Governors plan for a life of entrepreneurship, religion, etc.
Some of the 36 governors in Nigeria on Friday gave an insight into what they plan to do when they leave office.
The governors spoke at the 4th retreat of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, at the Banquet Hall of the Government House in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The governors’ submissions were made during a session on Life after office: Perspectives and Challenges, chaired by the former President of Liberia, Amos Sawyer.
Mr. Sawyer and Adele Jinadu both gave account of the challenges public office holders face whenever they leave office in the absence of the perks of such offices.
The first to speak was the Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, who said most of what the previous speakers said was based on theory. He said he would provide practical example because he had already left a lucrative office in the past.
He said he worked in a firm in the Oil and Gas industry and rose to the top.
“I have worked in the oil industry for about 30 years. I have run businesses that are very profitable. I had all my children when I was working in the oil industry. When I’m in a lucrative position, all manner of people bring gifts. I remember some market women who never forget my birthday. But when I left the post, they didn’t even greet me,” he said.
The governor therefore said the best way to deal with the challenge was to be prepared for whatever office they would occupy. He said leaders must have clear cut ideas that must be implemented.
He also said even determining a successor was never a guarantee that an outgoing governor will enjoy his retirement.
“The first person the king attacks is the kingmaker. Avoid always trying to influence or control your successor,” he said.
He said after office, he intended to become a preacher. He said governors should know that not only was there life after office, but that there was life after death.
“When I leave office, I want to be a preacher. I want to be a consultant. I want to be able to tell people that there is God,” he said.
The Oyo Governor also humorously recalled that before becoming governor, he was always visiting the kitchen in his house.
“At times I will perceive the aroma of fried egg, possibly from the staff section and I will complain to my wife that maybe they stole from us. Since becoming governor however, I don’t care whether they fry egg or not. My final word is avoid enjoying what you usually cannot afford and just know that life is transient,” Mr. Ajimobi said.
Another governor, Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, said governors should be concerned with delivering effective governance, which, he said, would serve as insurance to them.
He said he never bothers about life after office, adding however that “I know it must come. For every sunrise there must be a sunset. I don’t think it’s something we must belabour ourselves.”
Mr. Okorocha said that it was the fear of life after office that pushed some people to engage in “primitive accumulation of wealth.”
“Who you are before office is also very important. If we elect a criminal into office, he will simply become excellent in criminality. When you serve the people well, the people will become your security,” he said.
He advised the governors to make fighting poverty a cardinal principle of their administration.
“People often think that dramatisation of poverty is humility. For me, the dramatisation of poverty is stupidity. And poverty, by the way, is strategic. Be careful. I’ve gone through it and I swore that my generation will never experience it. It is better to have AIDS than poverty,” he said.
On his part, Governor Murtala Nyako said he had prepared for life as a farmer and didn’t expect any benefits from the government when he leaves office.
“I don’t intend to trouble myself with what benefits I will get after office. If they don’t give me anything, I will not trouble myself,” he said.
As for Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state, he said he did not even understand why the retreat was discussing the matter.
He said, “Governor’s office is an office and like every other; you always know there is a time to go.”
Mr. Oshiomhole said his only concern after leaving office was being able to move around freely, “in and out of Oba Market.”
A former Governor, Orji Kalu, also spoke through the Managing Director of the New Telegraph newspaper, Gabriel Akindewo.
In his presentation, Mr. Kalu said as a governor for eight years his businesses around the world suffered.
He said today however, “God has repaid me in several fold. I can hardly keep pace with all my investments in different parts of the world and I virtually live in the air now, criss-crossing continents. But I am happy and fulfilled.”
He said his happiness stems from the fact that he could provide employment opportunities to thousands of people.
He advised the governors that as chief executives of states today, they should plan on how to still be useful to the people after office as “they would never leave you alone.”
“As a former governor, they will think you have all the money in the world, so they will continue to bring their needs to you. So think towards entrepreneurship so that you can still meet the needs of people around you. You do not need to give them free money; rather you can give them opportunities in businesses where you have dominant shares, or link them with other colleagues and friends who equally have investments. If you don’t do this, they will abuse you as a selfish man, who does not give opportunity to others,” Mr. Kalu said.