By Abdullateef Alagbonsi
Section 192(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) created the Offices of the Commissioners of the Government of a State as may be established by the Governor of the State. In appointing the Commissioners, the drafters of the Constitution did not make the Governor a Sole Administrator. They commendably made the appointment of Commissioners to be subject to the confirmation of the House of Assembly of the State. This is clearly mandated by Section 192(1) of the CFRN, which reads that “Any appointment to the office of Commissioner of the Government of a State shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the House of Assembly of the State, be made by the Governor of that State and in making any such appointment the Governor shall conform with the provisions of section 14(4) of this Constitution”. No doubt, the CFRN gave so much power to the legislature. How the legislators use their power is a reflection of their personality, not a weakness of the CFRN.
In fulfillment of this Constitutional obligation, the Executive Governor of Kwara State (Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq) wrote a letter to the Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly (KWHA). The Speaker, Rt. Hon. Salihu Yakubu-Danladi, in compliance with the Standing Rule of the House, publicly read the letter from the Governor to the House. The letter, as read by the Speaker in the presence of observers from various segments of Kwara State, is reproduced in my next paragraph for public knowledge and records.
“I, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, the Executive Governor of Kwara State, submit hereunder names of nominees I intend to appoint as Commissioners to the Government of Kwara State for confirmation by Kwara State House of Assembly. Aliu Kora Sabi (Baruten), Raji Razaq (Ekiti), Arinlola Fatima Lawal (Ilorin East), Sa’adatu Modibbo Kawu (Ilorin South), Kaosara Adeyi (Ilorin West), Aliu Mohammad Saifudeen (Kaiama), Suleiman Rotimi Iliasu (Moro), Wahab Femi Agbaje (Offa). In selecting persons to hold the Office of Commissioner, I have taken due care to comply with the provision of Section 14(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Curriculum Vitae and other relevant supporting documents of the nominees are herewith attached. Right Honourable Speaker, while counting on your speedy confirmation of the nominees, I wish to assure you of my usual highest consideration and regards.”
As the plenary of the KWHA is a public gathering, many observers who heard the names of the nominees read by the Speaker have circulated the names on various media platforms. The name of one Kaosara Adeyi, a nominee from Ilorin West LGA, was actually number 5 on the list announced by the Speaker himself. Kaosara was a Commissioner nominee, that is a fact.
Active citizens, who are familiar with the provisions of the CFRN, explored social media to fault the Governor’s nomination of 24-year-old Kaosara. Section 192(4) of the CFRN states that “No person shall be appointed as a Commissioner of the Government of a State unless he is qualified for election as a member of the House of Assembly of the State.” It is worthy of note that Section 106 of the CFRN has been amended through the #NotTooYoungToRun law that reduced the age from 30 to 25 years. Constitutionally, Kaosara is not qualified if the public information of her age being 24 years is correct. Luckily for her, the Governor immediately appointed her same day as SSA on Youths Engagement, according to a statement signed by Chief Press Secretary Rafiu Ajakaye. That shows good faith but done wrongly. Was her nomination as the Commissioner withdrawn? That has never been announced by the Speaker until the appointment as SSA was announced by the CPS. People who stick to official protocols of communication can insist that she has been appointed twice unless there is an official withdrawal of her nomination as a Commissioner!
The Governor, who nominated her as Commissioner, might not be aware that she is not yet qualified for the position. Is it a crime for humans to make a mistake? No, it is not. Must records be falsified to correct the mistake? That is not ideal for the government that citizens must emulate to make a false claim. In my mind, the Governor should not have rushed to appoint her as an SSA without withdrawing her nomination to the KWHA as Commissioner. That would have been more honourable of His Excellency to do. He would have been portrayed as a leader who is always ready to admit a mistake and correct accordingly following due process. No one expects him to be perfect. He can’t be Mr. Right every time. Is he not a human being like all of us?
The shocking part is the press statement released by the Media Team in the Office of the Speaker of KWHA. They doctored their records. They falsified the fact. They claimed (knowing that it is false) that seven (7) nominees were received instead of eight (8) read by the Speaker. Kaosara’s name was omitted from the press statement released by the Speaker’s office. Obviously, this was a deliberate attempt to cover up for the Governor (which is not what they have been elected to do). This attitude will make it difficult for informed members of the public to trust any statement from the Speaker’s Office. The KWHA is not a theatre where people go to play and perform other forms of drama. Stop this drama, Mr. Speaker.
It is a good thing that the mistake was realized, but why must the official correspondence be doctored to mislead the public? Does the Speaker not know that he could have advised the Governor to officially withdraw the lady’s nomination if the House does not want to publicly disqualify her (which they have the power to do)? Mr. Speaker, be upright, bold, and thorough next time. When the Governor is making mistakes, you are there to correct those mistakes. Don’t be an accomplice. I wish you the best.
Alagbonsi writes from Republic of Rwanda, can be reached via: email@example.com
By Abdullateef Alagbonsi