Breaking News Politics

GovernorsVSDeputies Disagreement:Destabilising Democracy At State Level —Chukwuemeka

GovernorsVSDeputies Disagreement:Destabilising Democracy At State Level —Chukwuemeka.…..CONTINUE READING>>>>>>

Chukwuemeka Jaja Nwanegbo is a professor of Conflict, Security Governance, and Comparative Politics at the Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka, Anambra State. He speaks with IMOLEAYO OYEDEYI on the implication of the consistent friction that occurs between state governors and their deputies in the country among other issues.

In your assessment, how will you describe the friction that sometimes occurs between deputy governors and their principals in Nigeria?

My understanding of party politics and the structure of an administration for governance in most developed societies is that the individuals in government operate within the different designated responsibilities along their assigned roles as established by the laws and template of organizing governments in the climes. In such countries, a governor has a responsibility; his deputy also has his or her own responsibility, while riding in the same boat with him towards achievement of the general objectives and interests of the electorates. So you definitely see both officials on a race together. But in our own situation, it appears that since the beginning of this republic, there has actually been no reasonable love sustained between the governors and their deputies in almost all the states of the federation. As a matter of fact, it is only in a very rare situation that we have seen a deputy governor succeeding a governor. If you go through the records, starting from Lagos and all other states, it is the same thing, except for a few exemptions like recently in Ebonyi State. In fact, it has been that if a deputy governor must succeed a governor, he or she has to be operating in a very subservient way and position. And this, to me, is a result of the unstructured system of functional delineation.

More so, I think the personalisation of power and interest outside the common denominator which should be the interest of the masses most times creates all sorts of crises between the governors and the deputies. That is when the rules set and define the functions; it is always difficult for people that perform different functions to come into conflict. Incidentally, in the case of our governors and the deputies, the rules are always not sharp. Our laws simply put the responsibility on the governors to assign duties to their deputy governors. When the deputy governor does not become sufficiently subservient, the governor may decide to put him or her by the side, which most times create problems between them. But why would a governor want his deputy to be very submissive and passive before they can work together? This is because the interests that are usually propagated by the governors are often times at parallel with the common interest of the people that they are supposed to serve. Otherwise, if the interest of the general public is primary and known to both the governor and his deputy, there may not be any conflict except on who will do something and do it right for the people. These are the issues I believe have become the foundations of the crisis we have seen between the governors and their deputies across most states of the federation in recent times.

However some observers have attributed the friction to the fact that the deputy governors are usually forced on the governors by the power brokers in their party. What do you make of this?

We have had cases where even the governors pick their deputies by themselves, without any force or compulsion from any cabal in their party. But at the end of the day, the same situation still occurs. Therefore, that hypothesis cannot be correctly corroborated. The fact is that even when the party gladiators forced a deputy governor on the governor if the interest of the state principal and that of his so-called second-in-command are not in contrast with the interest of the people, they may not have a place where they can conflict. It is usually when there is personalization of power, that there will be crisis, not necessarily because a deputy is forced on the governor. Let me give you an instance. When Orji Uzor Kalu was the governor of Abia State and worked with Eyinna Abaribe in his first term, they had a problem. But by the time Kalu was to go for his second term, he was allowed to choose his deputy governor by himself. Yet a lot of love was later lost between them during the second four years. There are several other instances like that.

Even when the governor had his deputy imposed on him in his first term. Once he is going for the second tenure, he often becomes very powerful enough to choose his deputy by himself. But at the end of the day, you see both of them still running into problems. But I think if things had been structured the way they ought to be, the interest of the governors, the deputy governors, and even those of the party gladiators may not even come into conflict in any way. Or have you ever seen a situation whereby the governors and deputies fight because they want to build a good road for the people? But it is often that there are certain personal interests that the governors and deputies are pursuing that can’t be made public because it is not of the people.

But don’t you think it may be because some of the deputies often aspire to succeed their principals, who in many cases do have a different agenda?

That again is another point. But let me put it this way: if a governor is pursuing the goal of governance in the overriding interest of the public and his deputy is working with him on that race, why won’t the governor want the deputy to succeed him since by so doing, they can have a sustained policy programme? I simply feel that a governor may not want his deputy to succeed him because there is an existing conflict between them, not because the deputy was showing interest in succession, as I don’t think that alone can create the kind of problems we have been seeing. It is a fact that if the governor is sufficiently convinced that his deputy may not make a reasonable follow-up on his policy arrangement, he may decide otherwise. And then again, if the governor feels his deputy is not sufficiently subservient to him and instead has been running the race with him, such that they don’t share the same ideals, he may also not bother to pick him for succession.

Looking at the issue critically, the present president of the United States was a deputy to Barrack Obama. Obama even worked effectively to ensure he (Biden) won, but in our own case, even former president, Olusegun Obasanjo and his former vice, Atiku Abubakar, are still not on good terms even today. But like I have said earlier, it is the structuring of our rules that created the problem. If the rules are well structured, even the governors will not be as powerful as they are now, because the Constitution would have regulated the practices and operations. In fact, the people themselves would have been powerful enough to check the excesses in the system.

But what do you think has been the implication or effects of the issue on governance and democracy at the state level in the country?

Well, there have been two major challenges. Firstly, if you look through the list of some of the deputy governors we have had in recent times, you will find out that very important, technical, and promising persons who have high intellect don’t turn out to be deputy governors in the country anymore. So I think the problem is already leading to the loss of reasonable manpower required to support the governors in carrying out top executive functions in the state. The fact is that person who feels he is a highflyer will not want to become a deputy in Nigeria because he knows that the post of a deputy governor in our situation is as bad as a spare tyre of a good car.

Secondly, if the deputy governor has the support of some powerful gladiators within the party caucus, this will create a problem in the politics of a party at the state level. In some states, we have seen this play out, such that things never become the same again in the state as the intra-party crisis destabilises things in the state. These are the two major challenges.

Going forward, what do you think can be done?

I think it requires a legal solution. This implies we need to get the rules right and mitigate the process. Let our laws be structured in such a manner that it is the people and not the governors who will command a very high power in our political system. And then again, we need to address the weak nature of the state assemblies. The state legislature needs to be strengthened because their current state is making the deputy governors vulnerable. In an ideal situation, if the state assemblies have the level of independence that the national legislature has, it won’t be easy for the governors to influence the state lawmakers to impeach their deputies easily. In reality, it is very hard for the Nigerian president to influence the National Assembly to impeach the vice president. But at the state level, such is not the case, due to the enormous power the state governors wield and the feeble nature of the state legislatures.…..CONTINUE READING>>>>>>


About the author


Leave a Comment