Cash, intrigues delay cabinet formation in Ogun, Abia, Niger, Cross River

September 1, 2019
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INSUFFICIENT funds and political intrigues are delaying the constitution of the  Ogun, Abia, Niger and Cross River States cabinets almost 100 days since the inauguration of  their governors either for a first or second term, The Nation can reveal today.

Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State who was sworn in on November 27, 2018 is also yet to constitute his cabinet.

Investigation by The Nation correspondents in the affected states showed that pressure are still mounting on the governors to assemble their team.

Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, according to sources, is weighing his options carefully in view of the combination of the highly influential political forces that helped him into office against all odds by his immediate predecessor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.

He is said to be seeking an amicable formula to satisfy at least the majority of the interest groups that worked for his victory.

Abiodun’s situation is not helped by alleged booby traps laid for him by the last administration in the state such as the many decisions that were taken a few days to the exit of the former governor.

It was gathered that the  is bidding his time  and striving first to remove all the landmines and deactivate all booby traps before appointing his  Commissioners.

Again, assembling a cabinet team early in his administration means huge running cost in order to maintain the commissioners at a time the Governor cried out that he inherited almost an empty treasury beside the debt burden left behind by Amosun.

The Governor had to run to the bank – friends for a N7b loan facility to pay this first salary of workers on his assumption of office in May.

Women in the state have been particularly visible in mounting pressure on the governor to give them a fair representation in his cabinet.

Last month, a coalition of women organisations in the State seized the entrance gate to Governor Abiodun’s office, demanding 50% women representation in his yet – to –  be – constituted cabinet.

The women drawn from Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Justice Development and Peace Centre(JDPC) among others, stormed the Governor’s Office  to  make their position known early enough before he summits his list of  nominees to the State House of Assembly (OGHA).

The women led by Dr. Biola Akiode (WARDC) and  former Commissioner of Information in the state, Mrs Doyin Ogunbiyi, said: “We are here to make some request, we have sent formal letters across ahead of time, we have done what we call an open letter which we have circulated in the media. We know that we are in the season where governors from different state sending their nomination to the state Assemblies across the country.

“As at today by record, there were just seven women among the 43 ministerial nominees the president sent to the National Assembly.

“We don’t want to react rather to be proactive to make our request clear and by empirical evidence of this state that we know.

“About eight years ago, there are about 42 per cent woman representation in the state governance and it was also sustained in 2015. We believe that this present government would consider that to have the people’s representation in this coming cabinet.”

But Governor Abiodun said the reason he was yet to assemble his team has nothing to do with paucity or absence of funds.

Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Kunle Somorin, the Governor said he is carefully scouting for his team and would announce their names upon conclusion of the search.

He explained that it is not going to be “job for the boys” thing, saying “competence, character and commitment” would determine who makes the Cabinet team.

“That’s not exactly so. The Governor is carefully selecting his team and will announce his cabinet once he concludes his search

“His major criteria are competence, character and commitment.  The search is on. He has promised an inclusive, participatory and focused governance.

“(Is it) job for the boys? No. You must merit the appointment and that’s why the cabinet may not be peopled by job seekers and political jobbers,” he stated.

Anxiety in Abia over Ikpeazu’s cabinet

Residents of the states are worried by the inability of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to constitute his cabinet fully since his inauguration for a second term in May.

One of them Nduka Ogbonna said: “Since we are running a democratic government, everybody has something to contribute to making government work.

“Commissioners should be there to do the needful to impact on the people or to deliver what they call the dividend of democracy. To me, not constituting his full executive is affecting the governor as well because he cannot be everywhere at the same time.

“Those commissioners are supposed to be his eye in those different sectors. I know that we have permanent secretaries, but permanent secretaries are not politicians. They are like the engine of the state; what they do is administrative work. It is the politicians that know the policies of the state government. The permanent secretaries may not know because they don’t attend the Executive Council meetings. They don’t know the party policies as well. It is only when they know what the policy of the government is through the commissioners that they can now act and work towards helping the government achieve the same purpose.

“So, the governor should do well to constitute his cabinet and quicken governance. He may be thinking that he has time, there is no time and if the governor is choosing his commissioners, he should choose those that understand where the government is headed and not those that will be recommended by his godfathers.”

The chairman Aba Unit of Civil Liberties Organization, Dr. Charles Chinekezi said: “The governor doesn’t have any option but to constitute his cabinet. There is no reason why the commissioners and other top government functionaries shouldn’t have been completely constituted by now.

“I know that there are adequate people and qualified people who can fill in the positions but you know that political infighting and intrigues will always come to play in such appointments. But whatever that is the case, he should know that he is the man that is in charge.

“Not having his complete cabinet sends a wrong signal telling the public out there, that there is a problem within the circles of government.”

However, in a response to why the state government is yet to constitute her cabinet, the State Commissioner of Information, Chief John Okiyi-Kalu stated that the names were already compiled.

Okiyi-Kalu stated that the governor would have had his cabinet members’ complete if not for the ongoing recess by members of the State House of Assembly.

According to him, the names would be formally presented to the legislature as soon as they are back from recess later this month.

Sani Bello still searching in Niger

Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State is still searching for members of his next cabinet according to sources in Minna.

It was gathered that the governor is not particularly happy with the general performance of his  commissioners in the last dispensation and now wants   fresh  hands.

The Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mary Berje told The Nation that setting up a cabinet involves a process and the Governor would constitute his cabinet at the end of the process.

The State House of Assembly is currently not in session as the complex is undergoing rehabilitation.

Speaker Abdullahi Bawa Wuse hopes the rehabilitation is completed soon enough to enable the Legislators return to their legislative duties.

Lack of funds, likely cause of cabinet formation delay in Cross River

Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State dissolved his first cabinet last May.

He also let go about 8, 000 appointees in his first term as governor.

Ayade had gone ahead to drop a hint about those that would be appointed into his next administration, promising that some members of the dissolved cabinet would be reappointed into government.

But since then, the new executive council is yet to be set up and there seems to be no indication that it would be in the near future.

The governor had operated a food-on-the table policy in his first term, where he believed distributing government funds directly to as much people as possible would do much to circulate cash in the system and solve the pervading problem of poverty, which explained the thousands of appointments he made.

With the cabinet dissolved and the governor yet to announce a new one knows at the moment exactly what plans the governor has in mind.

Though he is yet to constitute his cabinet, the governor had so made a few appointments since he won his re-election. He retained his Chief of Staff, Martins Orim as well as appointed Mr. Godwin Nyiam as the acting Director General of the Department of Public Transportation (DOPT) and Engr Oxford Egbe as the acting Director General of the Cross River State Development Control Agency. He had also retained Mr Christian Ita as his Chief Press Secretary as well as appointed a few Special Assistants on Media.

At the moment ex-cabinet members keep turning up for state functions despite the fact they presently hold no portfolios in government. This is because most of the invitations sent from Government House for state events are also extended ex-cabinet members, though it is not clear what this about.

The governor at a public event had said those to be considered for appointments in his current  administration would be those who delivered in their polling units in the last general elections. The purpose again for this is not exactly clear as his party the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) generally did well across the state in the elections.

The most likely reason it seems the governor is yet to constitute his cabinet is lack of funds. It appears the directive by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) about local government funds has put the state in a financial quagmire at the moment. For a government that regularly pays salaries promptly, workers for the first time started experiencing delays in payment of their salaries.

An indication that the governor may not have any intention of constitution his cabinet is his setting up of various task forces, mostly most of which are made up of former cabinet members from his first term.

The governor’s decision to set up task forces had drawn the ire of some people, who wonder how the governor would achieve his goals without a proper cabinet.

For instance, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Mr Goddie Akpama, who described the development as degrading, said there can be no financial approvals of state resources; hence he questioned how the governor would implement the projects.

“Why does the governor have to set up task forces instead of appointing commissioners? For us as a state this is very degrading. We have heard he intends to wait until around November. That means there shall be no financial approvals of state resources, as they cannot approve money without an exco. How would governor implement those gigantic protects? How would the state function? Is he taking us forward or back. To me he is not taking us anywhere,” Akpama, a former governorship candidate, said.

Akpama also lambasted the governor’s former commissioners for accepting to work as members of the various task forces, describing them as desperate and cheap.

Osun may soon inaugurate cabinet

Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State may soon constitute his cabinet. Since the governor and his deputy, Mr. Benedict Gboyega Alabi, were sworn in last November 27, the people of the state have been looking forward for formation of the government cabinet and there had been no end to the waiting game.

It was gathered that the delay in the formation of the cabinet to drive the policies and programmes of his administration could be linked to the governor’s adoption of a new process of nomination which includes direct involvement of   politicians, particularly at the grassroots.

However, an informed source said the governor being a technocrat may assemble ae mixture of experts and politicians.

The Supervisor for Information, Mr. Lani Baderinwa, said the governor lately had been preoccupied by providing a strong foundation for his administration and will soon constitute a formidable team to work with him to deliver his campaign promises to the people of the state.

He said what was paramount to the governor is  good government, adding that his administration as the continuation of the immediate past administration of the Rauf Aregbesola is well positioned to meet the yearnings of the people.

He said Governor Oyetola had shown concern for the state House of Assembly and the National Assembly elections, which he said will largely determine the performance of his administration.

He said: “In the past few months, the governor concentrated more on the state House of Assembly and the National Assembly elections because of the importance and constitutional roles of their members to the executive arm of government. And to the glory of God, the ruling party in the state, the All Progressives Congress, has the majority figure of 23 out of the 26-member assembly.

“Also, in the last few months, Governor Oyetola has been trying to integrate the state into the federal government programmes. For instance, his frequent visits to Abuja to draw the attention of the Federal Government to Osun, is already yielding good results in solid minerals. And now that he has achieved giving his administration a strong footing to make him forge ahead and deliver on his campaign promise the next in line is the formation of the cabinet to work with him to deliver the dividend of democracy to the people of the state.”

Advising the people to exercise patience with the governor, Baderinwa assured that they will not be disappointed with the caliber of people to be in the cabinet because “Oyetola as an experienced public officer and a distinguished technocrat is well positioned to lead the state.”

There is no mistaking about it what is imminent in the state is the formation of the cabinet. But what is not clear, however, is if the ruling All Progressive Congress in the state will want to share power with other political parties as members of some of these parties are angling for inclusion.

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