Forgive our catchy title. President Tinubu’s famous phrase inspired it as he declared his plans to “hit the ground running” during his first days in office. Today, we bank on it for Nigeria’s newly inaugurated governors.
In a way, Tinubu’s pronouncement on removing the fuel subsidy exemplifies the race we just got into as a nation. Nigerians are now hustling for fuel in a rat race to the filling station. It’s, however, not all doom and gloom. According to Bloomberg, the announcement has led the Nigerian stock market to rally to its highest value since November 2020. We can only hope that this surge sustains some financial analysts’ optimism.
Away from Tinubu, 28 governors—18 new ones and ten returning ones—took the Oath of Office on May 29. As is typical with Nigerian politicians, they all made promises during their campaigns, and the momentum was sustained in their inauguration speeches. We highlighted five we found worthy enough, and we bring to you, in no particular order, those who have hit the ground running.
Alex Otti, Abia State
[Alex Otti / Punch]
The leadup to the Abia State elections had surprising twists, which we covered in detail.
Ultimately, the Labour Party’s (LP) Alex Otti emerged winner in a hotly contested election. In his inaugural speech, Otti was jubilant but took shots at the previous PDP-led administration.
“We rejoice in the birth of a new and glorious era, yet we cannot easily forget the years of waste and missed opportunities arising from self-seeking, prebendal and profligate governance,” Otti said. He added that his administration inherited debt to the tune of ₦200 billion, ₦50 billion in salary arrears and colossal infrastructure decay. Otti said his administration would launch, within a month, a ₦10 billion Micro, Small and Medium scale Enterprises (MSME) financing scheme in the state to address unemployment.
Abba Kabir Yusuf, Kano State
[Abba Kabir Yusuf / BBC]
The Kano Guber election, which we also covered, saw Abba Kabir Yusuf of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) coast to a commanding victory over the incumbent APC. In his inaugural speech, Yusuf promised to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the journalist Abubakar Dadiyata.
“We shall investigate all cases of political violence that led to the loss of lives and properties across the State in the last eight years. The infamous case of AlHassan Ado Doguwa, who allegedly sponsored the maiming and murder of over 15 innocent souls in Tudun Wada Local Government, will be pursued to its logical conclusion.”
Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, Benue State
[Hyacinth Alia / The Cable]
The All Progressives Congress (APC) won Benue State in a tight contest. Benue is one state we can confidently say has no “First Lady” as it’s governed by a Reverend Father, Hyacinth Alia.
Alia’s first act in office mirrors a template already seen in Ebonyi, Enugu and several others upon assuming office—freezing the state’s bank accounts. In his inaugural speech, Alia made mention of the security, employment and infrastructural challenges plaguing the state. He outlined his seven pillars which he believes will transform the state. He asked for cooperation as he lacked a “magic wand” to actualise his plans for the state.
“I want to say to you, Benue, I am ready and willing to provide the requisite leadership to take that leap of faith into a future of shared prosperity for Benue. And I will not fail you,” he said.
Umo Eno, Akwa Ibom State
[Umo Eno, Premium Times]
With his swearing-in on May 29, Akwa Ibom’s Umo Eno made history by becoming the first albino governor in Nigeria. In his inaugural speech, the PDP governor of the oil-rich state donned his religious toga by saying he’d lead his state “in the way of the Lord.”
“I stand here as one of you and promise to make you proud. We will lead this state in the way of the Lord. And we will continue to keep the standard and even seek to improve the Christ-centric government that His Excellency Deacon Udom Emmanuel has established,” he said.
His first act in office was to make appointments, including a secretary to the state government and an economic adviser. We hope he can go beyond sermons and deliver on good governance, which his people elected him for.
Seyi Makinde, Oyo State
[Seyi Makinde / Punch]
Seyi Makinde was part of the G5, a group of PDP governors opposed to the presidential aspiration of Atiku Abubakar. While Atiku didn’t win the presidency, measuring how the G5 contributed to his loss is tough. Four of the five governors, including Makinde, ran for office in various capacities, including governor and senator. Only Makinde won re-election.
In his speech, Makinde listed his achievements in his first term. He promised to clear backlogs in gratuities for state workers while building on economic and infrastructural gains. “It’s time to upgrade to the Omituntun 2.0 lifestyle,” he said.
“Let me reassure the good people of Oyo state that Omituntun 2.0 will be better than 1.0. We will work even harder to ensure that the prosperity our people have started enjoying under Omituntun 1.0 will continue for four more years,” he added.
Makinde’s first act was to dissolve the Disciplinary Committee in charge of the state’s Park Management System (PMS) immediately. The committee was headed by one Mukaila Lamidi, popularly known as Auxillary. The Oyo State Police Command, on May 30, arrested 78 suspects. They were linked to an attempt to cause trouble in the state following the dissolution of the PMS.
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