A few days ago, the Governor of Osun State, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, sent his cabinet list to the State House of Assembly, three years after he was sworn in for a second term in office. But the simplest interpretation many have adduced to this is that he has only constituted an election team. Yinka Kolawole writes
Not a few considered as development-driven, the recent appointment of commissioners and special advisers by Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, nearly three years after he assumed office for a second term. Indeed, a majority of the people of Osun considered the development a sheer waste of expectations because the commissioners are not likely to make any significant impact in terms of governance and delivering on the state’s change agenda, before electioneering begins.
As a result, the cheapest interpretation of this “late night initiative” has been that these newly appointed cabinet members have been brought on board, essentially to serve the political interest and agenda of Aregbesola, who is not only winding down his reign as an elected governor, but also rumoured to be nursing a senate bid.
Thus, the question of how effective the commissioners are likely to be for the overall good of the state and her people have been largely dismissed for the obvious assumption that they might have been handed their brief ab initio and that is – political.
There is also the swirling speculation that a majority of All Progressives Congress (APC) members and stakeholders alike are not particularly happy with the governor for his refusal to make the appointments in good time.
The state assembly, on Tuesday, confirmed receiving the list of commissioners and special advisers by Governor Aregbesola for confirmation. Speaker of the assembly, Hon Najeem Salam, who read Aregbesola’s letter on the floor of the assembly, said the governor forwarded 39 names for confirmation. He did not however specify who was appointed where.
On the list are Mr. Adelani Baderinwa, a former Chief Press Secretary to former governor Bisi Akande; Dr. Basiru Ajibola, former Commissioner for Regional Integration and Special Duties; Remi Omowaiye, former Senior Special Adviser to the governor on electronic broadcast and Mr. Bola Ilori, former Special Adviser on Environment and Sanitation.
Also on the list are former Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr Ismaila Jayeoba; former commissioner for Women and Social Affairs, Mrs. Folake Adegboyega; former commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Kolapo Alimi, and former Assistant Chief of Staff, Mr. Gbenga Akano.
There are on the list Mr. Akintunde Akinajo, Yidiat Babalola, Mr. Muhideen Olateju, Mr. Mudasiru Toogun, Mr. Kunle Ige, Mr. Bola Oyebamiji, Mrs. Taiwo Oluga, Mrs. Latifat Giwa, Mrs. Tohun Adegboyega, Dr. Rafiu Isamotun, Mr. Bola Oyebamiji, Mrs. Taiwo Oluga, Mrs. Latifat Giwa, Mrs. Tohun Adegboyega and Dr. Rafiu Isamotun.
Others are Dr. Olalekan Yinusa, Mr. Babatunde Ibirogba, Mr. Femi Popoola, Hon Yemisi Akinola, Mr. Remi Kolajo, Mr. Tunde Ajilore, Mr. Kazeem Salami, Mr. Opatola Rasheed Olajide, Mr. Bisi Odewumi, Dr. Adebisi Obawale, Dr. Gbenga Oyinlola, Dr. Gbenga Awosode and Mr. Adeola Tejumola.
However, since the list was announced by the state assembly, the development has been greeted by different reactions from across the various divides and interests, and with mixed feelings.
Bishop Seun Adeoye remarked that it was unfortunate that it took Aregbesola two years and five months into his second term to constitute his state executive council, because “In essence, he has ruled the state for that period as a sole administrator, adding: We should remember that it took him nine months into his first term before coming out with names of members of his cabinet.
“I am sure too that he was forced to announce the names because of pressure. Don’t forget the public outcry and the suit filed against him over this matter by a human rights activist and lawyer, Kanmi Ajibola. As it is, he has just 19 months to end his tenure and who knows how long it will take the state House of Assembly to ratify his list.
“How was he running the state without the state executive? Some sycophants will say he was doing that because of his administrative acumen but I totally disagree. He was simply a despot in a democrat’s garment. What new thing or new idea did he bring into governance since his second term? None! He has no commissioner or adviser. Was he an expert in all fields?
“The nation’s constitution is clear. There are some key things he cannot do except such are approved by the executive council. Commissioners are expected to bring memos to the SEC meetings but for over two years now, there was nothing. As it is, virtually all ministries in the state are on the verge of total collapse. Our governor is the one who prepares memo, approves and awards contracts and even approves payment. He single highhandedly sits on the state and local government funds and disburses same the way he likes.
“The costs of lack of cabinet to the welfare of the state and good governance are more than whatever the governor says he has saved if any. Unfortunately, we have a state assembly that consists of ‘yes men’. I wondered why they kept mute seeing the lawlessness of the executive arm.
“The list of names I saw as commissioners and advisers are what I considered as ‘boys’ except three or so. I can’t see what much they can contribute now. Don’t forget that the governorship election is next year, I mean in about 15 months and we will soon see campaigns by those, who want to succeed Aregbesola coming on. So, attention will soon be shifted to election and not on governance,” he said.
A civil rights group, the Civil Societies Coalition for the Emancipation of Osun State (CSCEOS) has also described the Aregbesola as not qualified to rule the state, saying he has destroyed the governance of the state beyond redemption for all his unconstitutional actions and inactions with impunity.
Chairman of the group, Comrade Adeniyi Alimi Sulaiman, while speaking to THISDAY, stated that the governor has breached the Oath of office as stipulated by the amended 1999 Constitution of the country, describing his action as unconstitutional, illegal, ungodly, abomination, deceitful, anathema and undemocratic.
Sulaiman said the orchestrated excitement that greeted the announcement of the new cabinet members was a mere propaganda to celebrate the great wrong perpetrated by Aregbesola in a democratic setting, stating that “if we were in sane society, Aregbesola should have been impeached for breaching the oath of office as enshrined in the Constitution.”
He also lambasted the state assembly for allowing the governor to continue to rape the sanctity of democracy for the period of 29 months, describing them as rubber stamp of the executive and suggested that all the lawmakers should be recalled for this singular undemocratic action and for failing to act as checks and balance to the executive.
Quoting Section 192 of the amended 1999 Constitution, which stipulates that ‘there shall be offices of Commissioner of the Government of a State as may be established by the Governor of the State through the confirmation by the State House of Assembly in conformity with the provision of section 14(4) of this Constitution, which is based on the principle of democracy and social justice.
Sulaiman, who also doubles as the Executive Chairman, Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ), explained that although the Constitution did not stipulate the time to constitute the cabinet but argued that it was forbidden for any important decision relating to the governance of a state to be taken without the State Executive Council ratification, which shows the importance of the cabinet members in the governance of a state in Nigeria.
“It is a shame on Mr. Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola for celebrating the rape of democracy and undemocratic tendency with impunity, for calling the list of his cabinet members recently sent to the House of Assembly as exclusive list after 29 months of second term in office. Mr. Aregbesola has shown to the people of Osun State that voting for him as a democratically elected governor on Saturday 14th April, 2007 was as an aberration of the highest order and mistake of the century. He has destroyed the state beyond redemption with gargantuan debt, which it will radiate for almost 25 years after leaving office in November 2018.
“All the members of the House of Assembly under the headship of Mr. Najeem Salaam should be blamed for the undemocratic tendency of the present administration of Aregbesola in Osun State. The current state assembly failed to be alive to their constitutional role of checking the excessive of the state executive arm of government as we are currently experiencing at the national level by the 8th National Assembly. If we are in a sane society, where genuine democracy is thriving in the real sense of it, all the current members of the state House of Assembly would have been recalled for failing to perform their constitutional functions”.
In a related development, spontaneous protest has trailed the recent nomination of local government caretaker committee members. Some APC members in the state, on Tuesday, protested alleged irregularity in the appointment of the caretaker committee members by Aregbesola.
Reports had it that a majority of the aggrieved APC members, who carried placards with various inscriptions, were from Odo-Otin Local Government Area of the state. The protesters, who took their case to the state assembly were said to have been angered by the alleged removal of names of their preferred candidates and replaced with other names.
Spokesperson for the protesters, Mr. Alayo Adelani said the protest was to express their displeasure over happenings in the party, accusing the assembly of being the brain behind the illegal removal. Adelani further explained that the assembly had clandestinely removed one Seyi Oke, who was the preferred candidate from Odo Otin local government.
“Nine candidates expressed interests and all of them participated in the primary, out of which Seyi Oke was nominated. His name was sent to the state secretariat and endorsed by the party chairman and party elders in the local government. Weeks later, APC Chairman, Gboyega Famodun congratulated us on the choice of Oke. The name was later forwarded to the governor for final approval.
“When the list got to the assembly, Oke’s name was replaced with one Akeem Sikiru. Sikiru is not known in the party at local government, he did not participate in the primary, he was not even part of any activity of the party in the local government, since he practically resides in Lagos state,” he said.
Adelani however accused Mr. Tope Adejumo, Special Adviser to the Governor on Security matters and one Hon Olaolu for conniving with the assembly to perpetrate the act. They demanded the reinstatement of Oke for peace to reign and threatened that failure to comply would result in crisis that could tear the party apart.
But the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Akintude Adegboye appealed to the protester to remain calm and toe democratic path in resolving the perceived anomaly. He also cautioned them to always consider the interest of the ruling party in any decision they take at any point in time, because they must not put the party in crisis.
The Speaker, Salam, had on Monday read on the floor of the assembly, the list of the newly appointed local government caretaker committee members sent by the governor. Other local governments affected are Osogbo West, Iwo, Ede North, Ife South and Irewole.