How internal politics, Abuja slow Sanwo-Olu’s cabinet
Old Faces Still Willing To Serve
When Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu took oath of office, exactly 33 days ago, he promised to hit the ground running. So, it was not surprising that on his first day in office, aside interacting with civil servants who are going to be foot soldiers of his administration, he signed two executive orders. Thereafter, he visited sites of projects started by previous administrations that had not been completed. He also visited LASTMA office.
Ironically, under 10 days that he assumed office, and with 47 months and 33 days left to the end of his first term in office, the governor during one of his visits to Abuja claimed he had lost weight due to the enormous task of governing Lagos State. To many residents of the state, this is shocking. This is because anybody desiring to govern Lagos ought to have known that it would require working round the clock. Supervising governance in Lagos is no easy task, but many also assume that the humongous financial resources available in Lagos may not be available in any other part of Nigeria. Therefore, any manager of the city-state has the fund to perform, and should see that as consolation.
With the confession that he had lost weight, many expected the governor would do himself and the people some good, by quickly putting together a cabinet so that he could delegate. But that has not been the case. And it might not come soon, as the Governor has not sent the list of commissioner nominees to the state House of Assembly. This is aside the fact that Governor has not even picked all his personal aides, including the Chief Press Secretary, which is usually among the first appointments to be made by any Governor.
So, it was not a surprise when the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) recently asked the Governor to explain why the inauguration of his cabinet is being delayed. In a statement, Lagos State PDP Publicity Secretary, Taofik Gani said the Governor was uncoordinated, “hence the apparent total stagnancy in the governance of the state, coupled with strongly rumoured cases of funds embezzlement, mismanagement and misappropriation.”
The PDP argued that the ‘unwarranted delay’ showed that Sanwo-Olu was ill-prepared and hurriedly brought on board as governor. “Lagosians are suffering the uncoordinated governance as observed in increased traffic jams, increased insecurity, abandoned and decaying infrastructure.“Governance in the state has become guerrilla-styled and disillusioned. There is no excuse for this in a state as Lagos that is blessed with numerous credible intellectuals.”
“We thus have a very strong suspicion that the Governor has deliberately delayed a cabinet in order to solely corner the finances in the state, probably to recuperate the huge amounts spent on his election. This is a really dangerous omen for a special case state like our Lagos State,” he said.
Findings revealed that left for the Governor his cabinet members would be fully in place now, but he has little or no powers in determining who and when. This is because the commissioners are usually a product of the different political structures and personalities in the party. Though the governor often has powers to nominate, his slot is usually not more than five, according to a source.
It was also learnt that the delay in submitting the commissioner list is a carryover of the pre-election crisis in the Lagos APC, as it has not been fully resolved. There are political groups within the party and persons who felt they had been shortchanged by the immediate past administration and the party did not do well to compensate them during the primaries with slots. It was gathered that the internal crisis and who will get the ministerial slot of Lagos at the federal level are the major bottlenecks to having the commissioners in place. It was gathered that if Fashola’s block gets the ministerial slot, then there would be no need to compensate them at home.
There are also claims that the immediate past Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode might be given one or two slots, but that is if he does not get a ministerial slot. This is because despite that he was harassed out of government, his loyalists were said to have also contributed to the success recorded by the party during the governorship election.
The source also revealed that after the presidential election, the party knew that it was in danger and all stakeholders knew the only option was to come together and rescue themselves. If not, the opposition could take over the state, which is seen a rich pot of soup. With the elections over and the job done, the bickering and personality clashes started again.
When the PDP lampooned the Governor for not having his commissioners in place, his deputy Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile provided an explanation.He said like the proverbial suitor whose wife is on the way to the altar on wedding day but keeps peeping through the window to check whether the woman has arrived or not, the PDP, apparently bereft of something better to do, is feigning impatience.
“Baring any unforeseen circumstances, the bride will certainly be with him. It goes without saying that highly qualified and competent men and women will be appointed as commissioners by Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu. “However, we need to remind the PDP that the Constitution is very clear about the issue of cabinet. There is nowhere in the Constitution where a time frame is stipulated for State Chief Executives on the composition of cabinet, so the PDP needs some tutorials on not only party politics, but also governance.
“If the party had done its due diligence by first consulting the Constitution, it would not have issued a statement demanding that the Governor should hurriedly announce his cabinet members.“The PDP needs to also be reminded that the Governor had said it countless times during the electioneering that he would put in place a high quality cabinet composed of tested men and women who will join him to drive his vision of delivering a greater Lagos to all the citizens of the State.”
Not minding the response of the deputy Chief Press Secretary to PDP, the pace of governance has slowed down drastically. Activities in the state are more like motion without movement. Apart from issues of traffic and sanitation that the governor had repeatedly talked about, which has resulted in some over-reaction by the field soldiers, other sectors of the state are almost directionless.
A source disclosed that a number of persons who served under Babatunde Fashola and Bola Tinubu as commissioners seem bent on returning. It was learnt that names like Ayo Gbeleyi, Tunji Bello, Dr. Abdulhakeem Abdullateef, Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin, Sesan Daini, Engr Ayo Martins, Seye Oladejo, Sam Ogedengbe, Ganiu Solomon, Musiliu Obanikoro, and Mrs. Kemi Nelson, are being projected. The last three, one of the sources said might nominate their proxies, just like Tinubu’s wife and Dele Alake. He stated that almost all those that would be serving would be party people.
To some residents, not having a cabinet and in some instances, personal aides, 100 days after he got elected, calls to question how prepared the Governor was for the job.
Speaking on the non-composition of cabinet by Sanwo-Olu, the Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Muda Yusuf said: “I do not want it to appear that we are criticising the man early in the day, but having a cabinet would facilitate delivery of electoral promises and programmes of his party.
“So, the earlier he has a cabinet, the better for all the citizens of the state. The longer we delay; the more we slow down the tempo of activities of government. But with his party having the majority in the House of Assembly, there should be no cause for unnecessary delay in drawing up the list and sending it for approval.”
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