RANKING NIGERIAN GOVERNORS, APRIL 2020: Best, not good enough; COVID-19 exposes incompetence in high places

For several months, starting in August 2019, Ripples Nigeria took on the task of classifying Nigerian governors based, among others, on strategic initiatives and execution.

In March, we stepped away from tradition and assessed governors for the strength of their individual responses to the COVID-19 pandemic that dominated the world. Our regular model (Top 5, Bottom 5) was maintained.

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As the pandemic continues to be a local and international threat, we are forced by existential realities to continue using the COVID-19 parameter as a measure to measure the performance of Nigerian governors in April 2020 in the area of ​​generating ideas and execution.

The Nigerian scenario in the month under review presents very disappointing scenarios, leading to conclusions that Nigerian governors have returned less than average performance.

We are concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic appears, in general, to have presented these helmsmen with an opportunity to stand out and purchase funds.

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We acknowledge the efforts made by a hint of governors, but we quickly add that their contributions have been largely drowned out by the incompetence of many others who have generated widespread discontent in the country.

So, for the month of April, we will examine, instead of a ranking, some broad areas that consider ped germaine to fight the pandemic of COVID-19 and how Nigerian governors generally fared, recognizing in the process who seemed to have done it is worth it. worth mentioning.

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These areas of concern include palliative management, security and application of quarantine rules, contact tracking and sample collection, communication, accountability and transparency. An attempt will also be made to assess the ability of governors to take advantage of innovative ideas and create synergy with different strategic audiences in order to contain the pandemic.

Palliatives disappearing

One of the things that undoubtedly defeated the blockade order in many states and in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and finally exposed the level of incompetence in governance, is the issue of palliative care for the poor and vulnerable of the society.

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In many states, especially in the Delta, there were protests in Sapele and fights with security officers in Warri, as locals insisted they could stay at home, fleeing the COVID-19 virus only to kill for what they described as the & # 39; virus. of hunger & # 39 ;.

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In others, such as Lagos, where the government has made real moves to provide some kind of palliative to residents, the exercises have been reported to have been involved in widespread controversies and disappointments.

For example, while Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu's administration has promised food to 250,000 families in the past two weeks, the result of the exercise has left grapes sour in the mouth.

Social media was filled with videos of overcrowded queues of people trying to access palliative care in different parts of the state, to end up with almost empty suitcases that could barely meet one person's needs, while others claimed to have achieved it all over the world. Street.

We are concerned that state governors have never planned to adequately support residents and citizens of their states to face total or partial blockades or that their intentions have been hijacked by politicians who have taken advantage, as always, of the government's lack of adequate planning. you out of your own selfish interests.

We are looking for brilliant examples and we dare to say that no governor of Nigeria has delivered anything spectacular in the area of ​​palliative care for the poor and vulnerable of society.

Who needs quarantine rules?

In the beginning, most governors demonstrated a great deal of the various orders that closed their state borders, restricting entry and exit as a way to stop interstate transmission of the virus, even before the federal government banned interstate travel and imposed the blockade. . some parts of the country.

It is worrying to note that most orders remained largely cosmetic, as Nigerians continued to cross the state's borders, importing the virus from one state to another.

According to reports, the vehicles continue to transport passengers to different parts of the country, especially between the northern parts of the country and the southwest and vice versa, in flagrant disregard for the ban on interstate travel.

Even more worrying is the ease of movement observed in the states, especially in Lagos, Ogun and FCT, where the total blockade was imposed and should be imposed.

Special mention should be made to the State of Borno, as the state remained free of the virus for a long period only to, due to lack of adequate monitoring and application of the rules, join the league of virus-infected states, which unfortunately contributed significantly to the number deaths as well.

Read too: NIGERIAN GOVERNORS CLASSIFICATION, MARCH 2020: Top 5, Bottom 5

Two events illustrate Borno's inadequate response or lack thereof. These are the third day prayers offered by President Muhammadu Buhari's late chief of staff, Mallam Abba Kyari and the funeral of the father of former state governor Ali Modu Sheriff. Both attracted a large number of people with total disdain for the COVID-19 protocol on social distance.

For Governor Babagana Zulum, a man that many see as a new breath in the governance of the state, leading many to these events regardless of their larger implications, left much to be desired.

However, we would appreciate the efforts of three governors, namely Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Ben Ayade, of Cross River, and David Umahi, of Ebonyi, for their vehement insistence on enforcing the ordered restrictions to help control the spread of the virus in their states .

While some of his decisions may seem unpopular, arbitrary, potentially violating people's rights and antagonistic to other branches of government, they have undoubtedly shown good leadership at a time like this, with a resolute mindset that puts the health and safety of his people . first.

Living in pretentious denial

More than two months have passed since the COVID-19 outbreak and many state governments are not yet prepared, especially in the area of ​​contact tracking and sample collection.

It is a pity that some people seem unwilling to exercise the necessary initiative in tracking contacts and collecting samples, just waiting for citizens to come forward to say they have symptoms.

The state of Kano, like many others in the north, could have been spared the peak in confirmed cases had the state governor, Abdulahi Ganduje, attacked the pandemic a little more seriously and embarked on aggressive contact tracking and data collection. samples when the index case was confirmed in the state.

More worrying, in our opinion, is the fact that, even with the increase, the state government continues to practice cheap policies with a life or death situation, leading to preventable deaths.

The same goes for Udom Emmanuel, from the state of Akwa Ibom, who, since confirmed cases in the state, has chosen to play cover-up games. Of great concern are allegations that he could have fired a senior official on his team for aggressively pursuing sample collection and testing in the state.

The plunder of Dr. Aniekeme Uwah, Akwa Ibom State Chief Epidemiologist, raises concerns in many sectors that there may be case reports in the number of cases in the country.

Dr. Uwah was fired by the state government for going against the instruction of Commissioner for Health, Dominic Ukpong, that no more than 10 people should be tested in one day for COVID-19 disease.

It is a pity that the governor was mentioned for allegedly insisting that random tests are not a necessity for the state.

For the states of Kogi and Cross River, although they have remained without a confirmed case, it is doubtful that the governors of the two states can continue to confidently claim that their states are completely free of COVID-19 without testing people of interest or embarking on tests people, especially with the knowledge that some carriers of the virus may be asymptomatic.

However, we recognize the efforts of the Lagos, Oyo and Edo governments for their proactive and aggressive approach in the areas of contact tracking and sample collection, which undoubtedly led to an increase in the number of confirmed cases.

Lagos had shipped from house to house to collect samples in various areas of the state, instead of waiting for people to perform, in addition to activating 20 locations in the state as sample collection centers, where people can easily enter and collect samples.

The Oyo state government also has a call center in Ibadan, the state capital, and mobile sample collection facilities, where people can go and take the test. The same goes for Edo, which has partnered with private hospitals and pharmacies to collect samples. This, according to the state government, led to the collection of about 40,000 samples.

When happy ignorance rules

Crisis communication and responding to questions or inquiries from citizens is one of the characteristics of emergency management, especially the kind that the world is currently facing.

Some governors have shown very little regard for this process, choosing to experience, in fact, happy ignorance. The main culprits are Governors Ganduje Yahaya Bello.

The Kano state government's unwillingness to admit that there is a crisis may have been partly responsible for the notorious position currently occupied by the state on the COVID-19 pandemic chart. Ganduje had tried very carefully to minimize the cause of the increase in deaths in the state. Their actions were similar to living in a fool's paradise.

Although the state government said the increase in deaths was caused by acute malaria and other diseases, including diabetes, the Presidential Technical Team, sent to the state by President Muhammadu Buhari, differed, saying that they are a result of COVID -19 pandemic.

State governments must improve their games by communicating and responding appropriately to requests from citizens and residents, if it is necessary to win the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lagos, Kaduna and some other states performed above average in this regard, but it most certainly can be done.

Where are the funds?

It looks like the nation is inundated with some free funds. Several private sector actors have provided critical funds for state governments to support their efforts. How are these funds being managed? How transparent is the process of managing them? How much has been provided to date?

These are questions that governors need to answer if they do not want Nigerians to believe that the pandemic is just another route to rampant corruption in the states.

Interestingly, many people believe that the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria is just a ruse and an avenue for state governors to raise funds from the federal government, international organizations and the public, especially donations from the private sector.

While this claim may be grossly flawed, some governors, for their conduct, have left little to the imagination. Ganduje, from the state of Kano, for example, made headlines when it asked the federal government for $ 15 billion to watch the pandemic. It was common knowledge that he appointed his daughter, although a medical daughter, to chair the committee that was struggling to contain the spread of coronavirus in the state. Governor Wike of Rivers, for his part, consistently argued that the government led by Buhari was treating some states better, providing funds to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And synergy becomes a scary commodity

COVID-19 has been properly described as a world war that requires synergy and partnership with relevant bodies, including federal and local government officials, international organizations, civil society organizations, religious organizations and other non-governmental organizations, especially in the areas of mobilization and lighting.

Although it can be said that some states have performed well in this regard, others remain at odds with the Federal Government and the private sector.

Governor Wike of Rivers State promptly comes to mind in this regard. Although he argued that, as Director of State Security, his most important responsibility is for the people of Rivers, he seems to have played in the gallery and turned into an undue confrontation at times when synergy was most necessary for the general good.

The controversies that received the 1,800 bags of rice sent to the State of Oyo as a palliative for COVID-19 are another painful point in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Without contesting the claims of the Oyo government about the edible nature of rice, it is our belief that the situation could have been dealt with in a more mature manner, without attracting the brick baton of the media and the accompanying political implications.

Risking anarchy

With the blockade imposed in several states, the safety of life and property has become an important issue, with residents living in constant fear for the duration of the blockade.

In the states of Lagos and Ogun, residents were at the mercy of bandits, especially the now famous One Million Boys and Awawa Boys, who visited chaos in May neighborhoods, while robbing and breaking stores to take goods.

While this lasted, the residents were the ones who suffered the most, while the young people were forced to improvise, organizing themselves in vigilantes to protect their areas.

The fear of falling into anarchy is, in fact, real and state governors must take responsibility and make less of the regular excuse to blame everyone but themselves.

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