organized an induction program for newly elected and re-elected governors. With the theme “Governing for Impact: Building Sub-national Governance,” this event aimed to equip governors with the necessary skills to deliver on their campaign promises and prioritize the needs of the people.

During his speech, President Muhammadu Buhari underscored the importance of fulfilling campaign promises and urged the governors to prioritize the well-being of their constituents.

President Buhari who was represented by his chief of staff, Prof Ibrahim Gambari also emphasised that failing to meet the expectations of the people would result in being voted out in the next election, as the electorate has become increasingly discerning.

Drawing from his personal experience as a veteran of the democratic process, President Buhari emphasised patience, tolerance, and the use of proper channels for seeking redress in the event of unfair practices.

He reminded the governors that upon assuming office on May 29, they would inherit all the assets and liabilities associated with governance and that failure to meet the people’s expectations could result in being voted out in the next election.

The President called for the promotion of ideals that address the challenges of democracy and governance in the country, recognizing the critical role of sub-national governments in socioeconomic development.

Addressing the financial aspect of governance, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, advised governors to prioritize the payment of teachers, healthcare workers, and pensioners, while investing in infrastructure, education, and basic healthcare.

She stressed the importance of transparency and efficiency in financial practices, suggesting that governors publish information about revenue allocation and internally generated revenue. This would enable citizens to have a clear understanding of their state’s financial situation.

The Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Amina Mohammed, charged state governors in Nigeria to deliver on their campaign promises before leaving office.

She emphasised that better services, opportunities, safety, government, and a healthier environment are essential for building a cohesive nation and a harmonious world. Mohammed acknowledged the resource constraints faced by governors and highlighted the significance of prioritization, phasing, leveraging partnerships, and managing expectations through communication and consultation.

On his part, the Chairman of Heirs Holdings Group, Tony Elumelu stressed the critical need for collaborative efforts to create wealth and empower the youth in Nigeria

He urged the governors to prioritize youth engagement as a means to create a positive impact and catalyze socio-economic development at both the state and national levels. As a champion of entrepreneurship among Nigerian youth, Elumelu called upon the governors to focus on creating states that are more entrepreneurial and geared towards wealth creation. He highlighted the need for an enabling environment that supports youth-driven initiatives, ultimately leading to job creation and economic prosperity.

In the realm of security, the National Security Adviser, the Director General of the Department of State Security, and the Inspector General of Police provided advisory sessions for the new governors.

They urged the governors to adopt good governance as a security policy, pay attention to early warnings, listen to traditional rulers and informants, and employ technology to combat crime effectively.

Notably, Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo and Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma voiced their concerns about the security challenges in Nigeria. Soludo criticized the disproportionate burden placed on state governments, while Uzodinma stressed the need for collaboration between state and federal governments to address security issues. Uzodinma acknowledged the ultimate responsibility of the President as the commander in chief for security provision and management in the country.

In an engaging panel discussion on the economy, Soludo criticised the federal government for reckless borrowing and a lack of adherence to debt management rules, which, according to him, had led to inflation.

He called for the Debt Management Office (DMO) to function as a federation agency, overseeing the debt management of both states and the federal government. On the other hand, the Director General of the Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, provided insights into the guidelines governing domestic and foreign borrowings, emphasizing the importance of debt servicing and responsible borrowing. She stressed the importance of allocating funds for debt servicing and ensuring that states operate within the recommended 40% debt service to revenue ratio. Oniha emphasised the DMO’s collaboration with relevant agencies and the World Bank to conduct debt sustainability analyses, advising incoming governors to borrow for investments rather than consumption.

The first Ladies of States also participated in an induction ceremony of their own. First Lady Aisha Buhari called upon them to provide unwavering support to their husbands in delivering effective governance. She highlighted the importance of building the capacities of the wives of governors to drive positive change in Nigeria’s democratic landscape.

Furthermore, the involvement of first ladies in the induction program emphasized the influential role they can play in advocating for important causes, promoting education and health initiatives, and empowering women and girls. The call for gender inclusivity in appointments and recognition of women as a significant portion of the voting population signals a step towards greater representation and equal participation in governance.

Meanwhile, Borno State emerged as the top-performing state in Nigeria’s Leadership Challenge for Primary Healthcare delivery. The program, aimed at strengthening the Primary Health Care Under One Roof (PHCUOR) policy, encouraged state governors to increase funding for primary healthcare. During the induction program of the governors-elect, held at the presidential villa, Borno State was awarded a total of $1.2 million, with $700,000 for being the best-performing state overall and an additional $500,000 for being the winner in the Northeast zone.

The Leadership Challenge recognized winners in various zones across the country, with each zone winner receiving $500,000. Kwara State emerged victorious in the North Central zone, Jigawa in the Northwest, Ebonyi in the Southeast, Rivers in the South-South, and Ondo in the Southwest. The first runner-up in each zone was awarded $400,000, with Abia State securing the first runner-up position in the Southeast zone.

The induction program and its various discussions highlighted the crucial role of good governance in Nigeria’s development. It emphasised the need for governors to deliver on their campaign promises, prioritise the needs of the people, ensure financial responsibility and transparency, address economic and social challenges, and collaborate with relevant stakeholders to enhance security and drive positive change.

Overall, the induction program served as a platform for dialogue, knowledge sharing, and collaboration among key stakeholders. It aimed to equip governors with the necessary tools, insights, and strategies to fulfill their responsibilities, deliver on campaign promises, and drive positive change in their respective states. The success of this endeavor will ultimately depend on the commitment and actions of the governors as they assume office and work towards building a prosperous and inclusive Nigeria.

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