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Training our governors abroad

Tony Momoh
I READ a disturbing piece of news some two weeks ago and it has still failed to be spiked as stale. It affects our governors, chief executives of the 36 states of the federation. They are bosses of their states, cannot be touched while they are on that high horse as executive governors, as they would prefer to be known by and referred to. Only impeachment, resignation or death can remove them during their period of office. The proviso that they must perform the functions of that office to be entitled to that protection is ignored in our interpretation of their roles.

So in looking at what they are doing or want to do, we can only take the route that will dismantle them in the public eye – report their shenanigans in the media which are constitutionally the fourth estate of the realm because the people to whom sovereignty belongs have said unequivocally that the press should monitor those charged with the mandate to ensure their welfare and security.

And are our governors not the most qualified candidates for monitoring in satisfaction of the demand that every step they take be watched and reported on?  So when the governors make any moves that we the people they govern are not happy with, even if our unhappiness is uninformed, then it should be understood that our many other grouses must ground our opposition to what we think they are now doing wrongly. The news that they are packaging educational improvement projects in faraway America is ground enough for us to shout and yell and scream. What do they think going abroad will do for them and for us when they know that America is America and Nigeria is Nigeria?  Have they given us electricity to power our industries and light our homes; jobs to earn a living from; hospitals to go to when we are ill or want to check how healthy we are; roads to travel on; water to drink and food to eat?  Have they created the environment for us to feel free to move in, to grow healthily in; be creative in? Or, have they provided schools, we mean schools that qualify to be schools, to send our children to, even improve ourselves in as they want to do in America? All these – power supply and other basic needs of man in society – are not an issue in America, or in other parts of the world where human beings, not just beings strutting in human bodies, have taken over the affairs of men, and so know shame and compassion.  So what do our governors want to go to America for?

The questions came tumbling in last week, some sympathetic, others downright condemnatory.  Hear some more: are we going to America to learn how to be disciplined, to find out how not to be corrupt; how not to rig elections; or how to control our emotions and tame our indiscretions?  Do we want to go to America to find out what the rule of law and due process really mean, or to ask Barrack Obama how he prepared for the position he assumed as 44th president of the United States of America, a position that has kept him so much on his toes that within six months of accessing office, he is greying and the proof is there that what they do in America is to give service, not preside over looting.

Don’t those wanting to go to America know the security implications of doing so, being as they are the chief executives of the states of the federation and members of the national council of state where all issues of import in the administration of affairs of state are tabled!  Do they, who know nothing and want to earn a mere certificate of participating in a course where they will lose more than they gain, truly have the interest of this country at heart when they do what they do, or mere greed and hunger have buried their sense of patriotism?  I wish I had the answers to the angry reactions of my countrymen.  What I can say is that many of them miss the point.  The Governors Forum is a body that has emerged on our walk on the democracy highway.  I do not know if you are not aware that since 1999 they seem to have come together to do things together.  If you are a marketer of a brand of car and you were able to penetrate one governor, that car would be the next in-thing among them.

See how the Peugeot was replaced by vehicles that have become brands among our rulers. Is it not the same with ministries and parastatals. Since 1999 on return to civil rule, we have had governors going abroad to acquire one laurel or the other, from awards organized by inconsequential bodies, to visiting other countries with the lawmakers to watch the procedures for making laws in other parliaments. Many of them have lived more outside the country since 1999 than inside it. And what did we do? Nothing.

When Madam Minister of Finance Usman  alleged that the worth of the naira was a function of when allocations were made, did many of the governors not show open anger?  So, going abroad to do one thing or the other is not new.  The suggestion that our governors and their supporting staff go to Harvard or some other place for skills in management at the level of governance should not be condemned outright. We should be looking at the worth of the material that would be infused into them. That they were going to go to Harvard brought to me my reading of a book written by Mark H. McCormack.

He wrote the bestselling What They Didn’t Teach You At Harvard Business School. A graduate of Yale Law School, he is also the author of  What They Didn’t Teach Me at Yale Law School, The Terrible Truth About Lawyers.  He  says at page 22 of his book on lawyers,  “Only after graduation do young attorneys come to the depressing realization that 90 per cent of what they were taught in academia will never be used in practice and, conversely, 90 per cent of what they need to know in practice was never taught to them at school.”

Our governors are being taken to the cleaners for signing an MOU with Prof  Robert Rotberg of Harvard who says what happened “was intended merely to indicate my willingness to explore the possibility of developing a capacity building workshop series for the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.” We know that MOUs are not just paper things that you can throw away. They amount to letters of intent in law and though not strictly binding as agreements signed sealed and delivered, they are products of consultations and discussions. We should be happy that attention was drawn to what was being intended in time. Prof Rotberg can coordinate a programme anchored on our needs which our constitution clearly identifies in chapter 11, a programme that can be executed here in cooperation with the Lagos Business School which is listed among top such schools in the world today. It is now part of  the Pan African University. But for our governors to go abroad and start filling out extensive forms to define our needs when the objective is to procure material for the host country’s security agencies, we say no, never. Ask those of us who have attended top executive management courses abroad! Me, I wrote down the very opposite of what was true! Cunning man die, cunning man bury am.


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