OPINION The type of governor Nigeria needs By Ray Morphy In his seminal book, The Trouble with Nigeria, late celebrated author and acclaimed father of African Literature, Professor Chinua Achebe noted that the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. Therefore, there is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example, which we all know is one of the foundations and hallmarks of true leadership. For many years, poor leadership characterised by corruption and dictatorship disguised in democratic toga ran roughshod over democracy! Since 1999 many state executives have shown themselves intolerant of the opposition parties. This became the culture and character of our politics. Winners at state level took all the local governments! Nigeria became hostage to the whims and caprices of leaders who are intolerant of opposition of any sort! They looked with disdain and suspicion on contrary views. Despite coming to power under the‘Change’ mantra, the APC seemed to have copied the bad ways of the PDP especially in the conduct of local government elections and intolerance of opposition. Many Nigerians may have noticed that when local government elections are conducted in People’s Democratic Party(PDP) controlled states, all the local government chairmanship and counsellorship elections go to the PDP. Similarly, when such elections were conducted in APC controlled states, APC candidates would sweep the chairmanship and councillorship elections in all the local governments. It therefore gladdens the heart when there arises a leader who differs from the norm and allows the opposition win when they truly won! Such a leader is Abubakar Sani Bello. of Niger State who allowed the popular candidates to win despite their political parties! PDP won his ward and he allowed it. I say that is the sort of leader we need at this time! He not only allowed opposition keep their win, he frowned at those who were impediments to true democracy! That is exactly what the Niger State State Governor,AlhajiAbubakar Sani Bello did, when he upbraided APC local government chairmen in Niger State who refused to swear in councilorsfrom the opposition parties that won elections in the last local government elections in the state. The governor also admitted that the APC lost the councillorship seat in his Kontagora ward due to imposition of candidate by ‘some people’! By this stance, Bello showed that he is a true man of the people. The governor is an uncommon leader who allowed the democratic process to flow seamlessly without any interference, before the process was hijacked by people who imposes an unpopular candidate leading to the loss by APC in the election. In an address he read at the closing of a three – day retreat in Kaduna, Governor Bello explained why he and his party, the All Progressives Congress(APC) lost the councillorship seat in his Kontagora ward to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party. Bello blamed the loss on impunity by some local government officials of the APC in the choice of candidate for the election in his ward. The governor was quoted as saying that “imposition of candidates often leads a party to lose election and also forces some candidates to leave the party and run under a different political party platform. It was due to the wrong candidate imposed by‘ some people’ in my ward in Kontagora that the APC failed to secure the councillor’ s position.” The governor, according to the statement, also chastised some local government council chairmen who refused to inaugurate councillors that won election on the platform of other parties in their areas. “If me as the governor let it be, why then would chairmen not swear in the councillors from the opposition,” the governor reportedly queried, describing the action of the affected chairmen as “wrong and against the rule of law.” “The rule of law is key. For those of you that have deliberately or mistakenly refused to swear – in councillors, because they come from opposition party, it is wrong, ” he said. Bello was reported to have also admonished the chairmen to“ find a subtle way to settle their political differences, ”adding that divergent political views would always arise and create challenges in the discharge of their duties with their vice chairmen and legislators. He said that APC not only represents change, but also stands for fairness, fair play and justice. Governor Abubakar Sani Bello is therefore a democratic leader who meets the criteria of truly democratic leadership. Researchers suggest that good democratic leaders possess specific traits that include; Honesty; Intelligence; Courage; Creativity; Competence; and Fairness. We dare say that Governor Abubakar Sani Bello met all these traits and thus deserved all the accolades he had been getting across board for his uncommon admittance of opposition in governance. The action of Sani Bello appears more significant at a time when the Kwara State House of Assembly locked out a lawmaker elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, Hon AbdulraheemAgboola, from the Assembly allegedly on the order of the Speaker, Rt Hon YakubuSalihu. Agboola, recently won his case at the Appeal Court, thereby unseating Hassan AbdulazeezOluwanilo, the APC lawmaker earlier declared winner by the INEC. Agboola thus became the only member elected on the platform of PDP in the 24 – member Assembly. Perhaps the Kwara State House of Assembly Speaker needs some lessons on opposition tolerance from the governor of Niger State. Let us enthrone rule of law in our polity to make our democracy stronger. Let our governors and other political leaders emulate the exemplary leadership of Abubakar Sani Bello, who represents the type of governor that this country needs. He is indeed the hope of democracy! geria needs



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