Over one year after his inauguration, the governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, is yet to appoint a substantive commissioner for education in the state.
Mr Abiodun, who emerged the winner in the 2019 governorship contest, was inaugurated on May 27, 2019. However, it took him eight months before he named his cabinet members.
The 19-member list was released in December, after criticisms from residents of the state.
Amongst the commissioners listed ahead of the swear-in ceremony in January was Sidi Osho, a professor of food technology and former Vice Chancellor at Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD).
She had served as the special adviser to the governor on higher education before the appointment. She was appointed to head the ministry of education but that did not materialise.
Mrs Osho was the only commissioner who was not sworn in in January, in spite of the fact that she had been screened and cleared by the state’s House of Assembly.
Sources in the state government told PREMIUM TIMES that, prior to the clearance, she encountered some challenges at the screening, owing to her dismissal while a lecturer at Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) and some other allegations.
Before the screening, some concerned parties had expressed concerns regarding the fuss the appointment would cause because the letter of her dismissal had gone viral.
Nevertheless, she currently maintains the office of the special adviser overseeing education and has been representing the governor at public events.
While teaching at OOU in 2009, Mrs Osho proceeded on a two-year sabbatical leave, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
Meanwhile, during the period of the leave, she was appointed as the pioneer Vice Chancellor of ABUAD in 2010 and was promoted to the professorial cadre in 2012.
She served as ABUAD Vice Chancellor until 2014 – years after the leave had reportedly expired.
Multiple sources noted that she attempted extending the leave granted at OOU by two years, but failed.
Upon resuming back to her office in OOU, she was accused of staying off duty without approval, as well as maladministration.
Consequently, in 2016, Mrs Osho was dismissed for unethical and gross misconduct by the authorities of the university.
In the letter dated April 13, 2016 and with the reference number OOU/ACA/P.1200/237, the university communicated the dismissal to Mrs Osho, who was at that time, a lecturer in the department of Home Science and Hospitality Management.
“Council, at the 182nd meeting held on Tuesday, 8th March, 2016, considered the report of allegations of gross misconduct leveled against you, which was duly Investigated by the Staff Professional Ethics and Discipline Committee (SPEDC) and submitted a report through the Appointment and Promotion Committee (A&PC) to the council.
“In considering the recommendation before it, council viewed your actions as unethical and a gross misconduct which is contrary to the University Rules and Regulations and the conditions stated in your letter of appointment.
“Council, therefore, in line with the earlier recommendations of the Staff Professional Ethics and Discipline Committee (SPEDC) and in accordance to the extant Code of Conduct approved that you should be DISMISSED from the service of the University from effect on March 8, 2016,” the letter read.
Mrs Osho declined comments on the issue when PREMIUM TIMES reached out to her on Friday.
In fact, when our reporter probed further, Mrs Osho threatened a legal action, stating that she has a right to her private life.
“I can decide not to talk. I have a right to my private life,” she repeatedly said.
Nonetheless, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Communications, Remmy Hassan, confirmed that Mrs Osho’s appointment was stalled because of the dismissal.
He however hinted that while she is still in office, there is an internal mechanism looking into the dismissal as well as other allegations concerning her appointment.
“She is still around the corridor of government because she is still the Special Adviser on Higher education. If, after the outcome of the investigation, the governor feels she is still fit, she would be appointed and if otherwise, the governor will find a replacement,” he told PREMIUM TIMES on Friday.
Some students in the state have called on Mr Abiodun to urgently appoint a substantive commissioner for education, lamenting that the vacuum in the ministry has been responsible for the underdevelopment of the education sector in the state.
The students stated this in a statement, jointly signed by the National President of the National Association of Ogun State Students (NAOSS), Oluwagbemileke Ogunrombi, and the state chairman of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Tomiwa Bamgbose, in Abeokuta on Thursday.
They maintained that no serious government, which genuinely desires results and development in the education sector, would leave the education ministry without a substantive leadership.
“Education, as one of the most important sectors in the State deserves all the attention it needs from the government. The vacuum in the leadership of the Ministry of Education as a result of the vacant post of a Commissioner has no doubt adversely affected the development (of) the sector.
“Since Professor Sidi Osho was dropped as the Commissioner for Education, the Governor has refused to make an appointment into the Ministry and this has no doubt slow(ed) down the development of the sector.
“The Ministry deserves a qualified, experienced and committed professional with track records of unprecedented achievements both in the public and private sectors,” the statement read.
Reacting to the concerns raised by the student groups, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Kunle Somorin told PREMIUM TIMES that he has no inkling about when an education commissioner would be appointed.
“I have not been briefed by the governor,” he said in a telephone interview with our reporter.