By Amir Abdulazeez
The refusal of some deputy governors to defect with their Governors and the counter defections of some Deputy Governors to different political parties from their bosses also indicate a sign of silent internal conflicts between most Nigerian Governors and their deputies.Sometimes, it looks as if the fault is from the Deputy Governors, but we have seen cases where some deputies have been very loyal and obedient to their bosses for 8 years, some of them seem like worshiping the Governors and this often makes them too inferior, humiliating and very unpopular especially if the Governor is also not popular with the people, but more often than not, this loyalty counts for nothing at the end. Instead of the Governors to reward with their support, they end up supporting their SSGs, commissioners or even party stalwarts outside their cabinets.
In other cases, they will support a complete outsider. For example, the late Patrick Yakowa (Makarfi’s Deputy) was there and willing to serve, when Governor Ahmed Makarfi anointed NamadiSambo, a complete outsider (Sambo had not even been a PDP member six months earlier, and after his victory had to be prompted to remember the party slogan) and still asked Yakowa to serve as Sambo’s Deputy which Yakowa patiently did. Former Kano Deputy Governor, Abdullahi Gwarzo was there and interested, when Shekarau anointed his commissioner (although he was also his personal friend). This happened with Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara who was BukolaSaraki’s Commissioner; Governor KashimShettima of Borno was Ali Modu Sheriff’s Commissioner; GodswillAkpabio of Akwa-Ibom State was Obong Victor Attah’s former Commissioner; Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue, who was a House of Representatives Member was preferred by George Akume to his Deputy; Governor LiyelImoke of Cross Rivers, a former senator was preferred by Donald Duke to his Deputy. The list can go on and on, but you will not hear the name of a single Deputy Governor. Any other person is better in the eyes of a Governor than his Deputy. This is inspite of the fact that most deputies possess the relevant and pre-requisite experience to continue from where the Governor stops.
Apart from President Jonathan and some few Deputy Governors in the Senate Chamber and some very few others that became Ministers, almost all the people who became deputy governors from 1999 to date have had their political careers brought to an abrupt end, simply because their Governors only see them as mere spare tyres that doesn’t deserve anything better. Even Jonathan probably wouldn’t have become what he is today, if his boss wasn’t impeached or if his fate had depended on the boss and not on the events that unfolded.
Section 187 of the 1999 constitution has identified a Deputy Governor as someone whom the office of the Governor cannot come into existence and operation without. This officially shows that, no one is close to the Governor and deserves the Governor’s trust like his Deputy; after all he was the one who chose him in the first place. But why is it that, the Governors do not want to support their deputies? Some people accept to serve as Deputy Governors in the first place with the hope that after the boss completes his tenure; he will be supported by him to continue. Our assumption is that anyone whom you work with as your second in command for four or eight years would be the best man to succeed you.
Is it that these deputies are so unpopular that they cannot win elections on their own, that’s why the Governors don’t support them? Or is it that they were accidently chosen by the Governors in the first place or they were imposed on them by consensus or circumstance and they were never their choices? Are the Governors afraid of betrayal from their deputies if they succeed them? The loyalty and obedience we see from the Deputy Governors are just done in the open but that’s not the real case meaning they may be hypocrites? Are the Governors jealous and wicked or are they afraid that they cannot control the deputies when they hand over power to them?
I cannot provide a satisfying answer to any of the questions above. Only the Governors and the deputies can do that. But, I once heard from a reliable source, when a Deputy Governor was handing over to another Deputy Governor in a state in his office, here was what he told him: ‘my brother, the Deputy Governorship is the most difficult political office in Nigeria because, when the Governor performs well, he takes the credit alone and when he performs woefully, you share the blame’. True or false, this statement reflects some form of reality.
There are some Governors who are fair enough by deliberately recruiting politically weak, old and unambitious Deputy Governors who would be more than happy to serve only as deputies and would not trouble them with any succession bid. It is alleged that some even tell their potential running mates point blank that they are not going to succeed them; others even make it a condition. It is really confusing as to why someone would mistrust a very loyal number two with power.
As 2015 election draws near, it appears, with the exception of probably Kano State, there is no single state in Nigeria where a serving Deputy Governor is seen as a frontline contestant or a powerful candidate. Even if there exist, there is no strong indication that such deputies would be supported by their Governors. This is the sad political fate of Nigerian Deputy Governors.
We now wait to see whether there would be an unlikely change to this phenomenon in 2015. If that doesn’t change, I would personally advice any person who has the ambition of becoming Governor in Nigeria, never to accept the position of Deputy Governor, because it is a minus rather than a plus to his ambition. Governors are very powerful in Nigeria and they don’t give a damn on the ambition of their deputies. However, despite all these, we should remember that power comes from God alone and maybe He hasn’t decided to give it to the deputy governors!
Amir Abdulazeez via firstname.lastname@example.org