Home News Transition: Governors-elect Have No Power To Issue Directives — Owonikoko

Transition: Governors-elect Have No Power To Issue Directives — Owonikoko


Governors-elect will be jumping the gun by issuing orders or directives when they have not been sworn in, Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) said yesterday.

Iseyin-born Abiodun Owonikoko and other senior advocates who spoke with Saturday Nation, explained that a governor reserves the right to carry out his functions in public interest even on the eve of his exit.

The SANs said governors cannot halt their executive functions merely because their terms are about to end.

All a governor-elect can do, Owonikoko and other SANs pointed out, is to reverse some of the actions taken by his predecessor when he assumes office if there is a valid reason to do so.

However, a governor-elect can issue an advisory (caveat) where an act by an outgoing governor is obviously not in public interest, one of the SANs said.

It was against the background of statements by some newly elected governors complaining about the actions of the incumbents which they perceive as creating problems for them on assumption of office.

Owonikoko said governors have fixed tenures in office after their due return at an election, and cannot act or perform the functions of their office until they have declared their assets as required by the constitution and thereafter sworn into office by taking the prescribed oath.

“It is that oath taking that activates their term in office which is for a maximum term of four years.

“They cease to be governors-elect only after they are sworn in and their four-year-tenure begins to run, not a second or minute earlier.

“The governors-elect are jumping the gun by interposing or issuing directives on confidential state finances or on state functionaries or programs while the incumbents are yet to run their full term.

“Issuing orders which are executive in nature to countermand directives of incumbents who have not run out of their full term is tendentious. It can cause breach of public peace or breakdown in chain of command in governance in a state.

“At the very least, the incumbent, for the time being will within his right, in deserving cases,  cause the appropriate court to bind such governor-elect over to be of good behaviour, on pain of imprisonment if he disobeys,” Owonikoko said.

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