The performances of Northwest states’ governors, who took office in Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Jigawa States have all been marked as an unmitigated failure by their constituents, who said they have not in any way impacted on their welfare; listing corruption, insecurity, unemployment, poor youth engagement and bad governance amongst the biggest challenges begging to be addressed.
When the governors were sworn into office in 2015, millions of people in the various states were full of hopes and expectations that the long promised transformation of the geopolitical region would be fulfilled. In other words, the people expected the leaders to mitigate their sufferings and improve on the issues of unemployment, agriculture, infrastructure, and security of lives and the socio-economic wellbeing of the people.
Specifically, the governors promised speedy development in the geopolitical zone 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 problems of insecurity like kidnapping, armed robbery, a sectarian crisis which diverted attention and inevitably slowed down issues of economic and infrastructural development.
For instance, Kaduna which has been the headquarters of the Northern region since the First Republic, and which is being looked up to by other Northwest states for political direction was bugged down by insecurity and poor governance vision that failed to provide for the people’s welfare. However, Governor Nasir el-Rufai discounted arguments by critics of his first term in office during his 2019 inauguration; and instead highlighted his achievements in the office.
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 of N26.4 billion, also followed by the education sector which got the third biggest allocation of N18 billion. 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. However, Ganduje’s critics continue to taunt him with the alleged Gandujegate, which they say places a dent on his administration.
Besides, Katsina State governor, 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”.
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, Murtala Abubakar, told reporters that the performance of the Northwest governors was “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 the 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.
“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 Northwest states; 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 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,” Sarki noted.