One of the positive spill over effects of being a member of the National Good Governance Tour team is that it gives one the opportunity to compare and contrast the governing philosophies and styles of the political actors and to highlight the positive contribution of one or more actors in one or more areas of governance that is worthy of emulation or applicability by other actors in similar circumstances. And for me in particular, it has also given me the chance to try to postulate some crude or untested or unapplied governance theory based on the practical realities I have observed on the ground. Today, I want to share one of such postulations.
So far, the team has visited all states of the North Central geo-political zones, including the FCT but with the exception of Kogi and all the five states of the South East geo-political zones. In the course of the visit to these two zones, I have noticed one interesting development which may not mean much in practical or intellectual terms but which nevertheless may provide a talking point for those who are curious. From my own personal rating of governors of states so far visited, my number one performer is Governor Jonah David Jang of Plateau State and the second is Martin Nwancho Elechi of Ebonyi State.
I consider them the most outstanding so far and my assessment is based mainly on the sheer number and quality of projects they have carefully identified, conceived and executed that are visibly on ground; their vision, planning and execution styles; the pro-people nature of their programmes, projects and policies; their obvious commitment to serving the best interests of their peoples; prudent management of their resources; their humble, honest, sincere and focused approach to governance and their ability to carry a majority of their people along with them in their developmental strides.
Incidentally, and here lies the source of my own scholarly interest, the two men are the oldest in age in their respective geo-political zones and among the oldest of their peers nationally. This has fuelled my journalist curiosity to seek to find out what may have been responsible for why men that some may think are well past their primes have tended to do better than younger men who are supposed to be in the most productive ages of their lives. Do the examples of Jang and Elechi mean that older governors are necessarily better? And if indeed it is safe to reach such a conclusion, what are the possible factors that account for the better performance of older governors compared to their younger counterparts? Are the factors to be identified of sufficient significance to compel their recommendation to other governors whether young, old or neither young nor old?
We must admit that at present we have a challenge with our governance. Therefore, no postulation, no theory, no straw worth holding onto, should appear too far- fetched to inquire into to see if it can become a body of administrative theorems that can be the way out for our search for good governance.
Let me be the first to admit that it is pre-mature at this time to come to a definitive end that relatively more mature men make better governors because we are yet to see the performance of all the governors. Why, then, try to arrive at some verdict when all the data is not yet home, some may well ask. The answer is that this is not a hard science or social science research project but a matter that has merely aroused the curiosity of a commentator or social historian in a hurry to share what has triggered his curiosity with others.
The question we seek to pose here Is: is it mere coincidence that Jang and Elechi who are the oldest governors in the land have outperformed their younger colleagues or does good governance have something tangentially to do with the age of men on the seat? Elsewhere, age has nothing to do with the performance of a political leader but in our peculiar situation, it does appear that it has.
I think it has something to do partly with the ages of these men and partly with their persons or the attitude they have formed in the course of their public service careers and the decision they may have made as their operational principle. Governors Jang and Elechi have had a long career in the public service of our nation and went into the office of governor with a reputation. It does appear that each of them, quite independent of the other but informed by their antecedents and their advanced ages, made up their minds not to tarnish their reputation. They decided that they have seen it all and that in the evening of their lives, they will not want to do anything silly. To put it more bluntly, they have resolved not to steal public funds but to utilise such funds as prudently as possible in order to leave a good name for themselves.
I want to also postulate that age has tempered their manly ardour and freed them from unbridled pursuit of things of the flesh which have done much to ruin younger men with riotous libido. Elechi and Jang appear to me as men who give no great regard to the things of the flesh which greatly account for the failure of some youthful governors some of whom have surrendered the governance of their states to their numerous mistresses or who allow some of their pleasure women a great deal of role in their governance. We are yet to visit Adamawa where a fairly aged governor presides in order to reach a fair intellectual conclusion. But suffice it to say that the devotion of these men to their wives has given them a stable home front which may have contributed to their relative successes.
I want to further theorise that Jang and Elechi have done relatively better because they are not given to frequent frivolous foreign travels in search of the so far elusive foreign investors. They sit more often at home to tackle the challenges facing their people. This factor appears to me even more crucial given the sheer amount of Executive Time that is wasted by many of our absentee governors. In spite of their ages Elechi and Jang are hands-on in their governance. They pay attention to details and supervise projects whether those of the Federal or their own. This has helped in no small measure to make a substantial difference.
These fledgling theorems of mine are a mere observation in progress and have not been formulated into a governance theory yet. But they should serve as a recommendation to younger governors who have so far not measured up to the standard of performance exhibited by these two men who are advanced in years.