Speaking on the heels of the 5th Kaduna Investment Forum, Governor El Rufai of Kaduna State, has lamented the negative impression governors get in Nigeria. Responding to a question, on Sunrise Daily of Channels Television, about why he believes the worst job in Nigeria is to be a governor, El Rufai  said most people feel that governor are corrupt and ineffective.

Arguing that his opinion was based on his personal experience, the governor said he assumed office in Kaduna when Nigeria was struggling with a crippling recession. This was worsened by crashed oil prices, inherited wage bill and other overheads, all of which were tied to a misplaced $100 per barrel oil. Yet people expected him to deliver, not excuses but development projects.

The embattled governor further said, “as a subnational entity, the capacity of states to borrow is limited, and while the federal government can print money, we cannot”.

It is interesting to hear this from Governor El Rufai who is said to be one of the most performing governors in Northern Nigeria. That means  there us no absolute condition. With the available economic resources, he has done relatively well. Performance evaluation is always done on the basis of relativity.  We may not expect the governor of Kebbi State to perform as much as Lagos State. 

Granted, the 36 states are not equally endowed. The principle of fiscal federalism states that each state should develop at its own pace in an effort to become economically self -sustainable. This takes into cognisance the fact that each state in Nigeria is sufficiently endowed with what it takes to be self-sustaining. In effect, without the monthly Federal Allocation, all states in Nigeria, not just Lagos alone,  can survive. It’s a matter of knowing what you have and developing capacity to harness them. The United States do not receive allocation from Washington DC every month; instead they pay to the centre.

Pursuant to the above premise, it is safe to say that the governors occupy a most privileged position to transform Nigeria, not necessarily Buhari. If every governor can work to develop the resources available in their states, crude oil, natural gas, solid mineral deposits, including sprawling arable land and forestry, Nigeria would be better than the United States of America. The governors are the most powerful politicians in Nigeria.

Their jobs are not the worst in the world, but one of the most coveted. If it’s the worst, why do prospective governors look for sponsors, or borrow money from banks to execute their mandates.

To mention a few, governors control federation accounts to their states, in addition to Internally Generated Revenue and all local government accounts. A governor is the owner/controller of all land within his domain. He has excess security votes to play with, and can borrow money with federal government as surety. He also enjoys immunity, with most Assembly members by his side to give support to constructive projects. Unfortunately, not many of them are willing to work as agents of development.

John Daniel Obioma

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