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Slipshod and slovenly sloppy wins the race

Presidential arrow deflectors were right. Weeks back, unable to counter the mass discontent and the barrage of criticisms against the slipshod, slovenly sloppy regime that…

Presidential arrow deflectors were right. Weeks back, unable to counter the mass discontent and the barrage of criticisms against the slipshod, slovenly sloppy regime that has lost track of things. Our national currency, the naira lost the zeal to fight and finally caved in.

While the president followed the footsteps of his travelling predecessor telling us he was junketing to inform the world that Nigeria is open for business, the few multinationals that were hitherto doing business at home were zipping their boxes and shipping out. Local businesses were hoping that they would be bought out by spiritual houses and labour unions were poised for a shutdown of activities.

For a regime that campaigned on renewing hope, this was not what it could have promised the masses if campaigns hadn’t been drowned by the music of Wasiu Ayinde. Since those who promised nothing could not be accountable for anything, the Fuji crooner must have cashed out even though he later drew the president’s attention to mass discontent, it was too late.

As for the presidential media team, their message was poignant – leave the presidency alone and focus on the activities of your governors. With the exception of security which is exclusively on the exclusive list, state governments were the second closest to the people. In most places, since governors ruled as emperors, no elections have taken place in their states since inauguration. If ever there was an opportunity to sit back and retrace its steps; that advice was meant to create the tranquility needed to make that happen.

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Nigeria has an amorphous 36-state structure, but viable states could be counted on the fingers of one hand. The rest are beggar states hanging around the FCT for handouts. They lobby the presidency for a spot as presidential air milers and spend the rest of their time cavorting in their liaison offices and guest houses in Abuja. These emperors do not brook criticism.

A potent example was the epic battle between Senator Natasha Akpoti and Yahaya Bello where Natasha reenacted the gallantry of Agbaja women against their colonial overlords. As the youngest of his peers, Bello spent his term defending Muhammadu Buhari and his last term installing a pliable successor. He found one in Usman Ododo who prostrated for his patron minutes after being sworn in and followed up with establishing a permanent Office of the Former Governor in the Government House, Lokoja, to earn a Guinness Record for sycophancy.

Ododo is not like Fubara of Rivers’ State who did not wait to consolidate power before taking on his predecessor Nyesom Wike resulting in wanton brigandage in Port Harcourt followed by a pyrrhic peace. Fubara is working and walking on eggshells.

In the Confluence State, as long as Bello remains in the government house, his looming image would always overshadow the efforts of his godson. As musician Lagbaja would have put it, ‘if you are from Kogi – nothing for you!’ It’ll take a miracle to make that state ever work.

If my charity begins at home, it’s because home for me is not only Kogi, but Kano where, to my recollection, life began. To steal another Lagbaja ditty, the initial gragra that greeted Governor Abba Yusuf even before he received his court revalidation cooled as soon as he received the Supreme pronouncement. No doubt, Kano is a solvent state.

Even after the Audu Bako foundation of industrialisation shifted to religious piety and the destruction of non-halal commerce, the Kano of the 80s has disappeared as much as the commercial hubs of Sharada, Bompai or even Fagge. The politics of exclusion meant that Sabon Gari, once the cash cow, was abandoned to its haram. The potholes have remained along with the general neglect as those who live there are considered people of easy virtue. Progress moved into the city and the suburbs. While there were hardly any new industries, there are flyovers. A few roundabouts have survived demolition.

Piety remains top on the wish list of the Kanawa ruling class, hence the creation of the morality police – the Hisbah. When Governor Yusuf recently criticised the inhumane way the Hisbah has been conducting its activities of late, Sheikh Daurawa who heads the group threw in his resignation from a function he was attending in Kaduna. Governor Yusuf would have to recalibrate on what is best for Kano, the pursuit of piety, said to be a prerequisite for divine blessing or secularity that even the Saudis have been embracing to join modernity. It is yet to be seen how the governor plays his cards against the conservative Ulama and its fanatical followers.

From the South West, the best place to look is the commercial hub of Lagos and Tinubu’s home state. It is true that industries are giving way to mega-religious establishments, but Lagosians worship with one eye while working hard to make it. Ask Tinubu’s supporters and they will tell you that the foundation that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is building on was laid by their master. The cemetery of Nigeria’s underdevelopment is filled with the dead bones of solid foundations laid by regional and sometimes state leaders.

So, after commissioning an impressive first rail line in Lagos, Sanwo-Olu rode into a storm of criticism when his ‘official trip’ to Grenada coincided with the wanton display of wealth by a Lagos socialite said to have links with top boys in government. Sanwo-Olu’s media hands did not ask critics to focus on happenings in the local governments. No, he redoubled his efforts on the new 37-kilometer Red Line Railway that was again commissioned last week. No critic has been able to take the shine out of that. It is a first in Nigeria both in quality and in aesthetic appeal. It is a project well laid out and long overdue.

Sanwo-Olu is pushing forward with more rail links that would make transportation in Lagos State an envy. What more, he is partnering with neighbouring Ogun and there are talks by Oodu’a advocates that it should be replicated within its enclave. Give it to Sanwo-Olu, in Macaroni’s words – he is doing well.

The South East has become the bedrock of insurrection with the notorious Eastern Security Network and Biafra agitators helping their governors to under-develop their region. Not anymore. Alex Oti, the new man in the saddle in Abia has done what Napoleon cannot do. He has completed an Independent Power Project that put Abia above any other state with 24/7 power supply. News from Umuahia is that from Day 1, Oti set out to transform his state. Road projects have wowed his citizens and development is just by the corner. Oti is popular in the East, but also a source of envy. Citizens of other states are now asking why their own governors are not performing.

It was awesome that Tinubu’s dynamic inactivity has not deflected the arrows of criticism from him, but prompted people to check the states for what governors are doing to better the lives of their citizenry.

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