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Femi Ogbonnikan writes on the various intrigues that have been trailing the change of baton from the outgoing Ogun State administration of Ibikunle Amosun to the incoming government of Prince Dapo Abiodun
When the late famous Nigerian author, Chinua Achebe, published his masterpiece, “No Longer at Ease”, in 1960, little did scholars of note realise that the epic literature foretells the future realities to come, especially likening the review to the supposed convoluted transition committee of the outgoing administration of Ibikunle Amosun in Ogun State.
Far from being over, the body language of Amosun conspicuously tells his nonreadiness to prepare a smooth hand-over note to his successor, come May 29. This indication can be seen in a letter originating from the office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) on Thursday. According to the letter, with reference number SSG/ADM 16/Vol 8/10, titled, “Re: Inspection and availability of key government facilities”, and signed by the SSG, Barrister Taiwo Adeoluwa, regretted the non-availability of most important facilities in Abeokuta for the inauguration of the in-coming administration, slated for May 29. Adeoluwa’s letter was in response to a message the Deputy Governor-elect, Mrs. Noimot Salako-Oyedele, sent to him. Oyedele is the head of the in-coming administration’s transition committee.
The SSG’s letter reads: “Your text message to me at about 11:25 this morning refers. I apologise that I was not able to speak with you on the phone at that time. For the records, I wish to restate that His Excellency, Ibikunle Amosun, had directed that your committee shall be offered full cooperation and assistance in the discharge of your mandate.
“The challenge, however, appears to be that most of the facilities indicated in your text message, the “valley view, the Presidential lodge, Mitros, June 12 Cultural Centre, Stadium”, are currently being used for the routine business of governance and therefore may not be available until about a few days to the May 29 inauguration, as we had duly notified during our inaugural Joint Meeting of Monday, 29th April, 2019. “As you are aware, the state is preparing for the working visit of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, during the third week of May to Commission a number of legacy projects in commemoration of this Administration’s end-of-tenure. “Understandably, all hands are on deck and most of the named state facilities will be in use. Secondly, during the Holy month of Ramadan, the state organises and engages in a number of daily programmes, culminating in the state’s “special Iftar” for which we routinely use many of the named facilities.
“It may be of interest to also notify that our administration has a number of end-oftenure activities, including but not limited to social Jumat and Church thanksgiving ceremonies, and other varieties to show appreciation to the good people of Ogun State for their support and to the Almighty God for an impactful and successful tenure. “I have gone into the details above to underscore the constraints about the immediate availability of these facilities. However, I have again cross-checked with our team in charge of the end-of-tenure activities and in the spirit of cooperation, we are able to offer the following: (1) the Valley View Auditorium; the VIP lodge; the MTR new Governor’s Guest House; and the MTR hall (adjacent to the Presidential lodge); will be available from Wednesday, 15th May, 2019 and the facilities will be handed over to your team on Saturday, 25th May, 2019. “Please, be assured that should you desire to conduct “inspection” only, (as opposed to immediate possession), we will oblige your team.”
Besides, a recent piece titled, “Amosun’s booby trap for Dapo Abiodun” published in a national newspaper on Saturday, May 11, 2019, warned the governor-elect to be wary of the booby trap being laid for him by the outgoing governor. The report said:”The Ogun state governor-elect, Dapo Abiodun, will have a mountain to climb to succeed as governor after his inauguration on May 20. This is on account of the booby trap his predecessor, Ibikunle Amosun, is believed to be setting for him as he prepared to hand over the baton of governance. Like a bolt from the blue, the outgoing governor has suddenly become the friend of the state’s civil servants who for years had fought in vain for their promotion, pension and other basic entitlements under his administration.
“The recruitment and promotion he had bluntly refused to do for years are now being done with such haste and excitement that the people of the state are left to wonder the alchemy by which the state’s workers suddenly became the apple of Amosun’s eyes. One explanation is that the outgoing governor wants to balloon the wage bill of the state so that the incoming governor would have a heavy wage bill to contend with when he gets into office. Nobody knows what Dapo Abiodun intends to do about the booby trap as he has not complained, at least publicly, like other governors-elect.” Amosun, during the May Day workers’ rally, approved the release of N20.2 billion to defray outstanding salary deductions and payment of April salary.
In his response, the Publicity Secretary of the State’s APC Caretaker Committee, Comrade Tunde Oladunjoye, slammed the outgoing government “for deliberately punishing the civil servants with their salaries. “He approved the payment of the said N20.2 billion to clear the 108-month salary deduction when he is about to vacate the office, that Amosun should bury his head in shame. He has not done any special favour to the workers. He should have paid the workers with interests. Where did Amosun suddenly get the money when there is no excess crude oil payment, Paris Club refund or bailout by the Federal Government? “Amosun should have paid these monies to the workers as and when due, instead of trading with them.
Many who lost their lives would have been saved, many families would not have been broken and many who developed high blood pressure and related diseases would have been saved from such ailments. Amosun should not forget to pay the outstanding salaries of tertiary institutions and local government deductions.” In another ugly development, the governor-elect, Abiodun, through Comrade Tunde Oladunjoye, the Publicity Secretary of the Caretaker Committee of the state’s APC, had, penultimate Tuesday, raised the alarm over the installation of new monarchs in the state and warned the people to be wary of the antics of the outgoing administration in a bid to raise unnecessary dust.
He, however, vowed to review the illegal exercise. While reacting to the perceived plots to install new monarchs in Ado-Odo/ Ota Local Government Area, the development which has pitched the hitherto Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Chief Jide Ojuko, against his boss, Amosun, the Olota of Ota, Oba Adeyemi Obalanlege, through the Seriki, High Chief Olanrewaju Bashorun, on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, held a press conference at NUJ Secretariat (Iwe Irohin), Abeokuta, the state capital, berated such moves.
According to the monarch, “it is not a frequent practice that the Olota in Council will call a press conference to address matters concerning culture and tradition of the people. “But there is an apparent intent or suspicion of intent to discredit the will, distort the culture and breach the tradition of the people, it is not always right to keep silent in the face of such indiscretion. “We are surprised to hear from credible sources, that certain elements are bent on foisting some people without traceable histories within Aworiland as Obas and Baales in some Awori towns. “Ordinarily, we would have ignored this as another way of causing dissatisfaction and mischief against the government of the day and our good people. “Governor Amosun has been a friend of the Awori people and a good leader without any baggage of bias and injustice. We are therefore surprised that at the twilight of his administration, some people opposed to peace and probably envious of our healthy relationship gave surprising issues that could tamper with the tremendous goodwill he enjoys with the people of Ota and Aworiland in general.
We believe he will not fall into their scheme. “Indeed, we have been told that against conscience, common sense and justice that some new Obas, whose ancestors were not biologically linked with the Aworis nor had any affiliation with the kingship institution, would be installed before the end of the month. “The affected towns, we learnt, are Sango- Ota, Atan-Ota, Ijoko-Ota, Abule Lemomu, Oke-Ore, Adekoyeni, among others.” Coincidentally, the unsavoury development has taken its toll on a close associate of Amosun’s, Chief Jide Ojuko, who resigned his appointment as Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
In his resignation letter to the outgoing governor, through the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) titled, “Resignation of Appointment”, and dated May 14, 2019, it reads, thus: “Firstly, sir, let me wholeheartedly thank you for the opportunity given me to serve in your government during your second tenure as a governor. I must confess, it is a golden and very rare opportunity, and for life I shall remain grateful. “However, sir, it pained me from the bottom of my heart to give a notice of my resignation to a boss I love so much. By my appointment, I represent my people from Awori stock, my local government and the entire state. After service, I will have no choice than to go back home and settled with total peace of mind.
“Recent events are making me to believe that this plan may not be feasible if I have to continue serving in my present capacity as the Honourable Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. The ultimate, therefore, is that I shall become an outcast among my people. At my age this is avoidable.
“Sir, by my background as a civil and public servant, my training is to be obedient and loyal to my boss, but your recent directive on the issue of Obaship in some areas in Ota State Constituency runs against my conscience, the wish and yearnings of my people that I represent. Once again, you remain my political leader and brother, I thank you for the honour, love and the opportunity given to me to serve the good people of the state”.
Meanwhile, former Director-General (DG), for Amosun’s second term Reelection Campaign Organisation and a close associate of the governor-elect, Chief Bode Mustapha, who is also the promoter of a firm, Bond Investment and Holdings Limited, has threatened to drag the outgoing administration in Ogun state to court over what it called a “breach of agreement on consultancy fee totalling $11,740,362:00” for the payment of service charge resulting from the external debt claims in respect of Paris Club and other multinational loans.
But in a reaction, the state government, through the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Adewale Oshinowo, in a letter titled, “Paris Club Refund, said: We do not owe Bode Mustapha’s Consultancy Firm- Ogun Government”, and dated May 14, 2019 denied owing the firm. For emphasis, clause 2.1 of the agreement between Ogun state government and Bond Investments and Holdings Limited, dated 23rd December 2009, stipulated clearly 80 working days and could be terminated at the instance of either of the parties. “We note that a letter from the state government titled, Re: Notice of termination of contract, Reference number DMU/012/122 and dated 15th November, 2011, indeed terminated the said contract.”