26 states without cabinets

With no compelling excuses, 26 of the 29 state governors sworn-in on May 29 are yet to form a cabinet, a major expectation of the 1999 Constitution. Twelve governors took the oath of office for the first time last May while 17 others were re-elected in the March 9 governorship election. Eight weeks after their inauguration, only Governors Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto, Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna and Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom have appointed commissioners and constituted their cabinets. Two more states, Benue and Lagos have nominated their commissioners while 24 other governors are still sitting on their hands, so to speak.

Katsina State Governor Aminu Bello Masari has appointed only one commissioner, while his Rivers State counterpart Nyesom Wike has appointed two. Masari reappointed Barrister Ahmed El-Marzuq as Commissioner for Justice. Wike has appointed Zacheaus Adangor as Commissioner for Justice and Isaac Kamalu as Commissioner for Finance. He also appointed the former Minister of Sports, Dr Tammy Danagogo as Secretary to the State Government [SSG] and Chief Chukwuemeka Woke as his Chief of Staff. Governor Masari has also appointed many aides.

Governors Samuel Ortom of Benue and Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos states have sent names of their nominees for commissioner to their state houses of assembly and are awaiting approval by the legislators. States that are yet to have cabinets include Nasarawa, Gombe, Niger, Kebbi, Ogun, Bauchi, Imo, Zamfara, Kwara, Yobe, Enugu, Borno, Adamawa, Taraba and Kano. Jigawa, Cross River, Oyo, Ogun, Delta, Ebonyi and Plateau are also yet to have commissioners. Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State said he delayed the appointment of commissioners in order to make the right choices of people he would work with for the next four years. Ganduje’s spokesman Abba Anwar said his boss was making appointments “in sequential order so that he would not make wrong choices.”

What obtains in most states is that governors have appointed SSGs, Chiefs of Staff and spokespersons but most are yet to form their State Executive Councils. The worst scenario is in states where governors are yet to make any appointments. Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong and his Jigawa State counterpart Mohammed Badaru Abubakar Badaru have not made a single appointment since their inauguration for a second term. With no formal announcement however, Secretary to the Jigawa State Government Abdulkadiri Fanini is reported to have purportedly been reappointed.

It is a shame that 54 days after inauguration, most governors inaugurated into office on May 29 have not constituted cabinets in their respective states. While some of the governors saw the formation of a cabinet as a priority that needed to be urgently attended to, others began their tenures with procrastination. A serious-minded governor should have started thinking of defining the political, technical, cultural and other criteria or peculiarities of persons that would make the list of his commissioners soon after he became governor-elect in March. The over 60 days’ period between governorship election and the inauguration of governors was more than enough for any governor who planned to hit the ground running to submit the list of his cabinet members immediately after inaugurating the state house of assembly.

Rather than settle down to set their states on the track of good governance, some governors are busy traveling to Abuja or staying outside their state for most parts of the week. This is even as huge economic challenges stare at the governors in these states that are yet to have their cabinets. It is an illusion for a state governor to assume that he alone can effectively run the state. As civil servants, permanent secretaries could give limited help to prioritized government initiatives.

The 1999 constitution requires that the governor sits periodically in a meeting of the State Executive Council to deliberate over matters that concern the wellbeing of the people of state. In the interest of good governance and greater participation, we urge governors that are yet to constitute their cabinets to do so without further delay.

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