I know from experience that governance can be exiting, what when the right persons are appointed by the principal. Indeed, the essence of finding the right persons cannot be lost until things start to go awry. When such things get complicated and the chips are down, it is the table of the chief executive that the blames are laid. That is the headache.
No state chief executive would deliberately set out to want to fail the people of his state by appointing aides that would not add value to his administration. None. It is always that the appointees should be selected discretely and rightly from the communities that make the state. To do that, the party, influential party and non-party individuals as well as the communities always fall over themselves to get a name submitted for consideration.
We know that not all the names always pass the scrutiny of the ‘conditions’ attached to the office. Not all who are considered and appointed may be the best from such communities, however, the fact that they have been brought on board is enough to spur them to contribute their quota to the course of governance. The fact that a governor is said to have succeeded, is a combination of the things his aides bring into the administration.
Since the creation of the state, we have had some of the best hands brought into governance by different governors. We have also had others who came because they wanted to ‘eat’ from such administrations. However it is accessed, it is a known fact that leadership space has continued to be challenged by certain developments that propel those in such positions to put in their best.
Recently during the swearing in ceremony of the Plateau State, Secretary to the Government of State and the Chief of Staff to Governor Simon Bako Lalong, Hon Noel Kuryil Dongjur, it was another opportunity for him to reveal certain things he has observed in governance, and about how his office is been bombarded with requests for who should be considered for appointment as commissioners.
One of the times when it became apparent he needed to speak on developments concerning his aides was on December 4, 2019, during the Urban and Regional Planning and Housing Summit, organized by the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Town Planning in conjunction with its sister Ministries for Physical Planning and Urban Development and that of Housing.
The Governor who was emotionally irritated by the inability of some ministries to make good use of the two road-maintainers procured by his administration expressed concern that the mistakes of others in the kitchen cabinet appointed would ironically be blame on him and that he would not hesitate to query any person who fails to meet up with his administration’s blue print.
On that day, it was apparent the governor was not happy about the relationship between some of his commissioners whose ‘territories’ had been ‘invaded’ by another colleague; thereby giving room for suspicion and not making the machinery of governance suffer. They are brought to help in implementing the mandate of the governor; therefore it can be said that only the state chief executive who should be in charge and held responsible for any failure.
It was hosted by GIZ at Crest Hotel. The summit was tagged: Pro-poor Growth and Promotion of Employment in Nigeria. There might have been other instances, where it became apparent that he would blow hot on certain state issues which were taken for granted by his aides. A governor who desires to succeed would naturally want the state to know who are slowing and ‘expecting’ him to fail.
Rightly so, during the swearing in ceremony, he began on a note of gratitude to the Plateau electorate, who during the general elections gave him their mandate: ‘I don’t take for granted the opportunity God has bestowed on me to have been elected Governor of our dear State twice in 2015 and 2019.
‘I cannot thank enough, the good people of this state for the confidence they have reposed on us particularly in the last elections where they again demonstrated their trust in our Rescue Stewardship by massively voting I and His Excellency, the Deputy Governor Prof. Sonni Tyoden for another term. We remain grateful and take the mandate very seriously.
Without being told, governance like the governor said is all about ‘commitment to delivering good governance to the people of Plateau State in line with our campaign promises. With the support and understanding of everyone, this task though difficult, is surmountable’. Nothing is indeed difficult to make them fail, so long as we are aware they came with a track record of service. And to get things done, they must “Think Plateau and Act Plateau”.
That is a good beginning to get things done, you might want to say. To get to that level, the governor went for Prof. Danladi A. Atu as the new Secretary to the Government of the State, and the Chief of Staff, Hon. Noel Kuryil Dongjur to drive the machinery of government to work in line with the thinking and philosophy of the Rescue Administration in the state. Both, the governor insisted ‘are very critical to the actualization of our mandate’.
To have appointed the two, who are not strangers to the state or to administration, he ‘refused to seek the input of anybody as he did in the past where they failed’ him. Once beaten, they say, is twice shy, hence he went for those whom he knows would deliver on their mandate and for the progress of the state. Both are coming into the office with over 30 years in position of leadership.
The two appointees are sons of Plateau State. Prof. DanladiAbokAtu-a distinguished scholar and public servant, one time Chairman of Jos North Local Government Council and who until now, was the Director, Institute for Peace and Social Rehabilitation–University of Abuja and Hon. Noel Kuryil Dongjur, a seasoned Quantity Surveyor and one time Commissioner of Sports and Youths and of Works, and current member of the Plateau State Economic Team, were carefully selected for their love for our state and track record of diligent, honest and committed service. Both served during the Governor Joshua Dariye administration.
The choice has been made and they have been sworn in already. They have a big task ahead of them to achieve. They will need all the goodwill, support and prayers for the herculean challenges of assisting the governor.
They are aware, like the governor stated that the ‘elections are over and work has started in earnest. Our people are thirsty for good governance that we promised and we have no excuses to roll off our sleeves and get down work and deliver on such promises. For the new Secretary to the Government of the State and Chief of Staff, this expectation makes your task very challenging and exciting as you settle in to begin driving the bureaucracy of government to work in line with the thinking and philosophy of the Rescue Administration.
‘As the next cabinet is being constituted, you will be required to give proper direction, guidance and motivation to all ministries and agencies of government for effective performance without undue rancour and distractions. You must lead by example and ensure that discipline is maintained and observed throughout the service.
‘Remember that your appointment is not a license to self-aggrandizement nor self-enrichment or any personal gain for that matter. It is about service to our people and ensuring that this administration delivers on its mandate and leaving lasting legacies for our beloved state.
‘As it is always said, no one (including myself) is indispensable. Therefore, we will not tolerate anyone who undermines Government’s efforts or flagrantly disregards directives. Poor performance, dereliction of duty, non-chalance or outright sabotage is not acceptable and will not be appreciated nor tolerated’.
One of the highlights of the swearing in ceremony the manner the governor spoke on his list of commissioners. Knowing well that the event had brought together a number of personalities, who have the capacity to influence the selection of such aides; he spoke as one disturbed by the development of the practice of lobbying to be made commissioner.
The governor has a reason for refusing to entertain certain lobbyists. He is aware that some have allegedly gone ahead and solicited for their names to be included on the list by paying some amounts of money for that purpose. If anyone thought that paying money would pave the way to be considered, such persons received the shocker of their lives as soon as the governor told the gathering: I have already finished my list of commissioners and advised lobbyists not to waste their time seeking to be appointed and reiterated his commitment to greater service to the people of the state in the next-level, even as heaven won’t fall if one is not made a commissioner.
The task is enormous and they know so. Recall in an address to the citizens of Plateau State on democracy day June 12 2019, the governor unveiled the vision of the Rescue Administration tagged: “Plateau State in the next level: Policies and programmes of the rescue team, phase 2”, he promised to leave behind lasting legacies for this generation and generation to come.
No doubt, that is what the state wants. Indeed, to achieve such, he is aware of their pedigree and the desire to ensure that: ‘Peace, security and good governance; physical infrastructural development; and sustainable economic re-birth’ are a recurring decimal in Plateau State. The two will bring to bear their wealth of experience, vast knowledge and spirit of patriotism and selfless service to the administration; even as we know they will coordinate the operations of government activities and programmes.