Osun State is still without an executive council half way into Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s second and final term of four years, Daily Trust reports.
According to the governor, the state finances cannot cater to the payment of salaries of commissioners.
To run his government, the governor appointed some individuals called coordinating directors, without recourse to the state assembly. The coordinating directors play roles similar to those of commissioners, and work with permanent secretaries.
An Osun State High Court in Osogbo had in October this year ordered Aregbesola to defend himself on why he failed to constitute his cabinet since his inauguration on November 27, 2014, following a case filed by Barrister Kanmi Ajibola.
Aregbesola however reappointed Alhaji Moshood Olalekan Adeoti as Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola as the Chief of Staff.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) described Aregbesola’s refusal to appoint commissioners as “barbaric, illegal and unacceptable.”
The Director of Media and Publicity for Osun PDP, Prince Diran Odeyemi, told Daily Trust in Osogbo yesterday that “it is democratically faulty that half way into the life span of the present administration, the state governor refused to constitute his cabinet”.
According to Odeyemi, the non-appointment of commissioners by Aregbesola was partly responsible for several of “his mistakes and inefficiency”, adding that the governor should be prevailed upon by the national leadership of APC to set up his cabinet.
The party said the state’s failure to constitute a cabinet was encouraged by the federal government, whom it accused of granting Osun bailout funds without State Executive Council resolution on the matter as necessary condition for the release of such funds.
“It would surely surprise the whole world that Osun state has no state cabinet, even when those governors elected in 2015 have set up cabinet as demanded by the constitution,” Odeyemi said.
“Aregbesola has been the Governor, the Commissioner for Works and the sole administrator which conflicts with the dictates of genuine democracy and the constitution he swore to protect.
“While PDP is never interested in whatever crises the issue of who makes the list is causing within APC fold, our interest remains the good people of Osun state who always suffer the consequences of APC internal wrangling and off track administration of Ogbeni.”
The PDP also accused Osun State House of Assembly of failing buckle up and check the excesses of the governor in the best interest of the people of the state.
In his reaction, Aregbesola said his government had instituted the most transparent financial system in the allocation of resources that accrued to the state, insisting that he could not pay salaries of commissioners now.
Aregbesola faulted the claim of the PDP that the bailout fund was diverted. He urged the party to always investigate thoroughly before making pronouncement on the affairs of the state.
The governor said: “An accusation as weighty as diversion of bailout funds without proper investigation and concrete evidence to back such allegation simply amounts to recklessness in the exercise of freedom of expression”.
He said Osun pioneered the constitution of a committee saddled with the responsibility of assisting the state government in the allocation of state revenue to ensure prompt payment of salaries as well as adequate running of government.
“In our attempt to ensure transparency in our financial dealings, we inaugurated a committee headed by a veteran Labour leader in person of Comrade Hassan Sunmonu.
“Other members included the chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress in Osun; Chairman of Joint Negotiating Council, Chairman of Osun’s Nigerian Union of Teachers and government representatives, who are not political appointees,” Aregbesola said.
He stated that the committee was aware of how the bailout funds was disbursed and so there is no way his government could have diverted or fixed the bailout as reported by some of the media organizations.
“I cannot be found wanting whether in bailout funds or other funds of Osun as we have been creative in the management of the scarce resources to lift the state beyond the limit of the available resources.
“Despite the meagre allocations coming from the Federal Government, Osun still pays salary. And nobody bothers to ask how we have been consistent in the payment of modulated salary of about N1.7bn when the state even once collected as low as N6 million one time.”
Speaking with Daily Trust in Osogbo on Monday evening, the Director of Information and Strategy in the Office of the Governor, Mr Semiu Okanlawon said: “It’s not the wish of the governor not to appoint commissioner and therefore it’s a situation foisted on him by the economic situation of the country which is known and being felt by all.
“It’s not been easy because this has overstretched the capacities of the few in government and the former appointees who are sacrificing their time and energy and resources to support him in running the government which has however not disappointed the people in ensuring good governance continues.
“For authenticity sake, you can approach the Debt Management Office to know the exact debt profile since traducers have busied themselves fabricating figures.
“We however say Osun has not borrowed beyond its capacity and the impact of the moderate borrowing are felt through our massive infrastructure provision, security, health education social welfare and others,” Okanlawon said.
In his response, Ilorin-based lawyer, Abeny Mohammed (SAN) described the situation as “the way of politicians,” adding that rather than appoint commissioners, many of the elected governors would go ahead to work with permanent secretaries and directors in ministries.
He explained that beyond the provision of Section 14 (3) and 147 of the 1999 Constitution, that provides the President shall “appoint at least one Minister from each State, who shall be an indigene of such State,” which can also be applied to the states, the law did not specify a time frame for such appointment.
For his part, Niyi Akintola (SAN) explained that the president and the governors exercise the executive powers vested in them in Section 5 of Constitution through delegation to the ministers and other appointees.
Therefore, he explained that no governor has breached any law by not appointing commissioners as members of the state executive Council.
“It is the legislature that appropriates money for the executive.
The commissioner or the Minister exists at the pleasure of the governor or president as the case may be. Some of them are just appointed for Federal character balancing and nothing more. Some special advisers are more powerful than the ministers,” he said.
Speaking on the issue of appointment of commissioners, a senior lawyer in Osogbo who preferred anonymity said the governor had not committed illegality by not appointing his cabinet. He explained that Section 5 of the nation’s constitution gives the governor the executive power to make appointments whenever he wishes.