• Friday, September 29, 2023
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Tinubu: One week of ‘hectic’ start as Nigeria’s president

With the resistance and public outcry that greeted the removal of the petrol subsidy on May 29, President Bola Tinubu has had a “hectic” one week in office according to those close to him.

Apart from having to wake up within the week to agitations and headlines suggesting a push-back on the fuel subsidy removal, coupled with forceful threats from labour unions, Tinubu has also had to grapple with making some key appointments, including his media aides who should ordinarily have resumed office with him.

Many are of the opinion that one week after inauguration; the Tinubu’s administration seems to tread a cautious path, as BusinessDay learnt that many of his supporters jostling for political positions may be in for a surprise.

It was gathered for instance, that the president, cautious of the political battles and what he continues to describe as a “gruesome” campaign that heralded his emergence, needs a strong team to deliver on his campaign promises and pull the country out of its present doldrums.

With a regime facing a total debt stock of over N70 trillion and an economy in a near emergency situation, the first one week of Tinubu as president has been devoted to intense consultations with relevant stakeholders.

Femi Gbajabiamila, the chief of staff; George Akume, the secretary to government of the federation, Adams Oshiomhole, Wale Edun, Yemi Cadoso (last two being internal members of the finance think-tank), and Dele Alake, have been working behind the scenes, to help the president navigate through some of present challenges, including making sure that members of the organised labour did not embark on the planned nationwide strike over fuel subsidy removal.

Though other appointments, including the crucial cabinet members are still being awaited, many have applauded Tinubu’s decision to bring in experienced hands like the appointment of Femi Gbajabiamila, a seasoned lawmaker, and George Akume, a former Benue State governor.

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BusinessDay gathered that like the two appointments, the president is cautious to fill the position of his special adviser on media, despite speculations, and has decided to look beyond the current team that handled his campaign activities, namely Bayo Ononuga, Dele Alake, Tunde Rahman, Abdulaziz Abdulaziz and Tope Ajayi.

Sources close to the president said he has opted for a young vibrant media practitioner for the office. It was also learnt that the president may compensate Ononuga with an ambassadorial appointment, while Dele Alake may head the information and culture ministry as a minister.

It was gathered that Alake, who has been coordinating the media team since the president’s assumption of office, is also saddled with shopping for a young and vibrant media practitioner for the special adviser’s position.

However, the National Assembly on Tuesday approved the president’s request to appoint 20 special advisers, whose names he did not mention.

And ahead of the June 13 inauguration of the National Assembly, Tinubu is still battling to settle rifts over the leadership of the assembly amid strong opposition to Godswill Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom and his preferred candidate for Senate president.

While the president has been working behind the scenes to create a soft ground for Akpabio’s emergence, opposition continues to grow from Orji Kalu, a former governor of Abia State, and Abdulaziz Yari, a former governor of Zamfara, as well as Osita Izunaso, a ranking senator from the Southeast, who believes that the position is due his region in the spirit of equity and fairness.

Not wanting a reoccurrence of the 2015 crisis in the All Progressive Congress that led to the emergence of those in opposition as leaders of the 8th National Assembly, BusinessDay gathered that the president may wash his hands off the contest and allow the APC senators decide who leads them in the 10th assembly.

The president, consequently, scheduled to meet with the elected APC lawmakers on Wednesday, June 7, and the opposition on Thursday, June 8, as part of the lobbying efforts. The meeting is a follow up to the one he held last Thursday where he met with the leadership of the National Assembly, led by Lawan, in order to resolve issues around the leadership of the 10th National Assembly.

The president later met separately with aspirants for the position of speaker and deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu respectively.

Speaking with the State House journalists after the meeting, Lawan, assured that the choice of the leadership of the 10th assembly will be guided by national interest, before their inauguration on June 13.

An insider in the president’s team, summarised the president’s first week in office as “hectic”.

The insider, who prefers to remain anonymous, said “the government has taken off on a strong cautious note. Now that the Senate has approved his 20 advisers, the president will before the end of this week roll out the first set of his personal aides, among others.”