Rumbles in Imo, Ogun over out-going governor’s last-minute transactions

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Perhaps more than in any other states, last-minute activities of the out-going governors in Imo and Ogun states, have elicited controversy, reports Associate Editor, Sam Egburonu

ALTHOUGH they would be concluding their eight year’s tenures by May 28, 2019, barely a month and some days from today, governors Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State are in the news for initiating new projects, awarding new contracts or making major appointments.

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As would be expected, though the direct beneficiaries of such employments, appointments or contracts and their relations and well-wishers are understandably celebrating and heaping encomiums on the out-going governors for remembering them at last, others, especially those who consider the last-minute contracts, establishments or appointments as mere traps for the incoming administrations, are kicking and warning that the out- going governors should stop creating problems for the new governments and the states deliberately.

In Imo, the grumbles started soon after it was learnt that Okorocha, who had only few weeks to leave the seat of government, has inaugurated a six-man committee, led by Prof. Chima Iwuchukwu, to see to the implementation of six new universities, colleges of education and polytechnics in the state. The proposed new schools include: Aboh Ngor University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences; University of Agriculture and Developmental Science, Umuagwo; University of Science and Technology, Onuimo; University of Creative Technology, Isiaku-Nkwerre; University of Medical Science, Ogboko, Ideato South; Marine University, Oguta; College of Health Technology; Mbonu Ojike Polytechnic, Arondizuogu; and Bishop Shanahan Polytechnic, Ahiara Mbaise.

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One of the people that have kicked against the move is Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, the Governor-Elect in Imo. Ihedioha reportedly wrote to the National Universities Commission (NUC) not to honour the approval of more universities in the state.

Reacting, Okorocha said the Imo State House of Assembly backed the committee’s inauguration with a law.

He explained that his action can be compared to a similar move in Ogun State that led to the establishment of about 15 universities. According to him, the establishment of these universities in Ogun has enhanced admission opportunities and job placements in the Southwest state. He therefore reasoned that the establishment of the new universities in the state will enhance university admission in Imo and offer greater opportunities to the youths.

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“With these institutions put in place, the dreams of our people would have been achieved. Education will remain the industry of Imo State. What we plan was to lure investors into Imo State. They will come and invest in our institutions, under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement to assist us in the full take-off of the universities.

“For those of you who are conversant with the history of Imo State, education is one of the viable industries in the state.

“When I came into office in 2011, I told Imo people that my top priority is education and I want to tell you that we have done a lot in this area.

“We have created six new universities, four polytechnics and two colleges of education. By the time they take off, this will accommodate thousands of our children who go outside the state in search of admission and in most cases, they do not get it. Now, the opportunity is here for them to take advantage of,” he said.

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Reacting to allegation that the idea of setting up six new universities few days before leaving office is a trap to put the in-coming administration into problem, Okorocha said, “Let me say that I am not setting any trap for the incoming administration either do I want the incoming government to fail with the setting up of these universities, polytechnics and colleges of education.

“The dream behind it is that our children who are the highest in seeking of university education in the whole of the federation will have more opportunities of having access to university education.

“Education and health sectors have received the highest attention in Imo state within the last eight years of my administration. The free education programme in the state has reduced crimes in the state. Children are no longer hawking; they are now in schools because there is free education in the state.

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“Nobody has any reason not to continue with the free education, which I introduced. Education is our culture and it is the main stay of our lives in Imo State. It has drastically increased literacy level in the state. Children of the poor now have unlimited access to quality education up to university level.”

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He also denied claims that its funding will put a strain on the finances of the state when he said “the schools will be managed under Public Private Partnership arrangement.”

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Similar controversy erupted in Ogun State when Governor Ibikunle Amosun, less than two months to the end of his tenure, approved the appointment of 18 new permanent secretaries from the state civil service.

Lanre Bisiriyu, the state’s Head of Service, who made the announcement in a press statement dated April 9, said the new appointees are Mosuro Olatunbosun, Bajela Abayomi, Abosede Ogunleye, Olufunke Ogunremi, Odulana Dolapo, Olanrewaju Saka, Olaleye Alao and Adebiyi Ayinla.

The others, he said are Idowu Olubunmi, Awere Abiodun, Olukoga Olumuyiwa, Adewunmi Olufemi, Oladeinde Olufunmilayo, Ogunlana Fatai, Lanre -Iyanda Olusegun, Olabimtan Akande, Aboaba Ishola and Oresanya Yetunde.

At the same time, the governor also approved the appointments of Oludiji Akinhanmi and Festus Kehinde as the General Managers of Ogun State Broadcasting Corporation (OGBC) and Ogun State Television (OGTV) respectively.

As would be expected, Amosun has been under fire since then as observers and critical stakeholders wonder why he had to wait until now to make such important appointments and how expects the in-coming administration to relate with the new appointees.

One of the popular lawyers that have spoken to newsmen on the futility of such appointments and contracts is Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN). He was quoted recently as saying “the outgoing governors should bear in mind that the incoming governors reserve the right not to confirm the appointments being made and contracts awarded. According to him, those who are being employed now will be under probation by the time the new government will come in and they stand to lose their employment depending on the findings of the new government concerning their engagement. He said: “They should know that the new government has the right not to confirm the appointment of those under probations. When governor Rocha’s Okorocha came into power, he sacked about 10,000 workers. It is clear now that the appointments being made and the contracts being awarded are out of malice. ”They should also know that a searchlight is being beamed on them by anti-graft agencies. The whole thing is about malice and intended to create problems for the new administration,” he stated.

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Not all lawyers and politicians see it the same way. Sunday Mbaku, a lawyer in Imo State, told The Nation that there is nothing wrong for Okorocha, Amosu or any other out-going governor to do their statutory duty until the last day of their four year tenure, adding, “A good project is a good project no matter how late it is awarded. My advice to the in-coming governors is to look at the appointments, contracts and recruitments objectively and act accordingly.”

He also said: “An elected governor has four-year tenure. He is expected to work as a governor all through the tenure and not to stop working after a new governor-elect emerges. So, in the eyes of the law, until May 29, every executive function performed by these governors are legitimate. But if after their tenure the new administration finds genuine reason not to continue with any of the decisions, it is free to follow the laid down legal processes to quash such actions.”

The concern over the last minutes actions of the out-going governors is not limited to Ogun and Imo states.

Other states where such concerns have been raised recently include Adamawa, Bauchi and Oyo. While blaming the out-going governors for delaying some of the controversial actions until the tail end of their tenure, observers said the in-coming governments must first assess the genuineness of the action before cancelling them in the interest of the state.

THE NATION

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