Onueze Okocha (SAN), the former President of the Nigeria Bar Association, has said that deputy governors do not possess specific constitutional roles, describing them as “spare tyres.”
Okocha made this observation while commenting on the ongoing dispute between Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, and his deputy, Philip Shaibu.
During an interview on Channels TV, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria explained that deputy governors can only perform duties that have been delegated to them by the governor. He clarified that, unless specific circumstances such as impeachment, the death, or incapacitation of a governor occur, a deputy governor’s role remains largely passive, similar to that of a spare tire.
In his words, “Deputy governors are like spare tires, they stay in the boot, nobody uses spare tires if the four tires are working. The truth of the matter and this is the legal position is that a deputy governor has no specifically assigned functions under the constitution.”
He further emphasized that only the governor of a state possesses the authority to allocate responsibilities to the deputy governor or any member of the state executive council. Therefore, a deputy governor does not inherently hold any responsibilities until the governor assigns them a specific role.
Okocha also pointed out that a governor typically selects his running mate, with the expectation of complete loyalty and support. The constitution dictates that a deputy governor can only exercise functions and duties that have been officially assigned to them by the governor. Hence, no deputy governor can claim executive authority over any matter in the state unless it has been delegated to them by the governor.
Okocha stressed that deputy governors, as well as vice presidents at the national level, must wait until the governor or president assigns them specific responsibilities, as per the constitutional framework.
“In the cause of impeachment, death, or the incapacitation of a governor, the deputy governor will automatically assume the office. However, until such circumstances arise, a deputy governor is just a spare tyre.”
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