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Hijaab In Kwara: Bad News Doesn’t Get Better With Time – By Rafiu Ajakaye

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_Bad news doesn’t get better with time_ is an expression from the famous Black American five star General Colin Powell’s book _It Worked For Me._ In the opinion of Powell, a problem (challenge) will not disappear by anyone simply ignoring, abandoning or pretending it does not exist. He feels that challenges, however unpleasant and tough, are better confronted and dealt with, with everyone first admitting it exists and taking steps to solving it. He feels that anything short of it amounts to kicking the can down the road. This quote fits the hijaab controversy in Kwara State and it (also) explains the unpleasant yet a no-or-yes choices before the government. The first choice is to feign ignorance of the pent-up anger in the Muslim community about the refusal to let their girl-child wear the hijaab in public schools and the attendant humiliation the girls face each time they made such attempts. The second is to take a position to allow the girls to wear their hijaab (and possibly regulate same in such schools) in compliance with Section 38 of the Constitution, which speaks to her right to freedom of religion and her freedom to manifest same. This section has repeatedly been interpreted by the Court of Appeal in favour of the Muslim schoolgirl. Either of the two has implications for the polity as Kwara has seen.

About four weeks ago, a video footage emerged showing a Muslim schoolgirl at St. Barnabas College Ilorin alighting from a motorcycle and quickly removing her hijaab and tucking same in her school bag. The bike man who took her there asked why she did so and the student said she is not allowed to wear the hijaab within the school compound. The bike man goaded the girl to wear her hijaab. The poor girl hearkened to the voice of the okada man and entered the school with her hijaab. True to her fears, a teacher ordered her to remove it, and there started a shouting match (between the bike man and the teacher). The domino effect of the St. Barnabas incident was quickly felt in far-away Baptist School in Surulere suburb of Ilorin. At the Baptist School, the Muslims in their hundreds said they have had enough of ‘this humiliation’ and the Christians insisted there was not going to be hijaab. Both sides stood their grounds. Tension was at fever pitch. Bloodshed was imminent. Myself, the Permanent Secretary (Education), and the two Special Assistants to the Governor on Religion (Islam and Christians) had a hard time convincing the Muslims to vacate the entrance of the Baptist College. They finally left with a condition: these schools will not open unless their children are allowed to use their hijaab as had been proclaimed by the court. Those who questioned government’s decision to shut down those schools a few weeks ago clearly missed this point or were playing cheap politics with a serious matter of state.

St. Barnabas and Baptist School are two of the schools acquired through the Yakubu Gowon Decree of 1974 and run by the state government. They have the same antecedents as the Ansarul Islam Secondary School Ilorin. Both had their roots in faith-based organisations. However, both, like others in their categories, are categorised as public schools and are subject to the laws of Kwara State. Per the judgments of the two courts of record, their names do not, in the law of Kwara State, suggest ownership. Rather, the names keep the fond memories of their founders. So the education law of Kwara State makes them (public schools) pluralistic in nature, mandated to admit students and have teachers from various backgrounds. They are ordinarily disallowed from having discriminatory rules. Their teachers are recruited, promoted, disciplined, and paid pensions and gratuities by the government. Yet these schools had certain rules that are deemed inconsistent with the law, fuelling resentments and pent-up anger as the two incidents above typified. One of those (informal) rules dating back to 2008 is the one implicitly banning hijaab. A major takeaway in the Lagos hijaab judgment was the position of the judges (including three Christians) that no government rules or circular shall supersede the provisions of the Nigerian constitutions.

There are several theories about the intention of the unidentified bike man who stoke the fire at St. Barnabas. However, his action, the reaction of the teacher at the school, and the reverberating effects it had elsewhere in Ilorin pointed at a town waiting to explode unless an official position is taken. This is especially important in the light of recent court judgments concerning the hijaab. A coterie of former government officials have gloated about how they smoothly managed the hijaab situation without a rancour. A few clarifications: as of 2008, the Christians had not gone to the court to seek return of ‘missionary schools’ and ask that court should disallow hijaab in the schools.

The Muslims, in principle, had no judgment to hang onto. In the case of former Governor Ahmed, there was a judgment of the High Court rejecting the position of the Christians on school ownership and declaring the hijaab as a fundamental human rights of the Muslim schoolgirl. The administration did nothing. It simply balked at the issue and postponed the evil day, of course fuelling anger. The matter went to the Appeal Court, which upheld the position of the lower court on school ownership and the hijaab right.

The Muslim community felt the administration was being unfair and irresponsible to deny their children the enforcement of the judgment of the Appeal Court. They cited the declaratory nature of the hijaab judgment and a need for the government to implement the law, particularly in the face of the developments at St. Barnabas and Baptist School.

Precedents across Nigeria do not favour government refusing to take a position on the hijaab question. Contentions about status quo on the question of hijaab have since been resolved in the Lagos case. Despite having a pending appeal at the Supreme Court, the Lagos government had since approved the use of the hijaab in all its schools in compliance with the 2016 judgment of the Court of Appeal. In a circular referenced ED/DISTVI/CCST/HI/14/I/63 and issued by Tutor-General O.A. Olukoya, the Lagos State Government graciously stated: ‘Since the case of the use of hijaab in Lagos is still pending in the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the status quo should be maintained to avoid contempt of court. That is, students should be allowed to wear hijaab on school uniforms.’ So those asking the government to maintain the status quo are invited to note what it means on the hijaab.

The government is unhappy at the turn of events with tensions on both sides and our people almost having a go at one another. Nonetheless, the hijaab question had become a bad news that would never get better with time — and the recent tension has shown just that. Pretending it does not exist or it does not matter is simply postponing the evil day. The difficult decision of the administration to allow the hijaab for any willing Muslim girl child is a matter of law, human rights, diversity, personal choice, and mutual respect. Anything short of that is simply playing the ostrich. It is only a matter of time before the bubble bursts.

The reopening of the school on Wednesday was a necessity for our children not to miss out on the registration for the external West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). The deadline is Friday March 18, although the government has now written to the WAEC to grant it extension. This was made clear to all the stakeholders, with appeals made for them to consider the children.

Notwithstanding its two court victories on the ownership of the schools, the government has similarly acknowledged the request of the Christian leaders for a return of schools acquired in 1974. In the statement announcing approval of the hijaab for any willing Muslim schoolgirl, the government said it would set up a panel to consider the request alongside different models adopted elsewhere and then weigh same against Kwara peculiarities before a decision is reached. That option is sincerely still on the table and a win-win outcome is always within reach, while the government continues its peace talks with all the sides.

The hijaab decision was definitely not an easy one for the government to take. It was taken after weeks of peace talks, stakeholders’ meetings with all the sides, and daily consultations with religious and interest groups hosted by the Governor himself. This position was taken with the long-term interest of all of our people fully considered and to disallow a conflagration that will not discriminate between Christians and Muslims. This is why the government continues to appeal to every side to see the bigger picture and not fight over personal choice. And as far as this is concerned, there is no victor or vanquished.

Ajakaye is CPS to the Governor of Kwara State

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Osun’s maladministration: When will Dr. Deji Adeleke address that press conference? By Ismail Omipidan

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Ademola and Deji Adeleke

*Osun’s maladministration: When will Dr. Deji Adeleke address that press conference?*

*By Ismail Omipidan*

The popular saying, ‘Promises are like babies: easy to make, hard to deliver’ appears apt in situating the promise made in July last year by a business mogul and elder brother of current Osun Governor, Dr. Deji Adeleke, that he would be the first to address the press if his brother, Ademola Adeleke, derails in the administration of the state.

Ordinarily, if this unprovoked, unsolicited and solemn promise was made at any of the political gatherings, I probably would not have bothered to keep tab on it, let alone bring it to the knowledge of the public. But because it was made in an academic environment that does not tolerate frivolous claims, I feel duty bound to take Dr. Deji Adeleke to task on this matter. And if after today, he is unable to provide any credible and verifiable evidence as to why he is yet to address the press, I will never take him seriously again on any serious state matter.

I will also mobilise every right-thinking and discerning Osun citizen, every lover of liberty, democracy and free speech, every well wisher for Osun’s posterity, never to trust and believe Dr. Deji Adeleke again.

But if he decides to justify his criminal silence over the way Osun is currently being run and insist that the governor, his younger brother, is doing well, I would excuse him, since, like me, he is equally entitled to his opinion. I will only remind him that while comments are free, facts are indeed sacred.

To move forward, we must remind ourselves where we are coming from. It is time to think beyond party lines, and think Osun first, if indeed we are desirous of having a changed society.

I believe that it is not too late for Dr. Deji Adeleke to prevail on his brother to reconsider some of his administration’s bad policies and missteps that have become challenges to Osun and its people.

One of the challenges the State appears to be grappling with is the issue of Osun’s share of the Federal Government palliatives, which I addressed in my interview on Monday. After the interview went viral, instead of addressing the issues raised, the governor’s spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, and some of his media handlers resorted to personal attacks. In fact, one of them called me a foreigner, simply because I was born in Benue State and had to work in the north before I was invited by my Principal, Adegboyega Oyetola, to join his team in 2019. Well, I am proud of my birth place, just as I am equally proud of my Ila Orangun origin.

In the interview under reference, I queried why Osun remains the only State in the South West that has not allowed the FG palliatives to impact on the people of the State, including the workers.

Interestingly, it took them several months after pocketing the funds before they admitted that they even received any fund. At the “Ipade Imole” held last month, the governor disclosed that the N2billion palliative fund received from the Federal Government would be spent on three projects, namely the purchase of additional buses to complement the buses in the pool of the state, the rehabilitation of health centres in the state and the purchase of food items for distribution to the people of the state. The government made it emphatically clear that there would not be any addition to workers’ salaries.

But after my Monday interview, I was embarrassingly surprised to wake up to a circular this morning, signed by Sunday Olugbenga Fadele, a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Human Resources and Capacity Building. He revealed that workers in the service of the state would get a N15,000 wage award while pensioners would receive N10,000 and that the wage award will run for six months, beginning from the month of December. This is a welcome development and this is what we have been asking them to do since August this year.

However, I have a push back. Why give approval on November 28 and then set effective date in December? If the money is available, why the delay in disbursement? Again, at what point did the government change its mind? This is what I said about telling lies in public and political communications. For me, this latest summersault appears to vindicate my position on Monday that Osun workers are not smiling. I am sure they’ll wish for a better deal than what it is getting from the dancing and singing Governor, who unfortunately was not around on Monday to show the people of the state what he knows how to do best.

Well, as Osun citizens, whether you are for the PDP or APC, it is in our collective interest for the government to succeed. God forbid, if it fails, we will all pay dearly for it. Our state will pay for it and our children will never forgive Dr. Deji Adeleke and all those who collaborated to unleash an adult who had little or no working experience, on us in Osun to manage our affairs.

Osun must survive beyond APC and PDP, and we all must play our part if we truly want Osun to survive.

Omipidan writes from Abuja.

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Osun: Adeleke’s government and reign of unchecked impunity By Waheed Adekunle

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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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Wike, Fubara Imroglio – A Tale of Two Governors?

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Gov. Fubara and Wike

The recent face-off between ex-Governor Nyelson Wike and his god-son successor of Rivers State South-South Nigeria, Similayi Fubara, belies the Opaque condescending posture of a manipulated democratic governance in the country today, where Rulers exhibit an all is well attitude when everything about them is amiss. Governance as a result, is often reduced to a chess game of money sharing among gladiators in the corridors of power.

The political actors wield powers with least concern for the hapless citizens, trade their collective destiny for their comfort and those of few mindless oligarchs, their families and hangers on.
Rivers is on Keliglights as an oil-producing state, where power mongers deploy political muzzles for political ends. It is a story of “grab Rivers and possess the key to her vault”. This is why elections in Rivers State are acrimoniously contested among major political parties, and fuelled by god-fathers in ferenetic war of attrition and destruction.

The political crisis in the oil-rich state might not have been so worrisome but for the depth of rot exhibited by the two power contenders for control, with dire consequences on peace and well-being of Indigenes and residents of the State.
Ex-Governor Wike and his successor have by their utterances, and demeanors betrayed every sense of decorum, integrity and disposition to good governance.

The Ex-Governor was accused of demanding a monthly return of twenty five (25%) percent of the state internally generated revenue. Wike was accused of extending absolute dictatorship, (a hall-mark of his Administration) to the political governance of his successor. This is believed to have made the Executive, Legislative and Judicial operators to kowtow in subjugation to the Lord Mayor of Abuja.

The inference is that, Similayi Fubara is Governor of Rivers State in name. His, is the first worse case scenario of a Governor de-robed of real power, whose decisions are not his, and who is rail-roaded into appending his signatures on documents approved by Master Wike in Abuja.

Inspite of the proclivity of Nigeria’s democracy for absurdities made of it by its political godfathers, the public exposure of Ex-Governor Nyelson Wike’s Jugular hold on Rivers State for Eight (8) years and his penchant for its continuation in the Fubara Governorship makes nonsense of succession principle in democracy.

Similayi Fubara may go down in history as the worst lame-duck Governor, having condescended to rule under a shadowy god-father, who initiates and approves decisions on where funds appertaining to the state are funneled.

Speculations are rife that Rivers State Government was handed to Fubara after he agreed to sign certain documents which purportedly gave Wike the power to appoint key officers in the Executive arm, nominated virtually all members of the State Legislature, apart from Influencing appointments into ministries, parastatals and agencies of government.

Why did Similayi Fubara sign such documents? Is he not aware of its consequences? The attempt to question his god-father and the melee that ensued can thus be described as Fubara’s last ditch effort to save his job and political career. The same may be applicable to Nyelson Wike who is unwilling to brook any challenge to his authority or allow a mutilation of his political structure and dominance in Rivers State.

Rivers State is in the eyes of the world today unfortunately for wrong reasons. No thanks to the supremacy battle between a Governor who wants to truly govern and a god-father who wants to rule two states.

The control for the soul of Rivers State is a rehash of the 18th Century storming of the Bastilles, by Revolution insurgents, recruited from the ranks of ordinary, lowly-placed French Parisians.

The medieval armory fortress and political prison fell, after four (4hrs) hours of bloody fight that left ninety four (94) soldiers dead. The takeover of Bastille has become an enduring chapter in the history of the French Revolution and a symbol of resistance to absolutism and freedom for the oppressed.

Is Similayi Fubara attempting to replicate the 14th July, 1789 French history of resistance? Can he succeed? Subsequent developments will tell, but not until either of the two gladiators get each down.

Olusola Ajiboye,
A Creative Writer and Media Consultant based in Osogbo

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