Last-minute contract awards and other actions being taken by some incumbent governors, who are expected to vacate office by May 29, are creating concerns in the affected states, Daily Trust on Sunday reports.
While returning governors and freshly elected ones promised better deals to citizens when they recently received their certificates of return, there are fears that incoming chief executives would inherit huge contractual liabilities from their predecessors.
In Benue State, for instance, the recent disclosure by Governor Samuel Ortom outgoing administration that it has secured approval licence from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authorities (NCAA) to construct a Civil Aviation Airport in Makurdi, the state capital, has raised questions.
The Commissioner of Information, Tourism and Culture in the state, Mike Inalegwu, made the disclosure at the Government House in Makurdi while briefing journalists at the end of the State Executive Council meeting.
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Inalegwu said the foundation laying ceremony for the airport had been scheduled for this week at Kura village, along Naka road, about 12 kilometres away from Makurdi metropolis.
“The next administration can equally continue with the project, but the good news is that this administration pressed for the approval of this airport and got it,” Inalegwu said.
Similarly, the Ortom government recently announced the employment of 2,000 teachers. The administration had been accused of non-payment of workers’ salaries running into months.
There were also allegations by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue State that the governor planned to appoint new permanent secretaries and give accelerated promotions to selected individuals of interest in the state civil service.
Daniel Ihomun, the state publicity secretary of the APC, who raised the alarm in a statement, alleged that the selected individuals, who are cronies of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration, would be strategically placed in selected ministries, with the intention to constitute impediments to the incoming administration.
Ihomun warned that the APC would not fold its hands on such matters, urging those whose names have been pencilled down for the alleged ill-appointments, promotions and placement to reject the Greek-gifts from the Ortom-led administration.
“We would like to advise that those who refuse to heed to this warning and take up such appointments will be treated as saboteurs and enemies of Benue people,” the APC stated.
However, Ortom’s chief press secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, in reaction said, “The governor’s tenure runs up to 11:59pm of May 29. So, he has the right to appoint any person until that day; therefore, the issue of making last-minute appointments does not arise at all.”
Reacting, Barrister Obinna Onya said the tenure of an elected executive in Nigeria begins to run from May 29, therefore, the tenure of the holder of the office shall lapse on midnight of May 28.
Abba Gida-Gida battles Ganduje with advisories
In Kano State, the government and the incoming administration of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) have continued to trade words over what the latter described as moves being taken by the former that may be inimical to policies.
Recall that the governor-elect, Abba Kabir Yusuf, had issued two public advisories in the last week, first asking all property developers to halt whatever development they may be doing on public properties like schools, places of worship, markets and traditional heritage. In his second advisory, he advised lenders not to give the state government any new loan unless such was cleared by him.
But the state government had chastised the governor-elect’s advisories, describing them as unconstitutional, and urged him to wait until he is sworn in on May 29.
However, on Friday, the transition committee set up by the incoming administration issued another advisory, this time to all local government chairmen, advising them to desist from the alleged round tripping of public funds between their councils and the state Ministry for Local Governments.
“We advise them not to allow themselves to be used again as conduits for siphoning public funds to finance the forthcoming supplementary elections in some states and federal constituencies. We further advise them to operate strictly in accordance with all the relevant financial regulations and extant guidelines,” the advisory stated.
Reacting, however, the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) urged the chairman of Kano State NNPP Gubernatorial Transition Committee to desist from heating up the polity and creating unnecessary tension in the state by issuing advisories that can lead to chaos.
The Kano State ALGON chairman, Bappa Muhammad, made the call in a statement on Friday, in reaction to allegations against local government chairmen in the state on round-tripping of public funds.
In Sokoto, Tambuwal approves N7bn contract variations
Although there are no appointments made by the outgoing governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal after the general elections, he has approved the variation of contracts amounting to over N7billion.
After a State Executive Council meeting, the state government said they approved the sum as variation claims for some of the ongoing projects in the state.
The Commissioner for Health, Alhaji Lema Abubakar, said the sum of N4.2billion was approved for variation claim in respect to the ongoing construction of the Sokoto State University Teaching Hospital. The initial contract sum was N14.4bn. With the variation, the total contract sum now stands at N18.6bn.
Similarly, Abubakar said the sum of N1.28bn was approved for the variation claim on the ongoing construction of the Premier Hospital, Tambuwal. The initial contract sum was N2.7bn, bringing the current cost to N4bn.
The commissioner also revealed that the sum of N990 million had been approved as a variation of the ongoing Premier Hospital, Binji, raising the total cost from N2.7bn to N3.7bn.
He said the variations were imperative due to increase in the prices of items required for its completion, stressing that the project had reached an advanced stage for completion.
Also, the Commissioner for Youths and Sports Development, Bashir Gidado, said the sum of N1bn was approved as variation for the completion of additional work at the ongoing Sokoto new stadium project.
He said the variation was due to the recommendations made by the minister of sports, Sunday Dare, when he visited the state and inspected the project.
LP kicks over Ikpeazu’s last-minute appointments
In Abia State, the last-minute activities of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu have continued to generate reactions, especially from the governor-elect, Dr Alex Otti.
After his defeat at the poll, Ikpeazu began by reconstituting the Governing Council of the Abia State College of Health Science and Management Technology, Aba, with Eme Okoro, the immediate past secretary to the state government (SSG) named the chairman.
Similarly, Ikpeazu reconstituted the Abia State Civil Service Commission with Dr Mrs Elizabeth Esochaghi as chairman, while also confirming the appointment of Associate Professor,Haglar Okorie as the substantive rector of Abia State Polytechnic, Aba.
Consequently, the Labour Party has accused the governor of “employment racketeering,” alleging that some agents of the state government and some civil servants were engaged in the deal.
The party, in a statement, described the so-called employments into the civil service as illegal, saying they have evidence of the state giving out employment letters and back-dating them.
But in a response to these allegations, Governor Ikpeazu said he was not aware of any form of employment racketeering into the Abia State public service.
Ikpeazu said it was important to remind the governor-elect that there is a government fully in place with executive powers to run the affairs of the state.
“It is absolutely preposterous and outright anachronistic for the governor-elect to use the word, illegal to describe the activities of a government that is legitimately in office.
Assuming, though by no means conceding that the state government offered employment to Abians, what is illegal about it?” he queried.
He said Dr Otti should also be reminded that every governor-elect is a potential former governor, saying, “At most, and if God permits , he will spend eight years in office, and while still in office, his successor will be elected too.”
Appointment of judges raises dust in Plateau
In Plateau State, Governor Simon Lalong, last Tuesday swore in five new judges of the State High Court and a judge of the State Customary Court of Appeal.
He said he wants to leave behind a robust and vibrant Judiciary capable of meeting the needs of the people for justice delivery.
Commenting on this, the director of North Central Zone of Civil Liberty Organizations (CLO), Steve Aluko, questioned why Lalong should leave such a vital appointment until his last moments in office after serving for eight years.
He said as a lawyer himself and someone who has been in the saddle for eight years, he should have known better than to do this earlier than now.
Actions politically, morally wrong — Prof Fagge
Speaking on this, a renowned political scientist, Professor Kamilu Sani Fagge, said intrigues had been part of Nigeria’s political history.
He said it was politically and morally wrong for outgoing governments in various states to be making moves that could put incoming administrations in a dilemma.
Professor Fagge of the Bayero University, Kano (BUK), added that unfortunately, “the outgoing administrations are not punishing the incoming ones as some may want to paint it, but citizens in the state who voted for the incoming administrations are the ones being punished.” He argued that it is the collective fortune of the citizens that is at stake.
He advised outgoing administrations to put their states first and ensure they leave a very healthy system instead of burdens for the incoming ones.
From Hope Abah Emmanuel (Makurdi), Clement A. Oloyede (Kano), Abubakar Auwal (Sokoto), Linus Effiong (Umuahia) & Ado Abubakar Musa (Jos)