They both travelled a hard road to finally arrive the government house of their respective states. Rauf Aregbesola’s travail was more traumatic, however. He battled in the election petition tribunals and the court of appeal for over three years to retrieve his stolen mandate in Osun State. Ibikunle Amosun’s petition contesting the victory of Gbenga Daniel in the Ogun State governorship election of 2007 was decided much earlier. He lost and perhaps that allowed him enough time to prepare for the last April election for the same office. He defeated his opponents with a wide margin. These two governors, who belong to the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, have been making the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Amosun’s faux pas started even before he was sworn in. While Daniel was yet to hand over to him, he was already taking steps akin to freezing Ogun State’s bank accounts. The banks largely ignored him, which of course should be the case. At that point in time as far as governance was concerned in the state he had no locus standi. On the day he took the oath of office, he renamed the state’s broadcasting service without following due process. The National Broadcasting Commission issued a very strong statement calling his attention to the blunder. It advised him to retrace the step or the corporation’s licence would be withdrawn.
Now, when Nigerians who use the dilapidated Lagos/Ibadan Expressway were about heaving a sigh of relief with the 60-day ultimatum given by the federal government to Bi-Courtney, the contractor handling the road, Amosun is throwing a spanner in the works. His government has decided to confiscate an expanse of land, the site of the asphalt plant meant for the reconstruction of the road. This is against the backdrop that Bi-Courtney got the nod of Amosun’s predecessor in office. Yusuph Olaniyonu, the state’s commissioner for information, confirmed that much in a press release. So what is Amosun’s grouse? If a dilapidated road, 80 per cent of which passes through his state, is about to be fixed, one thinks he should sing halleluyah. His excuse that the state wants to use the land in question as a tanker park holds no water. How much use has been made of a similar park in Ogere? The governor should look elsewhere for his new park and let Bi-Courtney get on with its business. Nigerians have suffered on this road for too long.
That brings us to the Osun State governor. Nine months after Aregbesola took the oath of office, he is still running his state like a sole administrator. His handicap in his first few months was understandable. He had a hostile House of Assembly to contend with, that House was dominated by the Peoples Democratic Party. The political equation has changed, however, since May 29. All the 26 seats in the state assembly now belong to the ACN. This is the third month since the new assembly began sitting, the Osun people are still waiting for their commissioners. There has been some puerile argument in favour of Aregbesola to the effect that he is at liberty to pick commissioners when the spirit finally directs him. Yet, governors of other AC-controlled states who assumed office several months after Aregbesola was sworn in have already formed their own cabinets. No matter how good and hard working a governor may be, there is no way he can single-handedly run his state. This is a democracy. Aregbesola should live by the spirit of the constitution.
Jonathan’s Single-Term Bomb
President Goodluck Jonathan has pulled the tiger by the tail. A release from the presidency last Tuesday has, for once, in recent weeks forced the menace of Boko Haram off the front-burner of national discourse. Jonathan, in the release by Reuben Abati, special adviser, media, is about sending an Executive Bill to the National Assembly on a single-term presidency of six years. The curious thing is that by the time that statement was issued, the President had not tabled the matter before the National Executive Committee of his party, the PDP. As expected, the proposal has attracted heavy knocks from the opposition. They view it as tenure elongation by other means. For a government that is just entering the third month of its life, is this not an unnecessary distraction. Jonathan’s assurance that he will not be a beneficiary of the new single term does not impress many people. This was a President who threw the zoning formula of his party into the trashcan. So how can anyone trust him after that experience?
Yet, the single-term idea had been incubating for a while. That is even before the last presidential election. Many northern politicians who refused to support Jonathan’s candidacy had wanted an assurance in writing that he will vacate Aso Rock in 2015. It is said that he refused to commit himself. Now some of them are already shouting that the President’s hidden agenda is gradually coming into the open. There is no doubt that Jonathan is entitled to his ambition. But at what cost? Now that he has drawn the battle line, seeing the bill through the National Assembly may be the only job he may be doing for the next several months.
Those who take with a pinch of salt Jonathan’s professed altruism have a point. Africa is replete with sit-tight dictators, who have turned the leadership of their countries into a family inheritance. Embattled Muammar Gaddaffi has been in power for over 40 years in Libya; Robert Mugabe came to power in Zimbabwe in 1980; and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni has been on the throne since 1976. While some of the reasons the President gave for proposing this bill may be tenable, Nigerians would have loved an Executive Bill that would seek to create emergency jobs for millions of unemployed youths. Unemployment is a bigger time-bomb than the single-term presidency!