By Waheed Adekunle
Saying impunity has become pervasive in Osun, a state once known as ‘State of the Virtuous’ is to say the least of the reigning illegality, unlawfulness and flagrant disobedience to the rule of law in the last one year of the current administration of Governor Ademola Adeleke.
In what appears ridiculous, appalling, nauseating, embarrassing and repulsive, the appointment, confirmation and installation of the card-carrying member and die-hard loyalist of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the Chairman of the state electoral umpire – Osun State Independent Electoral Commission (OSIEC) by Governor Adeleke led-government in the state had cleared all doubt that the state government is poised to get anything done, regardless of the illegality attached to it.
There’s no doubting the fact that the incumbent government has been glowing and blossoming in the pool of impunity, selfishly engraved in carte blanche since its inception in November last year.
A critical understanding of the happenings within the government circle since the emergence of Governor Adeleke would clear any sense of doubt and give an insight into the manifestation of the unchecked impunity that has become the order-of-the-day
The leadership style of the Governor as manifested in his inward and outward dispositions to governance is a pointer to the reign of impunity, abuse of power and flagrant disobedience to the rule of law overtime.
The inherent era of impunity that has become a ‘norm’ within the political circle and ruling class in the state, is perceived by many as a political maladroitness, repugnant and horrendous – far from logic, rational thinking and basic reasoning.
The menace which is now a ‘cancerous tumour’ to socio-economic growth and development of the state largely draws public attention when the Governor arbitrarily announced the dissolution of the members of the State Statutory Commissions and subsequently inaugurated his own people for same positions.
Starting on a revenge voyage and vengeful mission, the administration had left no one in doubt, the extent of its imminent expedition and total departure from the existing blueprint propounded by the successive governments; the decision, that is not only illogical or irrational but one far from proper reasoning and the propensities have now become a monster difficult to uproot.
Recall that the Adeleke’s government began with the declaration of diabolical Executive Orders targeted at suppressing the system, and permanently silencing the roared voices of the notable individuals perceived to serve as a clog in the wheel of its self-serving motives.
From the purposeless obnoxious Executive Orders to palpable malfeasance and ill-heartedness vis-a-vis its attendant ubiquitous display of impunity, the wheel of the state has been drifting off in retrogressive backwardness in the last twelve months.
It is on record that the Adeleke’s administration, having unlawfully distilled, suspended and ultimately dissolved the University of Ilesa Governing Council constituted by his predecessor, still went ahead to constitute a Review Committee with a view to unraveling what was perceived hidden in the conduct of the disbanded Council.
Though, the Adeleke’s reasons for the dissolution of the existing Governing Council as well as his self-serving conviction for constituting his own is not only untenable but amounts to unlawfulness and flagrant display of impunity going by the way and manner at which the exercise was carried out.
Governor Adeleke had erroneously appointed Professor Ashaolu Taiwo as the Chairman of the Ad-hoc Review Committee on Ilesa University to review the guidelines of the Implementation Committee constituted by his predecessor, the decision which was taken in contrary to the known extant laws governing Nigerian universities.
Sequel to this, precisely on 13th of May, 2023, the governor announced the appointment of the same Professor Ashaolu Taiwo as the pioneer Vice Chancellor of the Ivory tower without any official report of the Ad-hoc Review Committee being chaired by the same person to have properly informed the citizens on their findings.
No doubt, the government’s manipulative gimmick was to ease out members of the Project Technical and Implementation Committee and install its stooges as done in the case of the VC.
However, the appointment of the Chairman of the Ad-hoc Review Committee as the Vice Chancellor was not only an aberration but an abuse of power and political summersault in the art of governance going by the extant laws.
Knowing full well that former Governor Adegboyega Oyetola inaugurated the Governing Council for Ilesa University, ably led by the former Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, before the expiration of his tenure, of what benefit was the disbandment of the Council and appointment of another set of people as members of the Council by the Adeleke’s government?
The funniest part of the government’s decision was noticed when the Review Committee failed to make public its report but instead, jostling for the leadership positions of the University as seen in the case of the appointed VC which is in contrary to the extant laws governing the affairs of the universities in Nigeria.
Constitutionally, it is crystal clear from the provisions of the law that the appointment of a Vice Chancellor is the statutory responsibility of the Governing Council of any university.
Section (4) stipulates that: ‘The Council shall select and appoint as the Vice Chancellor one candidate from among the three candidates recommended to it under section (3) of this section and thereafter inform the Visitor i.e (President or Governor as the case may be)’.
Once the appointment has been made, by the Council, it is legally binding and effective without any input from either the President in the case of Federal University or Governor in the case of State University. The latter has no direct role to play in such appointment. The law only requires the Governing Council to inform him (President or Governor) of the appointment after the Council has made the appointment. It is for him to approve. The law doesn’t require him to do anything about the appointment.
From the above constitutional analysis, it can be easily inferred that in whatever way, any appointment of a Vice Chancellor made by the Governor like in the case of Osun, without recourse to the Governing Council is a breach of the extant laws and therefore patently illegal, null and void.
Ditto the execution of some roads that were not budgeted for in the state by the incumbent government, contrary to the dictates of the State Public Procurement Laws, 2015.
It is on record that some of the roads that were embarked on by the Adeleke’s administration were not captured in the 2023 Budget and there was no budgetary allocation for such, infact, there was no any record of supplementary budget as at the time some of those projects were being executed not until recently after works had begun on many of the projects that the state government presented supplementary budget to the State Assembly and even attempted to call for the bidding of a contract that had long been awarded.
Section 23 (1) Governing Rules on Public Procurement of Osun State Public Procurement Laws states that: ” Subject to the exceptions under this Law, all procurements carried out by any procuring entity shall be governed by the following rules: (a) open competitive bidding using clearly defined criteria, and offering to every interested bidder with equal information and opportunities to offer the works, goods and services needed.”
Paragraph (b) states that: “promotion of competition, economy, efficiency and equal opportunities to all parties who are eligible and qualified to participate in public contracts.” Paragraph (c) of the same law stipulates that: “executing in an effective, efficient, transparent, timely, equitable manner to ensure accountability which shall conform with the provisions of this Law and its Regulations with the aim of achieving value for money and fullness of purpose.”
While Paragraph (g) states that: “procurement plans shall be supported by prior budgetary appropriation; no procurement proceeding shall be formalized until the procuring entity has ensured that funds are budgeted and appropriated to meet the obligation.”
Subsection (2) states that: “all regulations, procedures and timelines to be prescribed pursuant to this Law and specified by the Agency from time to time shall always conform to the provisions of paragraphs (a)-(g) of subsection (1).
Evidently, all the aforementioned constitutional provisions were flagrantly flouted as at the time many of the awarded roads were being executed. Even the Commissioner for Information, Kolapo Alimi alluded to this on a radio programme where he admitted due process infractions on the ongoing construction of Akoda-Ede Oke-Gada Ede to Ofatedo-Prime area Osogbo dual carriage road, but argued that the move was based on the urgency.
It is disheartening that many of the roads being constructed in Ede in particular and the state in general were neither taken through Due Process nor part of the existing Budget inherited by the Adeleke’s government.
The ongoing construction of the dual-carriage road from Akoda-Ede/Oke-Gada Ede/Ofatedo/Prime area in Osogbo was glaringly not part of the existing Budget and there was no instance where the government came up with supplementary budget or presented same to the House as at the time the project commenced.
Similarly, both Statutory and Non-statutory members of boards and commissions appointed under the administration of former Governor Oyetola were arbitrarily disbanded as new members were appointed by the Adeleke’s government.
The affected boards are: Osun State Civil Service Commission, Osun State Judicial Service Commission, Osun State Independent Electoral Commission, Osun State House of Assembly Commission, Uniosun, Unilesa, Ospoly, Oscotech, Osun State College of Education, Ila-Orangun, Ilesa College of Health Technology, Local Government Service Commission, Hospital Management Board, State Universal Basic Education Board, OSBC, Pilgrims Welfare Boards, Tescom, Osun Council for Art and Cultural, Osun Tourism Board, Osun Internal Revenue, Osun Water Corporation and Osun State Local Government Education Authority (LGEAs) respectively.
It is quite unfortunate that the state government could take its impunity too far to the extent of disbanding the Statutory Commissions contrary to Sections 197, 198 and 201 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to section 197 (1) (a-c) “there shall be established for each State of the Federation the following bodies, namely- State Civil Service Commission; State Independent Electoral Commission; and State Judicial Service Commission.”
Section 197 (3) states that: “the Governor shall conform with the provisions of section 14(4) of this Constitution in appointing chairmen and members of boards and governing bodies of statutory corporations and companies in which the government of the state has controlling shares or interests and councils of universities, colleges and other institutions of higher learning.”
Also, Section 201 (1) stipulates that: “any person holding any of the offices to which this section applies shall not be removed from that office by the Governor of that State acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the House of Assembly of the State praying that he be so removed for inability to discharge the functions of the office (whether arising from infirmity of mind or body or any other case) or for misconduct.
Going by the aforementioned constitutional provisions, it is crystal clear that the state government erred in laws establishing the commissions.
Also, another bizarre move that appears irrational, illogical, overbearing and flagrant abuse of power, was the initial approval of the arbitrary suspension of the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Adepele Ojo by the Governor over alleged gross misconduct and abuse of office last week before same was stylishly and technically reversed.
The law is clear as to the appointment, discipline and removal of any judge. No Governor under whatever guise has such power to fire any sitting judge let alone a Chief Judge of the State.
For instance, Chapter 7. Part 4. Section 292 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states: (1) a judicial officer shall not be removed from his office or appointment before his age of retirement except in the following circumstances:
a). In the case of
i). Chief Justice of Nigeria, President of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Grand Kadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and President, Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, by the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate.
ii). Chief Judge of a State, Grand Kadi of a Sharia Court of Appeal or President of a Customary Court of Appeal of a State, by the Governor acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the House of Assembly of the State, praying that he be so removed for his inability to discharge the functions of his office or appointment (whether arising from infirmity of mind or of body) or for misconduct or contravention of the Code of Conduct;
b). In any case, other than those to which paragraph (a) of this subsection applies, by the President or, as the case may be, the Governor acting on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council that the judicial officer be so removed for his inability to discharge the functions of his office or appointment (whether arising from infirmity of mind or of body) or for misconduct or contravention of the Code of Conduct.
Besides, separate Supreme Court verdicts had affirmed the NJC as the only body, constitutionally empowered to investigate and recommend sanctions for judges.
The questions to ask are, under which constitutional provisions did Governor Adeleke gave his consent to the suspension of the Chief Judge on the recommendation of the House of Assembly in the first place before its reversal? Was the Governor and his legal aides not aware of the provisions of sections 4, 5 and 6 that stated clearly the powers limitations of the Arms of Government to prevent undue interferences in whatever form? Is he (Governor) not in the know that the NJC is the only body that could investigate and recommend sanctions for judges as affirmed by the Supreme Court in the recent similar cases?
It is unambiguous that a state government can not discipline, sanction or sack the Chief Judge of a state without recourse to the NJC as erroneously and ignorantly done by the Adeleke led-government. And if Adeleke claimed to have informed the NJC, as he later claimed, why didn’t he wait for the body to investigate the accused before assenting to her removal in the first instance?
This action could be best described as a display of ineptitude, incompetence, ignorance and lack of administrative acumen and governance prowess to administer the affairs of a state like Osun.
Assuming without conceding that there was a dilemma in the case of the CJ, what is the responsibility of the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice who is the Chief Custodian of the Laws in the State? The dispositions afterwards showed that they lack the requisite knowlege as he himself authored an arrant statement justifying the illegal act previously taken by the government.
There is no doubt in the fact that the incumbent government has taken Osun to the map of ridicule in the comity of states due to the way and manner her affairs are being managed under the ‘Dancing Governor’ in the last one year.
The House of Assembly has become a ready-made instrument in the hand of the Executive as it is not only rubber-stamping whatever comes before it but giving illegal backing to whatever that comes from the executive in violation of the principles of separation of powers and doctrine of checks and balances.
One would wonder if the House comprising 26 members did not know the limitations of their constitutional powers to have hidden under oversight functions of interfering in the affairs of an independent arm (Judiciary).
Though the whole scenario is a ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’ as it further exposes the government the more and shows clearly the rots in the system, it is impunity of the highest order being perpetrated by the ruling class.
If it were to be in a saner clime, government officials would have taken cognisance of the similar cases in Sokoto, Rivers and Kwara states respectively vis-a-vis the Supreme Court verdicts in that regards.
As much as discerning citizens are passionately disappointed at the current situation in the state, the respite is in the fact that no one can give what he or she doesn’t have let a lone a government that is erected on the pillar of hypocrisy, falsehood and propaganda.
The due process was deliberately jettisoned by the two arms to pave way for their sinister motives and hatchet jobs just for political reasons. Posterity beckons, and the discerning citizens are taking copiously the record of events under the current administration.
Fingers shall continue to be crossed. Truth shall continue to be told. Sanctity and legality shall continue to be defended. Discerning minds shall continue to watch painstakingly and meticulously, and as well study unfolding events as government continues to administer the affairs of the state.
The end would definitely justify the means as our dear state strives to be rescued from the shackles of retrogressive backwardness.
May God heal our land!
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