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Plight of deputies takes centre stage at Ganduje’s book launch

The controversy surrounding the relationship between a president and his vice and governors and their deputies has somehow reached a legendary status in Nigeria, at…

The controversy surrounding the relationship between a president and his vice and governors and their deputies has somehow reached a legendary status in Nigeria, at least since the return of Democracy in 1999.

The frosty relationship between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his vice, Atiku Abubakar, and the plight of former President Goodluck Jonathan following the health complications that led to the death of the then President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, before he took over the mantle of leadership, stand out. 

On the part of the governors, there was the issue of Jude Agbaso and Uche Madumere under Rochas Okorocha in Imo State. There was also the case of Professor Hafiz Abdullahi under Governor Umar Ganduje in Kano State.

Also, Iyiola Omisore was impeached by the Osun State House of Assembly due to irreconcilable differences between his principal, Governor Bisi Akande, the same way Dr Chris Ekpeyong of Akwa Ibom was impeached under Governor Victor Attah.

In Kano, Ganduje’s deputy resigned, even as commissioner for education, over issues bordering on loyalty and interest.

All these issues and how to tackle the menace and give deputy governors a role in the democratic process took centre stage at the launch of a book entitled, “Deputising and Governance in Nigeria,” written by the Kano State governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

Speaking as the chairman of the event, former President Jonathan 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.

The former president said there should be a legal framework to assign clear responsibilities rather than the “ad hoc” functions they perform 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.”

Jonathan also said certain things were crucial in cultivating a cordial relationship between a deputy and his principal. “They include good personal relationships, accessibility, mutual respect and common focus.

“On the part of the deputy, loyalty, patience, cool headedness, discipline, capacity and sound judgement are essential qualities for minimising disagreement, suspicion and friction.

“Beyond that, there is also the need for a legal adjustment to assign clear responsibilities to the deputy governors, other than the ad hoc functions they perform at the behest of their bosses in order to reduce tension in the administrative process.

“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 said, having played the role of a deputy and principal at different times.

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 principals.

In his submission, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was the special guest of honour, said being a deputy is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, stressing that they are seen by many people as spare tyres.

 “Many believe the analogy that deputies are spare tyres, but the unanswered question is: If it is so, why do people still want the 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 day.

“Unlike deputy governors, the vice president has a few more well-defined constitutional roles – chairing the National Economic Council’s monthly meetings, 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,” he said.

Speaking specifically on his relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari, Osinbajo said, “I have been more fortunate than others in my relationship with my principal. 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 and I told him that I was going to send things I scanned to him, he said, ‘I don’t want you to send anything at all to me. 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 expects that I know what to do and I should go ahead to do it.”

Governor Ganduje said he decided to write the book to share his first-hand experience in the political journey.

He said, “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 the 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, Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso as his deputy during our two tenures – 1999 to 2003 and 2011 to 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. This is because when governors clash with their deputies, the state suffers.”

The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, said loyalty, mutual trust and respect by deputies to their principals were 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.” 

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