No Respite For Amosun | Independent Newspapers Limited
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COLUMNIST, Omnipossibilities

No Respite For Amosun

Posted: Jun 12, 2015 at 3:33 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

There is this saying among journalists covering Nigeria’s political scene: the first term of four years of the president or governor is sowing time; the second (if he gets it) is harvest time. What does this mean in practical terms? Not too difficult to decode, given my experience these 16years of our unbroken civilian rule.

Sowing time in the first four years means hard work for the governor, while harvesting in the second term is to rest from your labours and reap from what you have sown. So what happens to the people who voted you into power? Do they harvest? No. They go to rest from expectations until a new person climbs the high horse of governance.

Now one must be charitable to some of these politicians. Not all of them are known to subscribe to the notorious doctrine of sowing and reaping in governance. After all, service in government isn’t about sowing and harvesting. It is about serving and serving till you quit. If there is any harvesting at all, it must be done by the people you serve, not by the servant or server.

That was the main point I got as I read and re-read the inaugural speech of second-term Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State. He spoke of four years of even harder work than he and his team did the first time. He admitted that some real work took place that previous term. But something bigger is ahead, by his reckoning.

This is how Amosun put it: “Our achievements in the first four years of our first term could have not have been possible without your support, cooperation and prayers. I am eternally grateful for this. I therefore call on every indigene and resident of Ogun state to continue to see this Ogun Project as their own. We shall press the pedal hard in accelerating the development of our state in the next four years. We therefore solicit for your continued support and cooperation for a better, improved Ogun state. We are determined to put Ogun state on auto drive of progress and modernization in which all the stakeholders will be able to fulfill their collective and individual aspirations. We want to continue to rebuild the system, structure and the people…I wish to make a further personal commitment that we will leave Ogun state radically and demonstrably better and more prosperous than we met it.”

For Nigerians to reap enduring benefits from this democratic experiment which has had an unprecedented long stretch of life this time we must get leaders who don’t rest on their oars. They must be leaders who don’t go to bed in their second term. Indeed the last term should surpass the first, in terms of delivering the dividends of democracy.

When they offer such service, it must not just be because the incumbent wants to perpetuate his party in the saddle. Of course, that is OK for a politician. But we are talking about raising the bar of servanthood to accommodate the view of a public office holder as a statesman who “belongs to everybody, but belongs to nobody” as President Muhammadu Buhari aptly put it the other day. If the second-term governor would be a commendable statesman, he must strive to please the people more than his party.

In that case, the motive for working harder under an encore mandate should be to receive plaudits from the citizens and not to get his party in power again after his exit when he would have spent eight years in office.

I sincerely believe that this was what was working in the mind of Amosun when he presented that inaugural speech. He does not believe the first term entitles him to respite when there are still roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects under construction. Can the man actually rest when the Free Education policy has attracted such interest that there is a jump in primary and secondary school enrolment all over the state? Would he not be required to build and equip more schools?

How can Amosun claim he is due for relief from work when the state has become the investors’ destination following the enhanced security architecture and business friendly policies put in place by the government? Can the governor yearn for sleep, as it were, with tens of thousands of residents seeking to take advantage of the state’s Homeowners Charter Programme? Must Amosun not satisfy their hunger to be captured in this well-received scheme?

To add to the governor’s “troubles” (is it a trouble or window of opportunity to leave a worthy legacy?), he has entered into a contract with a Chinese company that commits his administration to a revolutionary light rail project. It’s part of his Mission to Rebuild Ogun State to the fullest. He has also spoken of an Airport Project, Deep Sea Port, Free Trade Zone among other ambitious programmes.

When you have all this engaging bouquet of plans to develop your state and its citizens, it’s impossible to talk of a somnolent second term. You’d work sleeplessly, as it were, to push watchers to ask: is this man going for a third term? Or is he eyeing the Presidency after his second term?

I wouldn’t know when Amosun would be heading after 2019. But that is neither here or there. What matters is that he has his hands full now to nullify the fulfillment of the so-called principle that a second-term governor is a spent force.