When people aspire to govern in most of the Western nations, they come up with plans to leave a strong legacy for their people. However, in Nigeria and most of Africa the political leaders come in with a plan to line their pockets and by so doing attempt to enrich their families for generations. This has been described by some psychological thinkers as the fear of poverty or what could be called “povertyphobia”.
The people of Nigeria have had democracy now for the longest stretch ever in their history and for a lot of people it is a good thing because the nihilistic, despotic, and fraudulent era of military occupation of our governance is gone and we hope forever. It will be wrong to assess governance in Nigeria and its states prior to civilian democracy as the military dictators with their conquering mentality could not have aimed at any legacy. Since 1999, we have had governance in all 36 states of the federation by democratically elected governors. The rendition today is a total failure of governance in most of the states given the current inability of most states in the federation to meet their statutory obligations to civil and public servants in their payroll. While some states owe as much as nine months arrears of salaries, some owe a little less and only a few like Anambra and Lagos have been able to meet civil servants monthly wages. This is a shame!
Another index that could be measured is education with the pass rate of secondary school students in WASC and NECO. Within the last four years, Anambra has remained top two, finishing tops on three occasions. In the most recent result, Abia came first, followed by Anambra and all the Southeastern states made top 10 (5th Imo, 9th Enugu and 10th Ebonyi), with only Lagos from the Southwest, Edo 3rd, Rivers 4th, Bayelsa 7th and Delta 8th from the South-south. Ekiti State and Ondo State were the 11th and 13th respectively. The 10 bottom performing states were all from the northern regions except for Osun state which has been mired with religious issues introduced to their schools by the current governor. This is indeed a reflection of poor governance. Mr. Peter Obi certainly left a legacy for Anambra state, he left it the best managed in terms of assets given the amount it generates and gets from the center. Only Mr. Babatunde Fashola comes next to him given that Lagos is performing well in education and its finances.
Globally, the states of the south-east have fared better than others, followed by south-south and then south-west (except for Osun which has the worst educational performance of any southern states and the worst debt owed civil servants). For the states of the south-east, in Anambra Mr. Willie Obiano must not only keep up with what was done by his predecessor, he has to leave his own legacy. In Enugu, Mr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi must work to leave a legacy following the impressive development in the coal city and Enugu State roads by Mr. Sullivan Chime. Okezie Ikpeazu and David Umahi in Abia and Ebonyi respectively who are new after failed governance, must work on a legacy. Mr. Okorocha has his second term to show that he can do something for the highly cerebral Imolites. For the South-south, Mr. Adams Oshiomole is leaving and must make sure he does not negatively influence the succession processes, so that the state can make progress in the needed social developments.
Mr. Henry Dickson in his second term has to get rolling, and he’s done well in education, but has to do more work to set a legacy in managing the Bayelsa’s resources. Mr. Ezenwo Wike must reinvent Rivers and tap on the numerous resources of this state to leave a legacy and the same for Mr. Arthur Okowa in Delta. On the other hand, Cross Rivers and Akwa Ibom have to wake up to the charge for a legacy. In the southwest, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode will have to be at his best to give Lagosians a legacy.
Though Mr. Ayo Fayose in Ekiti has been roundly criticized by opponents, his state is only second to Lagos regarding education and in terms of debts owed civil servants he is much better than the very poor performing Governor Rauf Aregbeshola of Osun State. Mr. Fayose needs to be ingenious in finding ways to work on a legacy and though it is important for the strengthening of the country’s nascent democratic process for him to continue his critic of the center, he should devote more time to statesmanship. On the other hand, Mr. Aregbeshola needs a miracle otherwise his legacy will be leaving Osun State in the ranks of the worst third in Nigeria. For Ogun and Oyo State governors, they have been lackluster in performance and need to lift their games to be able to show credible legacies. All the other bottom half states of middle-belt, northeast, and northwest, show no evidence of good progress either in education or finances. However, for those governors who are new in the leadership of their state, it is an easier threshold to improve education and management of resources.