This column today welcomes the new and old governors that were sworn
into office on May 29, 2019.
The task of governing their various states have begun from the moment they were sworn in. There is no time to waste. The task is daunting but not insurmountable for the governors ready to roll back their sleeves and work. And there is a lot of work to be done.
One of the areas that they must pay attention is education. The poor state of education in the country should worry the governors. For several years many states have failed to increase the education budget to the UNESCO recommended 26 per cent of the budgetary allocations by states and the federal government. The result had been dilapidated infrastructure in the schools, poor teachers morale due to irregular salary payments and lack of equipment like school laboratories to make teaching and learning effective.
One of the sad realities of our educational state is the refusal of many state governors to pay the counterpart funds to be able to access the Universal Basic Education Fund (UBEC) due to corruption and lack of accountability. The failure of state governors to access UBEC funds is unacceptable and the new and old governors must redress this this time. We cannot afford to mortgage the future of our children because of the selfishness of some governors who despite the benefits of UBEC funds have refused to access it.
The governors should avoid anything that could lead to strike actions as this would impact negatively on the education of our children as this would impact negatively on the education of our children.
For governors whose states have universities or other tertiary institutions, the equipping of these schools for research and learning must be paramount, while the welfare of lecturers must also be taken care of. Thank God that TETFund is also available for state owned institutions of higher learning, so the governors should take advantage of this to improve infrastructure in their tertiary institutions.
The governors should also pay special attention to the health care delivery system. Maternal mortality is still high in most states of the federation. Malaria has remained major killer in our states, while diseases like cholera and measles are among some of the health challenges facing the country. There are also others like hypertension, diabetes, and many other killer diseases that are afflicting our people. These diseases though curable cannot be tackled under the present state of General Hospitals and health centres in our various states. The governors must rise to the challenge of equipping state General Hospitals so that they would cease to be ‘mere consulting clinics’.
The essence of government is for the protection of lives and property. Any government that failed in the task of the protection of lives and property has failed in all responsibilities. It is only the living that enjoys free education. It is only the living that enjoys free medical service. It is only the living that enjoys new minimum wage. It is therefore the responsibility of governors to ensure the protection of lives and property in their states. The governors’ excuse that they have no control over the police or the armed forces is no longer tenable. Many state governors have been able to ensure peace in their states. One of the ways to ensure peace is to carry everyone along including those that did not vote for you. Injustice leads to agitations and agitations lead to insecurity. The state governors who ensured fairness, equity, justice and fear of God are most likely to have peace in their states. Governors who instead of preaching unity but are rather deepening the gulf created by the fault lines in their states do not want peace and they are not likely to have peaceful states.
State governors must also work to ensure regular power supply in their states. This they can do through intensive rural and urban electrification projects. With the availability of power, entrepreneurs and other commercial activities will thrive and the youths will be gainfully employed. They should also make their states investor friendly by regulating taxation, as multiple taxation of businesses have caused the closure of many businesses with its attendant consequences.
Another issue that needs addressing by the governors is the payment of workers salaries. There are new governors that inherited months of unpaid salaries to all manners of workers, including doctors and teachers that take care of the public health and teach our children respectively. There are also returning governors who owe workers several months of unpaid salaries. The worker deserves his wage. It is sad that in the Twenty First Century, payment of workers has become achievement in Nigeria. This is sad and should stop. State governors must come up with strategies that would ensure regular payment of salary of workers. The hard choices may have to be made by the governors and labour leaders, but we should stop embarrassing ourselves as a nation by celebrating payment of salaries as achievement.
We commend President Muhammadu Buhari for proclaiming the 9th NationalAssembly. We hope that the elections of the principal officers of the new Assembly shall be rancour free. We expect that the new leadership that will emerge will work in harmony with the executive for the development of the country.
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