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Hurdles before Adeleke in Osun – Punch Newspapers


In spite of the pomp that followed the victory of Senator Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party in Osun State, BOLA BAMIGBOLA examines the challenges the governor-elect must face after his inauguration

As residents of Osun State look forward to the administration of the sixth democratically elected governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke, whose reign will kick off on Sunday, the new helmsman will have his hands full of issues that can be aptly described as potential landmines which he will contend with in his first few months in office.

The landmines, which are in form of the condition of state finances, issues around appointments into the state workforce, alleged plundering of the state by the exiting administration and issues around the management of local government funds, can be said to have been seen before now by Adeleke and the Peoples Democratic Party that is coming to form government.

Based on this consideration, the party, shortly after its victory at the last July 16 governorship poll, had mounted the rooftop and raised series of complaints against the Governor Adegboyega Oyetola administration.

However, the ready-made reply to the complaints of Adeleke’s political party from the Oyetola-led administration had been that the four-year mandate given to the All Progressives Congress government would not end until midnight of November 26 (today) when the new governor would take charge of the affairs of the state.

Beyond the well crafted lorry-load of issues perceived to have been deliberately been created by the outgoing administration to engage the new government, Adeleke and his party, having done the unthinkable of flooring an incumbent in the governorship contest, are also faced with a staggering expectations from different sectors, groups and individuals, with whom they had pre-election pacts.

Of equal importance is also the issue of managing members of the PDP who last enjoyed power since November 27, 2010, when Justice Clara Ogunbiyi-led tribunal appeal panel sitting in Ibadan, sacked the then PDP governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and declared his challenger in the April 14, 2007 governorship poll, Rauf Aregbesola, as the duly elected governor.

Satisfying myriad of interests angling for attention within the party circle will in a big way also put to test the man-management capacity of the new governor. There is no doubt that many knotty issues that need to be resolved await the Adeleke administration

Controversial LG elections

In June, this year, about three weeks to the July 16 governorship election, the State House of Assembly, acting on the request of Governor Oyetola, had extended the tenure of the caretaker leadership in the 69 local government areas and local council development areas in the state by six months. That move ended the hope of the state of having democratically elected chairmen and councillors in council areas before the governorship polls.

But days after the governorship election, the House of Assembly suddenly announced plans to amend laws guiding the operations of the State Independent Electoral Commission to enable it to conduct local government elections. This move drew vicious kick from the PDP, which labelled it ‘The setting up of booby traps for its governor’.

The party in a statement signed by its Chairman of Media Management Committee, Prince Diran Odeyemi, warned the Assembly leadership not to plunge the state into crisis and called for an end in the process to amend the law for the purpose of conducting election into the council areas. According to the PDP, the move to reverse the six-month extension was to pave the way for a hasty conduct of local government elections that Oyetola and Owoeye wanted to use as booby trap for the incoming administration of the PDP.

Odeyemi also said the plan to hurriedly conduct the local government elections was part of many problems that the outgoing administration wanted to create for the new Adeleke administration. He recalled how alleged political underhand dealings by the then Alliance for Democracy administration between 2001 and 2003 sneaked to the House of Assembly and ended the life of the then lawmaker representing Ife Central State Constituency, Odunayo Olagbaju, and plunged the state into political crisis.

The PDP then appealed to all stakeholders in the affairs of Osun State to prevail on the exiting Oyetola administration not to tinker with the idea of local government elections after losing re-election.

The statement read in parts, “We are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari, Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Grand Imam of Osun State, Sheik Musa Animasahun, Araba Awo of Osogbo, Chief Ifayemi Elebuibon, and other stakeholders to prevail on those that want to plunge Osun in crisis to desist from their evil plans.

“What moral justification does Oyetola have to want to conduct the LG elections after he had lost his re-election bid? What was he doing since the beginning of the year that he did not deem it fit to conduct the poll? Why did he renew the six-month tenure of these caretaker committee members just one month ago only to wake up after a crushing defeat now and want to do election after he started writing his handover notes?”

Reacting to the PDP’s stand on the issue, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Timothy Owoeye, who spoke through his Press Secretary, Kunle Alabi, accused the PDP of handing down threats capable of throwing the state in turmoil. Owoeye further said, “Is the PDP planning to kill the people of Osun State according to the veiled threat in their press statement? Is the PDP insinuating that what the Speaker and the House of Assembly are doing is illegal?

“The answer is NO, and the media handlers of the opposition party know it too. They are just scared and ashamed to admit their fears. “Governor Adegboyega Oyetola remains the governor of the state till November 26, while the State House of Assembly under the leadership of Timothy Owoeye will continue to discharge its duties till June 5, 2023.

“The constitutional duties of the House of Assembly, according to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, include making laws and not conducting election. The State Independent Electoral Commission is saddled with that function. Why is the PDP questioning the constitutional duties of these bodies?

“If anyone should be seen as fanning the embers of chaos and wanting to throw the state into a state of anarchy, it should be the PDP, going by the threats in its statement. The issue of the death of Olagbaju remains a very dark era in the history of our state and we should not be reminded of that on the altar of pedestrian politics that PDP thrives on.

“Senator Adeleke should be aware that he is just a governor-elect and as such has a responsibility to put on leash the many charlatans speaking on his behalf. We call on relevant security agencies to take note of this PDP statement and investigate the motive behind the barely concealed threats. Osun people will hold the party and its men responsible if anything happens to disrupt the peace we currently enjoy under the Oyetola administration.”

Local government polls have since been held on Saturday, October 15 with only candidates presented by the APC standing election and they all returned unopposed across the 69 LGA’s, LCDAs and Area Councils. Also, secretaries were appointed for the council areas.

However, a Federal High Court sitting in Osogbo nullified the council elections conducted by the state Independent Electoral Commission. Justice Nathaniel Ayo-Emmanuel, in his judgement, said the election was held in contravention of Section 29 and 32 of the Electoral Act, 2022. The PDP had approached the court, asking it to stop OSIEC from going ahead with the council polls.

Apart from the issue of the council polls that have been nullified, there is also the fact that Adeleke, a PDP governor, will be working with a House of Assembly that has 23 members of the APC and only three members of the PDP. This, to many, is also a hurdle the incoming administration must learn to deal with, at least till June next year.

Mass recruitment

One of the earliest in the litany of allegations against the outgoing government is the one relating to mass recruitment into the Civil Service and parastatals. The PDP Transition Committee through its Chairman, Media Sub-Committee, Rasheed Olawale, handed down a warning that the recruitment would not be allowed to stand, adding that the act was a deliberate ploy to expand payroll and financially cripple incoming government.

 Empty treasury imminent

The state PDP also accused Oyetola of awarding contracts for capital projects to the tune of N30bn without due process, all in a bid to put the state finances in precarious state. The party further alleged that the projects were being assembled across the ministries with many cases of contract splitting, illegal application of selective tendering, upfront payment even before contract awards and a deliberate disregard for extant procurement laws.

It further stated that the reasons behind the project was to bankrupt the state, thereby complicating any efforts by the incoming government to rest Osun on sustainable financial footing. Also, the party had raised concern over alleged pillaging of the state assets and fund, and specifically mentioned an alleged push by the Oyetola administration to divert the N2.7bn latest Sure-P allocation to local governments in Osun State.  It said some top officials of the outgoing administration had launched assault on local government treasury, demanding that each local government returned their share of the Sure-P allocation under shady circumstances.

APC, Oyetola react

But the allegations from the PDP have never been allowed to slip by without an equally strong reactions from the both Oyetola administration and his party, the APC. Whenever confronted with alleged plundering of state resources or illegal recruitment, the Special Adviser on Political Affairs to the Governor, Sunday Akere, reminded those behind the claims that Oyetola’s four years’ mandate as governor would not end until midnight of November 26. He also said the governor would continue to act in that capacity till his last day in office.

However, Secretary of an Osun State-based civil society organisation, the Citizens Watch, Ayo Ologun, while accessing Oyetola administration and the challenges that may confront the incoming Adeleke’s government, said in some critical sectors, the outgoing government performed well.

Ologun also noted that the outgoing administration committed some last minutes errors which he rather labelled deliberate acts, saying Oyetola did well in the area or fiscal discipline, as well as payment of pension.

He said, “Except for the last minute avoidable but deliberate errors committed by the outgoing government of Governor Gboyega Oyetola, the administration scored very high in terms of fiscal responsibility, pension payment and basic infrastructure.

“The people of the state will remember the governor and his administration for restoring the state to the path of economic stability from the near solvency of the state under his predecessor.

“The civil servant will remember him and his administration for restoring their dignity through prompt payment of salary and paying same in full in contradiction to the practice of his predecessor. The Oyetola administration will be remembered for improvement in basic health care through provision of primary health care centres. His commitment to the rehabilitation of the educational sector from the abysmal state it was under his predecessor will be remembered.

“Key in the education sector is the restoration of the state to the 6334 system and the abolishment of the single uniform regime. The outstanding performance of the Osun State University under his watch will forever be of applause.”

Also rating the outgoing administration, the Convener of Dialogue 365, another civil society organisation in Osun, Waheed Saka, said Oyetola’s government recorded appreciable impact in the health sector.

He added that the governor should have been more clinical with political intricacies relating to governance, rather than focusing squarely on administering resources.

On the challenges that are awaiting Adeleke’s government, Ologun said the new governor must ensure a smooth working relationship with the APC-dominated House of Assembly.

He also tasked him on fiscal discipline and the need for the new governor to assemble a team of professionals with proven integrity.

“As Ademola Adeleke takes over the reign of governance, it becomes imperative for him to face the challenges ahead squarely. He is inheriting a government that has run on frugality and prudence over the last four years and as such, he is expected to continue this practice of intentional prudence, block all financial leakages and ensure optimal utilisation of state’s resources.

“It also must be stated that the incoming governor must seek to surround himself with only people who have proven records of professional accomplishments and are willing to truly serve the State.

 “This is not a time to spend State’s resources on “job for the boys” as Osun presently requires the touch of seasoned administrators who can take the State from here to the point of bliss it should be. The incoming governor must ensure that he builds a smooth working relationship with the APC-dominated state House of Assembly that he will inherit.

“The events that happen in some states where governors mess with the independence of the state Houses of Assembly to force through their own leadership must not be allowed in Osun State. The incoming governor must coexist peacefully with the State Assembly to achieve good results,” Ologun concluded.

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