By Stanley Azuakola
Across the states, the inauguration was a pretty straightforward affair. Guard of honour and military display, oath taking, entertainment in some states and a speech by the new governor.
We would like to share some bad, good, interesting, uncertain takeaways we noticed from a few states on the day.
1. In Rivers it’s the rise of woman power in the judiciary.
Ex-Gov. Rotimi Amaechi’s battle with the National Judicial Commission over who should be legitimately sworn-in as chief judge led to the closure of the judiciary for a whole year. That was the first thing the new governor Nyesom Wike moved to change immediately he was sworn in by the Bayelsa chief judge, Kate Abiri.
He announced that the candidate preferred by the NJC, Justice Daisy Okocha, will be the new chief judge; while the Rivers Customary Court of Appeal also got a new acting President in the person of Justice Christy Nwankwo. That effectively means the two top judges in the state will be women. It has never happened in Rivers state before. Interestingly even the wife of the governor, Eberechi Nyesom-Wike is a Judge in the high Court at Nchia in Rivers.
2. In Ebonyi – the ministry that makes no sense.
We would be looking closely to see what exactly the ‘ministry of religion’ announced by the new Ebonyi governor Dave Umahi will be expected to do.
It is a shock that at a time most governments are trying to reduce the overbloated bureaucracy to cut cost, Umahi believes establishing a ministry of religion is a priority. What exactly is it supposed to be doing?
3. In Lagos, it’s about wealth huh? Or waste?
Gov. Ambode announced that he was creating a ministry of wealth creation and employment. Some of his supporters have said he did it because one of his big campaign ideas was creating wealth and jobs by setting up a certain N25bn employment trust fund. They say this ministry will give added impetus to his commitment. I’m not buying all that talk especially because we just can’t afford waste in this season, however I’m willing to wait and see and give the governor a chance to work.
Ambode also established an office of civic engagement as well as an office on overseas affairs. *sigh* I really don’t know. Anyway he met two presidents – Guinea and Namibia – last week alone, so must think an overseas office will do. Baffling still.
4. Let’s run through some violent actions in the next few points. First off is Kaduna.
The inauguration of Kaduna’s new governor Nasir El-Rufai was marred when hooligans began to attack the Emir of Zaria and also allegedly attacked the state chief judge.
In the opinion of the hooligans, the men collaborated with the previous government against the people. And so what? You exacted your revenge the best way you could, via the ballot box and placed someone you feel would do better. So why take the laws into your hands?, Shameful and barbaric conduct! Great thing Gov. El-Rufai has condemned the action.
5. Same story in Niger.
Ex-governor Babangida Aliyu was one of the brave ex-governors who decided to personally attend the handover ceremony of his successor. In fact he was the bravest governor because his successor belongs to another party. No other governor from a different party did that.
He probably should have stayed away though because of how shameful some of the citizens acted, pelting him with satchets of water and booing him as well. It took the intervention of security to save him from being lunched.
6. Same story in Adamawa
A sitting senator, as well as the ex-deputy governor of the state were also attacked and abused in Adamawa during the inauguration. Terrible stuff.
7. In Nasarawa, the journalist is the victim
Hir Joseph, a journalist with the Daily Trust, was beaten till he became unconscious, by thugs at the venue of the inauguration. They said he wrote an ‘unwanted’ report against Pres Muhammadu Buhari and Gov. Tanko Al-makura.
Just imagine the lawlessness and the intimidation. Journalists have a crucial constitutional role to play and they have no business pandering to the mood and inclinations of hoodlums and their backers. Unlike Gov. El-Rufai, the Nasarawa governor has not spoken in condemnation against this terrible act perpetrated in his name (we do not know if it was with his consent). He has to speak up – freedom of speech is guaranteed in the constitution and no amount of thuggery can stop that.
8. Gov Yari’s airport
Gov. Abdulaziz Yari shocked me when he announced that one of his priorities before 2016 is to build an international airport in Zamfara State so that pilgrims to the Holy Land can be airlifted directly from there. What puerile thinking! Sad that this is the man who will lead the Nigeria Governor’s Forum, according to the last minute imposition of the former governors like Amaechi.
No need to beat around the bush here: with airports like Kano so close to Zamfara, that state has no business building an airport for now. And definitely not because Mr. Yari wants to be able to airlift pilgrims from there. After the yearly pilgrimages what then happens to the airport? How many will use it? That was the same way Ex-Gov. Lamido incurred a N17bn debt in Jigawa which he used on airport construction. Please ask him, how many people are flying on his N17bn elephant.
9. In Akwa Ibom, is a stooge born?
The new Akwa Ibom governor, Udom Emmanuel, shocked the crowd during his inauguration when he announced that the beautiful, unmatched ‘Nest of Champions, stadium in Akwa Ibom is being renamed as Godswill Obot Akpabio stadium. That’s just a horrible thing to do. Ex-Gov. Akpabio built it on behalf of the state, yes. And so what? The crowd was so displeased by the announcement that rather than cheering they grumbled for the three times Gov. Udom made his ridiculous announcement. They will be hoping their new governor has some balls of his own and will not be beholden to his predecessor.
10. Mother-in-law swears in son-in-law
In Niger state, Gov. Bello was sworn in by his mother-in-law, Justice Fati Abubakar, who is the chief Judge of the state.
It’s a very powerful family they have there. Bello is a son of a former military governor of old Kano state and businessman, Colonel Sani Bello (rtd) and is married to Dr. Aminat Sani Bello nee Abubakar, a medical practitioner and a daughter of the former military head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd). The Chief judge, Justice Fati Abubakar is married to General Abubakar. The former head of state was however absent as he attended the inauguration of Pres. Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja instead.