Home Employment Avoid last minute contracts, work

Avoid last minute contracts, work

Avoid last minute contracts, work

Reflecting the immaturity of democracy in Nigeria, some elected governors issue “orders” to banks and government officials, while some incumbent administrators make new appointments, take on new debts and take on contracts that could leave their successors in dire straits. But the law is clear: incumbents are the only statutory governing authority in the states until their terms of office expire. While they should be careful when taking on new commitments, the awaiting governors should watch until they are inaugurated and stop interfering with governance.

Experience shows that incoming mates really do have to worry that their predecessors might present them with booby traps such as unsustainable debts, contractual obligations, agreements and unfinished projects for lack of funds. While governance is a continuum and successive governments are expected to support inherited projects along with their own initiatives, idiosyncratic decisions in the past have sometimes puzzled successors.

Striking a balance is key; incumbents should be left to run the government until their terms of office expire. However, they must avoid massive new hires, non-essential debt acquisition and emptying the treasury.

Some governors-elect have issued statements warning against entering into contractual arrangements with incumbents. The implicit threat is that contractors who ignore their warnings will either not be paid or will have to fight a long battle to get payment for services rendered. This is not the correct way to solve the problem.

There are two sides to this. Directors are employed for a fixed term; they must continue to serve the people until they hand it over to their successors. Government affairs must not come to a standstill simply because an election has produced a successor. The new mate does not have authority until he has been sworn in.

Therefore, giving orders and warnings to public officials and third parties before they take office is blatant interference with governance. It should not be approved. There should be orderliness and decorum in public affairs.

However, Nigeria’s political and administrative landscape is often a riotous battle. Some outgoing governors have been known to behave recklessly. Some recruit thousands of new hands just weeks before leaving office. Others rush through billions of naira contractual arrangements; still others empty the treasury to pay suppliers and consultants in violation of the rules of due process. In all this they pay no attention to the perilous finances of the state. A few years ago, an outgoing governor in a state in the Southwest appointed a dozen new permanent secretaries just hours before he stepped down.

Many governors then take office and spend their entire terms in office fighting to offset the crippling debts of their predecessors, including overdrafts taken on long-term projects during the transition period.

There should be a better and more civilized way to manage transitions. Aside from tying new governments into debt and controversial contractual obligations, policy reversal and reluctance to pay contractors reinforce Nigeria’s bad reputation for policy inconsistency and lack of fidelity to agreements. This partly explains why domestic and foreign investment decreases over the years.

So much so that 27 states attracted no investment at all by 2022, including Rivers and Kano, where the incumbent government, Abdullahi Ganduje, and governor-elect, Abba Yusuf, are publicly feuding over restrictions on governance by the latter.

Global best practice is to establish transition committees with representatives from both sides to share briefings and ensure a seamless transition of power. In the United States, a president-elect is privileged to receive security briefings from the outgoing government even before his inauguration. This is also common in the 50 states of the union.

In Abuja, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Retd), has authorized a transition team made up of the nominees of President-elect Bola Tinubu. Some state governors have followed this sensible path.

But the immaturity persists. Although Governor Samuel Ortom has set up a transitional commission in Benue, relations between him and the governor-elect, Hyacinth Alia, are not exactly harmonious. Alia and his party publicly reprimanded Ortom over a planned airport project. They also blame his recent hiring of 2,000 teachers and other new hires, as these will burden the incoming administration with huge obligations in a money-poor state that struggles to pay workers’ salaries and pensions.

Ortom’s answer that his term “runs until May 29 at 11:59 pm” and therefore has the right to appoint someone until that day is legally correct. But a smoother transition and better negotiating skills on both sides could have helped both parties get around the issues.

Similarly, the governor of Abia, Okezie Ikpeazu, has been criticized by the governor-elect, Alex Otti, for the recent reconstruction and appointment of new chairmen of some agencies.

While governance should continue, incumbents can only be advised, not coerced, to exercise caution. They should consider the precarious finances of their states before tying up successors with new financial contractual burdens. The recent N7 billion contract change undertaken by Sokoto Governor Aminu Tambuwal is typical. Outgoing governors may only follow pre-prepared spending plans approved by state legislatures and projects deemed critical to citizen welfare and development. With only a few weeks left in office, they have to forego new projects and new debts.

A former governor of Osun state, Gboyega Oyetola, said he inherited $407 billion in debt from his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola, in 2018, including $76 billion in salaries, but only earned $14 billion in the pot. Aregbesola has consistently refuted this as a misrepresentation.

It is important that states commit to overthrowing their mounting debt rather than bickering over the use of dwindling resources.

Decorative transition is therefore necessary to anchor accountability, transparency, responsibility and continuity. In addition, transitions will be seamless when the election process is concluded before the elected person is sworn in, as recommended in the 2008 Uwais report on electoral reform.

Both incumbent and new mates must commit to upholding the highest standards of public service and promoting productive activity, investment, job creation, social services and self-reliance. They must have effective transitional panels and provide decorum for the transfer of power.

Previous articleAmerican savers are conveniently put on the water and switched banks
Next articleMuslim entrepreneurs struggle with inflation during the Ramadan period of giving