as soon as the governor appoints the deputy

Sep 25, 2023 | Politics | 0 comments

It is painful to watch the state governor fight the constable in the unequal and unmatched fight that too often occurs in politics. They are the state’s top officials. The deputy governor fills in for the governor when needed. Thus, seeing the two fighting openly is one of the saddest moments for any state. These events are happening in Ondo and Edo states and reached a peak last week.

Unfortunately, Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has had an undisclosed illness since his first term that required him to travel abroad for medical treatment. As required by the constitution, the deputy served as governor during the governor’s absence. This was always a test of deputy governor loyalty. Unfortunately, for strange reasons, they always failed. After failing the loyalty test, Agboola Ajayi was fired before the first term ended. It has created a revolving door for the next deputy governor.

Governor Akeredolu is likely to fire Lucky Aiyedatiwa, his deputy. This week, the House of Assembly will consider impeaching the Deputy Governor after his latest medical trip. The deputy governor lost his media team. If impeachment succeeds, Lucky Aiyedatiwa will soon cease as deputy governor.

Interestingly, the same situation is unfolding in Edo State, where Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu is fighting to keep his job. He has fought Governor Obaseki, who will finish his second term next year and does not want Shaibu to succeed him. He ran to court for protection because he thought he might be impeached before their term ended. This got worse when the governor attacked him with state power. Shaibu was exiled from Government House to a rundown office block under renovation. He also had security guards ignore and prevent him from greeting the governor at state functions.

This unnerved the deputy governor and made him run around seeking redress. He moved the case out of court and apologised to the governor in the media. That apology was probably the worst part of this sorry tale. The video shows Philip Shaibu saying, “I used this medium to appeal to Mr. Governor that if there is any mistake I have made or if there is anything I have done that I don’t know of, he should please forgive me so that we can develop our state together.”

The grovelling of Philip Shaibu is humiliating. This administration has those deputy governors. Governors and deputies in some states have conflicted since 1999, when the military left. It started in Abia State when Governor Orji Kalu fought with his deputy, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe. Before resigning in 2003, Deputy Governor Abaribe avoided impeachment twice in his first year.

Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu and his deputy, Kofoworola Bucknor, seemed unmatched in 1999. Kofoworola left the government annoyed after a tense relationship. Femi Pedro, who left the government and party over differences with Governor Tinubu, succeeded her.

Early in the millennium, the State House was involved in the same conflict as other government houses. At the end of the first term, President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar were about to fall out, but good reasons prevailed. They reconciled and won another term. Their differences persisted into term two. Open and messy, the fight affected their staff and the nation. Atiku resisted President Obasanjo’s attempts to fire him in court and won.

These are bad cases, but don’t despair. I wonder if any constitutional provision empowering the deputy governor will help them. It’s a human problem where strong characters are paired with a subordinate. It was inevitable they would fight. Niger State Governor Abdulkadir Kure and his deputy Zagbayi Nuhu, Governor Rabi’u Kwankwaso and his deputy Abdullahi Ganduje, President Goodluck Jonathan, and Vice-President Namadi Sambo can learn from the success stories.

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