Ranking Nigerian Governors… August 2023 – Subsidy Palliatives: Sanwo-Olu, Zulum again stand out

Ranking Nigerian Governors, a monthly special publication of Ripples Nigeria, returns for the month of August, 2023, to review the performance or otherwise of Nigerian states chief executive officers.

The review takes a critical look at the policy statements, actions or inactions of state governors and their impact on citizens resident in the states, using a ranking system that groups them into Top 5 and Bottom 5. This, we did since the inception of the publication in August 2019.

We were, however, forced to make a detour in the ranking system with the decline in governance at all levels in the country. To bridge the gap, a new approach was adopted, though temporarily, in assessing them. This approach focuses on identifying those worth mentioning either positively or negatively, while giving a verdict on the general state of governance by the governors.

Though we acknowledge the challenges associated with governance in this part of the world, especially the dwindling resources at the disposal of state governors and the ever rising wage bills and other needs calling for attention, it is our belief that leaders who are smart enough and creative, should not have too many problems making things work given the abundant natural and human resources available all over the country.

The contrary has, however, remained the reality on ground, as there is a near-total disconnect between the performances of state governors and the expectations of the people, leading to widespread mistrust. This, is largely because those saddled with governance at the state level have been unable to prudently manage the resources available, and are bereft of creative and future-looking approach in their planning and policy formulation

In the July 2023 edition of Ranking Nigerian Governors, we focused on response of state governors to the hardships occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government, identifying states where responses were less than concrete but mundane and ephemeral. We also noted those that could be said to be more robust in approach and patently impacting.

For the month of August 2023, Ranking Nigerian Governors seeks to again, review these responses and what has been done so far. These responses and concrete actions, we sadly note, have not been the way most states initially pronounced, except for few states that have been outstanding

For Lagos, the administration of Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu has matched its words with actions, especially in the area of public transportation, which, no doubt is one of the areas most impacted by the removal of fuel subsidy. We acknowledge the reduction of fares on the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) just as promised by the state government. Though the BRT bus fare reduction has not impacted on the majority of Lagos residents due to the limited number of buses and routes covered by them, we believe it is something to cheer, especially for those whose cost of movement has been helped

It is also worthy of mention that the state also rolled out electric buses in conjunction with Oando Green Energy, further cutting the cost of public transportation. This, we say is innovative and forward looking.

The kick-off of the Operation of the Blue line rail services, also known as Metro Line, is another first for a state government in Nigeria and worthy of applause. There is no doubt that this will bring so much relief to Lagos residents along the blue line corridor from Mile 2 to Marina.

For Borno State, Governor Babagana Zulum has continued to show example of how palliatives should be distributed down to the most vulnerable in the society and not merely given to party supporters and cronies.

We acknowledge the model Governor Zulum has been using in reaching needy households in Borno unlike other states, including Lagos where most people have remained unaware of any palliative distribution. For Zulum, who most times, personally oversees the distribution himself, palliatives which included money and foodstuffs, interest free 24-month tenure loans to workers, subsidised public transportation and other incentives, cannot be politicised but given to those who truly deserve them

We also note that though the Federal Government made palliatives provision for 100,000 households in Borno, the state government under Zulum, made additional provision for 300,000 households in the state, bringing it to 400,000 households. This, we believe, is worthy of emulation by other states.

We also applaud his largesse to youth corpers in the state, who benefited from his friendly policies with a grant of N30,000 each and 100 bags of rice as their own special palliatives. This gesture, extended to the young Nigerians, is no doubt encouraging, as the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) only just resumed camping in the state after years of absence due to the Boko Haram insurgency.

We acknowledge further, the recruitment of 4,000 teachers for government owned primary and secondary schools in Borno as another major plus that will no doubt improve the quality of education in the state and reduce the unemployment burden

For other states, where grandiose promises were made, nothing much can be said to have been done, except the paltry N10,000 extra payment to state government workers, which will last for three days, in the case of Ogun State.
> However, the pledge by Governor Dapo Abiodun to convert state government transit and privately owned mini buses to CNG at government’s expense is yet to take off.

The lacklustre performance of state governors across the country in cushioning the effects of the subsidy removal, we dare say cannot be justified, especially with increased revenue allocation from the FAAC since July 2023. Waiting for the government at the centre to spoon feed them lacks justification and only shows absence of initiative and a lack of commitment to the welfare of the people

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