It is an unwritten convention for any outing government to do a thorough stock-taking of its activities and draw up a balance sheet for public scrutiny before handing over power to another succeeding administration.
By so doing, it ensures transparency of governance which is necessary for building the basic social capital-trust and confidence that exist between the government and the governed. Some outgoing state governors are already walking along that path.
Contrarily, in Ogun State, where the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has been enmeshed in succession crisis, power intrigues and undue muscle flexing, the governor-elect, Prince Dapo Abiodun, is still very much expectant.
With the widening gulf between him and the outing Governor Ibikunle Amosun, he may have to wait a little longer than expected before he gets the proper brief about the accurate state of the state.
While his Lagos State counterpart, Akinwunmi Ambode, for instance, has already inaugurated a transition committee to ensure a hitch-free handover, Amosun is still busy working with frenetic energy which many people have found to be more alarming than assuring.
But speaking on Tuesday at the annual Drum Festival in Abeokuta, the state capital, against the backdrop of public skepticism that greeted his latest activities, the governor said: “My administration will work to deliver projects to our people till the last moment I will hand over to the next governor. I will work every hour, every minute and every second till midnight of May 28. In fact, we will continue to lay asphalt on roads till the last minute of my government.”
This followed his recent elevation of some 18 directors to Permanent Secretaries and appointment of two General Managers for the state-owned media organisations. Along the new appointees, he also created another agency named State Investment and Promotion Agency and constituted the governing council of a university that is yet to admit students. This is in addition to the alleged last minute recruitment into the state civil service which is believed to be already over-bloated.
In doing all of these, Amosun appears to be walking the old path. At the inauguration of his first term in 2011, he had accused his predecessor, Gbenga Daniel, of allegedly laying booby traps for his new coming administration with N50 billion debt burden, as well as sales of government property in the guise of concessioning, among others.
He said in his address marking his 100 days in office. “Our preliminary findings reveal a state that has been willfully and deliberately sabotaged. I have come to the conclusion that Ogun State is the most indebted state in the country. Officially, the debt the last administration claimed to have left behind is about N50 billion, but the real value of the debt could even be more.
“If we imagine a N50 billion debt with the total sell-out of the assets of the state under the guise of concessioning, then you can imagine that the real value of our loss is colossal.”
He, therefore, wasted no time in reviewing the processes and terminated some of the alleged shoddy deals.
Similar scenario is likely to play out when the new administration takes over the mantle of leadership from him, as some key stakeholders have advised the governor-elect to disregard the new appointments and contract deals.
A former Director-General, Senator Ibikunle Amosun Governorship Re-election Campaign Organisation in 2015, Chief Bode Mustapha, who is now a close associate of Abiodun, reacting to the development in an interview with Sunday Sun, queried the rationale behind the action of the governor, saying it is not going to stand.
His words: “It is going to make mockery of civil service and dampen the spirit of civil servants in the state because it has been done with a lot of anomalies. It is a misnomer that cannot stand. I will advise the incoming government to revert all those people to their previous positions and let the due process be followed.”
He also warned contractors involved in any new contract deal to be wary, warning that “anybody who goes to take a contract at this stage of the administration is wasting his time.
“Why should you award contract when you are about to leave office? Why should you employ new people when you are about to leave office? In view of the new minimum wage, can the state economy sustain it after incurring a lot of debt for the incoming government? He deducted civil servants money for 108 months and he never remitted the money.”
In the same vein, Senator Gbenga Kaka, a former lawmaker, who represented Ogun East Senatorial District, also expressing concern over the development, cautioned against politicizing the state civil service.
“All I know is that the tenure of Amosun ends on May 29, and by the grace of God that of Dapo Abiodun starts on that same day. Soldier goes, soldier comes, barracks remain the same. So, the civil service should not be politicized. Let whoever is there now do his bit. Whoever is coming in will also do his bit when he gets there,” he posited.
But according to Mustapha, the state the civil service has already been politicized considering the haphazard manner with which the promotion was done.
“The civil service is already politicised. What we are saying is that people should revert to their former positions and allow the new administration to look into it on merit. How can you take a level 14 officer and make him Permanent Secretary? Is that not politicising the civil service? There are level-15 and 16 officers who have not been promoted,” he argued.
In his own view, Senator Gbenga Obadara, who represented Ogun Central in the 7th Assembly, said there was nothing wrong in the elevation provided those promoted were eminently qualified for the position.
“The prayer of everybody in life is to be appreciated and have progression. If you are qualified and well deserved, I don’t see anything wrong in the elevation of some directors to permanent secretaries. There is no time it cannot be done, if one is eminently qualified for the position,” Obadara maintained.
He, however, berated the governor for constituting the Governing Council of a university that has not admitted students, saying “that is done in bad fate.”
In quick response, Governor Ibikunle’s Senior Special Adviser, Media, Rotimi Duroja ye, defended his boss in a telephone interview with Sunday Sun, arguing that the administration reserved the legal power to do what it considered necessary till the last minute of May 28, 2019.
“What is wrong in promoting people who are due for promotion? What is illegal about it? The government is still in place till May 28, 2019 and the governor has promised to work till the last hour, last minute, last second. So, I don’t see anything wrong. The people appointed are not from the moon. They are civil servants who are due for promotion. It is their rights, their entitlements. There are so many vacancies in the civil service that ought to be filled. And these are the people who are going to do the job. So, I don’t see anything wrong,” he insisted.
Asked to comment on the alleged promotion of level 14 officers to Permanent Secretary as against those on level 15 and 16, he said “I am not aware of that.”
In the face of all of these, tongues are still wagging over the refusal of Governor Amosun to create a transition committee to interface with Abiodun’s team for smooth handover of power.
In this regard, Mustapha urged the outgoing governor to respect the will of the people and do the needful. “Who is supposed to create the interface? Is it not the present government? He should be the one to accept defeat and the will of God and the wish of the people,” he said.