Constitutional crisis looms as Oyetola’s tenure ends in three weeks

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Ahead of the November 27 handover date in Osun State, Timothy Agbor writes about the apparent hurdles that must be removed as the Governor-elect, Ademola Adeleke, warns up to become the landlord of Oke-Fia Government House and how the outgoing government has been struggling to retain power.

Uba Group

The People’s Democratic Party in Osun State has been making plans to ensure a hitch-free swearing-in ceremony for the State Governor-elect, Ademola Adeleke, on November 27, this year. The Independent National Electoral Commission had on July 17, declared Adeleke, winner of the July 16 Governorship election in the state.

Notwithstanding that the candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the state and incumbent Governor, Gboyega Oyetola, had raised petition against the outcome of the poll at the Election Petition Tribunal, the PDP had disclosed that it would explore all legal means to achieve the change of government on November 27.

Political observers have said that if there was no court judgement removing Adeleke before the expected day, the inauguration would hold, adding that the ongoing lawsuit filed by Oyetola and his party, APC, before the State Election Petition Tribunal against INEC’s declaration, would not prevent Adeleke from occupying the Oke-Fia Government House in Osogbo as the matter wouldn’t have been decided before November 27.

The governor has not congratulated Adeleke since his declaration as the winner of the poll and had repeatedly assured his supporters that the APC would continue to govern the state beyond the expected handover date. Oyetola claimed the election was marred with over-voting and that he only lost through vote count and not that he was defeated at the poll.

Since Oyetola lost the poll, his administration had embarked on a series of employments, especially in the education sector and health sector. The incumbent state government has also approved appointments of traditional rulers in the state.

Consequently, Adeleke accused Oyetola of setting booby traps for him to make the state ungovernable.

He said, “To the outgoing government, I condemn the deliberate efforts to destabilise the state and its governance assets. It is sad that someone who is entrusted with leadership, Governor Oyetola has chosen the path of booby-trapping state structures to make Osun ungovernable.

“From padding state payroll to multiple engagements outside the due process, the collective assets and treasury of Osun State are being distorted, diverted and mortgaged for selfish political and private interests.

“I make a vow to the people of Osun State that none of the ongoing illegalities will stand under my leadership. We are compiling the long list of infractions committed in the dying minutes of the APC government.”

But while reacting to Adeleke’s allegation, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Affairs, Sunday Akere, urged the governor-elect to tell people of the state if he is incapable of serving as governor.

“Exactly 20 days to the expiration of Governor Oyetola’s administration, counting from Monday, November 7, the governor has refused to constitute a transition committee that will see to the seamless transfer of power with relevant and adequate information on the affairs of the state to Adeleke”

Akere said, “Governor Oyetola has the mandate of the people of Osun until midnight of November 26 and he will carry out the mandate as entrusted by the people in all ramifications.

“If the so-called governor-elect feels that he is not capable of shouldering the responsibility of administering Osun, he should openly tell the people. They are not there yet and they are not in the position to tell Governor Oyetola what he should do.”

Obstacles to hand over

Exactly 20 days to the expiration of Governor Oyetola’s administration, counting from Monday, November 7, the governor has refused to constitute a transition committee that will see to the seamless transfer of power with relevant and adequate information on the affairs of the state to Adeleke.

This is close to four months after Adeleke inaugurated his transition committee headed by Muyiwa Oladimeji to interface with the outgoing government for smooth handing over of reign and especially because it is a transition from a party to another political party.

The committee is to examine matters relating to state labour force, welfare of the people, payment of salaries, pensions and gratuity, review the current security architecture of the state and interface with relevant security agencies in order to ensure a seamless transition and ascertain facts and figures about the general state of affairs of the state.

Specifically, Adeleke directed the committee to ascertain the state of finances of the state, including funds from the federation allocation account, internally generated revenue, grants and other sources of income, and examine the present structure, finance, effectiveness of local government in Osun, and make appropriate recommendations among others.

“CBN"

The transition committee had on October 27 submitted its interim report to Adeleke. The governor elect commended the committee for turning out what he termed a “comprehensive report” despite the uncooperative attitudes of the present administration.

Reacting, the Chairman of Adeleke’s Transition Committee, Muyiwa Oladimeji, described Oyetola’s attitude as undemocratic and unsportsmanlike.

According to Oladimeji, Oyetola was not responsive to the transition committee, noting that what the Governor is hiding will be exposed when Adeleke takes over.

He disclosed that the committee received information from some government officials while some others refused to cooperate with them.

Oladimeji said, “The outgoing governor, Oyetola, was not responsive to our transition committee.

“There are enough people in the civil service who quietly came to us. Whether he (Oyetola) likes it or not, when we take over the government, the officials that he did not allow to come will be summoned and they won’t have a choice than to come.

“However, we won’t allow that to slow us down in order to have a smooth transition.”

Oladimeji noted that Oyetola is behaving like the former President of the United States, Donald Trump, who threw decorum into the wind after failing to win his second term election.

He said, “Why the Iragbiji politician is a Trumpist is his attitude to the setting up of the Transition Committee. Trump not only refused to set up a transition committee but barred appointed officials from relating with the Biden team.

“What has Governor Oyetola done? Worse than Trump’s conduct is happening as elaborate plans are being executed to ground the state after November 27.”

Commenting on the refusal of the governor to congratulate Adeleke, the Committee Chairman said, “The attitude of the governor is undemocratic, unsportsmanlike, uncivilized and does not portray him as a gentleman.

“It is ideal that when you contest an election with somebody and the person wins, then you should congratulate him. I am not surprised; most politicians in Nigeria don’t do that.”

On how the committee was able to put up its report, Oladimeji said, “It took us a lot of effort. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the kind of cooperation we expected to get from the incumbent or if you like, the outgoing government, because when you are doing things like this, the transition committee needs to link up with a committee or a team from the outgoing government who will brief us on something happening. A letter was written by Senator Ademola Ademola Adeleke to inform him (Oyetola) of his cooperation but up till now, he has been silent and no reply.

“But thank God, Osun State has a lot of well-endowed people because a lot of people who are interested in the affairs of the state came to assist us by giving up necessary information based on their experience and areas of endeavours. Some experts from Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC) told us that some freelancers were being paid the sum of N10, 000 every month. We felt that aside that it is less than the minimum wage, it’s also a form of slavery for any government to decide to pay its workers, freelance or no freelance, N10,000 a month, it shows that that government is not really interested in the living standard of its people.

“We co-opted some volunteers who gave us useful information including some serving civil servants and pensioners. The report we submitted is not a final report.

“We made suggestions to the Governor-elect on how some situations could be improved upon in terms of education, health care delivery, infrastructure, agricultural production. I can’t give all now but by the time the governor gives his inaugural speech, everyone will know them.

“One thing I will commend Governor Oyetola for is that he returned schools to their former ways, unlike his predecessor. But we will check the number of schools and students because we noticed that some of the schools are getting dilapidated.

“The people of Osun should expect a people-oriented government that is also very prudent and would ensure Osun is driven to the highest level in all aspects in terms of human capital development and welfare,” Oladimeji said.

Pending court case

Another considered obstacle ahead of Adeleke is the pending leadership suit against the PDP in the state.

During the leadership crisis that rocked the party in the build-up to the July 16 governorship election, a former Chairman of the party and incumbent South West National Vice Chairman of the party, Soji Adagunodo, had approached a State High Court and sought that his camp be recognized as against that of the former Sunday Bisi camp supporting Adeleke.

In order to ensure that the development does not inhibit the transition of Adeleke, the party caretaker chairman in the state, Adekunle Akindele, directed Adagunodo to withdraw the matter from the court.

Akindele asked Adagunodo to immediately withdraw the court case he instituted against the party on its chairmanship tussle in Osun, warning that the case has been hijacked by the APC in the state to truncate the planned handover.

In a statement, the party also accused Oyetola of planning to influence the judiciary on the pending court case in a bid to truncate the swearing in of Adeleke as the Governor of the state on November 27.

The PDP said all constitutional steps to actualise the November 27 handover date would be explored, and declared that it was ready to petition the National Judicial Council on the apparent unprofessional conduct of the presiding judge, especially in the last sitting on the case.

The statement signed by the State Caretaker Chairman of the party, Adekunle Akindele, posited that Adagunodo has been cleared by the National Executive Committee of the PDP on some allegations during his party chairmanship and should therefore withdraw the case without further delay.

“The party had gathered on good authority that Hon Adagunodo claimed he was not issued an official letter of clearance by the party’s NEC, hence his continuation of the court processes,” the statement disclosed, noting that the NEC clearance was the reason Adagunodo was able to contest and emerge as the South West National Vice Chairmanship of the PDP, and that there is no further political or legal basis for non-withdrawal of the suit.

While justifying calls for the withdrawal of the suit, the PDP called the attention of the Vice Chairman South West to the fact that the case has emerged as the main tool of the APC to attempt disruption of the November 27, 2022 swearing in ceremony.

“To avoid becoming part of the plot to scuttle the will of Osun people and to prove that he is indeed not available for the APC reactionary agenda, Hon Adagunodo should urgently kick-start the process of case withdrawal,” the statement posited.

The party further warned that failure to close the case will confirm allegations and alleged grand coalition among the APC, Adagunodo and a section of the judiciary to throw Osun into a constitutional crisis, a development the party vowed to legally resist.

The statement hinted that it has set machinery in motion to petition the NJC over the conduct of the presiding judge as his conduct at the last sitting echoed the boast on social media by Oyetola’s supporters that November 27, 2022 will not hold.

“We are compiling all the observed unprofessional activities on this particular matter and we will duly approach the NJC. We want to strongly advise the state judicial leadership to be sensitive to the conduct of some of its officials. The judiciary should not allow itself to be used against the will of the Osun people,” Akindele said.

Notwithstanding, PDP has not relented in its efforts at taking over reigns from Oyetola in 20 days’ time.

The party, on October 21, inaugurated a committee that would plan the inauguration ceremony of the Osun Governor-elect on November 27.

Akindele inaugurated the committee at the party secretariat in Osogbo. The management committee is chaired by Bunni Jenyo while the secretary is Hashim Abioye.

Other members of the committee included Mrs. Dupe Adeleke, Sunday Bisi as Chairman, venue and accommodation; Diran Odeyemi, Chairman Media, Publicity and Entertainment, Lere Oyewumi, chairman, Budget and Procurement, Kazeem Akinleye, Chairman, Security, Muyiwa Oladimeji, Chairman Medical, Bamidele Salam, chairman, liaison and Niyi Owolabi among others.

He charged the committee that has 13 members as management team with different sub-committees, to ensure that the inauguration is superb and the best in the country.

Akindele said every citizen of the state, especially members of the party would participate in the celebration, adding that as the inauguration would be going on in the capital city, members and supporters across all the local councils would also be in the mood of celebration.

Addressing the committee members and other party members, Akindele said, “The task before me is to inaugurate the committee that will usher in our governor. I want to charge the committee to ensure that the inauguration is superb. I want stakeholders present to know that outside Osun, a lot of people are anxious to see what will happen on that day. Many people have been asking for our preparedness for that day.”

“For this inauguration, the celebration starts from now. We are just underestimating our strength in Osun. We are in millions. Decisions like this, sometimes, it’s not possible to bring everyone on board, we have to streamline it to make sure that few people are brought on board. Whatever we want to do at the party level, we make sure we reach out to members at the local councils. We want to make sure that the whole state is involved across the board. We have created a platform for the celebration to take place at various local governments.

“Hence, we have a local government inauguration committee. You can make some additions in your local government, but whatever you do must be approved by the chairman of the committee for the purpose of budgeting.

“Give us the most memorable swearing-in in the history of the state and in Nigeria,” he told the team.

Akindele warned members of the party against indiscipline, saying, “We need to instill discipline in the party because discipline is key. We are able to achieve what we are able to achieve because the leadership of the party instilled discipline. The party won’t shy away from sanctioning any member who derails from the core values of the party.”

Citizens await Adeleke’s emergence, list expectations

As the inauguration day draws nearer, Osun citizens are getting set for a new government with high expectations and desire for a new dawn of improved standard of living and more democratic dividends in all ramifications of human endeavours.

Adeleke had earlier unveiled a five-point agenda during his campaign. He recently reiterated his commitment to the fulfillment of the agenda, promising that he would not renege on his vows. The optimistic people of the state are ready to hold him by his words as a promise made must be kept.

In his five-point agenda, priority would be placed on workers and pensioners’ welfare. This includes first line charge for salaries, gratuities, and pensions.

The Governor-elect stated that part of his agenda are boosting the state economy by business partnering and support for business class; Osun money serving Osun people through homegrown infrastructure policy; People-focused social policy through skill-based education, affordable health care, state security, and social security support; and Agro-based Industrialisation for wealth and job creation for youths and women.

This gladdened the hearts of many especially the workers and pensioners who are being owed salary and pension arrears. Though Governor Oyetola pays civil servants promptly, he has not been able to pay the arrears owed by his predecessor and incumbent Minister for the Interior, Rauf Aregbesola.

“The PDP said all constitutional steps to actualise the November 27 handover date would be explored, and declared that it was ready to petition the National Judicial Council on the apparent unprofessional conduct of the presiding judge, especially in the last sitting on the case”

Also, promoted workers who lamented that their promotion did not reflect in their current salary which had no or little addition expressed optimism on the incoming administration.

The protesting pensioners who are still owed gratuities await the intervention of the incoming administration for them to be paid and regain balance as some of them are wallowing in poverty and sickness. The millions disbursed by the present administration for pension and gratuity payment is yet to reach so many due to the arrears owed by previous administrations. The senior citizens plea is that the arrears are cleared.

Analyzing Adeleke’s agenda, some political experts have said if he sticks to his promise of delivering a full welfare package for workers and pensioners, people-focused social policy, local government autonomy, amongst others; then Osun will be better.

Osun people also look forward to receiving local and foreign investors in the state which will boost its economy and provide employment opportunities for several unemployed youths which will help reduce crime rate in the state as more people will be gainfully engaged.

Local government autonomy is another notable agitation in the state which Adeleke has pledged to address and return power to the local government. LGAs have been deprived of independence, thereby crippling their effectiveness as the state government dictates the flow of funds and how it is spent.

The recent Local Government election, the people thought would address the issue but to their surprise, only one party, APC participated. Analysts of the election described the exercise as a mere waste of money as the grassroots were not well represented at the polls.

With the people’s expectations for the incoming administration, the Governor-elect has assured that he is set to put smiles on their faces and wipe their tears.

Also, some indigenes of some towns in the state that have been enmeshed in chieftaincy crises owing to unfavourable approval made by the state government, are hopeful that Adeleke would address their challenges immediately he gets to power.

The people of Ikirun and Iree have been at loggerheads over appointments of new monarchs. They accused the state government of imposing APC members and cronies of political office holders on them. They expressed hope that perceived anomalies would be corrected by the incoming administration or through the court of law.

Fears

Some residents of the state who have been employed after Oyetola lost the election have expressed fear of losing their jobs once Adeleke gets into office.
Adeleke had announced that all persons who had been illegally employed by the Oyetola-led administration would be sacked.

The governor-elect had alleged that Oyetola had illegally engaged no fewer than 12,000 persons without due process.

But, Oyetola, through his Chief Press Secretary, Ismail Omipidan had denied that the governor offered people employment illegally a few days to the end of his administration.

Although Omipidan didn’t reveal the number of the persons employed, he said all those engaged passed through due process and that it was not a booby trap for the incoming administration.