Paul Yovo revisits the cases of governors who are recanting their earlier vows to comb the books left behind by their predecessors.
Perhaps it was the euphoria of success that made many governors-elect to blab that they will let their predecessors go in peace and let the books they handed over remain closed. But the demands of office and reality check on the account profile of many states are making them have a rethink. Many of these governors are resolving to set up bodies to unravel where their predecessors “hid the resources accruing to states from the federation account.”
The governors have also warned that if nothing was done urgently to block revenue loopholes, the country might be plunged into deeper fiscal crisis. Outgone Nigerian governors who succeeded in installing their stooges as successors are currently enjoying temporary relief, but many who tried but failed in their bid to impose their protégés, currently have their hearts in their mouth over threats of probe from their predecessors.
Apart from a few who have openly said they would investigate their predecessors, many governors are also discreetly scrutinizing the books left behind by the former state Chief Executives. Across party lines and geo-political zones, these governors are moving with determination to retrieve any looted property.
Dr Samuel Ortom, Benue State
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has promised to review the administration of his immediate predecessor, Gabriel Suswam in line with his policy of transparency and accountability. He said he would ask the outgoing government to make refunds of alleged looting of the State’s resources, if established.
“I have already said that I will rule the State with the fear of God, and we will ensure transparency, we will ensure justice, we will ensure accountability. There is no big deal there”, he said. Dr. Ortom regretted that most employees of the State, were yet to receive their salaries, more than six months after.
So if you have taken what is not yours, what are you supposed to do? You will refund it’’, Ortom said, apparently referring to his predecessor’s administration, led by Gabriel Suswam of the PDP.
Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, Kaduna
The former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and current Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, indicated his interest to probe his predecessor, Mukhtar Yero, even before his swearing in. El-Rufai said he wouldn’t shield anybody working for the previous administration from probe, including the governor, after taking over government on May 29. El-Rufai said the outgoing government of Yero would account for money stolen from the state’s treasury. “We will politely ask those who stole Government money to return the funds‘’ the new governor had said. He recently said that officials of the past administration were already returning looted funds. “I have said this and I will say it again; no one will take away the resources of this state without consequences. “We are not going to let it happen. There would be full accountability for every penny that accrue to this state and any one that has taken the money for this state will he asked politely to return it and if he doesn’t, we will take actions that are not necessarily polite.
Governor Aminu Masari, Katsina state
Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State has also vowed to probe the Ibrahim Shema administration since he’s not satisfied with the handover notes he received. “We will do so (probe) if we are not fully satisfied with the explanation given to us in the handover note”, Masari said. Masari explained that it was the level of rot in the state that had made it necessary to work out a solution to problems facing the state. Masari said the people of the state had the right to know how their money was spent. He said his administration would always seek the people’s views on how to move the state forward. Masari also reiterated his determination to resuscitate the education sector as a top priority of his administration. Though the depth of the probe is yet to be known, The UNION however learnt that Masari is puzzled that the Shema, which said it handed over N4 billion in the handover notes would be among some states that are owing workers. Masari said he was therefore “not satisfied with the entry into the handover notes.
Governor Mohammed Abubakar, Bauchi
Though the new Bauchi State Governor, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, initially said he would not waste government resources to probe the past administration in the state, he has since reneged on his promise. “I will not set up any panel of enquiry to investigate the outgoing administration because it is just a waste of government resources’’, Abubakar had said before his swearing in. But Abubakar has not only commenced the scrutiny of the books left behind by the outgone government, he has already set up a committee that has recovered at least 22 cars from the three wives of the former governor, Mr Isa Yuguda. Yuguda, has however advised his successor not to ‘’tarnish the image of his administration’’, accusing Abubakar of playing to the gallery. But Abubakar is not looking back after the car recovery.
Mr Nyesom Wike, Rivers State
Mr Nyesom Wike’s decision to probe the administration of Rotimi Amaechi, is understandable, given the bitter rivalry between him and his one-time boss.“I am not going to be intimidated. The only way we can work together is to check the ills of the past. The right thing must be done. Those who have stolen the resources of the state must be made to account for them. “I have the political will to drive the process to its logical conclusion.
The massive stealing of government resources was a deliberate attempt to create problems for the incoming administration,” Wike said. Apart from dissolving the State Independent Electoral Commission, which he accused of surreptitiously aiding Amaechi to conduct election to the local councils in his last one week in office, Wike has also fired lecturers allegedly hired by his predecessor.
Wike had also taken journalists round the government house, where he accused Amaechi of carting away government property. He said : “ I am confident that President Buhari will support my administration in the quest to tackle the massive corruption that characterised the Amaechi administration. “We are aware that the immediate past administration and her officials will resort to blackmail and propaganda for the purpose of diverting attention from their corrupt practices.
We shall remain focused on the task of getting back Rivers State resources and assets.” A committee set up by the governor to undertake Wike in Port Harcourt inaugurated a full probe of the Amaechi administration on Friday. That same day he sent a crane to retrieve a bullet proof jeep found in the official residence of former Commissioner of Information, Ibim Semenitary.
Mr Dave Umahi, Ebonyi State
Governor of Ebonyi state, Chief Dave Umahi, has vowed to recover all mismanaged funds by his predecessor, Mr Martin Elechi. “I was part of the administration, but we must ensure that all mismanaged funds meant for the state are recovered’’, Umahi told journalists. Already, a petition forwarded to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has prompted an invitation from the anti-corruption agency which has grilled the former governor on his activities as governor.
Mr Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta State
He is not making a fuss of it, but Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is said to be discreetly investigating the past administration and undoing what he thinks was wrongly done. Okowa has suspended a recruitment exercise carried out by former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and fired many heads of parastatals. Recall that the new governor allegedly induced the ‘disappearance’ of the Accountant- General of the state, who was instructed to make himself unavailable to stop the last-minute withdrawals from the state accounts by Uduaghan. Okowa won the state governorship primaries against David Edevbie, a last-minute candidate endorsed by Uduaghan to succeed him.
Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, Niger
The immediate past governor of Niger State, Mr Babangida Aliyu left a debt of N57bn for his successor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello. Against all the roadblocks created by Aliyu, Bello became the governor of the state, beating the former governor’s candidate during the governorship poll. Already, the new governor has directed his predecessor and some top functionaries of the past administration to return to the government coffers about N2.9bn they allegedly misappropriated. “They took this loan on the eve of their departure.
And as was customary with that administration, they did nothing with the money. You can’t collect a loan on behalf of the people and share it among yourselves. That’s literally what they did. They simply raised a list and allocated money to those on the list’’, the new governor alleged. With these recent disclosures form the past government, many other governors are said to be thinking along the same line with their counterparts who have embark on probes that are yielding some immediate results, even if some of their predecessors are scared into making some gestures by returning something to the treasury to make the new administration start with a solid monetary foundation.