National chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has disclosed why state governors and their deputies often disagree.
The explanation came at the backdrop of rifts between Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, and his deputy, Philip Shaibu.
Speaking, when members of a forum of former deputy governors paid him a visit at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja, Ganduje blamed sycophants for the unwholesome development.
Having served as deputy governor to Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso for two terms, Ganduje recalled how he consciously avoided sycophants to be able to serve out his tenure without clashing with his principal.
He said the importance of deputy governors cannot be underestimated, since they come handy when a governor is indisposed. He, however, added that serving deputies are more or less “spare tyres,” because the constitution does not spell out any defined roles for them.
According to him, desire to address recurring conflict between governors and their deputies informed his decision to write a book, titled ‘Deputising and Governance in Nigeria’.
Highlighting the challenge, Ganduje said: “There is no doubt; the position of deputy governor is the most controversial in governance, not only in Nigeria but all over the world: except in some nations, where a governor contests in his own party and a deputy governor can contest in another, and win the election, and they work together.
“In Nigeria, it has to be the same ticket. The position, as I always say, is the most controversial. The constitution has to provide for it as a spare tyre. And we all know the importance of a spare tyre. If you don’t need it when you are normal, then you will need it when you are in trouble.”
The APC chairman explained that if a deputy governor walks “side by side” with a governor, so that “if he (governor) talks to you (deputy), you hear him, and when you talk to him he hears you,” sycophants will describe such deputy as “rubbish.”
On the other hand, if a deputy runs ahead, at the risk of an “accident, or dangerous elements, even snakes,” and allows himself to get bitten before his principal does, “sycophants will say you have overtaken him.”
Ganduje added: “If you respect your principal and stay behind, let him go in front, sycophants will say you are developing a lukewarm attitude, hence you are retreating.
“Now, tell me, which position will you take? It is difficult! That is why I decided to write a book. Even up till now, that problem is still ongoing. In fact, if it persists…we are trying to organise a national conference on the relationship between governors and their deputies.
“My book is not dwelling on governors and deputies (alone. It includes) presidents and vice presidents, considering what happened between Olusegun Obasanjo and Atiku Abubakar.”
He said he focused on deputising because it features in many spheres of working relationship. “If you are a chancellor, you have a vice chancellor or deputy vice chancellor. If you are a managing director, you will have a deputy managing director. If you are a principal, you have a vice principal. So, you can see that it is the concept that is important, not the key people that are there.”
Ganduje, who expressed gratitude to members of the forum for felicitating with him on his appointment as national chairman, promised he would do all in his power to ensure the Bola Tinubu administration lives up to the expectations of Nigerians.
The deputy governors’ forum, led by Chris Akomas, demanded immediate review of the APC constitution to enable the party to achieve its objectives.