By Clifford Ndujihe, Acting Political Editor
FROM Lagos to Sokoto, Rivers to Borno, and Taraba to Kwara, the 36 state governors have huge tasks on their hands as Nigeria marks 20 years of unbroken democratic rule.
Today, 29 governors will be sworn-in; 12 of them as first timers across the country. In the next four years, the 29 men alongside seven others, who took oaths of office earlier and as such did not face the ballot box in the 2019 polls, will lead the country in the tough battle against insecurity, poverty, joblessness and other poor human development indices.
Currently, 93 million Nigerians live in extreme poverty and according to the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, Nigeria has the world’s third lowest life expectancy rate of 55 years. The life expectancy of an average Nigerian in 2019 is only better than those of people in Sierra Leone (53), Chad (54) and the Central African Republic (54). War-torn Afghanistan has 65 years; Somalia has 58; and Syria has 73.
Since 2016, the World Bank has ranked Nigeria 152nd out of 157 countries in human development index.
Currently, 13.2 million Nigerian children are out-of-school, which is the highest in the world according to the Demographic Health Survey, DHS, conducted by the United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF.
On account of flickering flames of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East; herdsmen and farmers conflicts in the North; banditry and kidnapping by armed gunmen in many northern states including Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina, there is an avalanche of Internally Displaced Persons, IDP camps across the country sheltering thousands of people.
Speedily, the herdsmen crises have started affecting many southern states.
A peep into the various states shows that the governors have to surmount these challenges among others to deepen Nigeria’s democracy and ensure a better welfare for the citizenry.
Amid a huge debt profile, the governors are to ensure payment of the new N30,000 minimum wage, backlog of salary arrears and pensions.
They must fight insecurity, improve education and human capital development, improve healthcare provision and accessibility, build new roads and maintain old ones, improve their internally generated revenue, drive the industrialisation process, create job opportunities and develop agriculture to ensure food security.
They must also ensure development of democracy at the grassroots by conducting local council polls.
In the Niger-Delta region, the governors are expected to fight environmental pollution occasioned by oil exploitation, provide security, protect the environment and develop other sources of revenue in addition to oil and gas.