There are governors and there are governors. In Nigeria, while some governors are literally invisible, others are at the forefront getting media attention due to their performances, controversies or aggressive publicity. Every year, some governors stand out from their colleagues, majorly due to one of the three reasons stated above. In the year 2019, some governors stood out. Three of them assumed office this year, while the others have been in the corridors of power from the beginning of the year. Legit.ng in this piece lists the 5 most popular Nigerian state governors in 2019. They are:
1. Emeka Ihedioha – Imo A former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Ihedioha resumed as the governor of Imo state on May 29 after campaigning with the mantra – Rebuild Imo. So far, it seems the former federal lawmaker is indeed rebuilding the south-east state, which suffered misrule in the last eight years. Although he was distracted in the first few weeks in office after trying so hard to discredit his predecessor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Ihedioha finally settled to the business of governance and started charting a new course for Imo. He, however, became really popular in the year under review after his government took it upon themselves to expose the rot they met on ground. Ihedioha got a lot of media attention, appearing in several media outlets letting the whole world know the task before him is humongous because of the activities of the last administration. Two things, however, stood out for Ihedioha. First was his decision to clear the backlog of pensions owed pensioners in the state for eight years and two, the massive recruitment of secondary school teachers in the state. Governor Ihedioha has handled the dire situation he met on ground in Imo state well.
2. Seyi Makinde – Oyo The 51-year old engineer turned politician is in a league of his own. Makinde has shown that governance is not rocket science provided those at the helm of affairs approach the issues of governance with sincerity and integrity. Makinde started out by declaring his assets, a feat yet to be rivalled in the present political dispensation. The new governor also resumed payment of bursary, banned the notorious NURTW, began the expansion of a major road in the state and appointed a 25-year-old youth as a commissioner. Makinde is extremely popular and this is due to his outstanding performance in less than a year in office.
3. Bello Matawalle – Zamfara The 50-year old politician is one of the shining lights of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party. He assumed office at a time his state was under siege by bandits. But, rather than sulk and abandon the state like his predecessor, Matawalle took the bull by the horn and the tackled the challenge head-on. Today, Zamfara is free from the bandits after Governor Matawalle kick-started an amnesty programme to get the bandits to drop their weapons and embraced peace. Recently, Matawalle halted the payment of pension for his predecessor, Abdulaziz and his deputy. The move by the incumbent Zamfara governor drew commendations from Nigerians, who have in the past criticised the policy by former state governors to be paid pension. The people of Zamfara state are lucky to have a purposeful leader like Dr Matawalle.
4. Godwin Obaseki – Edo Obaseki might be on the list but it is not certain if it is for the right reasons. The governor has spent the greater part of the year fighting his predecessor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, rather than focusing on governance. Fighting Oshiomhole itself, is really not a bad thing, especially as Obaseki is trying to break the chain of godfatherism he has been subjected to by the All Progressives Congress national chairman. Having fought to stand still the godfathers of Edo state when he came to power, it is ironic that Oshiomhole is now angling to be the godfather of the state. But, as much as it is important for Oshiomhole to be politically tamed for his excesses, Governor Obaseki must not lose sight of the fact that governance should be his priority and not an unnecessary power play. Obaseki has been largely popular in the year under review due to his political fights, but efforts should be made to be in the news for good governance in 2020.
5. Nasir El-Rufai – Kaduna A rare breed. Fine administrator, thorough professional and a pan-Nigerian leader, El-Rufai has been in the news for the right reasons for the greater part of 2019. That is not to say he did not goof during the year under review. While some of his comments have been excessive especially during the political period, some of his publicity stunts like running into a bush with security operatives in hot chase of bandits are really childish. That said, El-Rufai should be proud of himself as his popularity keep soaring as the year rolls to a close. A former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, El-rufai has given female politicians in Kaduna state a voice. Even more impressive is his youthful cabinet and pan-Nigerian team. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo described El-rufai succinctly recently by describing him as “one of the best persons to work with.” He continued: “He is a near-genius. We need a character like this, a man that you know where you stand with him. Any job given to him will be well done.’’ Truth is, even if El-rufai was not a governor, he would even be more popular than many of his colleagues in office presently.