The second term of Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun is fraught with controversies and allegations of prosecuting anti-people policies. But the governor cares less as he pushes on with his agenda for the state. OLUSESAN LAOYE reports
Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun is now facing serious attacks over the way he dismissed some teachers in the state for setting offensive English questions, his moves to create new local council development areas (LCDAs) and threats from the people of Ogun West and East senatorial districts over marginalization during his first term. This is coming as the governor plans to celebrate 100 days in office.
Governor Amosun, who rode to victory in the first term in 2011 due to crisis in the state, especially within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under which platform he went to the senate before he defected to the All Nigerians Peoples Party (ANPP), where he made his first attempt at the governorship in 2007, is fast losing the goodwill and popularity he enjoyed in his first term in office.
His new policies are now pitching him against the people who voted for him to return as the governor in the April 2015 governorship election. Since he was sworn in, he has been facing barrage of attacks and criticisms from the masses, including the civil servants and teachers who have been critical of his present style of governance in the state. They have described him as someone who pretended to be humane in his first term but has shown the other side of himself, now that he has secured a second term.
Some of the people, especially civil servants who spoke on these present anti-people policies of his government less than six months into his second term, said that the governor deceived into voting for him, saying that with what they are witnessing now, the people should be prepared for hard times ahead. They argued that the Amosun they knew during his first term is different from the governor they elected in 2015 elections because there appears to be a striking difference in his approach and conduct in terms of relationship with the people.
One major issue which is bothering the people of the state and which has attracted the attentions of the entire civil societies, the labour movement, traditional rulers and concerned citizens of the state was the way he dismissed some civil servants in the school system over the English comprehension question which the governor termed to be offensive and an indictment on the government.
Seven civil servants apart from some teachers sacked as a result of the said obnoxious question were from the state ministry of education and science. And they include two Grade Level 17 officers, Folashade Oresegun, who was the Director, Education Support Services, and Rotimi Odunsi, who was the Director, Curriculum Development and Evaluation, as well as a Grade Level 16 officer, Majekodunmi Oluwole. Others are a Grade Level 10 officer, E.O. Asegbe, a Grade Level 8 officer, Taylor Damilola , and an English Language teacher in Mayflower Secondary School, Ikenne, Joel Adegbenro.
The comprehension passage which pupils who sat for the unified exam in public schools for the third term of the 2014/2015 academic session and which caused the problem reads “There is no arguing about the fact that the government is merely paying lip service to the development of education. It is true that a lot of money is being spent on the education sector but with little or no impact felt by the people, except where we want to deceive ourselves.
“Many schools run by the government, which were formerly known for academic excellence have suddenly lost their prestige and are living on past glories. No wonder, many parents and guardians are threateningly left with only one option, to withdraw their wards from these schools to other ones that are better managed.
“The evidences to show that the government is not doing enough to assist in the development of education are many. Even pupils in both primary and secondary schools can volunteer a good list on their finger tips.
“One of the numerous indications is the government’s inability to pay running cost to schools. The running cost is the token amount per pupil paid to school administrators to run the affairs of the school in a term. This has been neglected to pile up for several academic sessions.
“Another one is the regular poor conduct of terminal examinations. These examinations are not usually conducted as and when due. The government may have one excuse or the other, but real educationists know that appropriate timing is a strong factor in the process of Continuous Assessment (CA) of students. Thus, a situation, where for instance, the first term examination is shifted to second term is an outright departure from the norms and ethics of Continuous Assessment.”
This particular examination paper reportedly annoyed the governor who believed that the question was drafted intentionally to undermine his government. It was said that the governor rather than looking at it as a mere issue which should be overlooked, got angry and interpreted it with political undertone. He alleged that those who set and approved the offensive comprehension passage were used by the opposition. The governor, sources said could not be convinced that those who set the question did not have any ulterior motives but only did their jobs.
Despite all the pleas by residents association in Ogun state, Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) and other bodies, it was argued that Governor Amosun, who had already made up his mind that the motive was political and not in the interests of the pupils nor the state government, still ordered that the affected officers be dismissed, because they failed to comply with the civil service rules.
Another major issue which concerns the people of the state are that of under development in some parts of the state which the concerned communities have started crying foul, non-compensation to those whose properties were demolished for the various road projects in the state. Also is the way the governor is handling the environmental policies of the state, which they argued could send many people to jail, and the confrontation he is facing concerning the creation of additional local councils.
The zone which is vocal about the LCDAs is Ogun West which comprises Yewa and Awori, which have not ruled the state since nearly 40 years of its creation. Both Ogun East and Ogun Central had ruled the state twice since the inception of the second republic in 1979.
Chief Bisi Onabanjo, and Otunba Gbenga Daniel are from Ogun East, while the incumbent senator Ibikunle Amosun and Chief Olusegun Osoba are from the same Abeokuta in Ogun Central.
This is what is making the people of Ogun West even angrier and the feeling that the creation of the new LCDAs and slot given to them by the Amosu’s government was a slap on them, and a continuation of the marginalization they have been experiencing in the state. This is even as the zone is noted to be returning massive votes more than any other zone during elections to the winner.
The people of the zone kicked against the policy of Amosun, though a socio-political group known as ‘Ogun-West Renaissance Front warned Amosun against attempts to further marginalize them through his planned creation of local council development areas (LCDAs).
The group claimed that it has credible information that the governor is planning to carve just seven LCDAs out of the existing five local government areas in the senatorial district. The group’s president, Hon. Yemi Akinola and secretary, Kolawole Ajayi, claimed that the government planned to carve the 7 LCDAs in this manner “Ado-Odo/Ota and Yewa North LGs will produce two LCDAs each, while Yewa -South, Ipokia and Imeko-Afon LGAs would each produce one LCDA making seven in all for Ogun west”. They said it is unacceptable to them and they believe that if the plan sails through, Ogun West will have just 12 council areas out of the 52 that would be in the state.
The group recalled that despite the presence of two eminent Yewa-Awori sons in the race, Governor Amosun who from Ogun Central, scored over 40 percent of votes cast in all the five local governments in Ogun West. Adding that apart from this, “such scenario will be most illegal, unjust and illogical as Ogun west remains the largest zone contributing to the internally generated revenue of the state and also second largest in population after Ogun central
With this stand, it shows that all is now set for a showdown between the state government and the people of Ogun West as sources said that they would resist the 7 LCDAs allocation and that until the governor distributes the LCDAs equally they would not rest. It was also learnt that it was not the people of Ogun West alone who are angry with Amosun, as other groups from both Ogun East and Central who have been nursing one grudge or the order against him are mobilizing to show their displeasure on his new style of governance.
It was said that both the camps of former governors of the state, Chief Olusegun Osoba and Otunba Gbenga Daniel are looking for any slightest opportunity to fight back. Both Osoba and Daniel presented candidates in the last governorship election which is now being contested at the election tribunal. Ironically both of them had been in the same political parties with Amosun before they parted ways. Daniel and Amosun were both in the PDP before the governorship ambition split them in 2007.
Also, Osoba was in All Progressives Congress (APC) with Amosun before they came apart few months to the April 2015 general election. Osoba which could no longer stomach Amosun’s ways defected with his loyalist from the APC to the Social Democratic Party where he presented a candidate to challenge Amosun.
Right now, the battle has not ended and as sources close to both Osoba and Daniel pointed out that Amosun will be fought to a standstill and that they are now compiling data on him and his government that will reveal how he mismanaged the resources of the state. According to the sources, “the people of the state just know the kind of person Amosun is. He is a man who cannot forgive and who has been erratic in the ways he has been governing and brooks no opposition.”
The sources cited the cases of the former TESCOM boss, Olubukola Onabanjo, daughter of the first executive governor of the state, who resigned out of annoyance when it became very clear that she was being frustrated due to her closeness to Chief Osoba, who was not in good terms with him before the election. Onabanjo accused Amosun of witch hunting her because of her family tie with Osoba which she could not deny because of political appointment from Amosun.
As a result, she told Amosun pointblank that she cannot jettison the long standing family relationship with Osoba because Amosun himself said categorically that she had a soft spot for Osoba. She further said that despite her relationship with Osoba she never did anything to undermine Amosun and the government.’’
Speaking on the crisis and the agitation by the people of the state especially those from the Ogun West senatorial district, the governorship candidate of the PDP in the last governorship election who is from the zone, said that Amosun for the four years spent in his first term totally neglected the people of the zone. He pointed out that he would continue to pursue the case on the election till justice was found, adding that Amosun only deceived the people of the state for four years.
On the issue of the sacked civil servants and teachers over the exam’s question, the NUT and ASSUS chairman, Akeem Lasisi said that they have intervened in the matter and they believe that the governor would change his mind. Also Ogun residents have waded into the matter while ASSUP President in Ikene local government, Mr. Adetayo Adebowale has called on the governor to temper justice with mercy.
The ANCOPS president in the state, Chief Olatunji Ogundele however said that the affected officers failed to comply with civil service rules but pleaded for leniency. Meanwhile the NLC chairman comrade Akeem Ambali said that the union has made request to the governor on the issue and they are hopeful that he would respond favourably.