Undercurrents of political power sharing in states
Governance in states of the federation where elections were held has since started. The next level of politicking is how positions are to be shared among collaborating forces that ensured electoral victory, write DARE ADEKANMBI, EBENEZER ADUROKIYA, OLAYINKA OLUKOYA, OLAKUNLE MARUF SOKOTO, ADELOWO OLADIPO, GODWIN ENNA, MUHAMMAD SABIU, KOLA OYELERE and ISAAC SHOBAYO.
STATE governors are gradually settling down after their inauguration on May 29. They have made a number of key appointments as evidence that they have hit the ground running in their respective domains. However, they are appointments that fall within the ambit of their executive powers, as quite a preponderance of pending major appointments require legislative approval. Such approval is not necessarily predicated on the provisions of the constitution, but also on serious political engineering and lobbying.
Accordingly, state chief executives often show more than a passing interest in the process of power sharing in the legislature. Even where a governor and majority of the members of the legislative arm are elected on the platform of the same political party, the issue of power sharing remains touchy, largely because of the role of power centres that are diametrically opposed in intent and direction. The politics of power sharing becomes more intense, where a coalition of forces railroaded victory at the general election such as was witnessed in a number of states in the 2019 governorship polls. Some state Houses of Assembly are battling with such scenario after their inauguration. Where a speaker may have emerged, there is a problem over the sharing formula over other levels towards averting conflict of interests. Reports indicated the mutual agreement on power sharing among the coalition of parties that worked to guarantee success at the poll have either been jettisoned by the senior partner in the arrangement or enmeshed in controversy.
Cold war in Oyo coalition
What the opposition parties in Oyo State could not achieve in the 2015 election, when they attempted to stop the All Progressives Congress (APC) governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, from getting a second term, was almost seamlessly realised in the 2019 elections.
In the first round of elections, the APC won two Senate seats and nine out of 14 House of Representatives positions. From the results, it was clear to the opposition parties that history would repeat itself, if they did not fuse to dislodge the APC.
A series of meetings, accompanied by high-wired horse trading were quickly held among leaders and governorship candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Seyi Makinde; African Democratic Congress (ADC), Senator Femi Lanlehin; Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Chief Sharafadeen Alli; and Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Bolaji Ayorinde, SAN.
Makinde, the PDP candidate, was consequently unanimously adopted as the coalition governorship candidate. Lanlehin, Alli and Ayorinde not only stepped down for him, all the state House of Assembly candidates of ADC, which has 12 serving lawmakers, lost their election principally as a result of the coalition.
Despite the loss of the Assembly candidates, the opposition leaders held their head high up that they succeeded in stopping Ajimobi from succeeding himself. The coalition was not achieved without an agreement as to how the ‘spoils of war’ would be shared.
Based on the result of the February 23 election, which they reckoned showed the strength of coalescing parties individually, it was agreed that PDP would get 65 per cent, ADC 30, ZLP 5 and SDP, 0.05 per cent. Governor Makinde, it was gathered, magnanimously added 10 per cent to the five allotted ZLP, out of deference for Senator Rashidi Ladoja, who coordinated the coalition.
Feelers from the coalition partners suggest that Makinde is committed to honouring terms.
Though some political stakeholders, it was said, raised eyebrows over the recent list of members of Governor Advisory Council, a body saddled with advising government on policy implementation, among other tasks, over the omission of Lanlehin’s name whose name was missing in the list. But some political watchers suggested that the astute politician might have turned down his participation in the council.
Generally, the council, chaired by a former Senate Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Hosea Agboola, is seen by some as a decoy to ‘bench’ likely 2023 governorship hopefuls. But the Chief of Staff (CoS) to the governor, Chief Bisi Ilaka, said the intention of Governor Makinde in setting up the council was noble.
According to him, the governor believes he can tap from the experience of those in the council and have them complement his development agenda for the state. There is nothing political about it, he told Sunday Tribune, adding that the governor’s preoccupation is to deliver the promised goods to the people of the state.
Addressing newsmen in Ibadan, the state chairman of PDP, Alhaji Kunmi Mustapha, allayed fears that Governor Makinde might dishonor the agreement reached with the coalition partners. He said all stakeholders in the coalition were meeting regularly on how the agreement would be implemented. The chairman said there was no cause for alarm over the governor reneging.
The ongoing conundrum over political appointments in Delta
As expected, the sharing of spoils of political victory by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State has begun with a palpable cold war ongoing in the local government areas of the three senatorial districts of the state.
While former political appointees of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and PDP chieftains locked horns over who gets reappointed or otherwise in the governor’s second term administration, the struggle has become intense in the past few weeks in the state, especially after the governor was reported to have requested names of prospective appointees from local government executives of the PDP.
In addition to the appointments of special advisers, new commissioners, senior special assistants and special assistants to various offices, mouths are salivating for Governor Okowa to create, perhaps, new higher offices in his second term to compensate “his hardworking aides” or retain them in their former positions.
People of Delta are also optimistic that the governor will constitute and appoint people to oversee the various governing boards, commissions, parastatals and agencies of government in the state, a situation already generating high profile lobbying, scheming and horse-trading among appointment seekers and loyalists of the governor.
Sunday Tribune was hinted of some heated infighting within the system, as erstwhile political aides and party faithful, who are groping from Government House Asaba to the local government councils, are backstabbing to outwit one another in clinching their coveted appointments from the governor.
Checks at the Government House, especially the Chapel where Okowa usually holds his morning devotions, some days ago, revealed that many former appointees have turned the place to their second home, lobbying and scheming for sumptuous offices. Asaba has simply become a beehive of political activities as even hoteliers now smile to the banks daily.
The flooding of the government enclave in Asaba was noticed a fortnight ago when the governor met with journalists across the state to appreciate their contributions to his reelection. Prior to the arrival of the governor and his newly-appointed Secretary to State Government (SSG), Honourable Chiedu Ebie; former Commissioner for Finance, Chief David Edevbie; and Special Political Adviser to the Governor, Mr Funkekeme Solomon, a retinue of office seekers had herded to the press hall to further curry the governor’s favour. It took moments of plea from the anchorman to ease them off the hall to allow journalists have enough seats to occupy.
It was gathered that the purported directive to the PDP executives at the local government level to nominate three persons (namely one man, one woman and one youth) to be considered for political appointments is tearing the party into shreds, as some chieftains are said to have hijacked the slots.
The height of the shenanigans for these slots, in spite of Okowa’s repeated promise of fairness and equity to all and sundry, reportedly led to the alleged clubbing of a PDP faithful in Sapele, Mr. Godfrey Igbise, by some thugs allegedly loyal to a former commissioner, who they said had hijacked the appointment slots for his local government, Sapele.
Similar political intolerance and brigandage was also reported in Isoko South and Ethiope East local government areas of the state, as alleged attempts by some chieftains of the PDP to hijack the available slots for their cronies has set aggrieved youths, who are claiming to have worked tirelessly for the party, against them, a situation analysts fear might set the party on fire ahead of the 2023 polls, if not checked.
Meanwhile, Governor Okowa had, during the thanksgiving service for a successful inauguration of his second tenure held at St. Philips Anglican Church, Asaba, promised to be fair and equitable to all in all appointments.
“I thank God that we have made some appointments recently; we are doing what is right. Many more appointments will be done and I promise the people of Delta that I will be equitable, fair and just in the appointments we are going to make; going forward, we believe and rely on the guidance of God.
“More appointments will be made. We ask for the continuous partnership and prayers of all Delta people,” Governor Okowa had pleaded.
Power-play in the seat of the caliphate state
There are indications that the issue of power sharing is becoming a thing of great interest among the stakeholders in the power centres in Sokoto State. But the leadership of the ruling PDP in the state seems to be playing down the intrigues behind the ongoing political undercurrents, ostensibly to sustain the harmony and atmosphere of conviviality among the various the various caucuses.
The emergence of Honourable Aminu Manya Achida as Speaker of the state House of Assembly penultimate week has definitely changed the pattern, as well as the political calculations in the state.
The speaker emerged as a lawmaker on the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC), main opposition party in the state but with clear majority members in the House of Assembly. It boasts 16 members to beat the PDP which has 14. However, being in control of the government at the executive level the PDP was able to produce the deputy speaker of the House.
Meanwhile, it is believed that going by the result of the Assembly election, the two parties must have reached an agreement over the sharing formula of major positions in the House, with claims that some PDP members are expected to benefit more, having been part of the deal that produced the current speaker of the Assembly.
Apparently to affirm the foregoing development, the publicity secretary of the APC in the state, Bello Sambo Danchadi, who spoke with Sunday Tribune, debunked insinuations that the party was putting pressure on the speaker to help it (APC) produce majority of the chairmen of committees of the House.
He described the sharing formula of the committee as the duty of the House leadership, which he said his party would not interfere in.
“I believe the issue of who chair which committee is the prerogative of the House leaders. Our party will only wish them well, as we believe our members in the House are up to the task,” he said.
The news of the appointment of some principal officers by Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State to serve as his cabinet members between now and 2023 was received with mixed feelings by different sections of stakeholders.
While a section of the state saw the emergence of the immediate-past Commissioner for Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe, as the new Chief of Staff (CoS) to the Governor as a welcome development, against the backdrops of the massive influence wielded by his predecessor in office, Honourable Mikhail Al-amin Bmitoshai, in the first tenure of the governor, others saw it as a kind of shortchange of the Gbagyi (Gwari)-speaking people in the state. Balarabe, a former commissioner for finance and a Hausa speaking-person, is from Kagara, in Rafi Local Government Area of the state.
An insider, who spoke with Sunday Tribune on condition of anonymity, said not until 2015, after the appointment of Bmtoshai, the immediate-past CoS from Shiroro Local Government Area of the state and of Gbagyi extraction, none of his tribesmen and women had occupied an important position in the successive governments in the state, after the aborted Second Republic when a deputy governor in the state emerged from the area.
The very reliable source, however, stated that what the Gbagyis lost in the position of the CoS they had regained with the emergence of the new speaker of the State House of Assembly in the person of Right Honourable Abdullahi Abdul Bawa Wuse, who, though is from Tafa Local Government Area of the state, is also a Gwari-speaking person. The Gwari are one of the dominant ethnic groups in Niger State.
Another person close to the government, who spoke with Sunday Tribune on the governor’s appointment, mentioned that of the new SSG, Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, who is from Mashegu, Niger North Senatorial District, the same zone as Governor Bello. He is a former HoS and former commissioner for agriculture in the immediate-past PDP-led administration of former Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu.
The development is has been generating heat in the polity, as sources said the governor’s appointments have been receiving criticisms by the leadership of the state chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) over perceived marginalisation of the Christian community in the appointments of the principal officers in the new cabinet. Those made so far are said to be all Muslims, “to the detriment of their Christians counterparts in the state.”
The source, however, said there was still room for a better relationship between the governor and Christians, as there could be appointment of Christians as commissioners in some key ministries in the state.
“It is only important that the CAN leadership in the state should constructively engage the governor and dialogue over the matter,” he said.
He, however, blamed the CAN leadership in the state for allegedly adopting a political party in the run off to the just-concluded general elections, adding that rather than the Christian leaders to restrict themselves to a statement earlier issued by the religious organisation that all the political parties in the state should adopt Christians as running mates to the governorship candidates, CAN in the State went ahead and openly adopted the African Democratic Party (ADP) as its preferred political party after it field a Christian as running mate to its governorship candidate.
Appointments create anxiety in Ogun
Almost 19 days after the inauguration of Prince Dapo Abiodun, as the fifth democratically-elected governor of Ogun State, there is anxiety about who gets what appointment in the new cabinet.
Sunday Tribune recalled that Abiodun, during his inauguration dinner pronounced that there would be no appointments until after his 60 days in office. This pronouncement, no doubt, his coming to reality as the governor had till date made just one appointment since he assumed duty.
However, there are strong indications that the coalition of political groups that came together before the governorship election in favour of Abiodun has been scheming about who becomes what in this government.
Information has it that there are many forces contending to ensure they have input in the administration.
There is pervasive suspense over the issue of power sharing. A couple of interests worked for the governor, culminating in his election. Some of the caucuses belong to some former governors of the state, a serving senator and a senator in the Eight National Assembly, among other interest camps.
Meanwhile, the bulk of members of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) remain intact with their principal, a few of its members are said to have since joined the new political leadership in the state. They were said to have adopted a wait-and-see attitude, pending the outcome of the petition filed by the defeated candidate of APM, Honourable Kunle Akinlade, before the state Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.
Nasarawa power play
It is no longer news that Honourable Ibrahim Abdulahi Balarabe from Toto/ Umasha constituency has retained his position as speaker of the Sixth Assembly in Nasarawa State. His deputy is Honourable Nehemiah Tsetse Dandora from Akwanga North constituency.
Their emergence has shown that the ruling APC had done its homework very well to be able to convince certain members of the party eying the seats to sacrifice their ambitions for the sake of the party. The likes of Okpoku Mohammad of Look/Udege constituency, Muluku Agah, Nasarawa Eggon east constituency; Ogar Ogazi of Kokona East, among others, played significance roles that paved the way for Balarabe to emerge.
Information gathered revealed that the aforementioned members will definitely be rewarded accordingly to head various key sensitive committees or principal positions in the state Assembly to serve as compensation for their sacrifices.
More so, it was learnt that this group of persons certainly will have a say in any political appointment the Abdulahi Sule-led administration would make in the state as part of the arrangement.
Winner takes all
Like in the executive arm, the leadership of the Kaduna State House of Assembly was shared among the Kaduna North and Kaduna Central.
The speaker, Alhaji Aminu Shagali, who came from Zaria constituency, under Kaduna North senatorial district, was merely reelected. His re-election was a smooth sailing exercise, as nobody contested with him. Ever since he was elected to the House, the state governor, Nasir el-Rufai, it was gathered, had been drumming for his re-election. This cannot be unconnected with the role the speaker played to ensure that the governor got tremendous votes during the gubernatorial election.
Zaria Local Government, it was learnt, gave the governor the highest votes during his election.
A new development also came up in the House. For the first time since 1999, the Southern part of the state failed to produce the deputy speaker. Usually, if the Northern part produces the speaker, the Southern part would produce the deputy speaker.
However, this time, the position of the deputy speaker went to Honourable Yusuf Zailani from the central part of the state. This is as a result of the politics the Southern part played during the last gubernatorial election. It was gathered that the Southern part of the state put all their eggs in one basket by voting the PDP in the House of Assembly elections, while the APC did not have a single lawmaker from the area.
According to an official of APC, Yahaya Pate, “the Southern part has no case or reason to complain,” he said, adding that “it is winner takes all. The majority members who are from APC decided to vote for their own. So, case closed.”
Ganduje, Shekarau, Dabo, Abubakar’s camps strategise for power sharing
Sharing formula issue among the power brokers in Kano state began to rear its head penultimate week, with the emergence of officers in the state House of Assembly, particularly with the emergence of the speaker, member representing Ajingi constituency, Alhaji Abdulaziz Garba-Gafasa.
It will be recalled that Gafasa was speaker during the second term of former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, a situation indicating that the position of speaker had been tactically allocated to the former governor’s camp. Shekarau is now the senator representing Kano Central in his senatorial zone, a position earlier held by another former governor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
However, a reliable sources within government circle, who preferred anonymity, revealed that positions in the incoming cabinet would be shared between the Shekarau camp and the camp of those of PDP who defected after they were booted out, during a power sharing crisis involving them and Senator Kwankwaso.
It will be recalled that after victory at the poll, Governor Umar Ganduje, in his maiden speech, announced that the new cabinet would compose other party members and not only members of the APC.
It was also stated that caucus meetings are now going on among the stakeholders on ways to settle those who would be appointed as commissioners and the number each camp would bring.
According to our sources, it is clear that Senator Shekarau played a major role during the last governorship election, because his large support base overwhelmingly mobilised and voted en-masse for the APC, after their political godfather dumped the PDP for APC.
Also, it was gathered that notable people in the Kwankwasiyya group, the political platform known with Senator Kwankwaso, such as Aminu Dabo, former Managing Director of Nigeria Port Authority; Professor Hafix Abubakar, former deputy governor, who earlier resigned, joined the PDP and later came back to the APC, and a host of others, had been penciled in for positions, for their contributions to the APC victory at the poll.
Disquiet in Plateau
Three weeks after his swearing in ceremony as governor for the second term, Governor Simon Lalong is still keeping the people of the state and stalwarts of the in suspense over his cabinet. The people of the state are beginning to ask questions. Apart from his deputy, Professor Sonny Tyoden, the governor has no aide. The general insinuation is that the governor is probably waiting for President Buhari to name his cabinet members before he would follow suit.
A source close to the governor revealed that Governor Lalong recently set up a committee to work out modality for the new appointments, adding that the committee was billed to submit its recommendations to the governor this week for possible consideration.
However, the emergence of the new speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Honourable Abok, has not changed the zoning pattern adopted during the first term in office.