Despite being in office for close to a year now, the current administration in Osun state is yet to form a cabinet and the trend may not end soon due to disagreements within the ranks of the ruling party over choice of candidates as LATEEF DADA narrates.
Barely one year after the swearing-in of Mr Gboyega Oyetola as governor of Osun state, the people and members of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) have waited endlessly for the composition of a cabinet that would work with the governor to formulate policies and programmes which he promised during his electioneering campaign.
Oyetola was sworn-in on November 27, 2018, but activities in the state have remained stagnant even though the governor has not relented in assuring the people that his cabinet would soon be formed, especially whenever questions were asked about it.
Oyetola, in his one-man-show, was the governor and commissioner in charge of all ministries for about four months before he eventually announced the appointment of a chief of staff and secretary to the state government in March 2019. He later appointed some of the immediate past commissioners and special advisers under former Governor Rauf Aregbesola, as supervisors in some ministries.
This system was apparently inherited from his predecessor, Aregbesola, who also refused to appoint commissioners in his first term and second tenures for almost two years.
Although, Aregbesola premised his one-man-show at that time on paucity of fund occasioned by reduction in the monthly allocation which he said was caused by the drop in the price of oil in the international market, Oyetola on the other hand, has not even bothered to explain the reason behind his refusal to form his cabinet. Rather, he promised that he would ensure that competent people are selected for his commissioner and special advisers.
Since his resumption, investigation shows that activities in most government departments have been stagnant as the major focus of the government at the moment is on how to pay workers’ salaries. It was discovered that even though the payment is irregular, workers at all levels in the state have been receiving full payments since his assumption of office.
The undisclosed debt inherited from his predecessor has reportedly affected the governance, for instance, the monthly allocation to the state has reduced drastically due to deduction of debts from the source. The state has been receiving less than N1billion while the workers’ salary is in the neighbourhood of N2billion.
Reason(s) for delayed cabinet
One of the reasons that might have delayed the composition of cabinet in the state is the fact that the governor seems to be unsettled because of the litigation against his victory. He confessed this shortly after his victory at the Supreme Court when he stated that the time of litigation was a tough one that prevented him from planning.
While meeting with the workers shortly after the judgment, Oyetola said, “The apex court’s decision ended the almost eight months litigation over the election and sealed the hope of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senator Ademola Adeleke.
He said, “I will not only sustain the payment of your full salary but by the grace of God, I’ll pay your arrears. I will prioritise your welfare. I have no reason not to hit the ground running, we would deliver on our promises.
Reflecting on the period of litigation, Oyetola said, “The journey was tough and full of distractions. It was a difficult period for planning. Anytime you make a move to plan, you remember that it is only if all things are equal. You did not know how long you could plan.”
Oyetola said, however, that he refused to allow his spirit to be dampened by reminding himself that tribulation was part of life and that even Jesus Christ faced tribulation. He said, “Who are we? Our state is bound to go through difficult times but the important thing is that we have triumphed.
“Now the battle is over; I therefore call on everybody including my opponents to support us in order to move the state forward because I believe in participatory government.”
After the litigation, the governor directed leaderships of his party to elect three persons from each federal constituency for him to pick one out of them. He explained that the process is to ensure that the party determines those that would formulate his cabinet as he promised during the election campaign.
When asked when the cabinet would be formed, Oyetola said, “The process has commenced. I have given the party the opportunity to pick the commissioners. I will look at the list presented by the party, screen the nominee before I send the list to the House of Assembly”. According to him, “The process would be completed soon.
Party squabbles delaying process
Several weeks after, investigation by Blueprint however reveals that the selection process has obviously failed in nearly all the local governments because of recent protests that greeted the process. Some members of the parties alleged imposition of candidates against their choice in some local governments with several irregularities in the conduct of the selection in some council areas.
Obviously, the process for the selection of commissioner nominee has been stalled therefore preventing the party from presenting any list to the governor. When the issue would be resolved is still left for the party. This has given the governor opportunity to further extend the announcement of his commissioner and special advisers.
Investigation has further revealed that the list may not be ready this year because of issues the party is contending with. It was gathered that some leaders of the party have written petitions to the party alleging that the process was characterised by irregularities and therefore insisted that it must address the issues.
Speaking with Blueprint, the secretary of APC in Osun state, Hon Rasaq Salinsile, admitted that the process has failed in some local governments, promising that the issues would be thoroughly looked into and settled by the party.
On the protest by some aggrieved members of the party, Salinsile said, “It’s a normal thing when something of this nature is being done; it is necessary to have complaints, agitation and some other things. The party has taken steps to address the issue. We asked anybody that is aggrieved to write a petition and we have received some petitions. We are going through them. At the appropriate time, we would invite some of them who have genuine reasons.
“We also discovered that some petitions were signed by many stakeholders and we considered those petitions as genuine. Meanwhile, we have a petition written by an individual and signed by him alone; we have to look at it very well. It is not in all quarters that their cases are genuine.
“I want you to know that there can’t be a process of this nature and there won’t be any complain or protest. It has never happened and it will never happen. So, I can assure you that we are on top of it. We are going through the petition one after the other.