Sun. Jul 14th, 2024


Former President Goodluck Jonathan has asked the National Assembly and the whole country to legislate specific roles for leaders who are deputies to their chief executives in political offices.

The former president said unlike the office of the deputy governor, the Deputy Speaker or Deputy Senate President in the National Assembly have some cut out for them.

Speaking Tuesday in Abuja at the launch of a book titled “Deputising and Governance in Nigeria” written by Kano state Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, the ex-president listed good personal relationship, accessibility, mutual respect and common focus on the part of the deputies as crucial factors for ensuring that a deputy and his principal enjoy working relationship.

 The event was well attended by governors, political leaders and businessmen across the country.

Addressing the gathering, Jonathan said: “If you look at the Constitution, the general role of a deputy governor is chairman of state boundary committee. The kind of problems we have with deputy governors and governors are not experienced at the National Assembly, those ones are not pronounced because the deputy has clear responsibilities.

“Everything a deputy governor does depends on the instructions from the governor. In some cases, it is so bad that if the governor is out of the state or country and there are pressing issues to be attended to, the deputy still has to get permission from the governor who is somewhere enjoying himself before the issues are addressed.

“Luckily for me, when I was a deputy governor, whenever my governor was out of town, I addressed things that should be addressed and represent him in matters of national interest which is not so in all states.”

The former president further said: “There are instances where if the governor and deputy disagree on something, then the governor moves the State Assembly to impeach him which should not be so.  There are cases where governors win elections because of the deputy and with little disagreement, the deputy is impeached and the governor brings someone who didn’t play any role in the struggle. These are areas the National Assembly and the whole country need to look into.”

Jonathan also said even at the Federal Executive Council (FEC), Ministers of State and the substantive ministers were always at loggerheads, noting  “some manage it better while some don’t manage it well.”

Osinbajo shares experience

Also speaking, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who was the special guest of honour at the occasion, described himself as fortunate in his present capacity as the nation’s number two person.

Osinbajo, while paying glowing tributes to President Muhammadu Buhari, made reference to the integral part of his role in the governance of the country when he was on medical leave to the United Kingdom (UK) within the last few years.

“The effectiveness of the Vice President depends a great deal on the trust reposed on him by the President. It is also a function of loyalty which goes both ways. I think personally, I have been more fortunate than others in my relationship with my principal, President Buhari. I believe he also genuinely believes in the world of the Vice President.

“When he was leaving on medical leave, the first and second time, he said to me when I told him that I was going to send to him after things I scanned to send to him, but he said, I don’t want you to send to me anything at all. It is your job now just make sure you do a good job. 

“The President does not expect that I will call him at all when he is away. He expects that I know what to do and I should go ahead to do it. Indeed, once I have called him while he was away, he said to me, Professor or VP, depending on how he feels, he uses Professor when he wants to pull my legs, I am away on leave, you are supposed to do your job, leave me out of this, do whatever you want to do and when I come back we talk about it. I think that is ideal and I recommend that to others.”

He maintained that the exalted seats of governors and deputies as well as that of the President and the Vice President remain not only inseparable but complement each other as far as governance is concerned.

The VP particularly likened the duties of the president and the vice president to that of a pilot and co-pilot charged with the responsibility of ensuring the safety of their passengers aboard.

Reiterating the need to adhere to the constitutional role of the President and the Vice president, the governors and their respective deputies, Osinbajo underlined the need for the existence of mutual trust and confidence between occupants of both offices across the country.

He particularly applauded Ganduje whom he described “as one of the most educated and experienced politicians” in the country, for penning down his thoughts in the book which remains a reference point to not only governors and their deputies but to upcoming public office holders, heads of ministries and departments and agencies (MDAs) of government, politicians and academics in the country.

Tinubu

Also in a message to the event, the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, said a sound relationship between governors and their deputies, predecessors and successors, is anchored on the existence of mutual respect, trust, maturity and loyalty to one another.

Represented by his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima, the APC standard bearer said it behooves on all well-meaning Nigerians to work in concert for the socio-political and economic development of the country.

In his remarks, Governor  Ganduje who authored the book,  warned governors and their deputies, the president and vice president as well as  other office holders of the antics of sycophants and bootlickers within the corridors of powers in the country.

While saying he enjoyed a sound working relationship with his principal and predecessor, Engr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso in their two-term tenures, he said, “the history of relationship between some governors and their deputies since the First Republic has been that of disloyalty, envy, betrayal, mistrust, ambition, which  over the years divided several states of the federation and negatively affected the development of the people who voted the pair into office.”

Governor Ganduje said “the challenge should be considered as a matter of national importance, because the resentful relationship is unfavorable to democracy, national peace, stability and development.” 

While stressing the need to adhere to constitutional provisions that clearly stipulates how the duo can work together, Ganduje said whenever governors clashed with their deputies, the states suffered.

Listing the factors that could engender a good relationship between a governor and his deputy, Ganduje said: “If you are deputising, you have to develop an absolute loyalty at all times to your principal; the deputy practically demonstrates convincingly the capacity to support the chief executive in achieving the set goals of his administration.

“Also, those deputising should be aware of sycophants and mischief makers who may set up several traps, which if triggered, might injure the good relationship with his principal. The deputy should also guard against wrong expectations, unreasonable political and material ambitions; and the need to improve working relationship between the governor and the deputy.”

The governor pledged to use proceeds from the book launch to support the activities of his charity foundation established about 40 years ago.

“While it continues to render such services to the people in need, the foundation has no operational base to fully function as an organisation. We therefore want to use the funds generated to build a befitting secretariat to effectively undertake its philanthropic, humanitarian and charitable activities and be more committed to improving the quality of life of our people in the areas of health, education, water and sanitation.

“Some of the remarkable achievements recorded by the foundation include medical support and assistance to the needy, the orphans and physically challenged, medical outreaches to attend to people with conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, malaria, dental, maternal and ante-natal care.

“The foundation has also been able to give free eye treatment to more than 380, 000 poor and the underprivileged that included cataract and glaucoma surgeries, provision of eye glasses and medication.

“It has also been constructing schools, distribution of free uniforms to new intake, instructional materials, construction of healthcare centres and boreholes in rural areas for the provision of clean water.

“In the last four decades, the foundation has not relented in its effort to support the less-privileged in the society. However, just like similar organisations, it requires the support from the governments, Non-Governmental Organisations, and goodwill from other well-meaning philanthropists to further its activities.”

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By Joy

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