Tenure take-off: Govs draw battle line with predecessors

THE gulf that existed before the May 29, 2019 handover date between state governors and their predecessors has further widened, with the former dismantling major inherited administrative structures from last Wednesday.

This is even as some returned governors are still keeping stakeholders in their respective domain guessing five days after relieving all their key appointees of their positions.

Feelers in some states indicated imminent shake-up across board in major Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) through massive redeployment of a number of key functionaries.

Though states like Bauchi, Oyo and Ogun have witnessed sweeping changes in strategic places and at different areas since Wednesday when the governors were inaugurated, there were speculations that a number of governors might announce more radical changes in the structure inherited from their predecessors.

Sunday Tribune discovered that the dog fight had equally polarised the two main political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in some state chapters.

Some are accusing the new helmsmen of breaching the mutual zoning arrangements for making choice political appointments among the three senatorial zones across states, as well as post-election accord on power sharing.

For instance, members of the coalition that facilitated the victory of a governor from one of the states in the Southern part of the country were divided over the power sharing formula earlier agreed by the parties some weeks ago.

In another state, parties to a similar accord have reversed the terms with the adoption of the mutual arrangement arrived at based on the performance of the political parties after the presidential election.

 

Controversy trails appointment in Bauchi 

On Saturday and as expected, Bauchi State governor, Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, approved the immediate disengagement of all political officeholders, including the dissolution of all local government councils management committee members in the state.

The order for the disengagement and dissolution was contained in a terse statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mohammed Sabiu Baba, copies of which were made available to Journalists in Bauchi late Friday night.

The statement read in part: “His Excellency, Senator Bala Mohammed, the Executive Governor of Bauchi State, has approved the disengagement of all political office holders with effect from 31 May, 2019.”

It said members of boards of parastatals, agencies extra-ministerial departments, directors-general as well as local government caretaker committee chairmen were all affected by the directive.

Barely 24 hours after his inauguration as the sixth elected governor of the state, Mohammed made his first set of appointments with Baba named as the new Secretary to State Government (SSG).

However, mixed reactions have continued to trail the appointments, with many describing the development as a wrong take-off for an administration which came to power “by way of revolution by people of the state who were disenchanted with the immediate past administration.”

Some, however, commended a few of the appointments, describing them as people who would assist the government reposition the state “with the hope that next set of appointments will correct whatever lopsidedness noticed in the first set.”

A release by the governor›s spokesman, Dr Ladan Salihu, announced the appointment of five principal officers: SSG, Chief of Staff (CoS), and the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Media Affairs. All the appointees were, incidentally, from the Bauchi Emirate.

A respondent told Sunday Tribune that “zoning is obligatory in Bauchi State, because the state is divided along zonal lines. It is in the interest of fairness, balance and justice that the zoning formula must be taken into consideration in all political and civil service appointments.

“Failure to adhere to the zoning formula will only create bad blood, mistrust and division among the people. Only selfish and unjust people will ignore the zoning formula because of the benefits they enjoy.”

But in her reaction to the development, the member of the state House of Assembly representing Dass constituency, Maryam Garba Bagel, said nothing was wrong with the appointments so far made, because, according her, it is a reflection of the zoning system recognised politically.

Bagel opined that the issue of emirate consideration for political appointments was not tenable, declaring that “in the state, we have three senatorial zones; the governor is from the South, his deputy is from the North and the SSG has come from the Central. I don›t see anything wrong about that; more so, it is too early for people to start castigating the governor, because there are many more important appointments to come.”

 

Sanwo-Olu’s key appointments in Lagos 

Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has since begun to assemble key members of the team that will work with him. Already, the governor, has rolled out an Executive Order in respect of the traffic gridlock alons Apapa as well as the situation of popular Olusosun dumpsite in Ojota area of Lagos.

He has named the director-general of his campaign, Mr Tayo Ayinde, as his CoS, his first appointment being Gboyega Akosile as Deputy Chief Press Secretary (DCPS).

Other appointments so far made by the governor are those of Mr. Gboyega Soyannwo as deputy chief of staff; and Mrs. Folasade Jaji (former Head of Service [HoS]) as new SSG.

So far, all the appointments have been applauded, as no eyebrow has been raised from any quarters.

Ayinde was said to have to put everything into the campaign of Sanwo-Olu as director-general of his campaign, while Akosile, was also a member of the strong media team put together during the campaign.

 

Mixed reactions trail Okowa’s early appointments

Mixed reactions currently trail the appointment of Mr Chiedu Ebie, Mr David Edevbie and Mr Solomon Funkekeme as SSG, CoS and Political Adviser, respectively, by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.

The appointments came barely 48 hours after Okowa was sworn in as governor of the state for a second term. But ripples have started being generated in some quarters with accusations and counter-accusations that the governor had breached the PDP zoning formula in the selection of an SSG.

Ebie, who is the immediate past Commissioner for Basic Education, is a kinsman of Okowa from Ika; the CoS, an Urhobo, is from Delta Central; while Funkekeme, an Ijaw, is from Delta South.

Appointing Ebie, one of the loyal political sons of former Governor James Ibori, as SSG presupposes, according to observers, that the government has been centralised in Delta North, particularly the Ika nation.

Sunday Tribune, however, recalls that in the buildup to the 2015 elections, Governor Okowa promised the Urhobo the SSG and speaker of the State House of Assembly, should they support him to win, a promised he kept till the end of his first tenure.

Besides, former governors, Ibori and Emmanuel Uduaghan, had, at one time or the other, appointed SSGs from their zones during their reigns. Under Ibori, one James Erhuero from Oghara, Ibori’s country home, was appointed as SSG in his first term. He, however, ended his second term with Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who is also an Urhobo man from Delta Central.

Immediate-past Governor Uduaghan also followed suit by appointing Comrade Ovuzorie Macaulay, an Isoko from his Delta South as SSG. These have, therefore, laid to rest the claim that Okowa had breached a non-existent zonal formula in the appointment of his SSG. Political pundits are conjecturing that this is designed to secure his political relevance ahead 2023, after leaving office.

On his part, Funkekeme’s appointment as political adviser is seen as debasing for a man whose war chest breasted the tape for Okowa during electioneering.

 

Adamawa people react to appointment of SSG

Similarly, the first official duty of the new governor of Adamawa State, Umaru Ahmadu Fintiri, was the appointment of SSG, Mr Bashir Ahmed; Director-General, Media and Communications, Mr Solomon Kumangar; and Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to his deputy, Mr Judge Kushi; and this first set of appointments has elicited both positive and negative reactions.

A loyalist of the PDP from Guyuk, Afraimu Jacob, said the appointment of Bashir had made the administration of Fintiri to begin on a bad note.

According to him, he followed the campaign train of the governor from beginning till the end, but the new SSG was not visible at the time.

Jacob said he was sure critical stakeholders were not consulted before the governor appointed Bashir as SSG.

“I don’t think Fintiri has consulted widely before he appointed Mr Bashir as his SSG. May be he considered his past relationship with him, because he served as commissioner for works in his three-month stint as acting governor.

“I understand that he wants to give the office to Adamawa Central senatorial zone. Even at that, there are more competent people the governor should have considered for the office,” he said.

However, a public commentator and member of the ruling party, Mr Sunday Wugira, said Bashir was the perfect man for Fintiri to work with.

He said the new SSG had an unblemished records and that his personality as a man of integrity was unquestionable.

Organising Secretary of the APC, the party the PDP dislodged, Alhaji Ahmad Lawan, in his comment, said the PDP government had started with “a deceptive appointment’ with regard to the appointment of the SSG.

He said Adamu Mustapha was initially penciled in for the office, and that Fintiri promised Christians that if he won the election, they were going to produce the SSG.

Lawan also said he was reliably informed that the PDP had been caught in a web of internal crisis over the appointment, as sources revealed to him that the governor had also promised a former governor of the state, Mr Boni Haruna, that he would bring the man that would be the SSG.

He said the PDP faction under the control of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar had also requested to produce the SSG, following the contributions Atiku made to Fintiri’s victory in the election.

“We have said it times without number that the PDP government in Adamawa State does not have the wherewithal to unite us, let alone of bringing development to the state,” Lawan said.

 

Predecessor, incumbent at daggers drawn in Imo

In Imo State, Rochas Okorocha and Governor Emeka Ihedioha are at daggers drawn over some projects, including monuments, one of which was pulled down allegedly by agents of the new governor.

 

Makinde in battle with sacked LG chiefs

The new administration in Oyo State under Seyi Makinde has dissolved the local government and local council development areas executives, just as he scrapped the N3,000 tuition in public secondary schools and reversed the appointment of 15 permanent secretaries promoted by his predecessor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, few days to the expiration of his tenure.

While he has also appointed his CoS, in person of Senator Bisi Ilaka, the people of the state eagerly await announcement of more appointments. However, the dissolution of the council executives appears to be the most controversial of all the first steps taken by the governor. While the council chiefs, ‘elected’ in the twilight of Ajimobi’s eight-year tenure, are claiming that they were elected and as such, the governor lacked the power to remove them from office. However, it appears that many residents of Oyo State are in agreement with the new administration that the said 2018 local government election that purportedly ushered in the chairmen was questionable.

 

Ogun waits with bathed breadth

The Ogun State government, under the new leadership of Prince Dapo Abiodun, is yet to make any announcement on key appointments since assumption of duty last Thursday.

However, it was learnt that the governor, barring any last minute change, would make pronouncements on Monday.

This development has given room for speculations in some quarters about who gets what in the new administration.

Sunday Tribune learnt that a former commissioner in the immediate past administration (name withheld) is likely to be announced as the SSG.

 

In Kebbi, Bagudu also remains silent

Three days after his inauguration for a second term of office, Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State has remained silent over political appointments.

As of press time, political observers and gladiators in the state remained in the dark with regard to what the returning governor will do in the process of forming his new cabinet.

During his last executive council session last week, the governor did not announce the dissolution of his cabinet, rather, he said his executive council should carry on its various duties till Tuesday, 28 May, when they were expected to handover to their various permanent secretaries or the most senior persons in their departments.

A close aide of the governor told Sunday Tribune that no one could say anything about Governor Bagudu’s next line of action over this matter, as he has kept everything within himself.

“He has not disclosed his next line of action to anybody; his top aides, such as CoS and SSG, remain ‘former.’ Remember, this is a governor who did not appoint anybody as his media aide for four years,” he added.

 

Wike keeps mum in Rivers

Three days after being sworn-in for a second term in office as governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, is yet to make an appointment into the state executive council, having dissolved the former council about a week ago.

Currently, nothing is heard in the state with regard to who might make the list of the new executive council. It also appears that on the issue of appointments, the governor is not under any form of pressure from any quarters, though there are some politicians like the former governor of the state, Peter Odili; national chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus; and state chairman of the party, Felix Obuah, among others, from whom he could accept nomination.

What is, however, clear is that not all members of his former cabinet can make it into the second term cabinet, a stand the governor himself made known during his valedictory session with them.

Wike’s former SSG, Kenneth Kobina, is allegedly no longer in the good book of the governor, and so, speculated not to be returning to the cabinet. Though the cause of the frosty relationship between the two is yet to be known, analysts in the state are almost sure that the Ogoni-born former SSG will not return with Wike for the second term.

 

Sokoto people also await Tambuwal

There has been mixed reactions from people of Sokoto State as a result of the silence of Governor Aminu Tambuwal, since the beginning of his second term in office. This mostly concerns appointment of his aides.

Speaking with Sunday Tribune, a resident, Mallam Abubakar Musa, said he expected the governor to have announced “one or two aides” by now.

“The governor is facing challenges from the leaders of the party over who to appoint as what; I mean the influence of the party leaders in the state, like former Governor Attahiru Bafarawa; former deputy governor, Mukhtar Shagari; and others.

“I can›t imagine why a governor, who is on his second term, cannot appoint a media aide and CoS after three days. My fear is that he doesn’t disappoint the people of the state. The expectations are very high. We don›t want him to allow the opposition in the state to mock us this time. This is why we are praying for him not to make mistakes in his appointments,” he said.

 

Reactions as Ganduje makes first appointments 

MIXED reactions has continued to greet the first set of appointments made by Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje. He has announced the reappointment of the SSG, Alhaji Usman Alhaji; and the state accountant-general, Shehu Mu’azu.

A member of the PDP, Alhaji Ibrahim Gada, said what many people expected from the governor a new person as SSG.

However, a staunch member of the ruling party, Alhaji Ilyasu Kwankwaso, said there was nothing bad in the reappointment made by the governor, adding that the governor had right to appoint or re-appoint whoever he deemed fit.

Kwankwaso said the opposition would always fault whatever move made by Ganduje.

He noted that Ganduje and Alhaji performed excellently well during the first tenure, and so, he could retain him for further progress of the state.

 

Matawalle makes first appointments

Zamfara State governor Dr Bello Matawalle, has appointed a former military administrator, Colonel Bala Mande (retd) and a former Minister of State for Finance, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda, as CoS and SSA, respectively.

The appointments came a few days after his inauguration. This is a development some observers have described as good.

Sunday Tribune gathered that the governor has, within his few days in office, approved the appointment of people into seven key positions, including Principal Private Secretary (PPS), Cos, three SSAs, Managing Director state radio and television and Acting Deputy Director, Press Affairs.

 

Nasarawa gov appoints 9 SSAs

Following Governor Abdulahi Sule’s appointment of nine SSAs in Nasarawa State, residents have spoken on his first steps in office.

A former council chief, Christ Mamman, said; “I am happy that he has taken bold steps at the beginning; he is putting his own structure in place by appointing people he is comfortable with.

“He did not make the mistake, like others, who took months to appoint assistants. So, I give him credit and hop he will be able to sustain this.”

Similarly, David Abuliya, stated that “the new governor, Sule, has started on a right note and this shows there will be a serious activities in the state.”

Lalong keeps Plateau in suspense

As governor Simon Lalong seems to have kept the people of Plateau State and his former political aides in suspense over his next cabinet, those seeking appointments, especially those former aides, have gone spiritual, in their bid to stage a comeback.

It will be recalled that the governor, through a memo signed by the acting SSG, dissolved his cabinet last week.

Since his inauguration on Wednesday, the governor has not made any pronouncement on his cabinet, thereby giving room for speculations.

A source close to the governor revealed that Lalong was keeping the list of some appointees to his chest, but might send them to security agencies for clearance this week.

“Once bitten, twice shy; the governor is taking his time to avoid the pitfall of the first term where some rookies were forced on him by some political gladiators in the state, a development that later turned out to be an albatross and embarrassment to his administration. He is more experience now and knows who is who,” he said.

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