Paucity of funds keeps Ekiti, Osun governments from appointing commissioners

Dr Kayode Fayemi, newly elected governor of Ekiti State [Pic: Pulse.ng]
Dr Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti State [Pic: Pulse.ng]

Several months after the governors of Ekiti and Osun states, Kayode Fayemi and Gboyega Oyetola respectively, were sworn in as governors, their state executive councils are yet to be constituted.

PREMIUM TIMES findings showed that the new governments could not embark on the appointment of new commissioners due to outstanding financial responsibilities they inherited and the inadequacy of financial inflows.

In Ekiti, Mr Fayemi, who was sworn in for his second term in office on October 16, 2018, is currently running his government with only two commissioners manning the Finance and Economic Development and the Ministry of Justice.

These ministries, in the wisdom of the government of Ekiti, are very crucial for the running of the state’s economy and the protection of citizens pending when the government is able to appoint commissioners.

Mr Fayemi has not hidden his inability to hire new commissioners, saying he lacked the financial solvency to procure the services of commissioners and other political appointees whose coming involves a huge financial implication.

The governor had chosen to rely solely on the services of Permanent Secretaries who are career civil servants to man the ministries and help implement government policies pending the coming in of new commissioners.

The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Olayinka Oyebode, informed PREMIUM TIMES that the government of Ekiti State would only appoint new commissioners after clearing all the financial backlogs bordering on workers emoluments, pensions and gratuities.

Speaking on the delay in the appointment of commissioners, Mr Oyebode said there was a need to get the state running, while the issue of appointments was pending due to financial challenges.

“When you bring in commissioners, they come in with other financial responsibilities,” said Mr Oyebode.

“The government is trying to use the little money it has now to settle certain things and that is why the issue of commissionership is being delayed.

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“When you bring in commissioners, there is a minimum number you must bring in and there is a minimum emolument that must be provided. They will also have personal assistants, accommodation and official vehicles and things like that.

“We felt that could still be held down and settle some basic things first and foremost. We are trying to address certain gaps.

“Previous commissioners and appointees were not being paid their severance package. Those who served 2010 to 2014, none of them were paid their severance package.

“That was part of the financial challenge. Some also served in previous administration, the governor is just trying to offset that now. Somebody who served as commissioner and special adviser is entitled to his severance allowance. The government has sorted that now.

“Also the issue of pensions. There was a backlog of unpaid pensions and salaries. We are trying to make sure that we don’t owe pensions, we don’t owe salaries. That has also created some financial responsibilities.”

He said workers were owed six months salaries when Mr Fayemi came into office, and that one month of the arrears had been paid, leaving an outstanding of five months.

He, however, added that the governor was not owing salaries since he came into office as salaries are being paid as and when due.

“The gratuities of retirees run into several millions and we have to deal with that too. So, the government has increased the monthly allocation for gratuities from N10 million to N100 million,” said Mr Oyebode.

“These are some of the commitments the governor felt he needed to attend to before attending to the appointment of commissioners which brings another financial burden.

“I can assure you that in a couple of months and or weeks, the commissioners will be appointed, especially now that the basic things are being handled.”

He added that other financial hindrances delaying the appointment of commissioners include the wrongful dismissal of some permanent secretaries that the court had ordered to be paid their entitlements as well as the free education of the government.

In Osun State, the situation is not different, as the governor is yet to appoint any commissioner since it assumed office in November last year.

PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the state government is grappling with the arduous task of paying salaries, and had yet to begin the payment of several months of salary arrears to the different categories of workers incurred under the last administration.

The previous governor, Rauf Aregbesola, also citing financial constraints, did not appoint commissioners for more than a year after he was sworn in for his second term in office.

There are fears that the new government might be walking the same line, as he has already appointed supervisors over the ministries instead of commissioners.

Seven supervisors have been appointed to do the work of commissioners over the ministries of works, finance, agriculture, home affairs, education and Information.

However, the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Niyi Adesina, has rather blamed the schedule of elections and electioneering activities for the delay in the appointment of commissioners.

“There has not been any delay in the real sense of the word because the governor came in in November, we had elections,” he explained.

“We had the presidential elections, then the house of assembly elections, these are crucial elections. We had all hands on deck toward the election.

“If you make appointments before elections you could ruffle some feathers. So the governor had to get all hands to finish the elections and after elections we can begin to make appointments.

“Before then, anyway, he had appointed seven people as supervisors over some key ministries. Like finance, works, home affairs, education, and agric.

“They were appointed as supervisors for key ministries in an ad hoc basis. As soon as the elections were over last week, he appointed the Chief of Staff and the Secretary to the State Government.

“Any moment from now the names of the commissioners would be sent to the house of assembly. There has not been really any delay. The governor doesn’t want to create bad blood among party members.”

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