A GOODWILL MESSAGE DELIVERED BY FORMER SENATE PRESIDENT, DR. ABUBAKAR BUKOLA SARAKI, CON, AT THE FAREWELLDINNER FOR OUTGOING GOVERNORS ORGANISED BY THE NIGERIA GOVERNORS FORUM (NGF) AT THE TRANSCORP HOTEL, ABUJA, ONSUNDAY, MAY 14, 2023.
1. Let me start my goodwill message by, on behalf of all the outgoing members of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), giving glory to Almighty God who has made it possible for them to complete their tenure.
2. I congratulate the outgoing members of this distinguished forum as you get ready to bow out gracefully and hand over the mantle of leadership in your respective states to your successors.
3. More deserving of this congratulations are your family members who have been paying a huge price for your service to your states. Your wives, children, grandchildren, and even parents have prayed for this handover date to come and for them to have you back, having loaned you to public service all these past years. They will be very happy that with the grace of your creator, you have served well and can now devote more time to them.
4. As you bow out of the Governor’s Office, you should know that the next phase of your lives will be different and challenging for many reasons and you have to brace up for the challenges ahead.
5. I remember when I attended a similar send—forth event in Boston, Massachusetts, organized by the National Governors Association (NGA), the American equivalent of NGF. It was a similar event to what we are having today and you know what, they called it a Therapy Session for Exiting Governors, their wives, and members of their immediate families. Though we do not have such a therapy session but please I enjoin you all to hold that therapy session on your own. It involves everything you need to do to psychologically and physically prepare yourself for life after office. Also, let me enjoin the NGF to consider having such sessions in the future.
6. Let me tell you a short story to convince you that we need such a winding down, therapeutic session. There is this former governor I met in the Senate and one day he came to me. He said his ears are missing the siren that was always part of his journey every day as Governor. He was not used to being in the traffic and no siren blaring to clear the way. His phone was not ringing consistently as it used to do. His house was not always filled with people who were there to praise him and struggled to be in his presence.
7. Well, my response to him is that this is your new reality. I told him that now, you have to plan your trips very well so you don’t miss your flights because no airplane will be waiting for you. Be ready to see fewer Christmas hampers or rams and rice during Eid—El-Kabir. You should be ready to spend your evenings or private times with only close friends and family members. You will see another side of people. You will experience disloyalty, betrayal, and ingratitude. Some will even attack you verbally and physically. Some will vent their pent-up anger against you.
8. In the same vein, you will experience strong support. Some will display their gratitude to you. Life after office is not going to be the same as what you have witnessed while in office. Those who love your office will leave when you are no longer occupying that office. Those who remain are those who love your person.
9. However, your experience outside the office will also be determined by your actions and inactions in the last eight or four years while in office. If you have had a successful tenure, life after office can be good too.
10. As a former governor, endeavour to provide counsel to the office holders in your state but do not continue to act as governor when you are no longer there. Make yourself available only when needed. Give space to the new men and women of the moment, even if you are the one God has used to put them in office.
11. If you manage the situation well, life after office can be much healthy and less stressful. You will sleep better and rest more. You will have more quality time for your wife, children, and grandchildren. You can afford to pick new interests in some things that are healthy and useful for you, your family, and society.
12. However, our country is facing a lot of challenges —economic, political, and social – and we require all hands to be on deck to save the ship of our state. You, as former governors, have roles to play to achieve peace, stability, and unity. The nation expects you to make constructive contributions to the
development of the polity. Thus, please do not disappear totally. Speak up when necessary. Contribute your quota in a manner that makes you a problem solver not part of the problem.
13. As I address the departing governors, let me seize this opportunity to also say one word or more to the men of the moment — our brothers who have worked hard and struggled to win elections and getting ready to take the oath of office in the next few days. You need to know that the day you will leave office begins to count as the day you are inaugurated and you resume office.
14. As I address the departing governors, let me seize this opportunity to also say one word or more to the men of the moment — our brothers who have worked hard and struggled to win elections and getting ready to take the oath of office in the next few days. You need to know that the day you will leave office begins to count as the day you are inaugurated and you resume office.
15. If you do not focus properly and decide on how you want to create good governance, then you will continue to battle with history and history will not be kind to you if things do not improve under your captainship. To make the situation generally better for the people, you must have a clear agenda. You must have a clear vision of how you want to implement the agenda and who can help you successfully implement the agenda. You must surround yourself with competent people. You must work hard all the way and all the day. At the end of every month, always take stock and say ‘What did we achieve this month and what part of our agenda can we tick as having been achieved?’. This will help you to also leave office at the end of the day holding your heads high like the gentlemen we are celebrating today
16. I want to also urge you, our new governors, to participate fully in the affairs of this Forum, the NGF. You will find out that there is more your state and administration can benefit in terms of the economy, peer review mechanism and sub—National governance right. Also, endeavor to be active in the National Economic Council as a platform to contribute to solving the problems confronting our country at this point.
17. Your Excellencies should note that the recent constitutional review efforts have given more powers to the states which you control. You need to prepare yourself to judiciously exercise these powers for the benefit of the people. We need to all agree that if NGF is going to continue to be relevant, the members must be consistently resourceful, creative, and forward-looking. I do not have any doubt that for this country to be great, the states have to be well governed and the governors must be creatively breaking new ground
18. Let me end this speech by thanking the team at the NGF for this beautiful event and the induction sessions that are planned to start tomorrow. May God almighty bless the Forum.
May He also bless our country and restore her glory.
Thank you all for listening.