It has been generally acknowledged that corruption is the bane of national development. Though government at the centre has made efforts, though sometimes haphazard, to tame the monster and deliver good governance, only a handful of the thirty-six states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which combined to constitute the geographical expression called Nigeria, has made conscious efforts to put in place measures aimed at checkmating the malaise in the country.
Of those governors making surreptitious efforts to ensure transparency and accountability in the running of the affairs of their states in the country are those of Bayelsa and Kano states: Hon. Henry Seriake-Dickson and Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso respectively.
On his election as the governor of the oil rich Niger Delta state, which was plundered and skinned by his predecessor, Seriake-Dickson promised his people that he would render account to them on monthly basis and findings have shown that he had yet to fail on this promise.
The Bayelsa state governor went a notch further to ensure the passage of the anti-corruption bill which he signed into law on his second year anniversary recently in Yenagoa, the state capital.
Upon signing the anti corruption bill into law, Bayelsa happens to be the first state in the country to have domesticated, so to say, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act.
With the anti-corruption bill signed into law, Seriake-Dickson and other governors after him are legally bound to address the state on monthly basis detailing the income and expenditure of the state. The monthly briefing, according to the law is to be done openly with the people, who are going to be active participants, having the opportunity to ask questions.
According to the ant-corruption law, any governor of the state who fails to comply by not addressing the state openly on his activities on monthly basis for three consecutive months has committed an impeachable offense and would subsequently be at the mercy of the members of the Bayelsa House of Assembly who could activate the law and get him impeached.
Asked why he went so stringently on corruption, Seriake-Dickson said “The reason why I made the account known to everybody is because of transparency. I could have made it by policy, but no. The reason I signed a law that if a governor does not do it for three consecutive months it is an impeachable offence. I signed it and the Assembly ran to me to say, ‘Oga, this is too much’ but I said no. I signed it into law more or less as a death warrant. It is gross misconduct, I don’t want this state to go back to those dark days anymore. Now, we are just building primary things, things that should have been in place.
The people should have the right to know. Power and the resources belongs to the people, I am only a custodian. There is no financial approval that I make that my team doesn’t know about. You know why? Because of one’s values. Most people don’t know that the best way to be a billionaire is to leave government and go and become a businessman and then we will support you. For those who manage public resources, they cannot aspire to that level.”
The Bayelsa state governor explained that transparency and accountability are essential in good governance as he maintained that several billions of Naira, which would have gone into private pockets, are channeled into the provision of the much needed infrastructures in the state.
Commenting on Seriake-Dickson’s efforts at institutionalizing a fight against corruption in Bayelsa, former Kano state governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau, himself an apostle of transparency and accountability, pointed out that the Beyelsa governor remains the first state chief executive officer in the country to have consciously signed an anti corruption bill into law.
The former Kano state governor equally lauded Dickson for good governance through his myriads of projects touching on the lives of the people of the state. He specifically commended the Bayelsa state governor on his welfare Programme where the aged, those above 70 years, are being paid the token of N5000 monthly.
Shekarau who tested Dickson’s performance based on the seven good governance parameters set by the United Nations and the World Bank said the governor passed excellently going by the ‘Marking Schemes’ prescribed by the world bodies.
Similarly, Governor Kwankwaso of Kano has hinged his administration on the principle of transparency and accountability. The initiative made him to be publishing the resolution of the state Executive Council Meeting, detailing the income and expenditures of the state, in some national newspapers weekly.
This initiative has however drawn ire of some politicians in the state who accused Kwankwaso of demystifying the art of governance by laying bare the activities of the government hitherto shrouded in secrecy.
Undoubtedly, the transparency initiative has succeeded in locking out some political vampires who delight in reeling in corruption while the common people suffer. Amongst the best governors in the country who deliver democratic dividends to the people, Kwankwaso obviously count as one of them.
In some other states of the federation, what usually obtains is that the governors receive their monthly allocations and collude with the state Accountant Generals to make allocations, sometimes without the input of their cabinet members. This practice leaves so much room for corruption as the governors administer their states as their personal fiefdoms.
Critics are however of the opinion that the country would be better run if the Presidency, governors and other political heads, even at the local government level, could imbibe the culture of transparency and accountability as pioneered by Seriake-Dickson and Kwankwaso.