As they get ready to leave office later this month, leaving governors have been cautioned by former Senate President Bukola Saraki to refrain from meddling in their states’ administrations.
This is as a former Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo, told outgoing governors to “be prepared for the visits of such institutions like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit who may ask some questions that need answers.”
Saraki, Dankwambo and others spoke on Sunday night at the farewell dinner for outgoing governors held at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
They spoke to the outgoing governors on how to prepare for life after office.
Saraki, a former governor of Kwara State, urged the 18 outgoing governors to make the necessary adjustments to play their roles in national development.
While commending the outgoing governor for the services rendered to their respective states, Saraki said, “When you are no longer governor, allow your successor to do their work. Go back to your families. I am sure your wives, children and grandchildren are counting the days. You are bracing for a new phase of life, which is completely different. Spend more time with your families. Save your money for hampers and rams because they won’t come as usual.”
The former Senate President also enjoined the newly-elected governors to start planning their exit from day one, even as he harped on the significance of self-challenge for development.
“To our incoming governors, start planning and preparing for governance. Plan your exit from day one and keep challenging yourselves,” Saraki said.
Taking the floor, Dankwambo recalled the difficulty of transiting from office to out of it, narrating how an unnamed former governor, who had a flight to catch to Benin City, kept sitting and sipping coffee in the departure lounge of a Nigerian airport, not knowing that the plane had taken off.
The incident, which drew a thunderous laughter from the audience, according to Dankwambo, happened because the former governor as usual was waiting for his aides to remind him of boarding time.
He urged outgoing governors to bear with the pressure of friction likely to to occur between them and their successors.
“You are retiring from work, not life. Avoid meddling in the affairs of your predecessors. As you get older, your health cannot be taken for granted. You have to bear with the pressure,” he said, urging the incoming governors to “begin to prepare for retirement as soon as you are sworn in. Be prepared for the visits of such institutions like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit who may ask some questions that need answers.”
Sharing his own experiences on life after office, a former Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu, called on new and returning governors to prioritise the people’s welfare, irrespective of their political affiliations.
He said, “Let’s work diligently so that after our tenure, people will come back and say you have done well. To have elected you, it means the people have chosen you as their servant. Every time, do what your conscience and the law say you should do.”
According to Aliyu, there is danger in personalising power at the expense of the people.
“At times, people will say this is our time. Don’t make that mistake. A former governor who made that mistake is now walking on the streets,” he said.
Aliyu called on the governors to make themselves accessible and accountable to the people, reminding them that being governors does not mean they are the best and the brightest.
“That you are governors today does not mean that you are the best. Some of us were not the brightest in class. Perhaps, we were in the last 10 in the class. So, don’t think because you are governors, you must impose your successor,” he stressed.
To transit easily from office to out of it, Aliyu called on outgoing governors to immediately “get something to do to augment your income. Don’t be the type that will always be at home. Be active and don’t allow your brain or physical body to go down.”
The Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, on her part, said states must be made to work for their citizens arguing that “Nigeria cannot be great without the states. We know that we don’t have strong foundations but through hard work, this country can be better.”
She called for partnership and deliberate policies to empower Nigerian women, noting that they do not have lesser brains compared to their male counterparts.
The PUNCH reports that a book, “How the States are Governed: A first-hand account by Nigeria Governors,” was presented at the event by Mr Joe Abah who advised the incoming governors to learn from the literary account, how their predecessors navigated the stormy waters of governance and political developments.
The event was attended by past, serving and incoming governors, including Kayode Fayemi, Aminu Tambuwal, Aminu Masari, Charles Soludo, Bala Mohammed, Babagana Zulum, Dauda Lawal, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia, and a host of others.