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EX-DG:Until the governors and deputies realize it is a joint responsibility, there will always be friction

EX-DG:Until the governors and deputies realize it is a joint responsibility, there will always be friction……CONTINUE READING>>>>>>

Sonni Gwanle Tyoden was a former deputy governor of Plateau State, a professor of Political Science, and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Jos. In this interview with ISAAC SHOBAYO, he speaks on the recurring rift between some governors and their deputies and shares his thoughts on what is responsible for this no-love lost between these highly placed government officials and the way out.

What is your take on the incessant feud between some governors and their deputies?

As far as I am concerned, there is no miracle about it; it boils down to the matter of how you handle yourself. How you and your principal relate, how you comport yourself, and also your concept of governance. You must see it as a partner; don’t forget, both the governor and the deputy came on board as partners on the same ticket. If you continue to keep that in mind and work within that context, I don’t expect any problems. There should be mutual respect, but in a situation where you see only one side as relevant, that creates problems. The two are very relevant, and that is what the Constitution provides for them. The constitution does not just provide for the office of the governor; it also provides for the office of the Deputy Governor. No governor can run without the office of the deputy governor; the office of the deputy governor as well is critical. When the two see themselves as co-partners in governance, there won’t be any problem.

There is a constitutional flaw in this regard; the constitution seems to give enormous power to the governor while little or nothing is given to the deputy. Don’t you see this as one of the bases for bickering between the two?

The Constitution spells the role of a governor, but it also assigns roles to the deputy governor in the sense that it says the governor should assign responsibility to his deputy, which is natural because he is your leader, but the problem is that some of the governors take advantage of that; some don’t assign any role; they don’t give any responsibility, but some do. When they do it, it shows recognition and respect, but when they give you menial responsibility, there will be problems along the line. I think where the problem comes in mostly is when it comes to the issue of succession. For reasons that I cannot say, I think it is only the governors that can answer that. The governors tend to find it difficult to hand over to their deputies; I don’t know why. I think why governors don’t want their deputies to succeed them is a question that needs to be looked into and properly interrogated. We need to find out from the governors why they don’t want their deputies to succeed them. Because one would have thought the deputy who has been with you for four or more years should have been in a better position to continue whatever work you have started, he should be carrying forward the agenda and the plans on the ground. I think the governors should hand off when it comes to the issue of their successors; a level playing field should be created, and any deputy who contested on a level playing field and didn’t get it will not have any problem with his governor, but when the whole thing is manipulated to short change him after serving for eight years, it gives a bad feeling. I think there is a need for the two to take each other into confidence.

In some states, the office of the deputy governor is relegated to the background, and the like of the Chief of Staff, Secretary to the State Government, and other aides of the governor are given more serious assignments than the deputy governor. What do you think is responsible for this?

As a former deputy governor, I cannot say categorically why, but in my own case, at no point was I relegated to the background. I worked closely with my governor. I can say that among all the deputy governors in the country, I was given leeway to carry out my responsibilities. I represented the governor at the highest level, which is the National Economic Council or the Federal Economic Council. I acted as governor. But as you rightly pointed out, you are talking about power. There are some people who feel that if they give you power, you are likely to undercut them, which shouldn’t be the case. If you see the agenda as a joint one, there wouldn’t be any problem as such. As people talk about loyalty from the deputy governor, there might be palpable fear in the governor when he gives his deputy an opportunity to run the affairs. It all boils down to having confidence in each other and opening up to one another. If there is trust between these two people, I think it is okay, but when that trust is not there, there will be complaints.

There is the assumption that in some cases, the rift between governors and their deputies was caused by a forced political marriage by the political godfathers or that the governors were not given the free hand to choose their running mate. Do you subscribe to this?

This could also be a factor because sometimes the politics on the ground determine who becomes the deputy governor. The concern may be winning the election, and people tend to look at the deputy who has a deep pocket or political clout that would add value to the ticket. The issue of compatibility is hardly considered; it is only when they win that you start seeing differences. Most of the time, for the political party and the politicians, the most critical thing is whether the deputy will be able to contribute to winning the election. I agree that there should be some considerations in the choice of who becomes the deputy governor to reduce all this friction and lack of trust between the governors and their deputies.

Some people are advocating that political parties should be Independent and strengthened to play their roles instead of being tied to the governor’s apron spring. What is your opinion on this?

It doesn’t only apply to controlling the party; the way the political parties are structured and conduct themselves now is different from what it was before; now they are less independent, but in those days they carried out their activities without much interference from the government. Now that the governor is the one bankrolling the affairs of the party, he who pays the piper dictates the tune. That is one of the reasons. Previously, the party didn’t really have to rely on the government to survive, but presently there is hardly any political party that doesn’t rely on political office holders to survive, and this has reduced the relevance and strength of the political parties and increased the power of the governors. We have to also ensure that those saddled with the responsibility of running the party have a solid financial base to give them confidence in running the party. Once you don’t do that, the governor controls everything.

What is your advice to both the governors and deputies presently embroiled in crises?

As I said earlier, it varies from case to case, but it boils down to having confidence in yourself. And also realize that this responsibility is a joint responsibility; you came in as a joint ticket; the constitution deliberately made it in such a way that there must be a governor and a deputy, and I think that should be the guide. We Nigerians need to ask ourselves a question. We copied this presidential system from the Americans, but you don’t hear this kind of friction or struggle for power between the governors and their deputies, so why is our own different? Like I said, it simply boils down to a lack of trust and confidence in ourselves. So once we look at it as a joint venture and as a collective responsibility, I think it would be better.

Sir, what is your thought on the increases in tuition fees at this time that the country is experiencing an economic downturn?

I don’t think we can run away from the issue of tuition fees in our tertiary institutions, but this issue of school fees should have been handled years ago; unfortunately, it is being introduced when the economy is down. So I agree with fees, but the issue is how much. I think reality dictates that you don’t impose high fees in this present situation we found ourselves in this country; things are tough at the moment, the economy is down, everybody is feeling the pinch, and you impose fees of about five hundred percent increase. I feel this is unrealistic. I agree with the principle of having fees, but the amount should be reasonable enough.……CONTINUE READING>>>>>>


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