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Lagos: Manipulations behind rejection of commissioner-nominees

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Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu. PHOTO: Twitter/jidesanwoolu

When the news filtered in that the Lagos State House of Assembly had rejected three of the commissioner-nominees of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, many observers were surprised. The nominees are Prince Olanrewaju Sanusi, Mr. Obafemi George and Ms Adekemi Ajayi-Bembe.

The general thinking before now was that with all the 40 lawmakers belonging to the All Progressives Congress (APC) getting the nominees cleared was not going to be an issue. But the outcome of the screening has continued to jolt many.

Those in the know of the issues around the rejection disclosed that it was all about the political undercurrent in the Lagos APC. A source said the Tinubu boys had jointly chased out former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode out of government, but now each of the political blocs within the political circle are now fighting for supremacy. And the screening exercise was one of the ways, a bloc felt it could further assert its authority and supremacy among the power brokers. This is after it partially lost out in the compilation of the nominees.

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The source said the battle for supremacy was one of the reasons the Governor delayed drawing up a list and also the reason he came up two batches.

It was also gathered that the three rejected nominees belonged to the Obanikoro- led camp, while those who worked against their confirmation belonged to the Aregbesola/Osinowo alliance.

Information has it that to ensure that the lawmakers have a ground to reject the three nominees, the bloc mobilised their loyalists to write petitions to the Assembly, kicking against their choice, including giving reasons they are not true representatives of their constituencies. Sanusi is from Amuwo-Odofin, George is from Eti-Osa Local Government, while Ajayi-Bembe is from Lagos Island.

Sources said since the Aregbesola/Osinowo bloc has pocketed the Assembly, because a good number of members are loyal to it, with that they have the numbers to do their biding anytime they wished to. Therefore, the bloc also felt it should have some influence in the executive cabinet.

The bid to have more members in the executive cabinet, it was learnt, was why they used the assembly to reject the three nominees, hoping that the governor does not represent them. And with that their loyalists would get the slots.

According to a source, the pronouncement by the Speaker that the Governor could re-present the rejected nominees is all politics to make the nominees feel the lawmakers were not their problem.

Some persons, however, felt the rejection was more than just control of the soul of the APC in Lagos. They read marginalisation of Lagos State indigenes into the rejection. One of those in that category is Agboola Kotun, a medical doctor, who wondered why those who are not Lagos indigenes were confirmed; yet those rejected are Lagos indigenes.

Commenting on a platform, Kotun said: “I cannot imagine the excuse of rejecting Ajayi-Bembe, one of the nominees for commissioner in Lagos State; that the nominees from Lagos Island are too many. Yet, Joe Igbokwe was cleared. The Assembly members should tell us how many nominees in the list are indigenes of Lagos Island in the first place?

“It is a list of about forty nominees that has less than ten as aborigines of the state. Prince Sanusi, an Awori man from Amuwo Odofin was also rejected on the basis of anti-party activities in the last election. Yet, the daughter of former PDP stalwart and governor of Ondo state, the late Agagu was cleared. It is a case of looking for a bad name to hang a dog. You cannot continue to undermine us as natives of Lagos. The time is coming, very soon, sooner than expected.”

When The Guardian reached out to the three rejected nominees, two of them declined commenting, while the only person who spoke did not want his name mentioned.

On the speculation that the issue was with their local constituencies, he said: “I have a letter from my local government chairman as my sponsor. I also have a letter from the state party chairman as a sponsor.”

Asked if it was after he was rejected that he got the endorsement from the party leaders, he said he had and presented the letters before the Assembly rejected him.

He was, however, surprised that the Assembly did not state why they were rejected. “Until they give a reason, then we will know what to do, but they did not give us any reason. There is no official reason to that effect. I do not want to talk about all that, I just want to be focused, and I am a focused person. I believe everything will be in order,” he said.

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