Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, (NGF) Mr Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi
It never was this cloudy for our governors. The usual thoughts that collocate with them have been issues related to rape of the treasury. And many did rape their tills. But that is not so much the worry anymore. The new anxiety is over the spate of calamities and ill wind blowing the governors. In the last four or so months, many untoward incidents have conspired to rob the governors of their cheer.
It is not for nothing that the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, (NGF) Mr Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, during the week, while declaring open the Global Mega Prayer Quake, called for special prayers for his colleagues. He fears that the New Year predictions concerning his colleagues seem too gloomy. And that the heavens now need to be beseeched to save them.
So what is the matter with the Nigerian governors? Is it mere happenstance that they have suddenly become victims of ill fate or as some uncharitable persons have suggested, they are suffering the penalties of misgovernance? I do not agree with the latter school of thought. First, it is too early, and in fact preposterous, to conclude that they have misgoverned. Whatever their drawbacks are, they could still redeem their records within the remaining period they will still be in office. And still, the present set of governors cannot be punished for the sins of their predecessors, many of who ruined their states with all kinds of complex mega fraud. Nature cannot thus be so unfair as to punish some people for the sins of others whereas the “sinners” are very much around and well. None of the governors in the class of 99 has suffered any fatal consequence.
So what is the matter? The list of the occurrences is pretty worrisome. Check it out.
Gov Sullivan Chime of Enugu State has been ill and missing from the Lion Building—the Government House Enugu, since Sept 19 last year. Nobody knows exactly where he is. Some say India, some others say UK. But what is not in doubt is that he is very ill. Much before now, he had fainted twice at public functions within the state. Perhaps knowing the nature of his ailment and the uncertainty of the duration of his medical trip, he had properly transmitted a letter to the State House of Assembly notifying it of going on vacation. The Deputy governor has long been acting. But for how long can that continue? The constitution seems silent on that.
Already, a self-styled pro-democracy group, Save Enugu Group (SEG) has sprung up, demanding a full disclosure of Chime’s whereabouts and state of health within two weeks or face mass protest and occupation of the Lion Building. Earlier, some political gadflies in the state had made moves to instigate the State House of Assembly to commence impeachment move against Chime. The fear of that may have caused Chime’s men to consider flying him back by middle of this month, all to stave off the impeachment move. But Chime’s doctors have advised against his abandoning his treatment because of desire to hold on to power.
But in all of this, the state government has maintained conspiratorial silence, thus supplying fuel to the rumour mills, as Chime is rumoured to have died too many times over.
And in Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke who has been sick and flown abroad for over three months now, has been battling with an ailment believed to be related to one of his internal organs. There is less kick over his absence, perhaps because he chimes well with his lawmakers and the political community in his state. But the fact remains that he has been away for quite some time, and governance is no doubt, suffering some set back.
In Taraba State, the people were saved from mourning when their governor, Mr Danbaba Suntai crashed in a plane he was flying, somewhere near Yola, in October last year. He survived the crash along with his aides but he has been nursing broken arms and limbs in Germany. He was rumoured to have suffered brain damage, but his recent photo show with his family did not quite suggest so, even though he looked expressionless and like one planted on the chair before the camera clicked. He is said to be undergoing physiotherapy. His Deputy had been acting. Nobody knows when he would return to the country or office.
On his part, the Nasarawa State governor, Alhaji Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, was said to have gone for hip surgery. He has returned and back to office.
In Ekiti State, initial rumours had claimed that the Deputy Governor, Mrs Funmi Olayinka was terribly ill, but this has been dispelled, as she is said to be delivering her duties without let or hindrance.
But if all the above are frightening, the fate and case of the Kogi State Governor, Captain Idris Wada, was perplexing. He had been involved in a motor accident that claimed the life of his ADC on the spot. He managed to survive, but has to, for some time to come, nurse his broken femur. He too has become demobilized, although he refused to travel abroad for medical treatment.
But the worst of them all is the case of the late Kaduna State Governor, Sir Patrick Yakowa, who died in a helicopter crash last December 15, in Bayelsa State. He was buried five days after. It was a fatal finish.
But is it not amazing that in all of these, none of the governors, including Mr President has seen the need to have a functional and reliable health care facility in Nigeria? Why can’t the National Hospital be maximally equipped and funded to handle all our health issues?
As my friend and former boss, Simon Kolawole, once asked, what is in that German Hospital—machine or equipment-- that Nigeria cannot afford to buy? Who are the medical personnel in those hospitals that Nigeria cannot hire and pay? With the avalanche of Private Jets in Nigeria, why can’t we invest on upgrading our health care services?
The Nigerian leaders, also known as Nigerian Big men do not even have faith in our hospitals, and that is why for even minor cases as tooth ache, eye-check, catarrh, they fly to either America, England, Germany, Cuba, India, Dubai, Paris, South Africa etc. They shamelessly advertise the medical inefficiency in their home country. When shall we grow? Yet, every year, huge sums are budgeted by the health ministry, but all we see are hospitals reduced to “mere consulting clinics”