Sixteen months after assuming office for a second term, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State has continued to run his government without a cabinet, the same way he did in his first term. Yinka Kolawole examines some of the factors responsible for his penchant for operating as the sole administrator and the ways it has shaped governance in the state
For some months now, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State has refused to appoint his cabinet members because the economic status of the state cannot afford to maintain commissioners, although a majority of his immediate past commissioners is still being used as consultants to execute one or two projects in the state. In fact, most people thought the idea is not too good because the governor might have inadvertently denied others the chances of serving the state.
People have also been asking such questions like, how can Aregbesola take decision without the State Executive Council being put in place? Yet, indications are that the governor might not appoint his commissioners till after two years of his re-election in November 2015 due to various crises bordering on inability to pay workers’ salaries, and fund capital projects among others.
Since 2014 that Aregbesola dissolved the cabinet before his re-election, any persuasion to appoint those that will assist with the task of the state has always been futile due to paucity of funds as occasioned by the drop in the federal allocation accruable to the state.
Unfortunately, it has been difficult for some people in the state especially those of the opposition PDP to believe that the governor’s reluctance to appoint commissioners was due to lack of funds because the same thing happened, during his first coming in 2011, when he did not appoint commissioners seven months after assuming office.
The PDP under the state chairmanship of Chief Ojo Williams suggested names of people, who they reckoned were qualified to serve as commissioners in the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) as they reminded him that the offence of Alhaji Balarabe Musa for which he was impeached as governor of the old Kaduna State in the Second Republic was that he did not appoint commissioners five months after assuming office.
However, people have begun to realise that Aregbesola has been trying to adopt the same style he deployed to use during his first coming by delaying the composition of his cabinet for a very long time as most of his former commissioners are now being used as consultants to the government.
Many of them, not only representing the state government at functions, also enjoy certain privileges as they still go around with official vehicles and living in government quarters. When complains increased at the beginning of this year, Aregbesola announced the merging and streamlining of ministries as if he was ready to announce his cabinet in January.
But three months after the January date, the governor has not at any occasion mentioned anything pertaining to commissioners, even as the people and the opposition’s attention had been shifted away from the discussion.
The only thing the governor did instead was the announcement of 31 new Local Council Development Area, three Area Councils and two administrative offices with the existing 30 local governments. But as it stands now, only the appointments of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and the Chief of Staff have been made and there is no sign that any more appointments will be made anytime soon.
What Do the People Think?
An Osun State-based Civil Society Organisation (CSO), the Civil Societies Coalition for the Emancipation of Osun State (CSCEOS) has strongly condemned the governor over the non-constitution of members of the State Executive Council (SEC) for over eighteen months. The groups noted that the non-constitution of the cabinet has constituted an impediment to the progressive governance of the state since Aregbesola’s second term in office.
The group also described Aregbesola as a serial and pathological liar, who always lies over the governance of the state since his assumption of office in November 2010 and after the November 26, 2010 verdict of the Justice Clara Ogunbiyi-led Court of Appeal in Ibadan, recalling that Aregbesola promised to constitute his cabinet by January this year.
The CSCEOS’ leadership, Comrade Adeniyi and Alimi Sulaiman told THISDAY in Osogbo, the state capital, that Aregbesola has failed to name the members of his cabinet since he was re-elected, rejecting the excuse put forward that it was due to the present financial constraint of the state.
Sulaiman lambasted Aregbesola for ruling the state like a sole administrator for over 18 months, lamenting that the non-constitution of cabinet has been seriously affecting the growth and development of the state and advising him to do the needful without further delay.
The rights activist maintained that the state was facing financial crisis, as a result of mismanagement and recklessness of Aregbesola’s administration, explaining that the governor has contradicted the provision of the amended 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria as enshrined in Section 14 and 192 to 196, where the state should be governed with the principles of democracy and social justice.
Sulaiman, who further alleged that Aregbesola began his fraudulent activities with the increment of the wage bill of workers, retirees and political office holders alike from N1.3 billion to N3.6 billion, when no fewer than 5,000 workers had retired voluntarily from the service in December 2012, as a result of the Pension Contributory Scheme policy of the federal government, maintaining also that Aregbesola did not constitute the members of his cabinet for a period of eleven months and still claimed the same amount of wage bill in the period.
“The private investigation conducted by the members of our coalition revealed that the average monthly earnings of the state between the year 2007 and November 2010 was N1,969,622,514.25, while the average monthly earning income of the state between the years January 2011 and December 2014 was at N3,050,074,327,25 and these figures represent Osun’s earnings from the Federation Account alone and does not include that of Excess Crude Oil fund of N61.7 billion, SURE-P: N14.4billion, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) Fund: N13.9billion, Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) fund: N43.6billion, Value Added Tax (VAT) Ecological Fund and Millennium Development Goals fund (All for the period of 2011 to 2014 courtesy of budgIT, oagf and fmf)”.
The governor, instead of constituting the State Executive Council, announced new LCDA, saying it would help form the basis for improved Revenue generation in the state. Recall that Osun State House of Assembly noted that the new LCDA, Area Councils and Administrative Offices announced by Aregbesola were exactly as approved by the house.
In a statement by the Chairman, House Committee on Information and Strategy, Hon. Olatunbosun Oyintiloye, the assembly commended the governor for taking the bold step in spite of the present economic
situation in the state.
It said with the announcement of the new councils, the doubt over the possibility of the commitment of government to bring government closer to the people has been erased. This action, it said, would further enhance development at the grassroots levels across the state. It noted that in the processes of approving the proposals for the new council, all the legal processes were strictly followed.
The Assembly had last year approved a bill for the creation of additional LCDAs, Area Councils and Administrative offices. The Assembly then called on the beneficiary communities and their environs to support the administration of the new councils in their territories, with a view to ensuring their sustainability. This, he said, was the only was the intention of the government to bring governance closer to the people.
However, people have begun to realise that Aregbesola has been trying to adopt the same style he deployed to use during his first coming by delaying the composition of his cabinet for a very long time as most of his former commissioners are now being used as consultants to the government…Many of them, not only representing the state government at functions, also enjoy certain privileges as they still go around with official vehicles and living in government quarters