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Look yourself in the mirror, read books, Awosika, Kuka tell governors

•Bill Richardson, Magu, Osinbajo also comment on governance

BY HENRY UMORU

The days were Monday and Tuesday, 29th and 30th April and the locale was the Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, when the new and returning governors converged on Abuja for induction by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF under the Chairmanship of the governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari.

Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, FBNH

Those who spoke at the event like the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah; Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria, Mrs Ibukun Awosika; Development    Partners like the AFDB, BMGF, DFID, GIZ, UNICEF, USAID, World Bank, Dangote Foundation, Former governors of New Mexico State, Maryland, USA; former Chief of Staff to Governor Bill Richardson, USA; Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, former governors of Lagos, Ogun, katsina, Cross River,    Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Segun Osoba, Ibrahim Shema, Donald Duke respectively, among others told Nigerian governors on what to do while in office.

Awosika who got a standing ovation at the end of her presentation, advised the governors-elect and governors to gain the trust of the people they lead, just as she stressed that they must not seek commerce without morality, and that they must use the position effectively to build a nation where there will be peace and unity in Nigeria.

Said Awosika: “It’s been fascinating listening to how much help is being offered to our nation by the rest of the world. But my reality is that we are the ones to build our nation, nobody else can build our county for us. And for us to build our country, we will have to own it. And in reality, the value chain of leadership at the heart of that value chain are those of you seated on this side. The governors of every state are the major point of contact of every citizen of this country, you are the reason we will have good public health if it exists , you are the reason our children will get good education, you are the reason that things will work together for our nation to be what it deserves to be.

“In reality, having gone through the programme, I realised that the governors’ forum has done a fantastic job in scheduling everything that will be covered because there are the fundamentals of what incoming or current governors need to know in other to be effective in their jobs.

“I, therefore, have decided to deal with an issue that is personal to you as governors, issues you have control of and that it is not about what anybody does but it is about what you do. And in doing that I have chosen to ask a few questions.

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“I will start with the question of you asking yourself, who am I, why did I choose to take on this assignment. If you know who you are and you have now decided to be the governor of the state by choice, then you need to ask yourself where am I going, what is the goal for which I chose this assignment and in choosing to do this, what is the value that I set out to deliver to my people. And when you are done trying to answer these questions honestly, I always say, to thyself be true. Because, no matter what we say to other people, when it is just you and the mirror, you can look at yourself and be truthful to yourself.

“But it is important that we have a sense of who we are because, in the journey of leadership especially in Nigeria, sycophancy is very real. The pressure of the society and the people around you can change the fundamentals of who you are if you do not continue to remind yourself of who you are and why you took the job in the first place. And soon enough you may become something else other than who you were when you first started. So, it is important for you to write it down, stick down your desk and remind yourself often that this is who I am, this is why I took this job and there are people whose lives depend on me. . .

“The federal government can have the best, greatest plans in the world but the guys who touch my life and the life of every other Nigerian every day are the governors of our state. I am an Ibadan girl. My governor is seated here. I am married to an Ondo man, my Ondo Governor is seated here but the most important Governor to me in this room is the governor of Lagos State, because l live in Lagos, all my businesses are in Lagos, my life is affected every minute by what he does or what he does not do.

“In reality, when we talk of equity of trust you can only get that trust from people who trust what you do, by the way you affect and impact their lives every day. So what I am doing on behalf of my fellow citizens, I am pleading that now that you have the power, elections are over, now you are in office, you have the power and resources of the state and if (you) gain the trust of the people, they will pay more tax. When you gain the trust of the people by performance and the things that you do, ultimately you will benefit from them. Because, when you see a great man do great things that affect your life every day, when he is done with the office, the position is over, when you see him on the streets you will stop by to greet him and say honour him and respect him.

“So my question to you is how do you want your days to end? Because if you have a vision of the end of your days, you can walk back to where you are now, to how you want it to be and structure the actions that you take daily in your state. Think of every action and how it will affect the lives of those people who don’t not necessarily have a voice, they have the vote but not the voice.

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“And when you see children that are hungry in your state, you have failed them in some way, yet you have the machinery and the capacities to help them. When you see people die from simple medical situations that they need not to, it means that the states have failed. But we have the states and the capacity to make it different.

“Now, you are not going to be able to solve all the problems. But the integrity of the heart of the leaders, your commitment to truly change the lives of your people is what will bring you all the help that you will need. Because, when a man sets out to do the right thing and it shows anyway, every kind of help will come from everywhere. People will do things for you without taking a dime because they can see your commitment and the integrity of your heart.

“For a nation to truly be great, the integrity of every man sitting on this table as governor, as governor elect is critical for nation building. You need to own your own vision for your life, you need to own what you want your legacy to be. You have the opportunity from this moment to build that legacy by the things you do everyday. There will be people who will seek to derail you but by being confident of who you are and making the decision that I will live true to my values, to what is right for my country and my people, that I want to be able to walk freely amongst my people even when I am done.

“You cannot do everything, you will not do everything, just choose roads, choose education, choose health, make your contract clear with your state, let them know that our resources cannot cover all of these, these are the only things we will do in the next four years and deliver on those things. Once you are clear and your people understand, they will stand by you and defend you in the day of trouble. At the end of the day, you will get much more than anybody can pay you for.

“In this position it is generally assumed that it is opportunity for wealth but if you want to build a nation and do it and use the office that you have and use it right, you will be guided by not building wealth without work. You will get what you deserve as your pay for the office but you will get much more than that from your citizens because you have done them right.

“Don’t seek pleasure without a conscience because in seeking pleasure without a conscience, there will be traps set for you that will derail you from your goal. Which is why it is important you know who you are, why you are there, why you set out to do this and you must stick to what is right.

“Don’t seek knowledge without character, a man that does not have character does not deserve to be leading any of our value chain of leadership in this country. But if you are there, seek to be the example for the people that will serve under you in your government, people of your state, ultimately there is so much joy in seeing the accomplishments of that which you set out to do and in seeing lives that are fulfilled because of that which you have done.

“Don’t seek for commerce without morality. In building the economy of your state, make sure there is transparency and that things work and that there is accountability so that people can see what you do everyday. Even when mischief makers appear to try to turn that which you have done upside down, they will be ordinary citizens that will rise up to defend you base on how they have interacted with you and seeing that which you have done.

“Please, don’t seek politics without principles. You know, ask us everyday, why are you not in this party or that party? Why are you not joining politics, let’s be honest, we do not have politics of ideology in our country so far, we have politics of people. And if you want the right people to gather and give us the critical mass that we need to build our nation, you are the next generation of leaders that can ensure that we begin to set the template and the agenda for a great nation to be great.

“It hurts me, it breaks my heart every time you are talking to people outside of this country and they open their mouths and talk about this nation that you know. God has blessed us abundantly with resources, some of your states are richer than others but guess what, it is not so much about how rich you are, is how well that you apply the resources to meet the needs of your people. Even ordinary citizens will help you to think through. You don’t have all the answers but you have humans that can support you and they don’t have to come from your state. We all need Nigeria to work, it doesn’t matter from what state.

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“For me to drive from Lagos to Ondo, I am going to come across how many states, so I need every part of Nigeria to work. To fly from Lagos today, assuming I was driving, imagine the number of states of Nigeria I would pass through to get here. Every state must count to every Nigerian. We all want this country to work and we are very hopeful that because you have this position and you have this power, people have entrusted you with it, that you will use it effectively to build a nation, the portion of it that is assigned to you.

“And that you will work collectively for the unity of this nation. Because, nation that is divided against itself cannot stand but in the place of unity… I am a christian, the Bible says God has commanded His blessings, which means every time we combine our knowledge, our wisdom and all our resources together, we can build a great nation that the world will be afraid of.

“I want my nation to work, I want to be able to tell my children this is why I say you must live in Nigeria and nowhere else. And I ask for your help that as you do what you have sworn to do or you will swear to do as you take office, that the Lord will help you to do it right, that ultimately we will build a nation that we will all be proud of.”

Also in his speech, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah who spoke on the task of Nation Building, the same topic with Awosika, noted that the foundations of our democracies were being threatened, just as he urged the governors and other elected persons to take decisions on how Nigeria should go.

Kukah who noted that poor voter turn out is an indictment in politics, said that Nigeria as a country has not managed pluralism very well, said that the older order was still with us, no sound ideological basis for politics, weak political culture and the culture God fatherism.

According to him, nation building is a project not only for politicians.. He urged elected officers especially the governors to bring in outsiders, non politicians, learn to embrace the opponent, manage diversity as well as point the way, adding that governors should endeavour to read biographies of Mandela, Kennedy, Obama, Churchill, Gandhi, among others.

Bishop Kukah said, “Nigeria is not the only country with problems. I was here in 1999 in a similar event and we all tried to chart a way forward. Also I was invited in 2007 and 2011 to speak. How did we get here? What is here?”

“We live in a country that some think loyalties are to institutions, parties and regimes. The challenges that this nation faces, none have been truly articulated. For those elected, what are you doing now? For those going, what are you doing now?

“Now is a very busy time for prayer warriors hoping that they will be in the governors’ (appointment) list. People hardly get into positions purely on the basis of their track record. What (book) are you reading now? Everybody taking over must focus on the beat and in the worst case scenario, read great biographies: Mandela, Lee Kwan, Gandi and the rest.

“I suggest these books: The rebels who brought Churchill to power and saved England and The jungle grows back. It helps to tell you that elections alone are not enough in democracy. Infrastructure is not just about railways, highways, else we don’t need democracy.

“The fine ingredients of democracy which are important are always at bay. We must find a way to talk to the hearts of the people.  There are people who are not in office, but they are in power and there are people who are in office but are not in power.

“Everything is politics but politics is not everything. There are people bringing glory to our country without being in power. It is too early in the day for Nigerians to become lethargic on our democracy.

“When Everton defeated Man United, Solkjaer turned and apologized to the fans. Why? If the stadium is not full, we don’t have a team. Voter apathy is not good for our democracy. If ethnicity is a disability, America will not have been great today.

“Final book I recommend is “The end of power”. We need to find people willing to invest in our people. That has not happened. When people cannot see a reflection of themselves in government, they shut down. A leader must have the courage to take decisions. Many of you (governors) are young and have an idea of how the world is organised. You have an opportunity ahead of you.”

On his part, Vice President Osinbajo who represented President Muhammadu Buhari before he finally declared the event open, said, “Accept my heart felt congratulations on your elections. Heart felt, even to the PDP governors. We belong to an elite club of a nation of over 200 million people. Only 74 of us. We are special, privileged and enormously fortunate that our people chose us to lead them. This comes with great responsibilities multiplied by the fact that most of our people are poor.”

When it was his turn to speak on the second and last day of the induction Programme, Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu did not hide his feelings as he bluntly told the governors that they were covertly promoting    insecurity to inflate Security Vote, even as he said that terrorism, militancy, banditry were products of corruption, adding that in the last decade alone, the country’s loss to corruption runs into trillions of Naira.

Magu who presented a paper entitled, “Imperative of Fighting Corruption/Terrorism Financing in Nigeria.”, said that he won’t waste his time debating the constitutionality of security vote, urged the governors to be    transparent in the expenditure of public funds, adding, “we have also seen evidence of theft of public resources by some state governors – cashing on the insecurity in their states.

“Insecurity has also offered the required oxygen for corruption to thrive as evident in the $2.1 billion arm procurement scandal involving top military commanders both serving and retired. Mass poverty in the region due in part to corruption by the ruling elite, is largely to blame for the ease with which the Islamists are able to recruit fighters to sustain their aggression against the Nigerian state.”

Magu who noted that the militancy in the Niger Delta and insurgency in the Northeast are by-products of corruption, said, “As an investigator, I am shocked by the quantum of resources stolen from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) by those who run the intervention agency. It is so bad that even a mere Personal Assistant to a former Managing Director was charged for stealing over N3 billion.”

Magu therefore, advised the governors to shun corruption, adding, “whether we like it or not, corruption and terrorism have become the twin evils, undermining our collective efforts to make Nigeria a truly great country.”

According to him, a review of the recoveries between 2017 and now, shows that in 2017, the EFCC recovered N473.065 billion, $98 million, €7 million and £294,000, while N236.16 billion was recovered in 2018, which give just an insight into what had been stolen so far.

Also a former governor of New Mexico State, US, Bill Richardson made a lead    presentation on the topic “Making the most of your Transition”, with Brian Condit, a former Chief of Staff to governor Bill Richardson, former Katsina State governor Ibrahim Shema, and governors Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti and Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos state as discussants while the    session was chaired by former Lagos state governor, Bola Tinubu.

In his presentation, Richardson who urged governors to show support to the departing governor of their state,    said that they should request an emergency response briefing from heads of security, adding that governors should get good lawyers to help them in the transition and that there should be a meeting between the departing governor and the new governor.

Mr Richardson who urged the governors to always keep time for family and exercise, said, “The job is important, so is your family.    Your campaign people will want the best jobs. Bu,t you have to be careful. Go for the best people.

Always determine which decision needs to be made and choose which should be delegated.”

The former governor of New Mexico who urged the governors to make sure they start with a good transition because that will determine if they will get a good four year term, asked them to make tour appointments quickly, including boards and commissions and the cabinet, adding, “You can have a single Chief of Staff but make a series of other appointments such as communications directors, budget (and) emergency. Once you are elected, in the transition period, take a little break and reconnect with your family.”

Richardson who asked the governors to respect the civil service, said, “Find the best personnel based on competence, character. Ask for advice from outgoing governor. All communication should go through the press secretary.”

Richardson who also urged the governors to create opportunities for young people and those in the rural areas, said, “They produce food for those in the urban areas. Make sure every request or call is responded to. Get a legal counsel and make sure legally you are on a firm ground. You also needs somebody who knows governance in your team.  Evolve quickly. Keep inaugural activity separate from policy. What are the key appointments at transition? Chief of Staff, with a strong policy team.”

On security issues, the former governor of New Mexico who urged the governors to get the public informed always, said, “Solutions in Nigeria, should be made by Nigerians, you know best. We can only advise. Your best resource is former governors,” he said. In this era of technology, try and master one of the technologies. There should be people to people relationships. Don’t neglect going to the villages to talk to the people. Set up at least three hours to see the people. Give everyone at least three minutes to talk to you. Appoint women. Give women an opportunity. It is happening everywhere, why not Nigeria?”

On his part,    former Chief of Staff to Governor Bill Richardson, Brian Condit said, “By now, you are looking for talent to populate public office. There is always potential talent within the civil service. Work hard and develop relationships with key civil service agencies. People will now be rushing to meet you, they want something. You will never have an opportunity to work on your own agenda. Maintain control of your schedule, it should not be just about meeting requests of the people.”

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