Penultimate Sunday, Senator Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) was sworn-in as Governor of Osun State and he immediately hit the ground with some tough decisions.
Adeleke, who succeeded the former governor of the state, Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola, is from a very rich and influential political family in Osun State. His late father, Chief Raji Ayoola Adeleke, was a Nigerian politician, a labour activist and a senator in the Second Republic who represented Osun Senatorial District 11, comprising six local government areas —Ede, Osogbo, Irepodun, Ifelodun, Odo Otin, Ila Orangun – in the old Oyo State.
Also, the governor’s late senior brother, Senator Isiaka Adeleke (Serubawon) was the first Executive Governor of Osun State.
So observers in the state believe Governor Adeleke has a lot of political experience to lean on. In his acceptance speech, he acknowledged the enormous challenges and responsibilities ahead of him and promised to start working immediately with a deep sense of purpose to serve the people of Osun.
He said, “I promise that those expectations of the workers, traders, artisans, farmers, business owners, students, pensioners, traditional and religious leaders and indeed all residents of Osun State will be met by the grace of God and the cooperation of everyone.
“Under my watch as the Governor of Osun State, I will boldly correct all past injustice, corrupt acts or policies by any previous administration which are against the collective interest of our people.
“Your Governor will be a people’s Governor. I will be accessible, responsive, consultative and proactive in handling small and big matters of state governance.”
Looking at the task ahead in the area of education, he said, “It is disheartening to see our state at the bottom of the national educational ratings, especially in public primary and secondary schools examinations. My administration will reform the education sector with direct focus on the improvement of the learning environment and outcome. Our target is to reverse the poor performance of students in public examinations within the next few years.
“To achieve this target, we will prioritise in-service training and welfare of teachers, enhancement of school environment, entrenchment of discipline in the school system, as well as the involvement of the Parent-Teacher Association in our school system.
“Our administration will soon convene an emergency Education Conference to articulate our blueprint on the restoration of the state’s education glory.
“We regard as critical the need to boost wealth creation, job opportunities and food security through innovative agricultural reforms covering all the agricultural value chains.
“Aside the introduction of modern agricultural practices, we will shift attention to agriculture for export to take advantage of global markets.
“While we target agriculture export earnings, we will establish modern farmers’ markets where producers and off takers can transact businesses.
“In our desire to diversify Osun economy, my administration will target the tourism sector to boost our GDP and create new jobs”.
Adeleke said Osun State is in need of urgent health attention. “Our government will give premium attention to improvement of the Primary Health care services. We will improve the working conditions of health workers and expand the coverage of our health insurance scheme. We plan to establish a standard diagnostic centre using the Public Private Partnership model and adopt measures that will retain medical practitioners in Osun State,” he said.
He pledged that his administration would guarantee local government autonomy in line with the Nigerian Constitution, with a view to making the third tier of government more responsible to the people at the grassroots.
Although the governor’s proposition looked attractive, he immediately took some actions that seemed too hasty, which later triggered opposition from the Osun State House of Assembly.
Political observers believed it was too early for the governor to attract the wrath of members of the All Progressives Congress-dominated state assembly.
First he directed that a panel of inquiry be set up to probe last minute appointments and placements ordered by his predecessor, Adegboyega Oyetola. He also ordered a reversal of the state nomenclature from ‘State of Osun’ to Osun State and froze all state bank accounts with immediate effect.
It would be recalled that former Governor and current Minister of Interior, Engr. Rauf Aregbesola in 2011 changed the state’s name to State of Osun and changed its slogan from ‘State of the Living Spring’ to ‘State of the Virtue.’
However, Adeleke in his inaugural speech said that all injustice perpetrated by his predecessor would be corrected.
He said, “I, hereby, issue the following directives which will be backed up with appropriate Executive orders: Immediate freezing of all government accounts in banks and other financial institutions; an immediate reversal to the constitutionally recognised name of our state, Osun State. All government insignia, correspondences and signages should henceforth reflect Osun State rather than State of Osun, which is unknown to the Nigerian Constitution.”
Also, the governor ordered the establishment of a panel of inquiry to study and review appointments and placements of his predecessor from July 17, 2022 till date.
He said that Oyetola maliciously started putting road blocks to make things difficult and almost impossible for the new administration to serve.
“Mass employment was carried out without budgetary provisions for salary payments for the new employees, even when the state was struggling to pay salaries and deliver other services. Various hurried and criminally backdated contracts were awarded and again without budgetary provisions.
“Appointments of several Obas were hurriedly done without following due process, just to mention a few.
“All efforts to get the governor set up a Transition Committee and submit hand-over notes in line with best practices proved abortive.
“It is, therefore, my desire to ask for your patience and understanding to give my administration a few weeks to review and sort out all the actions and malicious confusion which the immediate past administration has created since July 17, 2022. Those actions were indeed vindictive measures against the people of Osun State for voting them out of office.
“Immediate establishment of a panel to carry out an inventory and recover all government assets; An immediate establishment of a panel to review all appointments and major decisions of the immediate past administration taken after the 17th July, 2022.”
He said the appointment and employment made by the Adegboyega Oyetola administration would be reviewed to ensure legality and due process, stressing that nobody had been sacked, the executive order was misquoted.
However, in its response, the Osun State House of Assembly said it rejected the contents of the Executive Orders signed by the new helmsman.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Publicity, Moshood Akande.
The assembly insisted that the state anthem, crest and flag were all backed by law, adding that their usage remains a matter of law and not optional.
The statement read, “The State of Osun House of Assembly having reviewed the inaugural speech of the governor and the activities of the inauguration hereby resolves as follows:
“The usage of the state anthem, crest and flag is an enactment of law and as such, its usage is a matter of law and not choice.
The enactment ‘State of Osun Anthem, Crest and Flag Law, 2012’ assented to on the 18th of December, 2012 contained in Schedule 1, Il, Ill, IV and V, which carefully details every component of this law is not in ambiguity.
“Schedule I is the State Anthem, Schedule I has to do with the state Crest, Schedule III is the symbolic significance of the symbolic significance of the element in the flag. Lastly, while we are aware of a court judgment in effect recognizing “Osun State”, the Assembly, pending the determination and exhaustion of all legal means, would not be drawn into this matter.
“However, the state shall and will continue to be described as the State of the Virtuous (Ipinle Omoluabi).”
The task before Adeleke now is how to navigate the state without incurring the wrath of the state assembly. The House, as presently constituted, has 23 APC members and three PDP members.
The APC governorship candidate, Oyetola, is already at the Election Petition Tribunal contesting the result of the last governorship election.
This will still give the APC members in the House the hope that the party may still reclaim the state from the PDP.
To avoid a logjam, Adeleke must use wisdom to court the favour of the House and not the wrath.
The governor’s attempt to rename the state may also anger Aregbesola’s supporters whose support contributed to Adeleke’s victory in the last governorship election.
“Adeleke needs to be cautious of the peculiarity of the situation on ground and he should take his steps slowly and carefully so as not to plunge the state into chaos”, a political commentator in the state, Alao Abdulkareem, warned while speaking with THEWILL.