From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has expressed disappointment over the rift that has characterised the selection of running mates to the presidential and governorship candidates of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and other political parties for the 2023 general elections.
Jonathan suggested that there should be a constitutional review that will ensure that presidential and governorship candidates pick their running mates before the party primaries to reduce the rancour and tension in selecting running mates.
Speaking while chairing the book launch authored by the governor of Kano State, Umar Ganduje, Jonathan lamented the situation in some states that deputy governors cannot even sign approval of N100,000.
His words: “The issue of deputy governors and governors is actually something we all need to ponder. I remember when we were elected in 1999, there are some states that the relationship between the Governor-elect and Deputy Governor-elect becomes frosty even before the inauguration.
“Even if you look back in the current political dispensation, while we are going in for elections, I remember when I was appointed the running mate to Yar’dua, after the primaries that night, the following morning, I was nominated to be a running mate.
“But if you look at some of the parties, it took a very long time to select running mates, and sometimes after selecting running mates, there are all kinds of issues. I am thinking that the National Assembly should look at it, because of the issue of electing political leaders, just like our constitution doesn’t have provisions for a referendum, in other countries where the constitution has a provision for a referendum probably it is better.
“For you to qualify to run for the primaries as a governorship candidate, you should run with the deputy. The same thing at the federal level, for you to run as a President, you need to run as a deputy. If the political parties think that the pair is okay for them and when they vote for that pair, nobody will raise issues again after the primaries.
“But here we are in a situation where issues are being raised after primaries because selection of a Vice President is becoming a problem. I believe maybe at the state level the selection of the running mate to the governor is also becoming a problem.
“And every country amends their laws based on the challenges they face, this is one area that Ganduje has raised and I believe Nigerians need to have a discussion on it,” he noted.
Making case for deputies to succeed their principal, Jonathan said: “When I left office and we are looking at the whole 36 states, we asked how many states that the governors were able to work for their deputies to take over from them. Naturally, the deputy governor will look up to taking over from his boss, but I remember at that time before the Ganduje experience, it was only Zamfara State, when Senator Yerima nominated Shinkafi and when we are saying we are going to give Senator Yerima an award for doing that, Kwankwaso nominated Ganduje
“Yes, I became a governor by default, you know what happened in my state. It was not a deliberate nomination by my principal. The clear case that I know was Yerima and Shinkafi and of course Kwankwaso and Ganduje. Why is it so, ordinarily it is not supposed not to be so. If the relationship between governors and deputy governors is good, at least in every cycle, at least we expect reasonable numbers of deputy governors to take over from their governors and that is a problem in this country.
“Certain things are crucial for cultivating a good relationship between a deputy and his principal; they include good personal relationship, accessibility, mutual respect and common focus. On the part of the deputy, loyalty, patience, cool-headedness, discipline, capacity and sound judgement and essential qualities for minimizing disagreement, suspicion and friction. I always say, the deputy must not know more than the principal.
“Beyond that, there is always the need for a legal adjustment to assign clear responsibilities other than the ad hoc functions they perform at the behest of their bosses. Because when I became the deputy governor in 1999, there are some governors that gave some ministries to their deputy governors to manage. But if you look at the Nigerian constitution, the only role of a deputy governor is the chairman of the State Boundary Committee.
“If a state has a boundary problem with a neighbouring state, then there are clear responsibilities because you are the chairman of the state Boundary committee. But where states don’t have boundary problems, there is no clear role given to a deputy governor.
“When I compared that with the position of Deputy Senate President and the Deputy Speaker, It does seem that deputy Speaker, Deputy Senate presidents have some rules. Amendment of the Constitution is jointly chaired. The kind of problems we have between deputy governors and governors we don’t have that in the National Assembly, it may be there in a little way, but outside that, those ones are not so pronounced because the deputies have some clear responsibilities.
“For everything that the deputy governor will do depends on what the governor says he should do. To me, it is not the best. I remember our days, these days they no longer use that parlance, they say that deputy governors are spare tyres, it is only when the main tyre puncture that the deputy governor becomes functional.
“It was so bad when I was a deputy governor because there are some states that when the governor travels out of the country and a mail comes to the state from where the governor is requested to be, definitely since the governor is out of the state, the deputy governor is supposed to go. But for the deputy governor to travel where to represent the governor, he must inform the governor who is in America or Oklahoma somewhere enjoying, who must authorise the Accountant General to release money to the deputy governor, without that no money.
“Luckily for me, when I was the deputy governor, if late Alamieyeseigha, was outside the country, and an invitation comes from where he had to be, even if it is a social event or council of state or whatever program, I don’t need to even call Alamieyeseigha, I will give the approval for the journey. My protocol will make costing on flight arrangement and allowances of aides, I will be given the money. I will go and represent him.
“But there are some states then, I don’t know now, that the deputy governors have no power to even approve N100,000 to represent the governor. These are grey areas we really need to look at,” he appealed.
Another area of concern, according to him is “these rampant impeachments of deputy governors. Immediately the governor and deputy governor appear not to agree on something, they are all politicians, and they are all political leaders, then the governor will move the state assembly and of course, the deputy governor will be impeached.
“And probably in some cases, the governor will win the election because of the deputy governor, not all cases, then by little disagreement, you are impeaching him to bring somebody who did not play any role in the struggle for him to go and become the deputy governor. These are the areas that the National Assembly and the whole country will really need to nite and examine.
“A good working relationship by mutual understanding between the deputy governor and governor as well as the President and Vice President is critical towards cultivating the culture of functional democracy and good governance,” he noted.