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Memo to newly-elected governors

Congratulations to all the brand new elected and re-elected governors.  The time to hit the ground running is NOW! However, you need to know that…

Congratulations to all the brand new elected and re-elected governors.  The time to hit the ground running is NOW!

However, you need to know that the work of a governor begins with a transition period and if the primary responsibility of the governor is to govern, that begs the question, HOW?

One thing you need to know is that campaigns are over, now it’s time to think and answer some of these questions:

  1. How can I approach the job as a newly elected governor?
  2. How can I convert my campaign promises into agenda and results?
  3. What is expected of me to do before the inauguration?
  4. What immediate decisions must be made?
  5. What are the key things I need to do as per – policy development, governance and communication tools?

In responding to some of these questions here are seven low hanging fruits for a quick win.

  1. Constitute a robust transition team, remember you only have two months to inauguration. As governor-elect, you will soon have full power and responsibility of the executive branch of the state. Constitutionally and practically – the statutory power of the governor is often perceived by new governors as more limited than they imagine. The notes developed by the transition committee will give you an insight into what is expected of you.
  2. Constitute a technical team to handle the transition. You need a combination of technocrats and politicians. The ability of the governor-elect to navigate the difficulties of governing will largely depend on the quality of work done by the transition team.
  3. Begin to build and nurture relationships with other arms of government. To effectively navigate the turbulent waters of governance, you need to have a strong working relationship with civil servants, legislature, the media and the public. Begin to do that today, through breakfast meetings and dinner.
  4. On making appointments, the most important decisions a governor-elect will make during the transition will be selecting individuals to staff the Governor’s Office, central management agencies and executive council. Apart from individuals, you also need a ‘team’ that will drive and coordinate the day-to-day running of the state. Competence, character and commitment should be paramount in engaging people to work with.
  5. Follow the rules of the game and look at the processes of your administration as important tools to accomplish your key objectives. Communicate your goals to the team members, your target, milestones and results should be very clear to all. As a newly-elected governor, make sure you keep your priorities firmly focused.
  6. Implementation of a four-year Strategic Plan, if you have one, is good! If not, develop one within six months of your administration. Immediately upon taking office, the governor is expected to be a master of the intricacies of the state government. Plans and programmes are the lifeblood of the state government, including emergency response plans and tracking of people’s complaints and delivery of results.
  7. We are in the era of people surviving through ‘cooking and sharing fake news’, therefore as a governor-elect, you need a robust media team. Engaging the electorate through social media and offline. Mistakes at the beginning of your tenure can lead to serious challenges. Using the full power of media relations is not all about daily updates on social media, but it is about the overall narrative of the governor’s tenure.  

Finally, you need to know that the transition period of a new governor has often been described as the most intense period after the campaign. Also, you need to know that successful governors are principled leaders who remain in touch with their constituents. Remember to shape your administration with leadership, management, results tracking and communication tools.


Murtala Adogi Mohammed Ph.D, Founder/Executive Director, System Strategy & Policy Lab

[email protected]