Daily Trust (Abuja)

27 December 2012

Nigeria: Agenda for Mukhtar Ramalan Yero

editorial

Following the death in a helicopter crash of Kaduna State governor, Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, on December 15, 2012, his erstwhile deputy, Ajhaji Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, has since been sworn in to the substantive position. Yero indeed has his work as the governor cut out for him.

Given the ethnic religious mix of the population of Kaduna State, and how this can impact heavily on governance, Yero's sudden thrust to the leadership position would present him with many challenges, most of these bordering on security and social cohesion.

In an environment where ethnic and religious balancing is a cardinal rule in public administration, the new governor should bear that particular fact in mind, not only in his actions as governor but also in his public pronouncements.

His greatest challenge would be in managing all these while at the same time ensuring that they do not degenerate into one of the many instances of security breaches that Yakowa devoted his and state resources and time addressing. No development, physical and of the people, can take place without the prevalence of peace.

A word wrongly placed, particularly at this time of shock in Yakowa's sudden demise and the various conspiracy theories circulating around regarding the circumstances could be all that is needed to turn parts of the state into inter-communal battlegrounds.

It is therefore the time for healing; a time to bring all sections of the Kaduna society as one people in order that the state can shed the tendency to violence in the past and move forward to the greatness that has eluded it as a haven for commerce, learning and culture.

The right lessons should be learnt. Both Yakowa and Yero became governor by chance; one through the elevation in 2010 of Mohammed Namadi Sambo to his current position as vice president and the other through Yakowa's death. However, Yakowa went on to win election on his own in 2011. Yero has already announced at his swearing in that he would maintain Yakowa's legacy; this should not mean that he cannot initiate his own projects whenever the need arises and finances of the state permit.

One of Yakowa's legacies he should strive to sustain and build upon is the pursuit of peace and unity in a volatile environment that Kaduna in recent years has unfortunately come to be identified with, and where inter-communal harmony is brittle and can easily snap.

A day before the ill-fated trip to Bayelsa State where the crash took place, Yakowa had laid foundation for several projects, including the turning of the sod to upgrade the Barau Dikko Children's Hospital to a specialist facility, and launched a programme to rehabilitate roads in the state capital and improve and extend water supply.

These projects-and similar one with potential impact on the lives of people to encourage them to invest in peace-that Governor Yero should sustain. They could be projects that were begun by administrations previous to Yakowa's but which he might have suspended for one reason or another. Yero should re-evaluate these and deal with them in accordance with the priority rating he attaches to each.

The governor should not let some recent pronouncements, regarding his relationship as deputy governor with members of Yakowa's cabinet, to define his style of governance.

The ultimate role a leader should play is one of a unifier, marshalling all the disparate segments and interests of the society and the people towards the achievement of a common goal, in this case peace and progress of Kaduna State.

Whether Yero was a lackey of someone else in the Presidency, as some of his compatriots have expressed fears over, is immaterial. He is now on his own, the executive governor; the buck stops at his desk. That is what the constitution says, and that is how it should be.

He should personally inspire those he works with, such as commissioners, advisers, etc; to contribute positively to the goals of a greater Kaduna State, where peace would reign. Where he can claim credit for every successful positive policy initiative, it follows that he would take responsibility for any failure; not blaming any meddlesomeness of some godfather.

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