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  • Updated: March 27, 2023

Inside Seyi Makinde's Four Years Of Local Government Wrangling

Inside Seyi Makinde's Four Years  Of Local Government Wrangl

On May 12, 2018, the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC) conducted local government elections under the leadership of the former governor, Abiola Ajimobi. The election’s aftermath still haunts the present administration of Seyi Makinde more than four years later.

In the election, the candidates of the then ruling party in the state, All Progressives Congress (APC), won in all 610 wards, 33 local government areas and the 35 newly created local council development areas, LCDAs. 

Therefore, on Monday, May 14, 2018, The then Chief Justice of the state, Justice Munta Abimbola, administered the oath of office to them, an office they fought to secure with their teeth and nails afterwards.

The APC did not foresee that it was going to lose the subsequent 2019 gubernatorial election in the state.

So, the chairmen had only spent a year in office when the new administration descended on them.

Instead of the Seyi Makinde administration upholding the tenets of true democracy, it followed the universal trend and sacked the democratically elected chairmen and “appointed” his lackeys and proteges” as caretaker committees to run affairs of Local Governments.

The legal wrangling continued for years, centring around reinstating them but later about paying them their salaries.

But Governor Seyi Makinde (according to today’s ruling) frustrated all the efforts of the local government administrators and their “Series of applications to get what constitutionally belongs to them.

Before the governor could cast any stone on May 29, 2019, when he assumed office, he had issued imperial directives dissolving all democratically elected local Government Councils in Oyo State despite the subsisting judgment of the Oyo State High Court, which had directed anyone not to do so.

Public commentators who spoke to AllNews Nigeria reporter while compiling this piece under the condition of anonymity said that the governor displayed sheer impunity unhealthy for the country’s democracy in his handling style of the local government administrators.

Upon learning that Makinde, who took office on May 29 2019, had planned to sack them, they sued before the High Court of Oyo State to challenge the constitutionality of Sections 11 and 12 of the Oyo State Local Government Law 2001, which empowered the governor and the House of Assembly to dissolve LG executives in the state.

In its judgement on May 6 2019, the Oyo State High Court declared Sections 11 and 12 of the state’s Local Government Law 2001 unconstitutional because they violated Section 7(1) of the Constitution.

Despite the subsistence of the judgment, Makinde sacked the chairpersons and councillors and subsequently appealed the verdict.

The Court of Appeal, in its judgment on July 15 2020, set aside the judgment of the High Court, a decision the affected officials appealed at the Supreme Court.

In its judgment on May 7, 2021, a five-member panel of the Supreme Court presided over by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, allowed the appeal marked: SC/CV/556/2020 and set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal.

The court, which awarded a cost of N20 million against Makinde, ordered that the ex-chairpersons and councillors, which the governor unlawfully sacked, be paid their salaries and allowances from May 29 2019 to May 11 2021, when their three-year tenure ought to have expired.

Governor Seyi Makinde has been recalcitrant.

He even said in a live interview that he intentionally withheld the money he was given to the chairpersons and local government administrators he appointed.

The long row has reached another level. A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, has issued an order attaching funds standing to the credit of the Oyo State Government and its agencies in four banks.

Justice A. O. Ebong issued the order while ruling on a motion ex-parte for garnishee order filed by the ex-chairpersons and councillors led by Bashorun Majeed, Bosun Ajuwon and Idris Okusesi.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered that the affected banks are First Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Wema Bank and Zenith Bank.

According to court filings, the banks are concerned because some money therein is to settle the outstanding balance of N3,374,889,425.60 from the judgment debt owed by some former local government chairpersons and councillors sacked on May 29, 2019, before the end of their tenure by Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.

It has undoubtedly been a tough feud between the governor and the chairpersons, and no one knows what the governor’s next move will be, having previously felt dissatisfied and disobeyed with legal frameworks in the past since the wrangling started.

If Oyo was a state where the rule of law and the constitution is duly followed, the year-long debacle would not have found its way into the polity because Oyo residents, who are supposed to enjoy the dividends of democracy of the closest government to people, still suffer and complain and the governor failed to conduct local government elections.

At a national debate, the governor also said that because of “some reasons he thought he was the only one that understood because he is in government, " he will not sign the local government autonomy time and time again.

Governor Seyi Makinde's administration has drawn local government administration miles backwards, considering how he has overpowered justice in the last four years.

Many Nigerians are concerned that the trend is likely to continue in his second term in office.

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