Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Pikesville, Maryland, USA

"All good men and women must take responsibility to create legacies that will take the next generation to a level we could only imagine." - Anonymous

"Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you." - Shannon L. Alder

"None of us know how much time we have left on this earth. What is left in the end are your actions, the memories you left behind and how you made people feel. And what you want to leave behind is for people to remember you with love." - Brigitte Nicole

egacies can ordinarily be described as the impressions, imprints and/or materials both physical and non-physical, which one leaves behind for posterity after one exits the scene, either through the expiry of terms of office or when one passes on to glory. What one leaves to the History books is what is fondly referred to as legacy. In the simple parlance, it is what anyone in office will want to be remembered for. These being so, legacies are to be worked for and remembered by all human beings in big and small offices because the most obvious characteristics of all office holders are expiration and imminent change. Sooner or later everything will expire, including our lives. This why the Yoruba people have coined the statement written on lorries and local billboards as "bintin laiye" which translates in pidgin English as "Life na small thing". The Holy Book, the Bible, in the Book of Proverbs also declares that "vanity upon vanity, all is vanity". All the legitimate and/or ill-gotten wealth will eventually be left behind in the hands of others to squander! What a shame on those who spend their lives acquiring worldly materials, earning bad names thus leaving bad marks for posterity. History is often unkind to such people. I hope that all of us can remember that our days on earth are numbered! So also are our days in public and political offices.

The Nigerian experience of recent times becomes important to all well-meaning people of this nation, especially the Governors, political office holders and politicians in general. All people occupying positions and all aspirants into positions are the focus of this article. The incumbents and those stepping into their shoes after periods in offices are admonished to remember that all offices are never permanent. The temporariness of all offices is the only thing which can be guaranteed and hence the need to tread softly while in office. Many office holders at different levels of governance often get carried away and behave in such manners as to make people think that occupancies in such offices are for lifetimes. People can only remain in positions for given periods of time before being moved to other locations of either rest or further responsibilities. No wonder some wise people in offices display behind their official seats or on tables, a motto which reads "I am only here for a short time." It is the wisest philosophy to guide our behaviours while in big and small positions.

In recent times we read in the papers and hear the news on Radio and Television that Political Office holders, especially Governors, performing actions which can disturb the wheel of progress in such States. What a barbaric, reprehensible and anti-progressive behavior from such Chief Executives? Information has it that important actions and appointments are made by some of these governors/politicians at the eve of their departures from offices (perhaps calculated to destabilise the incoming administrations). Many Governors have succeeded in piling up debts for their incoming governors (unpaid salaries and allowances), with their debt profiles hitting the roof! Many Governors have hurriedly paid outstanding salaries and benefits owed workers for several months and years in order to mop up the treasury and hopefully cajole the suffering workers. What a shame to have such actions coming from leaders, who may have led their States for forty-eight to ninety-six months (4-8 years)? What a legacy of confusion and instability to leave behind?

The cases of Bauchi, Ekiti and Oyo States have been reported copiously in the news in recent times. There should be some legislations in Nigeria to halt these despicable behaviors hence forth. It is a paradox that anyone would ever dream of another one stepping into his/her shoes to mess up the good works one has done over a long period of time. It is only in Nigeria such can be experienced. What about treasury depletions calculated and orchestrated to set the incoming officials as beggars? Must an outgoing Governor spend all monies in government coffers before bowing out of office? What about a deliberate and calculated attempt to create or fill positions to cause chaos and disaffection between and among individuals? These are contemptable actions which can cause fundamental problems to governance and they must be stopped. Our laws in Nigeria have many loop-holes and weaknesses which need some immediate adjustments for the people to enjoy the good dividends of democracy and give way to smooth governance.

A careful look at these belated actions and the "fire brigade" appointments by the out-going Governors reveals that an incoming Governor in such State is being plunged into some deliberate chaos and instability from the start of his/her administration. What a careful and dangerous way to pitch the affected people against a new administration and orchestrate the people to incur the wrath of one another? If we purport to be working for the progress and development of the people, how can the orchestration of chaos for an incoming administration lead to peace and progress of any State? The people of Nigeria ought to pay attention to this anomaly and implore their Law makers to raise Bills to curb these and other excesses of out-going (exiting) Governors and officials. When the people are quiet and the situation is left unchecked, it is bound to get exacerbated to the detriment of the people. Lawmakers at both the National and state levels must raise bills and enact laws to halt this bad trend.

While the act of governance is a continuum and there cannot be a vacuum of any sort, there should be some safety valves to guard what people in political offices can do and what they should never do. There is need for strict laws to guard the actions of Governors in and out of office. Immunities in office should be redefined so that Governors do not have licenses to commit atrocities and leave the States in ungovernable conditions. There are many potential problem areas which should be out of bounds to Governors for the peace and progress of our States and the nation as a whole. Any action which is not taken six months to the expiry of their terms in office should be left for the new administration, except such actions will negatively affect or hurt the States.

In the light of the foregoing, any incoming officer should arm himself/herself with the reasonable steps and strategies for surviving the evil machinations of any evil -minded outgoing officials at any level of governance. While this writer does not support witch hunting and any form of probes (except absolutely necessary), it is advisable for all incoming officials to draw the line between the old and the new administrations. Again, in the spirit of this article, there is need to clearly define the take off points for proper accountability. Besides, when high level appointments are made to plant people into an incoming administration, it may be a subtle way of beginning or creating some bad blood among the people (workers). An example becomes applicable especially for Governors and Presidents, where they are allowed to choose who they want to work with as Deputies and Vices. I am sure all of them will frown, if they were to have their Deputies and Vices imposed upon them, rather than having the choice to pick/select who to work with and those who can form their 'kitchen Cabinet'.

Some suggested strategies to checkmate erring Governors:

  1. Federal and State legislators to make laws to forbid Governors from certain actions inimical to the progress of the State especially towards their last weeks and days in office.

  2. Establishment of time restrictions on actions relating to appointments and promotions by outgoing Governors.

  3. Incoming Officials (Presidents and Governors) having the power to revoke actions by predecessors which can constitute clogs in the wheels of progress to the nation or State.

  4. Normalising any observed anomalies for the peace and progress of the State in a manner to guarantee fairness and justice.

  5. Running an administration with "accountability" as its watch word and carrying the people along.

  6. There is need to remind office holders that History and Legacy will be their judge.

No one is in doubt that the world is filled with all sorts of people. There are those who stand for peace and there are others who dream up problems and chaos. The onus is on all right-thinking persons to make proper choices. Where predecessors orchestrate chaos, any incoming officer must 'shine his/her eyes' very well and avert tragedies and mishaps. Where a bad legacy is to be inherited, and incoming administration must make effort to avoid incurring the wrath of the people while correcting the wrongs. The quotations at the beginning of this articles will serve as important reminders that all office holders should work hard to leave behind good memories (legacies) for posterity. What will be said about you when you leave office? Politicians must always remember that democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Good luck to all new Administrations, Governors, Governments, and Political Office holders in Nigeria. Long live Nigeria.