Kogi West and Deputy Governorship of the State: To Be or Not to Be?

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As the good people of Kogi West, and Okun people in particular, are deep in engagements with stakeholders across the three Senatorial districts, in our quest for the Governorship slot for the state after the incumbent Governor, we are beginning to hear rumors that some of our people from Kogi West, Okun in particular, are already strategically positioning for the Deputy Governorship slot.
Before you go ahead, please consider the following.

Section 176 subsection (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, provides that “there shall be for each state of the federation a Governor”. Subsection (2) of the same section provides that “the Governor of a state shall be the Chief Executive of that state”.

These two sections define a constitutional role and a constitutional responsibility. The constitutional role is the role of the Governor. The constitutional responsibility is that the Governor is the Chief Executive of the state.

We can see a parallel to this in the natural role of a father or natural role of a mother in a family.
The moment you put yourself in a position where the society sees that you have fulfilled all the necessary and sufficient conditions to be called a father, the society will accept that your new role is now that of a father. You must then be ready to take up the responsibilities that naturally belong to a father, especially a responsible father. If you know you are not prepared to take these responsibilities on and perform them effectively, you have no business taking up the role of a father. You had better spare the society the long term consequences of your irresponsibility.

No one is in doubt as to what it means to be the Chief Executive of a state. With our recent experience in democratic governance, even the market women and others in that category, who may not know anything called Chief Executive, know that state Governors in Nigeria are next to God over their state.

Some have even gone to the Luciferous level of attempting to play god over their state.
It is to avoid the possibility of descending into such a terrible situation that political philosophers invented the principle of separation of power between and among the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, so as to provide a framework for some sort of checks and balances in the system. Sadly, this has not been allowed to work effectively in many of the states. We see this now and again. The reasons for this are in the air.

By and large the Governors as Chief Executive of their states remain the alpha and omega over the affairs of their state. Some carry on without regard to the possibility of leaving the state house at the end of their tenure and being driven in a Mercedes 911 to be guests to some government agencies in environments that are a far cry from where they held sway for eight years or so.

The Governor and Chief Executive is the plum political job at the state level for obvious reasons. If those who have had the privilege of taking on the role and responsibility of Governor and Chief Executive in their states were more God-fearing, and less ethnocentric and faith-driven in the distribution of the so called dividends of democracy, including infrastructural development, educational institutions, manpower distribution, in number, level, manning of choice MDAs, and influence in critical sections of state governance affairs, may be the clamor by each senatorial district for the Governor/Chief Executive of the state to come from their district would be less intense.

It seems we have not matured to that point where the Governor of a state will plan to establish a university during his tenure and see the justification to locate it outside his Senatorial district, or in extreme cases, anywhere outside his own home town. This was the pattern in the second republic and it has remained so since the commencement of this dispensation in 1999. I stand to be corrected. This is also largely true of other social amenities. My ethnic base must come first. After all, this is our chance.

The clamor for rotational turn-by-turn will not cease so long as this tendency remains so in any state.
If Governors as Chief Executives of the states were more rational, fair, just, equitable and more detribalized in the way they spread out development across states, may be fewer and fewer people will worry about where the Governor comes from.

If we test the above hypothesis with our state as a case study it is incontrovertible that the 16years of non interruption plus the earlier stint, all adding up to 19years, gave the East senatorial district a huge head start over the other two senatorial districts in every aspect, including what I prefer to describe as the hardware (physical development) and the software (people, and psychological development as reflected in the breakdown of headcount in the civil service of the state and its governance).

The Central senatorial district is almost completing a second term. What we see is a continuation of the same trend, particularly in the hardware of state governance. The better distribution of headcount in the civil service in this dispensation is commended. Much more needs to be done.

The only office that can place anyone in any position to make any significant impact is the office of the Governor and Chief Executive. Anything other than that goes to no effect.

This is where the position of Deputy Governor comes into focus.
Section 186 of our country’s Constitution provides that “there shall be for each state of the federation a Deputy Governor”.

Interestingly, section 186 has no subsection. The section provides for the role, for the position. Unlike the constitutional provision of responsibility for the Governor, there is no such constitutional provision of corresponding responsibility for a Deputy Governor. You then ask yourself what is the responsibility of a Deputy Governor? The nearest we have to anything suggestive of responsibility is provided for in section 191 subsection (1) which provides that “the Deputy Governor of a state shall hold the office of Governor of the state if the office of the Governor becomes vacant by reason of death, resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity, or the removal of the Governor from office for any other reason in accordance with sections 188 and 189 of this constitution”

Again the question arises, what is the constitutional responsibility of the role of Deputy Governor created by the constitution? The short and direct answer is that so long as the Governor is alive and not incapacitated the Deputy Governor’s role is limited to what the Governor delegates to him to be responsible for. Bear in mind, the constitution does not compel the Governor to delegate any responsibility to his Deputy.

The Deputy Governor can only function at the pleasure of the Governor.

This must be very frustrating for those who hold this office. I wish it was possible to do a survey amongst all the past and serving Deputy Governors on the level of their job satisfaction and personal fulfillment.

The result of such a survey should be very interesting. Sadly, some of the people invited to serve in that capacity either by the Governor himself or by his party, are some of the best brains in their parties. Yet they are in office for eight years with all the glamour and perquisite of office, frustrated, disillusioned, and wasted. Of course, the society looks at them, believing they are up there, whereas they are the only ones that can explain what they are going through. Very many of them are unable to influence any meaningful projects for the benefit of their people.

How many Deputy Governors have taken over from their bosses as successors? That
speaks volumes.

There was the case of one Deputy who openly confessed that if there was a global award for the most idle Deputy in the whole world, that he would beat his closest challenger with a very wide margin.

It is for all of the above reasons and much more that this appeal goes to all sons and daughters of Kogi West senatorial district and particularly the Okuns, to please avoid the temptation of accepting to be Deputy Governor to any Governorship candidate. Kogi West has had enough of Deputy Governorship slot. It is time to sit at the head of the table as Governor. If anyone is approached, please think deeply of your tomorrow and the future of your children and let the overall interest of Okun people on this matter guide you in turning down the offer. Happily enough, it is on record that some of the principle-driven people approached in the East senatorial district for the Deputy Governorship slot turned it down. We can do so too.

I am aware that our individual rights and freedom of choice is guaranteed in our constitution, and so no one can enforce a ban on anyone from Okun and Kogi West from accepting to be Deputy Governor, particularly with all the tangible and intangible benefits of the office and the potential the office holds for the transformation of one’s personal and immediate family life. If you are only interested in short term gratification, the appeal may not mean much to you. But if you are in pursuit of noble causes and you think of the future of your children and the physical and psychological environment around them now and in future, you will not mind deferring immediate gratification for long-term, comprehensive and enduring rewards and values.

I know this is a tough one. It is doable. God will remember and reward your personal sacrifice for the sake of your people.

Thank you

Femi Mokikan
Okun Development Association

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