The Guardian Nigeria

Tuesday 31 March 2015

‘Appointments, a burden to running government’

  • By Akinlolu Oluwamuyiwa on January 26, 2015

Aregbesola

Governor Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola, sworn-in last November for a second term in office, explains to Abiodun Fanoro his administration’s roadmap for the next fours and why he is yet to appoint his commissioners and other government functionaries expected to assist him in office. 

YOU started your first term in an un-usual manner as a sole administrator because, for one year, you did not appoint commissioners; again, you have not constituted your new cabinet. Isn’t history repeating itself?

  Let me start by making some clarifications. I can’t see why our actions could cause a contradiction in term and how an elected Chief Executive Officer could be regarded as an administrator. 

  You are more or less ridiculing democracy and the adopted system of government — that we are here as administrators. It is easy for people to make sweeping statement that has no meaning in reality of the government system we have adopted.  

  Nigeria runs an executive system of government, and the arms of government are clear. We have three arms of government – the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature. 

  So, in the case of the governor, once elected, all the others working with him, apart from his deputy who is equally elected along with him, are just his aides.  That is a convention though constitutionally provided for — that there should be aides to the governor, like commissioners and advisers and others.  

  Let’s look at what the Constitution says so that we get fully informed on what we are talking about. I don’t agree with the word “administrator,” there is nothing so-called. 

  A governor, once elected, is not under the control of anybody. However, to clarify issues, an administration ends in all its forms at the expiration of the tenure. My first tenure ends midnight, November 26, 2014, and all the officers appointed for the tenure, ipso facto end with it. 

  I don’t, therefore, see what is strange in what we have done. It is very much in order and I am at liberty to decide when to constitute the cabinet. 

  Finally, we have said this, the umpteenth time, that some vital reasons informed the delay in the composition of the cabinet in the first tenure; key among those factors was the need to conserve money for the government to take off. 

  It is clear that appointments bring burden on any government; so, at any particular point in time, the fewer the number of those who are in government, the lower the cost of running the government. 

  I am usually amazed when issues come on and on as if we had not made sufficient explanation on how and why we resorted to delay in appointment of commissioners. 

The Office of the Governor is being ridiculed by our query. But since your second coming coincides with the crash in the international price of crude oil and the sliding value of the Naira, there is certainly the need to conserve funds… 

  I quite agree with you and I will try to explain it. Let’s face it; I don’t say you are wrong in this perception that we have persistently explained the issues of the delay for the appointment of our commissioners and to that extent, I want to believe that the resources available to any administration determine what such an administration does with appointments, assignment of responsibilities, programmes, policies and projects the administration will undertake. 

  So, I didn’t want to repeat the fact that we were compelled by circumstances that required strict control of expenditure and that informed our decision to hold back on the formation of the Executive Council. 

  Whereas, the Constitution provides for those offices, as I said, the time lag was not given and we must not carry on with the old consciousness about cabinet formation. 

  You know Nigeria began after Independence, democratic and civilised Western style of administration and democratic governance with parliamentary system of government. 

  In parliamentary system of government, there is no choice about it; there are two arms of the government legitimately because the other arm is a subset arm of government. The rest derives its power from the House (The Parliament) and therefore a subset of the House.

  The people who are executives in the British Parliamentary system of government are equally parliamentarians and there is no way they can be cabinet members if they are not parliamentarians. 

  In that case, a simple party majority in parliament, which is the only basis for forming a cabinet, cannot form government; otherwise, it’s always a cabinet of parties. 

  In the case of the Presidential System of government, once a governor is elected, the Constitution says: there shall be such offices of Commissioners to be established by the Governor of a State.  

  There is no timeline; the whole provision of the Constitution on the appointment of commissioners does not put a time-line there. A government is formed with the governor in place because the governor is elected by the sovereignty of the people and he carries the executive power. 

  His forming a government has nothing to do with cabinet, as it is with parliamentary form of government where, without your majority in the House, you cannot form a government. 

  I don’t want to make any reference that may appear as if one is doing something that is unusual or taking it too far. But the truth is we must not confuse the two forms of government. 

  We have three forms of government; we have the British Parliamentary system, we have the French system, which combines both the Executive and Parliamentary, and the American system, which separates the powers of the Executive from other arms — Judiciary and Legislature. 

  Once a government is elected and the governor is sworn into office, he assumes the total power to appoint all other assistants, but they are at his discretion.

  This provision is such that yes, commissioners are allowed and the offices must be created; it does not say the government cannot be constituted or function without the commissioners. 

WHAT is the road map for your second term in office? We are continuing with our programmes, policies and projects even though several of our projects have been completed. Some are still ongoing; we will pursue the ones that are ongoing while some other vital programmes and projects would be initiated.    

  What is key is that we are passionate about the working and living condition of our people. We believe we owe our people that duty of care, to ensure that they live well in a situation befitting of human beings in the 21st Century and equally work under that condition, as well as recreate themselves in a befitting environment; that is non-negotiable. 

  We will use the resources of the state to offer freedom, liberty and better life. Those are key objectives of our administration. 

  If you look at our 6-Point Action Plan, they are encompassing and are related: We promise to banish hunger, poverty; we are vigorously pursuing those two with the three-schemes we have. 

  There is the OYES programme, which is a strategic tool that is eliminating and reducing unemployment among the youths.  

  You have OREAP — Osun Rural Enterprises Agricultural Project — aimed at meeting the needs of the farmers; those who are genuinely involved in food production; they are given input and any such other support that will enhance their yield and support their effort thus, guaranteeing bumper harvest, which will translate into economic empowerment for the farmers, as well as the state because it is symbiotic. 

  A successful farmer, with encouragement and persuasion, will be a vital instrument and source of revenue to the state. These are policies, projects and programmes we are pursuing. 

  Talking about our OMEAL project, i.e., the school feeding programme we have, it’s so beneficial. On itself, it helps in meeting the nutritional needs of the children, building their physical bodies and improving their mental condition. 

  Beyond the obvious benefits to the children is the fact that a major boost of the economy is equally guaranteed. Now, everything we use, except when the capacity of the state cannot cope, is from our state, more so from the communities where the schools are located. 

  If we can adopt this model in Nigeria, I believe Boko Haram would be a thing of the past and Nigeria would be self-sufficient in food production, and food importation would be drastically reduced. 

What challenges do the slide in Naira and crash in oil price pose to you in the area of seeking alternative sources of revenue? 

  I have just told you that the OMEAL programme is not only to meet the nutritional needs of students, especially at that level; it is equally a great economic booster because farmers, who produce the food items daily consume by these pupils already have the market waiting for them.

  Like the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo days (in Western Nigeria), there must be an alternative to oil. Oil is losing its glamour in the world. There is now the Shale oil in America. 

  What I am saying is that yes, I will intensify my effort in backward integration, i.e., ensuring that we reduce dependence on imported food. With that, a lot of our foreign income will not only be conserved but be utilised for priority items. 

The opposition says your contractors have moved from sites, and you have abandoned projects here and there, isn’t it so?

  Let’s wait and see. I don’t think they have found anything to discredit us since they came into being raising one falsehood or the other to castigate us. 

  Don’t forget that they have constituted themselves into powers and principalities targeting at destroying us. We will survive it; we will survive their trauma, their persecution and harassment because God and the people are on our side.

  I pity them because they are ignorant; they don’t have an idea of what governance is all about, what effective projects mean; otherwise, Nigeria will not be in this sorry state where people take over power since 1999 and we are retrogressing. 

The country appears to be nose-diving and reeling in scandals and impunities. What is going on?

  Yes, I cannot dispute your claim. Definitely, something must be wrong with the style of the PDP administration. But the question we must ask is, what should be the reward of failure? The question we must ask is, does failure require the repetition of the factors that led to the failure? 

  The Peoples Democratic Party has not demonstrated any capacity to manage the affairs of the country. It is that failure that informed the formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC). 

  Don’t forget that the APC is the first of its type in our country. It is only the APC that invested energy, resources and time to having effective government at the state and regional levels. 

  It is this commitment that has informed our total rejection of the PDP as a party with the capacity to effectively manage our destiny. 

In the light of what is happening in the country, as regards preparations for election, do you foresee a successful exercise? 

  It is my wish that elections hold successfully in this year, and through it, we will transit to another party to govern the entire nation. 

  I am so committed to seeing that happen in our clime, and we are very expectant of a new dawn for Nigerians. 

  It is only for that; I do not entertain any fear on the prospect of a successful election and a peaceful nation.