Residents and opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State have lambasted the governor, Godwin Obaseki, for operating without a State Executive Council 84 days after being sworn-in for a second term in office.
Mr Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, were inaugurated for a second term in office on November 12, 2020, following their victory in the September 19 governorship election under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The governor had shortly after his inauguration re-appointed Osarodion Ogie as the Secretary to the State Government. No other appointment has been made since then.
The spokesperson of APC in Edo, Chris Azebanmwan, said Mr Obaseki was running Edo State like a sole administrator, adding that it was against democratic practice to run a state without a cabinet to deliberate state policies.
“There are some policies and actions of a state that legally and constitutionally should not be undertaken without the approval of the State Executive Council. As we speak, some of those actions are being taken solely by Godwin Obaseki as a sole administrator. He has not displayed the tendencies of a democratically elected governor,” Mr Azebanmwan said.
Shaka Umaru, a resident of Auchi, said the drafters of the constitution understood that having a functional state cabinet would allow room for a multiplicity of ideas to run the state.
He added, “Unfortunately Mr Obaseki has denied the Edo people the benefit of the collective wisdom of ideas. So, he is running the state like a sole administrator not like a democratic governor and this portends great danger for the democratic processes in the state.”
A rights activist and lawyer, Douglas Ogbankwa, said not having a cabinet has denied the state of having a representative from different strata in the running of government as provided by the constitution.
“The constitution of the SEC is a compulsory pre-requisite for the running of a state as provided for by our ground norm, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended).
“This gives the governor of a state an opportunity of picking the brains and skills of members of the SEC, through the weekly council meeting before making vital policy decisions. This vantage position is currently lacking in Edo due to the failure and refusal of the governor to constitute the SEC,” Mr Ogbankwa said.
Mr Ogbankwa continued, “The constitution provides that each local government of the state shall provide at least one member of the council. This brings about inclusive government and gives each of the local governments in the state a sense of belonging in the running of the affairs of the state. Sadly, this situation is currently lacking in Edo State.”
The PDP spokesperson in the state, Chris Nehikhare, has, however, disagreed with the positions of these residents and APC, saying Mr Obaseki has not violated any constitutional powers by not forming his cabinet yet.
Mr Nehikhare said, “The governor is well within his legal rights in forming his cabinet and I am sure at the appropriate time the cabinet will be set up to tackle the myriad of problems that need to be solved in Edo State.
“This period that the cabinet has not been set up, the governor set up a high-powered team to look at the reforms which is one of the cardinal areas he campaigned on by trying to make Edo State great again.
“One of our themes for the election was resetting Edo and in doing this, parameters need to be set up. For anybody to think that nothing is going on the person is not in touch. In the last two months, despite this, the state government has commissioned many projects and initiated others. Salaries are being paid, the House of Assembly is working, courts are working, the government is working very well.”
Mr Obaseki won his re-election on the platform of the PDP in the September 19, 2020 gubernatorial election held in the state. He defeated the candidate of the APC, Ize-Iyamu, by a wide margin.
The Governor had defected to the PDP from the APC when he was denied a return ticket of the party for allegedly having fake credentials.
As of the time he was denied the ticket of the party on whose platform he first became governor in 2016, many analysts said he lost out in the ticket race because of his estranged relationship with then national chairperson of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole.