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Ondo lawyer, Emodamori writes Aiyedatiwa for delaying Dep. Gov’s Appointment

19th January, 2024
Our Ref: FEE/GOV/ODS/I.001/024

His Excellency, Hon. Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa
The Governor of Ondo State
Governor’s Office, Alagbaka G.R.A
Akure.

Your Excellency,

A CALL TO CORRECT THE ANOMALY OF RUNNING ONDO STATE WITHOUT APPOINTING A NEW DEPUTY GOVERNOR.

Within a few hours after the demise of former Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN on December 27, 2023, Your Excellency was promptly and properly sworn-in as the new Governor of Ondo State, in line with Section 191 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which provides that “The Deputy-Governor of a State shall hold the office of Governor of the State if the office of Governor becomes vacant by reason of death, resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or removal of the Governor from office for any other reason in accordance with section 188 or 189 of this Constitution.”

Although Section 191(1) of the Constitution does not stipulate the time within which a Deputy-Governor should be sworn-in as the Governor when a sitting Governor dies, I personally considered it a constitutional necessity for you to immediately assume/occupy the office of the Governor, to avoid a vacuum.
Your Excellency was not in Akure when news of the death of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu was officially announced or confirmed by the State, at about midday on December 27, 2023. You were far-away at the riverine Ilaje Local Government Area of the State. You however hurriedly made yourself available in Akure in a matter of hours, despite the difficult terrain, to be sworn-in as the new Governor.

It is however ironical and inconceivable that Your Excellency has not appointed a new Deputy-Governor in line with Section 191 (3) of the same Constitution, to fill the vacuum created by your ascension and assumption of the office of the Governor, with the same speed with which you were sworn-in.

Your Excellency has been running the State without a Deputy-Governor for 24 days now. Section 186 of the Constitution expressly provides that “There shall be for each State of the Federation a Deputy Governor.”

Section 191 (1), (3) (b) and (c) of the same Constitution unequivocally states that:
“191 (1) The Deputy-Governor of a State shall hold the office of Governor of the State if the office of Governor becomes vacant by reason of death, resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or removal of the Governor from office for any other reason in accordance with section 188 or 189 of this Constitution.”
Where the office of the Deputy-Governor becomes vacant-

By his assumption of the office of Governor of a State in accordance with subsection (1) of this section; or
For any other reason, the Governor shall nominate and with the approval of the House of Assembly of the State, appoint a new Deputy Governor.”

Admittedly, Section 191(3) (c) quoted above does not expressly stipulate the time within which Your Excellency must appoint a new Deputy-Governor, as some are arguing. The Section 191(1) also does not stipulate the time within which a Deputy Governor should be sworn-in whenever a Governor dies. So, if Your Excellency could rightly arrange to be sworn-in within a few hours after the death of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu SAN, nothing stops your Excellency from also nominating a new Deputy Governor for the approval of the State House of Assembly within a few hours after being sworn in as the Governor, to avoid a similar vacuum.
Former Governor of Yobe State, Ibrahim Gaidam, appointed a New Deputy Governor within two days after assuming the office of the Governor on January 27, 2009. Similarly, former Kaduna State Governor, Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, became Governor on December 16, 2012 following the death of Governor Patrick Yakowa, and he appointed a new Deputy Governor on 28th December, 2012.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan assumed the office of the President on May 6, 2010 and appointed Namadi Sambo as his new Vice-President in just about a week after.

The delay in nominating a new Deputy Governor for Ondo State since December 27, 2023, is unprecedented in the history of our constitutional democracy in Nigeria.
I am aware that as the then Deputy-Governor to Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, you filed Suit FHC/ABJ/CS/1294/2023 at the Abuja Judicial Division of the Federal High Court against the late Governor, the State House of Assembly, the Police, and the Department of State Services (DSS), alleging, amongst other things, that you were being prevented from exercising the fundamental constitutional responsibilities of a Deputy Governor as enshrined in Sections 193 (2) (a) – (c) of the Constitution. The Suit is still in that Court till date; it has not been withdrawn.

Is it not ironical therefore that Your Excellency, having become the substantive Governor of Ondo State, has not appointed a new Deputy Governor since December 27, 2023 to perform the same fundamental constitutional duties in respect of which you instituted the Court case? Or, could it be that Your Excellency has not found anyone qualified and suitable amongst the pool of the best brains Ondo State is universally noted for, to be appointed as the new Deputy-Governor? Perhaps Your Excellency finds it difficult to trust running the government with a Deputy-Governor.
The office of a Deputy-Governor is a constitutional necessity, by virtue of Section 186 of the Constitution.

Consequently, the continued delay in appointing a new Deputy Governor since December 27, 2023 is a serious violation of the Constitution. If Section 191 (1) & (2) of the Constitution provides that the State House of Assembly shall mandate the Deputy Governor to perform the functions of the office of the Governor where a Governor cannot perform such functions within 21 days and fails to transfer power to the Deputy Governor to perform such functions, then, it would be unreasonable to allow a vacuum in the office of the Deputy Governor resulting in the inability of anyone to also perform the functions of the office of the Deputy-Governor for over 21 days.

I therefore lend my voice to the growing call on Your Excellency to respect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) by urgently appointing a new Deputy Governor to fill the vacuum created by your assumption of the office of the Governor.

If we could fill the vacuum created by the death of Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN within a few hours of his demise, there would be no justification whatsoever for the delay in filling the vacant office of the Deputy Governor.
Kind regards.

Yours faithfully

Femi Emmanuel Emodamori

Cc:
The Hon. Speaker
Ondo State House of Assembly
State House of Asembly Complex
Alagbaka GRA, Akure.

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