• Saturday, April 13, 2024
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BusinessDay

Fashola, Gbajabiamila, Alake top contenders for Tinubu’s chief of staff

Gbajabiamila: We may review Electoral Act to remove direct primary

Ahead of the unveiling of the members of President-elect Bola Tinubu’s cabinet, there are strong indications that Babatunde Fashola, Dele Alake or Femi Gbajabiamila may be considered to lead Tinubu’s State House administrative team as the Chief of Staff (CoS).

BusinessDay gathered that the trio were being considered because of their experience and close relationship with the president-elect.

A source within the inner caucus of the president-elect told BusinessDay that the odds appeared to favour Gbajabiamila.

“You know that Femi (Gbajabiamila) is not going back to the House to become the Speaker. So, he has nothing to lose. He is seriously being considered. Is he the only name being mentioned? The answer is no. Babatunde Fashola and Dele Alake are on the card,” the source said.

Gbajabiamila is the current Speaker of the House of Representatives. Fashola is the minister of works and housing, while Alake was the director of strategic communication of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council.

The Office of the CoS to the President wields strong influence on the administrative machinery through the roles the position confers.

The office was created by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 and modelled after that of the White House Chief of Staff to the American President.

The duties are usually assigned by the President but they are primarily focused on managing the flow of information and people, advising the President on various issues and exercising control over the President’s personal staff.

Read also: Alleged treason: Peter Obi replies FG

At a recent meeting at the Presidential Villa, Gbajabiamila had denied knowledge of being considered as the CoS to the incoming President.

The insinuation, BusinessDay had gathered, was occasioned by his absence at the event where the Independent National Electoral Commission issued certificates of return to the newly elected lawmakers.

“I don’t know anything about that Chief of Staff thing. All I heard was that I didn’t come here last week to pick up my certificate and for that reason, somebody conjectured that I must be in line for the office because I didn’t care about my mandate,” he said.

“I was in Lagos and I could not leave Lagos because I was campaigning for my party. That’s number one. Again, it’ll interest you to known that I was not here four years ago to pick up my certificate because I couldn’t make it,” he added.

Among others expected to play key roles in the incoming administration, according to our sources, are Yemi Cardoso, a financial and development expert; Ben Akabueze, director-general, Budget Office of the Federation; Nasir El-Rufai, current governor of Kaduna State; Ben Ayade, governor of Cross River State; Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano State; and Beta Edu, national women leader of the APC.

As part of what to expect, the President-elect recently nominated Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi State governor and Wale Edun, a financial expert, who many are touting as likely to play prominent roles in the incoming administration, into the Presidential Transition Council (PTC).

Edun was finance commissioner in Lagos when Tinubu was governor of the state. He is a financial expert with many years in the banking sector.

Edun, it is rumoured, may either take over as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria or serve as finance minister.

Bagudu played a prominent role in the election of Tinubu. “Governor Bagudu is the arrowhead of progressive governance. He is likely to be the minister of agriculture and water resources,” a source told BusinessDay.

Edun and Bagudu were announced by Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation, who is heading the PTC.

Mustapha disclosed that the President-elect was also expected to nominate another set of 13 persons into the main organising committee ahead of the May 29 inauguration.

The PTC, which was inaugurated on February 14, 2023, is made up of 24 members, including two persons from the President-elect’s team.

“After the declaration of His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the President-Elect, the PTC requested him to nominate his representatives on the council as provided in the Executive Order. The President-elect nominated His Excellency Atiku Bagudu, the Governor of Kebbi state and Chief Olawale Edun both of whom have since joined the process actively,” he said.