OPINION: The Obstreperous Judge Of The State Of Osun

Judge-Folahanmi-Oyedele-Vs.-Gov.-Rauf-AregbesolaThere is no way a judge would spew such banalities on a state chief executive if, indeed, she was not consumed by hate and it is rather a shame that we still have such bigoted individuals, with the power of life and death, adjudicating in our hallowed courts of justice

No matter in which university her worshipful majesty, Justice Folahanmi Oloyede, read her law, she could never have passed through the likes of Professors Okunuga, Ijalaiye, Kasunmu or Olawoyin, the way she completely desecrated the judiciary by her ill- advised petition against the Osun State governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, which petition, it is obvious, she must have written out of some deep-seated bitterness. There is no way a judge would spew such banalities on a state chief executive if, indeed, she was not consumed by hate and it is rather a shame that we still have such bigoted individuals, with the power of life and death, adjudicating in our hallowed courts of justice. Reading this woman’s petition, you would not think that any other state, besides Osun, has a backlog of unpaid salaries.

Meanwhile in Benue State, for reasons not unconnected with non-payment of workers’ salaries, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja temporarily froze the state’s accounts in Skye Bank, Zenith Bank, First Bank of Nigeria and First City Monument Bank while for the same reason. The Daily Independent of May 16, 2015 reported that workers in Plateau State sacked the entire state 24 lawmakers from sitting over their failure to prevail on the state government to pay their salary arrears running to about seven months.

While this is the situation in at least 23 of Nigeria’s 36 states we have the words of the Edo State governor, Comrade Adam Oshiomhole, to the effect that President Jonathan “could only be said to have paid wages only to the extent that Okonjo-Iweala borrowed from the Central Bank; from various bond instruments including drawing down over N3 trillion from pension funds. It was in realisation of this truly pervasive problem that governors of both the APC and the PDP approached the federal government for a bail out which was granted. Unfortunately, given Yoruba’s historic bad belle and pull-him-down syndrome, things were bound to be treated differently in the Southwest, especially in Osun State, where a particular individual, forever wanting to be governor, was sure to find ‘agent provocateurs’, ready to pull his chestnuts out of the fire for him. This, I suspect, is where this judge, who has subsequently been thoroughly excoriated for desecrating the judiciary by legal juggernauts like Chief (Mrs) Folake Solanke, SAN and Professor Itse Sagay, SAN, comes in.

It  is  also with  this  macabre circumstances in mind, this complete disregard for judicial norms  as well as  everything that can be  considered  decent, and respectful, that Adewale Adeoye, a CNN African Journalist Award winner,  decided  to weigh in on Oloyede’s monumental faux pas. His views are presented, mutatis mutandis:  “Governors should, by all means, be held accountable for their deeds.  All the same, Justice Oloyede erred.  Her petition is curious, suspicious and raises serious issues about the separation of powers just as it is a complete negation of the prescriptions of the code of conduct as it concerns judicial officers.  As one, it is obviously not in Justice Oloyede’s place to initiate impeachment proceedings against the governor.

Her petition is novel, has never been known to happen; not here nor in the advanced democracies. This Judge has no history of being a radical and so must have acted at the prompting of politicians, or of a political party.  That she did so publicly is as dreadful as it is bizarre.  No judge, not even in a banana republic, should be seen acting in such a rash and repugnant manner. Why, for instance, has the Chief Justice of the Federation not written such a petition to the Senate calling for the impeachment of former President Goodluck Jonathan when the federal government was borrowing in trillions to pay salaries?  Without doubt, her action demonstrates a gross lack of professional etiquette and so she can justifiably be described as a threat to the judiciary.

We have heard that a section of the judiciary stinks with corruption and by this, she has confirmed that such corruption is not limited to financials only; it could very well be attitudinal.  Her inability to check and moderate her sentiments smells to high heavens, exposing her as being extremely weak and unable to rein in her impulses. She demonstrated a flirtatious display of reactionary alliance with the roguish PDP; a party which has spared no effort in making governance in the State of Osun impossible.  Without a doubt, that  party is from whence came the contents  of her petition and it is meant to distract  a governor who is doing his best to ameliorate the effects of their party’s  unrestrained looting which ensured that trillions of naira that should have ended up in the federation account  never got there in the first place.  Nigerians must thank God PDP et al, have been dispatched to political Siberia to rot.

Judges are neither police nor expected to be politicians. Judges are there to interpret the law based on evidence before them. They are not prosecutors, nor can they be judges in their own case. This misdirected judge quoted figures that are confidential to the state even when she did not get them, leveraging on the FOI law, which obviously means  that she has either been personally spying or has agents  leaking state secrets to her.  Clearly, Justice Oloyede is a remnant of the old order, a rookie of the political clan, planted in the judiciary; a clan that wishes to see Nigeria remain a fiefdom of ineptitude, run by a rogue cartel wishing to dominate government for selfish ends.

It is the responsibility of any society that wishes to uphold the separation of powers, that intruders like her must not go unpunished by the appropriate authorities.”  Were Justice Oloyede a woman of principles, or a citizen who truly means well for her state; if she were a woman of her word, she should have promptly resigned her appointment except she still cannot see the difference between her high office as judge,  and that of  a mere busy body who has obviously been playing  ‘Edward Snowden’, on the state’s  official secrets .

The State of Osun, I think, should proceed to make her have her day in court for this profanity. In concluding, let me say a word for the poor, suffering Nigerian worker.  Nothing can be worse than not getting paid for work done and it becomes more excruciating when this situation continues for months on end.  And, given Nigeria’s parlous circumstances, this situation could go on for years. Or how many times can state governors run to a federal government that is, itself living by its shoestrings? This is why I think the Nigerian Labour Congress should now quit adversarial relationship with the different arms of government. Labour should set out to properly serve the interest of Nigerians workers by posing and finding answers to questions that are crucial if they hope to take workers out of their present cul-de-sac.

For instance, labour’s insistence on uniform salary in all states of the federation is unhelpful because states are not equally endowed.  Also, if the federal government will not perpetually come to states’ assistance in the payment of salaries, then it must quit negotiating salaries and allowances on behalf of other tiers of government. It is absolutely fallacious to think that states like Ebonyi, Ekiti, Osun etc, can comfortably pay the same salary as Lagos, Rivers, Kano, Akwa Ibom, for instance. States must be allowed to pay salaries it can afford based on honest negotiations between Labour and government. For instance, Osun did not have its current problem until the senior workers union arm twisted the government to extend the minimum wage agreement to all categories of staff. From that point on,

Most states discovered they could no longer afford their monthly salary bills. It must be pointed out that in any state of the federation, the public service does not cater to more than about 10 percent or thereabouts of the population. When this small fraction takes everything a government earns in a month, what is left for government to do anything else?  Only this past week the House of Representatives decided to investigate why the capital component of the current budget is not being implemented.  Should any serious body go into such things when even a kindergarten knows why?

Labour must do this hard work on behalf of workers or give states a free hand to determine their staff strength.