In January 2009, days before President-elect of the United States of America, Barack Obama, was due to take office as his country’s 44th president, he dashed the hopes of fellow party men by expressing a reluctance to probe the programmes of the outgoing president, George W. Bush. Obama won the presidential election, in part, by taking an anti-war stance at a time when the war in Iraq had become unpopular, with questions about the use of torture and other disturbing tactics used by the Bush presidency. Obama’s logic was that probing the war would end up consuming his presidency, telling the media the country needed to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.
In Nigeria, it has almost become a culture to dig into the past and expose all the ills of a previous administration. This betrays the absence of a sense of purpose in an incoming administration. This culture goes all the way back to 1999 when President Olusegun Obasanjo was elected president and set up the Oputa Panel to look into infractions in the preceding military regimes. The effort only served to distract and entertain Nigerians.
Senator Ademola Adeleke of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was on Sunday, November 27, 2022 sworn in as the sixth elected governor of Osun State. Almost immediately, his focus was on targeting every policy, programme of action of his predecessor, Isiaka Oyetola.
Adeleke effectively cancelled all appointments, placements and other major decisions taken by Oyetola’s administration from July 17, the day after the governorship election in the state.
In Executive Orders 3, 4, and 5, the new governor announced the nullification of employments and appointments made by former Governor Oyetola from July 17, 2022, till his inauguration, including the dethronement of three monarchs appointed by the past administration. Part of the order reads, “All appointments in the service of Osun State Government made in any capacity into any capacity in the ministries, departments, agencies, commissions, boards, and parastatals after July 17, 2022, are hereby reversed.
“All appointments of traditional rulers made by Osun State Government after July 17, 2022, are hereby ordered to be reviewed to ensure there was strict compliance with due process of chieftaincy declarations and native law, custom, and tradition relating to such chieftaincies. In the case of Ikirun, Iree, and Igbajo, to avoid further breakdown of law and order, the appointments of Akinrun of Ikinrun, Aree of Ire, and Owa of Igbajo are hereby put on hold pending review.”
Adeleke has presented all the actions of the previous government after losing the July election as booby-traps aimed at imperiling his administration financially. The actions of the previous governor could very well be a set-up, knowing that the dashed hopes of employment of 12,000 citizens of the state and their dependents would create bad blood between the new governor and the people. And even in the most peaceful of states, removing a monarch from office is a political tinderbox.
Spokesman to the governor, Olawale Rasheed, has clarified that no worker has actually sacked. Rather, he said, the appointments and employments lately made by the Oyetola administration would be reviewed to ensure they are in line with legality and due process.
The governor might need reminding that Oyetola is still a political threat and has ambitions of ruling Osun State again. We believe the governor should not play into the hands of political rivals by taking positions that are unpopular and earn sympathy for the opposition. The task at hand should be lifting millions of citizens of the state out of poverty and meeting their most basic needs. Adeleke himself said it best in his inaugural speech. He said, “I know that, as a product of the collective will of you, my people, there is a heavy weight of history on my shoulders and I accept the urgency of your expectations. The depth of your aspirations and your conviction in me to build a better state will not be misplaced.”
It would, however, be unwise for the governor to lose sight of these goals and embark on a witch-hunt that would distract him and inadvertently endear his predecessor to the good people of Osun.