New entrants to the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), on Tuesday, drew valuable lessons from the hands-on experience of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on the job in the last four years.
The Lagos State helmsman shared perspectives and practical ideas on governance during an interaction with his governor colleagues at a three-day induction for new and returning governors held at the Presidential Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja.
Sanwo-Olu, who spoke on “Managing the Process of Governance: Insights for New Governors”, said the quality of transition would determine the extent to which a new administrator could hit the ground running.
Some governors, the Lagos helmsman said, would be taking over from friendly predecessors and enjoy cordial transitions that would enable them find bearing of governance easily; others, he added, would have to contend with hostile transition teams of the outgoing administrations, which would give them a hard nut to crack upon inauguration.
Sanwo-Olu advised those facing hostile transition processes to play the cards available to them, while articulating their governing agenda to help them meander through the transition phase.
He said: “The most significant and troubling challenges you will face as a new governor will not be anticipated. A lot of events will happen without warning. The ability to always be responsive, and to be able to quickly deploy mechanisms to attend to unexpected challenges will make a huge amount of difference. Negative news about your government and your person will receive more attention than positive developments, especially in social media.
“It is, therefore, important to keep sharing and amplifying the positives, whilst also responding to the negatives with action. Lagos has a unique challenge, in that it enjoys the highest degree of media and social media visibility for obvious reasons. Lagos is the hub of the Nigerian traditional media. It also has the widest Internet coverage and the highest number of Internet users in the country.”
Sanwo-Olu said setting a practicable governing agenda had empowered successive administrations in Lagos to quickly gain citizens’ acceptance. He advised the governors to consider setting a governing agenda that would have memorable acronyms and mantras.
Lagos, the Governor cited, operates on THEMES agenda with ‘Greater Lagos’ mantra, while Ogun State projects governance activities by ISEYA, which literally means “let’s get on with work”.
Sanwo-Olu said the governing agenda would help drive focus since no administration can do everything at once, while also helping to streamline and organise government communications.
He said government communications must be proactive, regular and simplified. Social media, he said, should be given attention as much as the traditional media, while leveraging technology for effective communication channels.
Sanwo-Olu said it was important to maintain engagements with critical stakeholders and development partners, including the presidency, colleagues- governors, legislature, National Economic Council (NEC), multilateral institutions.
Sanwo-Olu emphasised the role of Deputy Governor, saying any governor looking forward to a stable government should see his deputy as partner and not as spare tyre.
He said: “From the moment you are elected, you already have one guaranteed member of the team – your Deputy Governor. The relationship between a Governor and a Deputy Governor is highly important and must be carefully managed as it can significantly impact the workings and efficiency of your government.
“Managing and resolving conflicts and disputes is an important part of the work of any Governor. Conflicts will arise within the team, as well as in other areas of the Government that will need to be promptly resolved, to avoid dampening morale and impacting the collegial spirit required to succeed.”
Sanwo-Olu also shared tips on budgeting and project execution, assembling cabinet and governance structure, administrative style and management, and appointment of political aides.