Aregbesola’s Unusual Governing Style In Osun
When the governor first came to office in 2010, he left nobody in doubt about his style, to accomplish his mission. He told citizens in the state that his administration would run an unusual government. Perhaps, the cabinet issue is part of his unusual style of administration.
Like what happened during his first term when he delayed formation of his cabinet until eight months after, the governor to-date still runs the state affairs with the aide of his deputy, a few key political appointees, including the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Chief of Staff (CoS) and Permanent Secretaries. The main reason adduced for his action is the poor finances of the state.
Director, Bureau of Communications and Strategy, Office of the Governor, Semiu Okanlawon, who defended the action of the governor, said Aregbesola has not violate any law of the land by not appointing commissioners. According to him, “The establishment and composition of cabinet for a state, is provided for in the constitution of the country. And each state is expected to constitute its own cabinet as and when convenient. There is no law directing that the composition must be simultaneous across the 36 states.”
He explained further that beyond constitutional provisions, the systematic running of government certainly goes beyond commissioners alone. “For instance, the most senior technocrats/civil servants in any government ministry are the Permanent Secretaries and is the next in rank to a commissioner. Logically therefore, a Permanent Secretary stands in, in the absence of a commissioner. Thus, the Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; his Deputy, Mrs. Grace Titi Laoye-Tomori; the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Moshood Adeoti and the Chief of Staff, Alhaji Isiaka Gboyega Oyetola, are in office and being supported by the Permanent Secretaries in the conduct of government businesses.
“Again, the four mentioned political appointees and the Permanent Secretaries, also constitute the Government- in-Council, which means technically, a pseudo cabinet is in place.”
Okanlawon said in the absence of the commissioners, some of the former commissioners in the state have continued to support the governor in the conduct of
government businesses pro-bono. “They are making the sacrifice for the state.”
“With these structures in place, governance in Osun has not for a day suffered any neglect even if it comes with a lot of pressure,” he said.
But the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has been in forefront of agitation for formation of a cabinet, has described the decision by Aregbesola as a bane of his administration and cause of some alleged wrong decisions and policies taken by the state government in recent time.The party accused the governor of running a dictatorial government saying Aregbesola has no genuine excuse not to have put his cabinet in place since the state is not the only state in the federation that is in financial strains.
PDP believes Aregbesola as an individual enjoys running a one-man show and does not want his action to be challenged. The party noted that the trait was seen in him when he first took over the mantle of leadership in the state, in November 2010 without appointing his cabinet until almost one year after.
PDP spokesman, Prince Diran Odeyemi said the party has consistently put the governor to task on the matter, insisting that he is able to sustain the trend with the alleged tacit support of the APC-dominated State Assembly.
He said: “We have done our best as opposition party to draw the attention of the governor to this oversight and anomaly, but our calls for the formation of cabinet have fallen on deaf ears. The governor is able to get away with this act of illegality because he enjoys the full support of the state legislators who are members of his party.”
The development is also causing disquiet among supporters of the APC. While some claimed that the governor is justified in the delay to form his cabinet, others see the action as a deliberate attempt to deprive them the much-needed democratic dividends. Those who are opposed to the governor’s action and craved for anonymity said they have place much hope on the government that their welfare would have improved if the governor had appointed commissioners and fill other political posts.
“We are not happy with the situation because our hope has been dashed. We all worked for the party with the expectation that we will get something in return. Now, we don’t have any of our leaders to run to because they are also helpless.”
A chieftain of Labour Party claimed the governor might not be interested in forming his cabinet now because of alleged enjoyment of perquisite of office by key political functionaries running the system. He condemned the action of the governor saying he and other members of his pseudo cabinet would want the status quo to remain so long their vested interest is protected.
“We raised the alarm when we discovered the game plan by the governor. You remember the governor gave to himself the portfolio of commissioner for Works and Transport, while he asked his deputy to supervise the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. This is how the APC has been running the state in the past two years. God will deliver us,’’ he said.The delay in forming his cabinet might not be strange to Aregbesola afterall. The governor shortly after his victory in the 2014 election told party supporters at a forum that it might take longer time before he would form his cabinet. He might have unwittingly given this indication following the then dwindling state resources.
Be that as it may, the governor has said that he regrets inability to constitute cabinet, but his action has not violated the laws of the land in no way.
Okanlawon noted that despite that, he has not failed to deliver on his electioneering promises. He listed some of the projects executed by Aregbesola in his second term to include; four fully completed secondary schools in Ejigbo, Ede, Osogbo with others in Ilesa, Iwo, and Osogbo nearing completion. Also, Gbongan-Akoda-Osogbo road,
with a trumpet bridge in Gbongan, is ongoing, while several kilometers of roads across the state have witnessed tremendous progress.
“When Aregbesola gave the hint in November 2014 that he saw ahead another possible delay in the constitution of his cabinet owing to a worsening financial situation, he had reminded them that the situation that compelled similar delay on assumption of office in 2010 looked much more worrisome. The state’s monthly statutory commitment to workers has been put at a staggering N3.6 billion. However, without the cabinet and with the full salary for Levels 1 to 7 workers and modulated salary structure, the statutory commitment reduced greatly to N1.7 billion.”
Okanlawon painted what he called a gloomy picture of what today would have been had the whole gamut of the executive been put in place since November 2014, when the government commenced its second term. He said the cutting of overhead cost, delay in constitution of cabinet, sacrifice being made by some of the former commissioners have helped the government tremendously in staying afloat in the face of the storm the entire country ran into.
In Port Harcourt, Rivers State, in September this year, the governor indicated that with a little ease in the economic crisis facing the country; he was more likely to constitute the executive council in November 2016. When that comes to pass, it should put an end to all the questions about the constitution of a cabinet.