Transition blues as governors bow out
As the nation counts down to yet another democratic transition, unpleasant stories are wafting across the states of how outgoing state governors are going berserk and awarding fresh contracts that run into billions of naira to friends and cronies.
According to their accusers, when they are not awarding such contracts, they are withdrawing huge amounts of monies that their final destinations remain unknown.
As governors elect, especially the ones that are from the opposition parties allege all manners of malfeasance, and accuse incumbents of digging trenches for them to fall into, the outgoing chief executives are quick to attack, and caution the incoming ones that they would remain in charge till midnight of May 28, and so must continue to discharge the functions of their offices.
Kwara State is one of the few states that the reins would be handed over to an opposition party come May 29, 2019.
In fact, barring any unforeseen circumstances, Alhaji AbdulRahaman AbdulRasak of the All Progressives Congress (APC) would on the said date assume office as the seventh executive governor of the 51-year-old state.
The APC has already constituted an over bloated 100-man transition committee that is presently synergising with the 21-man committee set up by outgoing Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A member of the 100-member committee, Alhaji Tajudeen Kareem, told The Guardian in Ilorin that “the committee has been divided into sub- committees for the effective discharge of assigned responsibilities.”
But ahead of the handover, there seems to be disquiet in the APC over the choice of the new Speaker of the state House of Assembly, even when the party won all 24 seats in the House.
Before now, many believed that for the sake of fairness and equity, the speakership should be ceded to the Kwara North Senatorial District bearing in mind that Kwara Central and Kwara South senatorial districts respectively have produced the governor and the deputy governor.
But along the line, the theory of experience was introduced into the narrative, and this appeared to have tilted matters in favour of Saheed Popoola.
Popoola is the only second term legislator in the incoming Assembly. He is from Offa, in Kwara South Senatorial District.
But the argument between “what is fair and just” on one side, and “wealth of experience” on the other side have, however, been laid to rest with the intervention of the Chairman of the APC in the state, Bashiru Omolaja Bolarinwa.
Omolaja, while addressing a press conference on the issue in Ilorin, said the discussion should be put on hold as the leadership of the party in the state was “firmly on top of it.”
Away from the speakership tussle, sources said some ministries and state-owned parastatals in the state now work at weekends in an attempt to secretly move out “sensitive reports and financial documents.”
This development may not be unconnected with agitations by many citizens to have the incoming administration institute “a serious probe” into the eight years of the outgoing Ahmed.
It is equally being widely rumoured in Ilorin that the outgoing vice chancellor of the state-owned Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete, Prof. AbdulRasheed Na’Allah, has allegedly gone underground due to alleged pressure from the state government for him to sign and back date documents that allegedly claim he had been collecting till date, monthly allocations from the state government.
Na’ Allah had on several fora in the last three years made it clear to the public that the school was being run with Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), due to the state government’s withdrawal of its periodic subventions to the institution.
Besides, the Chairman of the Governing Council of the school, Professor Agboola Ibrahim Gambari, had at the school’s convocation two years ago openly solicited for the reinstatement of the withdrawn subventions.
The Metropolitan Square located around Asa Dam Area of Ilorin, which has been hosting inauguration of new governors in the state is now in a state of disrepair. It was put in place by the administration of Bukola Saraki.
When The Guardian visited the facility last Sunday, there was a mini stadium with covered seats the paint on the walls were faded, while the seats looked weather-beaten. The recent rainstorm in the town blew off over one third of the roofs.
The main bowl of Kwara State Stadium complex, at Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Ilorin, may however, serve as a credible alternative to the square, but residents of the metropolis should brace up for a heavy human and vehicular traffic if the stadium becomes the venue of the event.
Reacting to some of these claims, the Senior Special Assistant to the Kwara State Governor on Media and Communication, Dr. Muideen Akorede, said they were baseless rumours, and challenged anyone with proof to make such available publicly.
However, an Ilorin-based aide of the governor elect, who craved anonymity said, if his principal yields to the call to probe Ahmed, it would be done in a way that it would not be a distraction to the new administration.
According to him: “The time is too short to be wasted, but where glaring cases of fraud are established against anyone, or his assigns/agents, I can assure you that the in-coming government would prosecute such fellows or groups of persons, recover the looted funds and confiscate stolen or illegally acquired property.”
Looting In Imo As Okorocha’s Departure Looms
Since the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was announced the winner of the March 9 governorship election in Imo State, allegations of looting of government property and other corrupt practices by aides and cronies of outgoing governor Rochas Okorocha have been in the news.
On Friday, March 15, 2019, few days after Emeka Ihedioha’s declaration, his party, PDP through the state Chairman, Charles Ezekwem held a press conference and also issued a statement wherein he alleged how Governor Okorocha has embarked on a mission to milk the state dry financially before vacating office on May 29.
The party accused the governor of withdrawing over N17b from different bank accounts belonging to the state government within two days, after Ihedioha was announced winner of the gubernatorial poll.
The party also alleged that the governor transferred and re-registered over 150 government vehicles to some individuals, majorly his aides and cronies.
Ezekwem said: “Between Tuesday, March 12 and Thursday, March 14, 2019, Governor Rochas Okorocha has made major withdrawals from Access Bank, Zenith Bank, Unity Bank and Skye Bank amounting to over N17b.”
The PDP also accused Okorocha of moving government properties, including furniture and electronics away from Government House, Owerri, as well as all uninstalled transformers numbering about 300 in the Government House to his personal home in Ogboko in Ideato South.
The party in the statement further alleged that, ‘’the incumbent governor also embarked on mass recruitment of workers with their letters of employment being backdated allegedly to cause problem for the incoming government.
“We are aware of the rampant issuance of Certificates Of Occupancy (C of O) to family members and friends of the Okorocha family. The party warns those involved that they do so at their own peril.
“These massive and fraudulent looting of Imo treasury is in addition to the previous looting of Paris Club refund, the bailout funds, and plunging the state into huge indebtedness,’’ Ezekwem further alleged.
Imo PDP therefore, warned financial institutions against collaborating with the governor in the alleged continued looting of the state treasury, adding that all such institutions would be held accountable.
On the heels of the accusations, Ihedioha also sent a warning signal to all financial institutions in the state to stop new transactions with the state government or do so at their own risk.
The statement issued through his Media Aide, Chibuike Onyeukwu read: “Pursuant to confirmed information reaching the Imo State Governor-elect, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, CON, on the reckless, irresponsible and selfish applications and requests for loans, overdrafts and other credit facilities being hurriedly and wickedly made by the outgoing Governor Rochas Okorocha, on behalf of Imo State government; all banks and financial institutions, having business relationship with Imo State government are hereby warned against granting or giving approvals to such loans, overdrafts and credit facilities.
“Any bank or financial institution, which fails to heed this warning, does so at the risk of her future business relationship with the government of Imo State. You have been sufficiently warned.”
Two days after the PDP made the allegations, it again on Monday March 18, 2019 fired fresh salvos at the state government alleging that Okorocha had sold off 72 government vehicles, including Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), and heavy duty trucks to cronies at a ridiculous price of N6.1m.
State Secretary of the party, Ray Emeana while briefing newsmen in Owerri said: “ We are here to substantiate the allegation, which we made last week that the outgoing Governor Rochas Okorocha has been selling off properties of the state.
“A circular from the cabinet office and signed by Mrs. Ukaigwe Julie, in which Governor Okorocha approved the appointment of the traditional ruler of Amannachi, Dr. M. Osakwe as the auctioneer for 71 government owned vehicles, which includes Toyota Hilux, Prado jeeps, heavy duty trucks, bitumen tankers, CAT payloads, Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Armada, Toyota Land Cruisers and others.
“These 71 vehicles were sold for a ridiculous price of N6.1m. This is the same scenario at the Ochiedike Diagnostic Centre, a state establishment where Okorocha has equally ordered that vehicles and ambulances be auctioned.
Shortly after that session, the party again faulted Okorocha over the appointment of members of the state’s Judicial Service Commission (JSC) with less than two months for him to vacate office.
In a statement signed by Emeana, the party said that the appointment was part of calculated attempts by the outgoing government to impose a heavy financial and leadership burden on the incoming administration.
“This latest attempt by the outgoing governor who has inflicted untold hardship on Imo people to appoint his cronies as members of the Imo State Judicial Service Commission barely two months left in its administration, is one case too many.
“It’s on record that Governor Okorocha has supervised the monumental decimation and destruction of all institutions of governance in the state since assuming office. This latest attempt is in furtherance of the series of lawless and reckless actions by the outgoing administration calculated at imposing a heavy burden on the new administration.
“The Imo State PDP hereby condemns this move as it is a political tool, calculated to impugn on the independence and sanctity of the judicial arm of government of the state.
In another recent statement, the PDP in the state also said that it “has continued to receive credible and verified information about the wanton plundering and looting of public infrastructure and government properties, by suspected agents of the outgoing administration of His Excellency, Rochas Anayochukwu Okorocha.
“It is regrettable that these illicit activities have continued to intensify with every passing day as we countdown to the last days of the tenure of the current administration on 29th May, 2019.
“The situation becomes more worrisome knowing that the outgoing Rochas Okorocha administration has displayed manifest lack of interest in defending government properties since the March 9th, 2019 governorship election, which saw Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP emerge victorious.
“Disappointedly, no official of the outgoing administration has shown sufficient will to protect government property as they prepare to hand over to the incoming administration. This negligent or deliberate act or connivance has led to massive looting and plundering of public properties under the watch of this administration.
“As the party that has been entrusted with governance and the mandate of Imo people from the 29th of May 2019, we believe it will be irresponsible for the PDP in Imo State to sit and watch while government properties are being destroyed, looted and carted away with reckless abandon and without any inhibition just because the time for handing over is still ahead.”
Responding to the series of allegations, Okorocha’s Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemedo accused the PDP of being in a hurry to resume looting.
He said “Members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state are obviously in a hurry to resume their usual looting of the treasury and properties of the state, reading their body language and considering their utterances, especially when they have stayed out of power for eight years without reprieve.
“They are either talking about non-existent N17b that has been withdrawn by the government, or talking about the lands to revoke and the vehicles that have been auctioned or threatening fire and brimstone.
“And when they were challenged to say where in Imo one can find N17b to withdraw and whether the money was withdrawn cash or by transfer, they evaporated,” the statement stated.
In yet another statement, Okorocha said that the PDP adopted tactics of raising unfounded alarms of ongoing looting by his government as a way to deceive Imo people of their intentions to do the looting once they take over power.
“The PDP members have not changed and will never change, with their awkward attitude this time. The irony also is that, in doing these absurd things; they do not care how the generality of Imo people feel. This is regrettable,” Okorocha said.
In the midst of the exchanges, there are reports where indigenes of the state raised the alarm about the ongoing removal of installed solar poles along Port-Harcourt/Avu Expressway by some individuals alleged to be acting on the instruction of the agents of the government.
Recently, The Guardian gathered that some good spirited individuals also intercepted about four persons lifting some building materials belonging to the state at Heroes’ Square in Owerri.
The suspects, who were later handover to the police, upon interrogation, mentioned one of the cronies of the governor as the brain behind their action.
Some indigenes of the state, including a former member of House of Representatives, Mayor Eze, and a former state lawmaker, Jasper Ndubuaku, have called for an immediate probe of the Okorocha administration by Ihedioha once he assumes office.
According to Ndubuaku, a chieftain of the PDP in the state, Imolites would not be happy with Ihedioha if he fails to recover the wealth of the state from Okorocha.
He accused Okorocha of drying up the economy of the state and enriching his family members and cronies, adding that to uphold accountability in government, Okorocha must be made to give account of his stewardship in the state.
“If I don’t subscribe to a probe of Okorocha, then I am not being sincere with you. The wealth that Imo State has generated over the past seven years, about 90 percent of it is in individuals’ pockets. So, why won’t you ask that these things be returned?
“The first thing that I think Ihedioha should be encouraged to do is to recover these stolen wealth. Okorocha should not only be probed, he should be prosecuted and you know he would be found guilty. By that he will spend his time in prison,” Ndubuaku said.
But reacting to calls for Okorocha’s probe, Onwuamedo said, ”after May 29, 2019, Ihedioha has every right to probe even the food that Rochas Okorocha and his family ate in Government House from 2011 to 2015.”
Politically Motivated Promotions, Last Minute Appointments Riles Bauchi Gov-elect
Bauchi State Governor-elect Senator Bala Abdulkadir Muhammed has raised the alarm over what he termed “last minute appointments” by the outgoing administration of Governor Mohammad Abubakar, and has vowed to terminate any contract and appointments made shortly after he was declared winner of the gubernatorial election.
According to Muhammed’s spokesman Dr. Ladan Salihu, “It is a matter of grave concern that the outgoing government is conducting a surreptitious campaign to bankrupt the incoming administration and
demoralise civil servants through politically motivated promotions, vindictive and unwarranted transfers, so-called replacements into the workforce and massive recruitment of thousand of unskilled, new employees.
“For the avoidance of doubt, all law-abiding public officers are assured that they have nothing to fear even as these illegal actions will be promptly reversed once the incoming government has taken over,” he said.
Ladan further warned the civil servants of the consequences that may follow the action, stressing that the incoming administration has reliably gathered that some highly placed government officials were awarding contract running into several billions of naira to family members, childhood friends and cronies, only four weeks to the end of the present administration.
“For the umpteenth time, it is hereby emphasised that any contract awarded by the SUBEB, Rural Urban Water and Sewage Agency (RUWASA), Bauchi State SDG Office, and indeed any ministry, department and agency after the official declaration of the governorship election result made on 25 March, 2019 is null and void. The new government shall not be obliged to pay for such contracts and services,” he said.
Abia: No Change Of Guards, But Lull In Governance
The re-election of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia State has ensured that the state is not one of those states that would experience a change of guards on May 29, 2019.
In other words, there would be continuity in governance even as the governor has already assured the citizenry of better times ahead.
But as the state is awaiting the May 29th inauguration of Ikpeazu for a second term in office, government activities have slowed down seriously in the state as not much is happening, or taking place presently.
Governor Ikpeazu himself has not been in the state for sometime now, and his deputy, Ude Oko Chukwu has been the one running the show, largely his routine duties.
Also, in the countdown to the inauguration, there has been increased reports of criminality in the state, which the new Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ene Okon linked to youths, who were hitherto engaged by politicians in the build up to the general elections, but who are now idle and jobless.
However, to curb this menace, the state government has restricted the operational time of tricycle operators to between 6am and 7pm daily.
Early last month, the governor relieved his special advisers, special assistants and technical officers of their appointments and directed them to hand over government properties assigned to them. Commissioners, principal secretary to the governor, deputy chiefs of staff, and chief press secretary were excluded from the dissolution.
The boards of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), hospital management board and that of the Abia State University Teaching Hospital were also dissolved, while a Works and Project Evaluation Committee was set up with the mandate of monitoring and evaluating ongoing road projects in the state.
Also, the Works Commissioner, Mr Eziuche Ubani, chairs a six-man committee, which is to plan the May 29th inauguration/transition activities in the state. It comprises of Mr. Obinna Oriaku (Finance Commissioner), Dr Aham Uko (Environment Commissioner), Chief John Okiyi Kalu (Information Commissioner), Mr. Emma Nwabuko (Ikpeazu’s principal secretary), and Mr. Chinenye Nwaogu, former adviser on Youth Employment and Related Matters.
While inaugurating the committee to monitor and evaluate ongoing road projects in the state, Deputy Governor Chukwu directed them to oversee and monitor all the ongoing projects and moribund factories in the state and report recommendations to the government respectively.
He disclosed that government was poised to complete all ongoing road projects and resuscitate moribund factories in the state, just as he instructed that special attention should be paid Ururuka Road, Aba Road in Umuahia, Etitiama-Nkporo-Port -Harcourt Road, Obikabia Road, Aba-Owerri Road, Osusu Road and Eziukwu Road, among others.
A top civil servant in the state, who pleaded anonymity told The Guardian that workers would be happy to transit with the governor to his second term without arrears of salaries and pensions.
According to him, “there is noting significant that is actually happening in the civil service presently,” adding that because of salary arrears, workers have adopted lackadaisical attitude to work.
He wondered how the state would cope with the new minimum wage when it has been unable to pay the old wage as at when due.
Already, the re-elected Chairman of the State Chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Comrade Uchenna Obigwe, has indicated that his immediate and major agenda is to enforce the payment of the new N30, 000 national minimum wage to the state workers.
Impending Litigations Notwithstanding, Lalong Promises Accountable Leadership
Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong, is one of the lucky All Progressives Congress (APC) state chief executives to retain their seats after a fierce battle.
Lalong became governor in 2015 as a result of protest votes against the anointed candidate of the immediate past governor, Senator Jonah Jang.
Jang from Plateau North Senatorial District was of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and should have handed over the mantle to Plateau South Senatorial District going by the gentleman’s agreement on zoning the governorship among the three senatorial districts.
But instead of ceding power to the south, he favoured the late Senator Gyang Pwajor, who was also from the Plateau North as Jang. Hence, a mass protest against Jang’s decision. That was how PDP lost to the APC.
In the 2019 gubernatorial elections, Lalong still won, defeating Senator Jeremiah Useni of the PDP despite the supplementary elections.
Lalong recently inaugurated the May 29th Central Inauguration, as well as the Policy Programme and Project Review Committees.
According to him, the two committees are to be chaired by the Deputy Governor, Prof. Sonni Gwanle Tyoden, with Sir Richard Tokman, acting Secretary to the State Government (SSG).
The Director General of Research and Documentation, Government House, Prof. John Wade, was appointed to serve as the Secretary of Policy, Programme and Project Review Committee, which also has Sunday Hyat, and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, Alhaji Sani Mavo, as well as the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance as assistant secretaries.
Lalong had in his victory/acceptance speech promised to rejig his governing system by providing vision, direction and accountable leadership for greater productivity, as well as consolidating his peace efforts.
He also admitted that the victory marked another milestone in the state’s political and democratic journey as a people.
Ogun Last Minute Deals Stirs Discontent
With just few weeks to the end of his administration, Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun has sealed some contentious last minute deals, which many claim is capable of creating problems for the new administration in the state.
When his estranged party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) let out the first shrill, many thought it was just a ploy to paint in bad colours. But as at last week, Amosun was still busy implementing some of the policies he glaringly failed to carryout in the last eight years of the administration.
The Guardian reliably learnt that the Amosun has commenced secret sales and auctioning of government property and was also awarding fresh contracts.
The outgoing governor is also accused of engaging in secret recruitments into the state’s civil service. The rumoured recruitment was confirmed a fortnight ago when he announced the employment of over 1, 000 into the state’s civil service.
A statement dated April 30, 2019, and signed by the Permanent Secretary, Civil Service Commission, Ajibola Amope Chokor further confirmed the appointments, and also explained that the recruitments were done via the Public Service Entry Examination, conducted by the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON), in January.
Other allegations leveled against Amosun include withdrawals from the treasury; indiscriminate sales of land; elevation of new permanent secretaries; appointment of two general managers for the state-owned television and radio stations; obtaining of loans and overdrafts, and promotions of workers without adequate provisions for their salaries.
In the last two weeks, over 5, 000 civil servants were promoted, and the outgoing government claimed they “enjoyed the privilege under the 2016/2017 promotions exercise.”
The party, aggrieved by what it termed a flagrant abuse of laid-down rules, regulations and due process, accused the governor of taking such steps in order to create a challenge for the incoming governor, Dapo Abiodun.
The party’s Publicity Secretary, Tunde Oladunjoye in a statement said: “While we find the reported last-minute contracts, withdrawals from the treasury, sales of plots of land and illegal recruitment of Senator Amosun’s cronies into senior positions in the Ogun State Civil Service very shocking, our party wishes to warn members of the general public that such hurried transactions would not necessarily be binding on the incoming administration.
“We urge Ogun State’s senior civil servants to not be part of the desperate moves of the departing governor to undermine socio-economic stability of our state, by engaging in, condoning, or being part of any act that breaches or constitutes a flagrant abuse of laid-down rules, regulations and due process.
“It is our belief that an administration with less than two months to hand over should, by now, be preparing its handover notes for a smooth transition, instead of digging pits for the incoming government.
“May we also reiterate here that all loans, overdrafts and financial obligations that do not follow due process, including the approval of the Ogun State House of Assembly, would not be honoured. To be forewarned is to be forearmed,” the statement said.
Ajimobi, Makinde Tango Over Alleged Malfeasance
With the setting up of a 26-member transition committee, Oyo State is expected to have a smooth transition to the next government, a development that is said to be unprecedented in the history of the state, especially given the fact that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is giving way for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
While inaugurating the transition committee, which membership is drawn from both sides, and headed by the Secretary to the Oyo State Government, Mr. Olalekan Alli, Governor Abiola Ajimobi tasked the committee to liaise with the outgoing and incoming administrations with a view to ensuring a smooth transition.
Before the committee was set up, the incoming government of Seyi Makinde had expressed grave concerns about some policies of the Ajimobi-led government, which were seen as landmines that may hamper effective takeoff of his administration.
Makinde was particularly peeved with alleged phoney contracts awarded to the tune of N30b in one day and several efforts of the outgoing government to empty the treasury of the state.
Makinde, who said he had promised not to probe Ajimobi’s government said he may not have any other choice, than to look into the books and review these hurriedly awarded contracts,
Speaking through his spokesman, Dotun Oyelade, the governor-elect said, “Events of the past two weeks have shown characteristics of targeted contract awards that were compiled in a haste and randomly awarded to empty government purse before the May 29 swearing-in date.
“While the government remains in place till May 28, awarding a N30b new set of contracts in one day as was the case during the last executive meeting is curious and an aberration, especially when debts, as old as 2011 are left unpaid.”
Makinde, however, warned that civil servants found culpable in illegal dealings would be made to face justice.
Responding to the allegations, the state Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Toye Arulogun, described Oyelade’s statement as the latest in a series of propaganda meant to discredit Ajimobi’s administration.
Arulogun said: “That the Ajimobi-led administration is siphoning money from government coffers is patently false and bears no iota of truth. It is a hoax intended to heat up the polity and whip up sentiments. Governor Ajimobi, who will be in the saddle of the state till the expiration of his tenure on May 29, has been running the affairs of the state including fiscal transactions in the last eight years in a transparent manner and in accordance with good governance and best practices.
“The Oyo State government will continue to operate in line with its constitutional and statutory responsibilities. At the appropriate time, the necessary machinery will be instituted for the outgoing and incoming administrations to meet and establish the desirable mechanisms for handing over.”
While residents are still at a loss on who to believe between the outgoing government and incoming one, both of parties are, however, still locked in hot exchanges over the propriety of Ajimobi’s government negotiating the new minimum wage with the labour union.
The union had written the government asking for the commencement of negotiations in line with the new law on the minimum wage recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
In response to this, the government last Monday began discussions with the union on the implementation of the new law, while the incoming administration expressed displeasure over that, saying the issue ought to be suspended till after May 29 because the implementation of whatever is agreed upon would be done by the incoming government.
According to Makinde, who saw this move as another bobby trap set up for his administration by Ajimobi’s, he said there is nothing the outgoing government wants to achieve other than to complicate things for the incoming government, just the way it is engaging in indiscriminate contracts award to fellow politicians and friends.
The governor-elect expressed the belief that the NLC leadership is circumspect enough to understand the ongoing theatrics.
The mistrust between the outgoing and incoming government is palpable. Only last week Makinde personally wrote Ajimobi and warned him against making policies that would hinder the smooth takeoff of his administration.
Makinde specifically warned against policies and award of last minute contacts that may not be completed before the expiration of Ajimobi’s tenure.
While also wondering why the state’s pilgrimage board was taking some far-reaching decisions that would be difficult for his administration to implement, Makinde for the second time within a month raised the alarm alleging that some government appointees under “the guise of spurious legitimacy have been involved in a deliberate rush to award contracts backed with questionable mobilisation running into billions of naira.”
“Your Excellency, since March 11 this year and 48 hours after the gubernatorial election, I have observed serial infractions that connote efforts to thwart a smooth transition come May 29, 2019 under the guise of spurious legitimacy,” Makinde said in the letter adding, “I have highlighted some of them to the public through my campaign office, including but not limited to deliberate haste to rush out fresh contracts, backed with mobilisation running into billions of naira even while other residual issues of more importance were crying for attention.
“The instruction to local council chairmen to mop up the Stabilisation Account, which was a strategic savings is also one of the infractions I refer to.
“I wish to draw your attention to yet another development in similar manner presently playing out at the Oyo State Muslim Wing of the Pilgrims Welfare Board, which continues to make far-reaching plans and even radio announcements in relation to the board’s activities beyond May 29 2019 when it is crystal clear that the tenure of this outgoing government ends on the above stated date.
“While the chairman and the board are still well within their rights to function in that capacity till the end of this outgoing administration, it is, however, unacceptable and mischievous for the board to be making long-term plans that are well beyond May 29, 2019 with regards to the coming Hajj operation, as my administration will not be bound to accept any of these arrangements, including transportation, accommodation and welfare of Oyo State pilgrims for the coming Hajj operations.
“Any action executed by the board that will continue after May 29 will be considered to have been initiated in bad faith. I therefore, call on your Excellency sir, to prevail and rein in all overzealous officials who may wrongfully perceive the lame duck situation in Oyo State as a gold rush.
In a swift response, the governor’s spokesperson, Mr. Bolaji Tunji said that Ajimobi government would remain active till May 28 and cannot be forced to be docile.
He advised Makinde to stop making public, “his little understanding of governance and focus on what he would do or not do from May 29.
A Public Analyst who pleaded for anonymity said, “Politicians are not to be trusted, especially in a situation like this. Nobody expects Ajimobi to wish Makinde well given how his party dashed Ajimobi’s ambition both at Senate and getting his party’s candidate to succeed him in office. So, his allegation of Ajimobi setting a booby trap for him is expected, but for him to be criticising everything is not acceptable. He should know that Ajimobi is writing his history and he will never come back as the governor of this state. He has till May 28 to complete that history, but all his books would remain open not only for Makinde, but any government to review and pass comments.”
But the state’s chapter of the APC is of the opinion that it is too early for Makinde to renege on his electoral promises, admonishing him to focus on the art of governance and work towards fulfilling his electoral promises.
The Publicity Secretary of the Party, Dr AbdulAzeez Olatunde said, “Makinde said during his electoral campaign that Oyo workers deserved more than N30, 000 as minimum wage. Now, he was quoted by the media in Abuja that he can’t pay the N30, 000 minimum wage. We (APC) decided not to comment on Makinde’s electoral promise U-turn because we want the electorate and the people of Oyo State to judge him while the party would not hesitate to provide the necessary constructive criticisms when the need arises.”
Olatunde said: “The people of Oyo State deserve the best and we hope Makinde’s PDP will try not to disappoint, which is doubtful. It is too early for Makinde to be reprimanding others for his mistakes. APC was not the media that reported what Makinde said in Abuja. We expected Makinde to rather clear the air on his N30, 000 minimum wage statement, instead of blame-shifting. We wish him the best in his endeavours, but with a caution that it is too early to renege on his electoral promises.”
Cross River In A Dilemma Over Large Appointees
There are no elaborate transition arrangements in Cross River State as Prof Ben Ayade secured a second term in office.
But the major talking point is whether the governor would still maintain his massive retinue of over 10, 000 appointees or not.
During electioneering campaigns, the governor told all the appointees to make sure that they win their units and wards so as to retain their positions in the new dispensation, even as he promised to make additional appointments for any unit coordinator that delivers.
But a recent bombshell by the governor that he was going to downsize on the number of appointees sent shivers down the spine of many in government, even though it is obvious that 80 per cent of the appointees are either unproductive or are redundant.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary/Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Christian Ita, recently said Senator Ayade will reduce the size of cabinet in order to ensure better service delivery, and he has directed commissioners, others to prepare their handover notes and forward same to him on or before April 26, 2019.
The Guardian gathered that the main reason the governor wants to downsize is the heavy financial burden the state is carrying by paying over N5 billion as wage bill for the over 22,000 workers, which is about the same amount that the state receives from Federation Account monthly when added to what comes to the state and local government councils.
It would be recalled that Ayade has maintained a cabinet of about 29 commissioners and over 10,000 special advisers and assistants that received salaries regularly, yet had no office or any designated function.
This large number of appointees receive several criticisms from the public and labour unions, which argued that they were not productive except serving as a ready tool to deliver the governor for second term, which they did.
Some appointees who pleaded anonymity said, “it will be embarrassing and dangerous for the governor to downsize after he had made several promises that we should deliver him and retain our positions. In fact, if he does that it will amount to use and dump and will resist him.”
All Calm In Enugu As Inauguration Draws Nigh
Preparations are headed for a crescendo in a good number of the 22 states, where gubernatorial elections held across the country.
Enugu State is calm and not showing signs of transition. No committee in place yet. This development, many say may be due to the outcome of the gubernatorial elections, which the incumbent governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was overwhelmingly voted for by people of the state.
Another reason why things are the way they are, stakeholders say, may not be unconnected to the state of opposition political parties, which have shown gross lack of capacity to provide an alternative platform for the people of the state.
Infact, except the All Progressives Congress (APC), whose candidate, Ayogu Eze is yet to say whether he would support Ugwuanyi’s administration and withdraw his petition at the tribunal, every other party that ran against the incumbent has so far congratulated him. Some took it a notch higher by replacing their campaign billboards with congratulatory messages for the re-elected governor.
While some state governors including those returning to office have either dissolved their cabinets, or sacked their appointees, those of Enugu State have remained intact, fuelling speculations that the appointees may carry on even for another four years.
Giving credence to this position is the fact that the governor made new appointments only weeks before the general elections.
Since coming on board in 2015, Ugwuanyi has used the same set of cabinet members and only replaced those who resigned to contest for elective offices.
All these notwithstanding, many feel that there is need to inject fresh blood and ideas into the administration, even as the people would also wish to see more infrastructure development, especially in the areas of roads and water supply.
A lot of persons from across the state are united in their submission that Ugwuanyi has done well in the area of security, peace and empowerment. But one of his low points remain his inability to provide stable potable water in Enugu urban and several new areas developed over 10 years ago.
A political analyst, Jude Orji, while counting down to May 29, regretted that frenzy of transition was lacking in the state “because we have an electorate that is complacent and only interested in what could be done to put food on their tables.
Since the conclusion of elections in March, governance in the state has continued as if nothing happened; the governor has continued to inspect projects, awarded new ones and continued to live up to his responsibilities, in addition to prompt payment of salaries.
Nevertheless, the people are looking forward to gather at the Michael Okpara Square on May 29 to witness the governor’s swearing in and taking of oath of office. They are also itching to hear him state his plans to expand the frontiers of the state and sustain good governance.
El-Rufai Retools, Braces For Litigation
Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai has remained unperturbed by opposition parties’ threat to challenge the outcome of the just concluded gubernatorial election at election tribunal, just as the transition committee that he constituted has submitted it reports.
El-Rufai shortly after winning re-election swung into action and appointed a 38-member transition committee, chaired by deputy governor-elect, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe.
Already, the governorship candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Isa Ashiru has rejected the outcome of the election, maintaing that the party has substantial evidence to prove that the election was marred by irregularities.
Recently, Ashiru told journalists that he has assembled no fewer than eight Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) and other seasoned lawyers to “retrieve his mandate” at the tribunal.
Addressing newsmen in his Kaduna residence, the PDP flag bearer who finished second in the contest said, “I wish to state without any fear of contradiction that reports obtained by our party from across the state indicate that the elections were marred by a lot of irregularities.”
As part of his strategic repositioning, Governor el-Rufai appointed his erstwhile Chief of Staff, Alhaji Muhammad Saidu, as the new Commissioner for Finance. The Finance Ministry had no substantive commissioner after the resignation of Suleiman Kwari, who was recently elected to represent the Kaduna Northern Senatorial District at the 9th National Assembly.
Apart from this key change that he made, el-Rufai also directed all political appointees in his government to resign on or before April 30th. This was as he commenced selecting the team for his second term in office.
Appointees affected by the directive include commissioners/members of the State Executive Council; all permanent secretaries, directors-general, executive secretaries, managing directors, general managers and other heads of agencies.
Silent War In Lagos As Count Down To Transition Continues
All may appear quiet and calm in Lagos, but a silent war rages underground as the outgoing governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, and Babajide Sanwo-Olu prepare for the big day.
Even though the transition programme in the state has not been very contentious, and both Ambode and Sanwo-Olu belong to the same political party, the All Peoples Congress (APC), the charade called primary that threw up Sanwo-Olu as the party’s candidate left terrible wounds that may be hard to heal.
In fact, there are still claims that a silent war is still ongoing. This much was re-echoed by Ambode’s glaring absence at the inauguration of the 20-man transition committee, a task he handed to the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Tunji Bello to perform, while he held a state security meeting at the State House at the same time.
Conversely, while some outgoing state governors are engaged in some massive contract awards in some states, the reverse seems to be the case in Lagos State, where governance is at its lowest ebb.
The non-passage of the state’s budget until last week, The Guardian understands was due to the silent fight between the incoming and outgoing governor as the delay is seen as a way to incapacitating Ambode from completing a number of ongoing projects.
But a smarter Ambode fought back by getting President Muhammadu Buhari to inaugurate some of the projects when they were not 100 per cent completed.
The Guardian learnt that as a counter to Ambode’s action, when the state Assembly passed the budget, it deliberately failed to appropriate funds for the completion of the Oshodi Transport Interchange and the Lagos Bus projects in the guise that the two projects were alien to the Assembly.
The implication is that if the projects are not 100 per cent complete when Ambode leaves, (even though he has promised to complete them), they might be renegotiated at a higher cost and to the detriment of taxpayers’ money, or a lower cost to the good of the citizens.
It was gathered that though the executive submitted a budget proposal for the two projects during the 2018 budget re-ordering, they were not passed by the Assembly because the executive failed to provide additional information when clarifications about the project was sought.
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