All-powerful Governors



Don’t mess with the Governors! In Nigeria, the State governors are all-powerful, in more ways than one can imagine. Not only are they the Chief Security Officers (CSOs) of their States with power to hire and fire traditional rulers, they are also custodians of huge political war chests in forms of security votes, Ecological Funds and monthly allocations from the federal treasury.

At a recent Governors Forum in Abuja, the forum – in a subtle way of expressing support for restructuring in the country – set up a six-man committee to explore the option of actualising state police. The committee, with representatives from the six geo-political zones of the country, was mandated to come up with the best way of policing the country to tackle the various security challenges; a decision reached after a closed-door meeting between the governors and the Inspector General of Police at the Presidential Villa.

If that is not enough, the governors are also protected from any prosecution while in office, under Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution. The immunity granted by the Constitution allows the governors time to decide who wins or loses in local government elections, and in one peculiar instance, time to monitor the exact hazy health status of the President in faraway London.

However, the exercise of these huge powers have not translated into improved internally generated revenue (IGR) in most of the States, and many governors have relied on allocations from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) and now Paris Club debt refunds to pay workers’ salaries. Ironically, many governors are yet to transform their states into the images of those organised cities they enjoy during their frequent trips abroad. Maybe homegrown development is outside their terms of reference …just wondering

– Abimbola Akosile