By Saawua Terzungwe & Baba Martins
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has called for legal provisions to protect deputy governors from unnecessary impeachment and to make them more functional and secure in the discharge of their duties.
He spoke yesterday in Abuja during the public presentation and launch of a book titled ‘Deputising and Governance in Nigeria’, written by Kano State governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
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The former president, who was chairman of the occasion, said there should be a legal framework to assign clear responsibilities rather than the “ad hoc” functions they performed at the behest of the governors, in order to reduce tension in the administrative process.
He said, “Legal provisions protecting the position of the deputy governor should be strengthened to make the office more functional, and secure it from wanton impeachment.”
“Having played centrally as both deputy and principal at different times, I would say that I am in a pole position to appreciate the substance of the book and its importance to our democratic and leadership journey.”
He called on deputies to possess loyalty, patience, cool-headedness, discipline, capacity and sound judgement which are essential qualities for minimising disagreements, suspicion and friction with their principal.
I’m fortunate to have cordial rapport with Buhari – Osinbajo
Similarly, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was the special guest of honour, said political deputy is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, stressing that they are seen as spare tyres.
He said, “Many believed the analogy that deputies are spare tyres; but the unanswered question is that if it is so, why do people still want the job if it is such a useless job.
“The truth is that the deputy or vice must be up to the task every day. He must be the most hardworking in the government, bringing his own skills and talents in representing his principal as efficiently and effectively as possible every single day.
“Unlike the deputy governors, the vice president has a few more well-defined constitutional roles. Chairing the National Economic Council’s monthly meeting, National Council on Privatisation, and deputy to several other official bodies.
“The effectiveness of the vice president depends a great deal on the trust reposed on him by the president. It is also a function of loyalty which goes both ways.
“I think personally, I have been more fortunate than others in my relationship with my principal, President Buhari. I believe he also genuinely believes in the world of the vice president.
“When he was leaving on medical leave, the first and second time, he said to me when I told him that I was going to send to him things I scanned. But he said, ‘I don’t want you to send to me anything at all. It is your job now, just make sure you do a good job.’
“The president does not expect that I will call him at all when he is away. He expected that I know what to do and I should go ahead to do it.”
Why I authored book on political deputies – Ganduje
Governor Ganduje said his decision to write the book was to share his first-hand experience in the thought-provoking, fascinating and worthwhile journey.
“The book tells numerous experiences relating to principal and deputy relations in the Nigerian political system, reflecting the successful and evil times; the optimistic and destructive relationships and their consequences for development, particularly on provision of dividends of democracy, in addition to reasonable options for a pleasant working relationship between the two key political leaders.
“I enjoyed working with my principal, the then governor of Kano State, His Excellency, Senator (Engr) Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, as his deputy during our two tenures of 1999-2003 and 2011-2015 respectively.
“However, the history of relationships between some governors and their deputies in Nigeria since the First Republic has been that of disloyalty, envy, betrayal, mistrust, ambition, which has over the years divided several states of the federation and negatively affected the development of the people who voted the pair into office.
“This should be considered as a matter of national importance, because the resentful relationship is unfavourable to democracy, national peace, stability and development. Because when governors clash with their deputies, the state suffers.”
Loyalty, trust essential for good governance – Tinubu
The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, said loyalty, mutual trust and respect by deputies to their principals is essential for good governance.
Tinubu, who was represented by his running mate, Kashim Shettima said, “The relationship between governors and their deputies must be anchored on loyalty, mutual trust and respect. These ingredients are essential for good governance.
“Power is what God has given to humanity and we spend more time out of power than in power. So, managing relationship between the governor and his deputy is good in delivering good governance.”