Deputy Governors: Still under shadows of their bosses?

Lami Sadiq, Jos; Vincent Egunyanga, Benin; Chris Eze, Yenagoa; Femi Akinola, Lagos; Hope Abah, Makurdi; Christiana T. Alabi, Kaduna; Doyin Adebusuyi, Ado Ekiti; Aliyu M. Hamagam, Dutse; Habibu Umar Aminu, Katsina; Kabiru R. Anwar, Yola & Nathaniel Bivan, Abuja

The 1999 constitution does not assign any specific role to the deputy governor, thereby leaving this office at the mercy of delegation of duties. The effectiveness or active role of the deputy therefore lies almost entirely on the willingness of the governor in creating the right platform. 
In Plateau State, Professor Sonni Tyoden has already set the pace by heading a committee and also representing Governor Simon Lalong at various occasions and functions. The deputy governor heads the transition committee set up to study all aspects of the structure, organisation and operational modalities of the preceding David Jonah Jang’s administration and advise accordingly. The committee which was inaugurated on May 7 was made up of 12 central committee members and 188 other members, which was later broken into 27 sub-committees.
At the end of their assignment, Tyoden presented a report to Governor Lalong on August 11, putting the state’s debt profile at N222.3 billion contrary to the N103 billion specified in the handover notes of the previous administration.
With insinuations that the governor would likely reduce the number of commissioners in the state from 17 to 14, pundits say such a decision to pass over Shendam, Mangu and Barkin Ladi local government areas where Lalong, Tyoden and Secretary to the State Government, Rufus Bature hail from, means the governor was likely to give additional responsibilities to his deputy. In 2007, Governor Jang had appointed his then deputy, Pauline Tallen as the commissioner of education for about two years before she was later replaced. Expectations are high that Tyoden, former vice chancellor of the University of Jos, may likely head the education ministry.  
A lawyer close to the deputy governor told Daily Trust that section 193 (1) of the 1999 constitution gives the governor power to assign to the deputy responsibilities of the government, including the administration of any department. “The deputy governor being the second-in-command has so far represented the governor in several functions, so I believe they are starting on a good note and they will end well,” he said, asking not to be named.
Dr. Pius Odubu on the other hand has been deputy governor of Edo state since 2007, serving under Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Their relationship has remained very cordial, though there are indications the governor does not assign any functions to him, not even when he travels out. Speculations are that Odubu has an eye on the governorship ticket as elections come up next year. What may affect the cordial relationship between the two is if the governor fails to back his ambition for the APC ticket.
In Bayelsa State, the deputy governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (rtd), can be said to be very active in his capacity as the number two citizen of the state, mainly because he represents the governor at state functions. The governor’s public speeches and body language also suggest there is harmony and trust between the pair, particularly as Governor Seriake Dickson addresses Jonah as “my ever dependable ally and partner, ever supportive deputy governor, retired, but not tired…”
The deputy governor always has his plate full whenever his boss travels outside the state. He is usually seen among other governors during Governors’ Forum, the meeting of National Economic Council or Council of States’ meetings in Abuja. At most occasions where the governor is present, there is often an opportunity for the deputy governor to make verbal contributions, especially during the governor’s monthly Transparency Briefings where the state capital inflows and expenditures are rendered.
Often times, the governor would make the opening remarks and ask the deputy to proceed with the breakdown of income and expenditure  There are other instances where Jonah performs all the functions due to the absence of the governor.
Chairman Bayelsa chapter of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Chief Nengi James, described the relationship between the governor and his deputy like that of father and son, saying as former police officer and Naval officers respectively, Dickson and Jonah fully appreciate the meaning of espirit de corps.
“When compared with the time of Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, Jonathan and the immediate past administration, I can say that what we have now is better,” James observed. He added that the deputy governor always represents the governor at functions even at the presidential villa. “The deputy governor is everywhere, and he is always very punctual and dutiful. I may not know the internal issues like in the area of finance, but from what I see there is no fracas, their relationship is very cordial,” he remarked.
When contacted for comment for this story, the deputy governor’s press secretary, Evinson Ebi said he was very busy with arrangements for the hosting of the meeting of Nigeria Guild of Editors in the state and could not spare time. This further goes to show that the office of the deputy governor is in the mainstream of government business in the state.
The Lagos State deputy governor, Dr. Idiat Oluranti Adebule was Secretary to the State Government (SSG) under the Babatunde Fashola administration. Since she was sworn-in as the state’s deputy governor on May 29, she has been up and doing.
Like the deputy governor during ex-governor Fashola’s first tenure from 2007-2011, Princess Serah Sosan, Adebule represents her boss whenever he is outside Lagos or the country, particularly when he is in Abuja for the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting.
In addition to these routine assignments, the newly created Office of Civic Engagement by Ambode’s administration is managed by the deputy governor. She oversees the affairs of the state university, since the fierce confrontation between the institution’s Vice-Chancellor Prof. John Oladapo Fafunwa and workers at the institution.

There is also the state’s monthly environmental sanitation exercise which she supervises herself every last Saturday. She led the rescue effort of the helicopter that crashed recently in Lagos in which six people died when her boss was outside the country. Her activeness is further propelled by the fact that the governor is yet to form his cabinet. Analysts predict that because Dr. Adebule is a good team player, Governor Ambode may likely assign her to oversee the affairs of the ministry of education when he finally does so. This would put her in charge of the office of Civic Engagement and Ministry of Education.
However, like counterparts from some other states of the federation, Benue State deputy governor, Chief Benson Abounu is no exception to playing the second fiddle in the affairs of the state.
 Against the background that sections, 193 and 187 of the constitution identify a deputy governor as someone whom the governor can use his discretion to assign duties, Chief Abounu has so far continued to represent his boss at several assignments in and outside the state.
He has been officially mandated to chair the peace and reconciliation committee on herders and farmers crisis in the state, which many critics consider as nothing more than an ‘errand boy’s’ job from the governor. Abounu, who enjoys a harmonious working relationship with his boss, Governor Samuel Ortom, had in the first week of his resumption of office visited the Otobi water works in Otukpo local government area to initiate talks with contractors handling the abandoned project, consequent upon which water supply was said to have been restored to the area two weeks after his intervention.
The deputy governor has held forte for the governor at several forums such as the seminar on enhancing trade and investment between India and Nigeria which held in Lagos, where he spoke on the need for investors to take advantage of the many untapped agricultural potentials in Benue State.
Apart from representing his boss at functions, Kaduna State’s deputy governor, Bala Barnabas Bantex, also has some agencies under his office, including State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Kaduna State Aids Control Agency (KADSACA) and Rural and Community Development Agency among others. He has represented Governor Nasir el-Rufai in the last flag-off of polio vaccination in Kaduna and at the NDA camp-highland exercise which held recently in Kachia. It was also gathered that as at Thursday, he was in the Adamawa State capital, Yola representing his boss at a function.
But Daily Trust observed that his activities lack publicity, and as such may not be known in the public domain. A source revealed that the governor has so much confidence in his deputy because he is an intelligent person that can represent him well. Bantex is a former state chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and ex-chairman of a local government, as well as one time member of the House of Representatives.
Ekiti State deputy governor, Dr. Kolapo Olushola is better known in the academic world than in politics. Prior to his appointment as running mate to Mr. Ayodele Peter Fayose of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the last governorship election, Dr. Olushola was a senior lecturer in the Building Department at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State. He was not known in the political arena but busied himself mentoring future leaders. His nomination therefore came to many as a surprise.
But since the duo won the June 21 governorship election, they have been working harmoniously. Aside delegated power to carry out certain functions, the deputy governor also oversees the ministry of education, and State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB). He had also presided over the state executive council meeting on several occasions, especially when his boss was out of town.
An official of the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, who confided in our correspondent, also said the deputy governor is playing very significant roles in chieftaincy matters, having intervened in several traditional disputes, as well as presenting staff of office to many monarchs and communal matters. During the chieftaincy crisis in Ikere Ekiti, the deputy governor was not found wanting in ensuring that the crisis was amicably resolved.
Fayose’s chief press secretary, Mr. Idowu Adelusi, described the working relationship between his principal and his deputy as very cordial, adding that this can only happen in a place where the governor has a loyal deputy.
However, in spite of the cordial relationship between the duo, the deputy governor’s political profile may not go beyond the four years of Fayose’s second term. The governor had, while appointing Olusola as his deputy, said he chose him because he did not see him as “too ambitious.” Besides, the governor said he and the deputy will bow out together at the expiration of his tenure in 2019.
Jigawa State’s deputy governor, Ibrahim Hassan Hadejia, who had earlier declared his intention to run for the governorship position on the APC platform in the last general elections, was forced to drop his ambition when the party caucus decided to produce the candidate by consensus. The end product was Governor Mohammad Badaru Abubakar and Hadejia who under the former governor Saminu Turaki was made deputy to the incumbent.
Governor Abubakar’s spokesman, Bello Zaki, said Hadejia “enjoys all privileges as deputy governor, which includes representation and acting in the absence of the governor.”
In Katsina State, deputy governor Mannir Yakubu has remained visible. In the last three months, he has chaired two important committees. He was the chairman of the all-powerful inauguration committee of the new administration and later headed the state fertiliser sales and distribution committee.
Feelers have it that Yakubu may be given control over a ministry – works or local government – in the yet-to-be constituted state executive council to make him more active.
Already, clearance in respect of the state’s 34 local government areas, especially in administration and finance, is obtained from him. He is also actively involved in polio-related issues, including campaigns and advocacy, and the state’s empowerment scheme where N2 billion is expected to be disbursed to Small and Medium Enterprises.
Aside the ritual of representing his boss at weddings and condolences, Yakubu has proven himself a team player so far. His close ally, Architect Nasiru Aboki said: “The APC administration is fortunate to have such a pillar of knowledge and an expert in quantity survey.” He added that his vast knowledge in that sector will save the state a great deal in executing development projects, by ensuring quality and quantity are not compromised in government projects.
It appears the relationship between Governor Muhammad Jibrilla of Adamawa State and his deputy, Martin Babale is warm and cordial so far. The governor recently swore in 21 commissioners and is yet to assign portfolios to them, but many expect his deputy to oversee one of the ministries. Meanwhile, he has been made the chairman of a committee for rehabilitation of major hospitals in the state.
A source close to Babale said he is learning from the mistakes of some past deputies who ran into trouble when they wanted to outshine their bosses. Earlier in the year, when some journalists approached him and asked for his profile, he objected, saying he will not release any details about himself until they publish the profile of Governor Jibrilla.
Perhaps, this time deputy governors will play more decisive roles in their respective states in the new dispensation which flaunts its change mantra. Nigerians are surely on the lookout for how things will pan out in the days ahead, whether we will see a repeat of the frosty relationship between governors and their deputies as was the case in the past. Only time will tell.

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