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When Governors Go, They Should be Totally Gone

The governors are making it look like their deputies are their servants, who must kowtow to the boss, like the newly-elected governor of Kogi State, Ahmed Usman Ododo, who subserviently kneeled to the outgoing Governor Yahaya Bello.

Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State is the Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum. / Photo credit:

I would not aspire to be a deputy of any Nigerian governor, though it is an exalted political position to reach.

The governors are making it look like their deputies are their servants, who must kowtow to the boss, like the newly-elected governor of Kogi State, Ahmed Usman Ododo, who subserviently kneeled to the outgoing Governor Yahaya Bello.

Shouldn’t a deputy governor be someone who has clout and has acquired experience, seen it all and is ready to go all by himself, unassisted, unguided and unstopped?

That’s what the people expect.

But it is not the reality in Nigerian politics today.

Deputy governors are being showcased all over all over the country as politicians who have to worship their lords, their governors, even if they become governors.

The factor is the reason why the APC lost in Osun State.

The then Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, needed his former Chief of Staff, Gboyega Oyetola, to kowtow.

When he wouldn’t budge, a gulf was created, which made room for the current Governor, Mr. Ademola Adeleke, of the PDP to make a political inroad.

The same scenario is playing out all over Nigeria, where deputies are being reminded by the governors about who created them.

We now see a frequent rollout of governor-deputy skirmishes that require presidential intervention to thaw.

The relationship between former Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and the current governor, Siminalayi Fubara, has been strained since Fubara took office in May, this year.

The two have clashed over a number of issues, including the handling of the state’s finances, the management of the state’s oil and gas resources, and the control of the state’s security apparatus.

One wonders if Wike is a federal minister or a state governor these days.

He acts as a governor who never left one public office before taking another.

Wike, who is a powerful political figure in Rivers State, has accused Fubara of being incompetent and of being controlled by the All Progressives Congress (APC), the ruling party, in which Wike serves.

Wike has also accused Fubara of ignoring his advice and of not respecting him as his former mentor, as if mentorship is constitutional.

Fubara has denied Wike’s allegations, stating that he is not beholden to any political party, while accusing Wike of trying to interfere in the running of the state government and undermining his authority.

The feud between Wike and Fubara has had a significant impact on governance in Rivers State, causing policy paralysis, a decline in public services and a poor investment climate for businesses to operate.

Let’s go to Ondo State.

The relationship between the Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, and his deputy, Mr. Lucky Aiyedatiwa, has been strained for several months due to Akeredolu’s prolonged absence from the state as a result of ill health, and subsequent disagreements over Akeredolu’s governance style.

In June, Akeredolu traveled to Germany for medical treatment for an undisclosed ailment.

He remained abroad for several months, during which Aiyedatiwa assumed some of his responsibilities as governor.

However, Akeredolu continued to maintain his position as governor and made important decisions directly or through his influential spouse.

Upon his return to Nigeria in September, Akeredolu remained in Ibadan, Oyo State, while governing Ondo remotely.

He also took steps to reassert his authority, including dismissing Aiyedatiwa’s media team and making unilateral decisions without consulting his deputy.

These developments led to tensions between Akeredolu and Aiyedatiwa, with Aiyedatiwa expressing concerns about his exclusion from important decisions, and the lack of transparency regarding Akeredolu’s health status.

It is apparent that Akeredolu is not fit to govern, but he won’t let his deputy assume the constitutional role of taking over the affairs of the state.

The situation escalated when Akeredolu initiated impeachment proceedings against Aiyedatiwa, accusing him of insubordination and dereliction of duty.

Aiyedatiwa would have none of it, stating that he had acted in the best interests of the state.

The political crisis in Ondo State is now full-blown. The state is stuck and service delivery is suffering.

Time to visit Edo State.

The relationship between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, has been strained for several years.

The two men have publicly disagreed on a number of issues, including the handling of the state’s finances, the management of the state’s oil and gas resources, and the control of the state’s security apparatus.

The feud between Obaseki and Shaibu came to a head in 2020, when Shaibu openly supported Obaseki’s political rival, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, in the state’s governorship election.

Obaseki ultimately won the election, and the rift seemed to be under control.

In 2022, Obaseki accused Shaibu of insubordination and attempted to impeach him. However, the Edo State House of Assembly refused to impeach Shaibu, and the feud continued.

The two men have been unable to work together effectively because of escalating duels, creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Edo State that has made it difficult for the state to function under a normal governmental structure.

Such power struggles are becoming too frequent – almost normal – across Nigeria, and it is not healthy, decent or proper.

They are often rooted in personal rivalries, power struggles, rather than ideological differences of any kind.

Petty squabbles by the two most powerful officials in a state will, and must, have a significant impact on governance, and they can even lead to violence – and it has happened before in our history.

Disagreements between governors and their deputies have a long and complex history, dating back to the early days of the country’s independence.

In the long past, a number of high-profile cases of public feuds between the top two positions and these disagreements have often caused violence and a significant impact on the public administration.

One of the earliest and most famous examples occurred in the Western Region in 1962.

The governor, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and his deputy, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, fell out over a number of issues, including the allocation of resources and the handling of regional affairs.

Awolowo moved to the federal level, just like Wike, but refused to mentally hand over to the new administrator in the region, Akintola, who was accused of supplanting Awolowo’s power in the region.

The dispute eventually led to Akintola being impeached, and it marked the beginning of a period of political instability in the Western Region after a state of emergency was declared by the Federal Government.

In the years since, there have been many other examples of disagreements between Nigerian governors and their deputies.

A good instance was the one between Governor Bola Ige of Oyo State and his deputy, Sunday Afolabi, who later crossed to the opposition party and kicked Bola Ige out of power before the military intervened in 1982.

These disagreements have often been rooted in deep personal rivalries, ego and power struggles that have nothing to do with the welfare of the citizens.

In most cases, governors and their deputies just disagree over who should have the most power in the state government.

Whatever the reasons, disagreements between governors and their deputies are a betrayal of the people’s trust.

The people don’t care about the relationship among politicians; they just want good governance.

The disagreements are a disservice which lead to policy paralysis, political instability and violence.

As Nigeria continues to develop as a democracy, it is important the governors and their deputies are not demagogues, greedy and selfish politicians.

One way to do this is to ensure that no one individual or group has too much power or steals too much money while in power to become a godfather.

Governors who exit should not be standing by the door. They should be totally gone.

Written by Tunde Chris Odediran

Tunde Chris Odediran studied and practiced journalism in Nigeria. He is now a Technical Communications and Information Technology professional in the United States.

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