• Monday, December 11, 2023
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Presidential Villa: 90 days after Tinubu’s inauguration

Bola Tinubu

In politics, over the years, “vested interest” has continued to play dominant roles in accessing and dispensing political patronage.

The first three months of President Bola Tinubu witnessed intense lobbying for strategic positions, as the All-Progressive Congress (APC) and Tinubu’s close political allies battle for the spoils of victory, after the 2023 general election.

Read also: Tinubu to meet Ambode in Aso villa Friday

Tinubu’s emergence followed strong backroom deals, heavy lobbying of those at the helms of the ruling All Progressives Congress, with the governors playing dominant roles

This strong political horse-trading saw him choosing a Muslim running mate to please the powerfully centrifugal religious forces in the north, in a political system that is characterised by ethnic, tribal and primordial divides and patronage

Thus, in other not to kiss out of the distribution of spoils of victory, President Tinubu’s first three months saw the emergence of intense lobbying by those who believe that the juicy part of the spoils must first go to those who backed his emergence, as against considerations for the large number of economically struggling members of Nigerian voters

Harold Lasswell, an American political scientist and communications theorist, had viewed politics as the interplay of actions which determines “Who gets what, when and how.”

Perhaps, it was this concept that also influenced former President Olusegun Obasanjo to warn his kinsmen against developing political apathy, during his tenure.

Obasanjo had while battling to secure the support of the Yorubas for his administration, said that in the art of governance “If you are not at the centre of action, you won’t know how the sharing formula was arrived at, and in extreme cases, you may not get your share.”

Several years after independence, Nigeria has continued to battle the politics of ethnicity, primordial, sectional and nepotistic maladies, that have impaired development.

Read also: Tinubu commits to resolving Nigeria-UAE visa dispute

Thus, it is not uncommon to hear such sayings like “he is one of our own” “Our man is there now” and the latest in the Nigeria’s political lexicon” Emilokan” or better still “awa lokan” literally meaning “ it is my turn” or “our turn.”

Nigeria’s fragile federal structure is characterised by lopsided and imbalanced access to the “commonwealth.”

But to check this, Section 14(3) of the 1999 constitution as amended, prescribed and established the federal character system.

According to that section, “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or any of its agencies.’’

Based on the above, the purpose of the federal character was to prevent the dominance by any sectional group, be it ethnic, geographic or religious, in the country’s political governance.

Also, in Section 147 [3] of the Nigerian Constitution, mandates the federal government to ensure that appointments of Ministers reflect the number of states of the federation and FCT, to satisfy the federal character of Nigeria in appointments to public offices.

An assessment of the President’s appointments so far, however, indicates that there has been no clear departure from the old order, a system that almost allows for a “winner takes all” approach

Expectedly, President Tinubu’s programme in his early days in office was controlled by a team of personal aides, close friends and family members who constituted a small “cabal” headed by Wale Edu, now Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy; Dele Alake, now Minister of Solid Minerals Development and later, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Chief of Staff ( CoS) to the President

Until the recent appointment of Ajuri Ngelale as the President’s Spokesman, his retinue of aides were largely made up of those from one ethnic group; that is in the President’s appointment of senior special assistants (SSAs), personal assistants (PAs), personal physician, and photographers.

The new appointees include Tunde Rahman, who has been designated SSA (Media); Abdulaziz Abdulaziz is SSA on Print Media, the SSA Political will be handled by Ibrahim Masari, Adekunle Tinubu is Personal Physician, Damilotun Aderemi is Senior Special Assistant (Private Secretary) and Toyin Subair – Senior Special Assistant (Domestic).

Senior Special Assistant (Digital/New Media) went to O’tega Ogra, Demola Oshodi is Senior Special Assistant (Protocol); Tope Ajayi – Senior Special Assistant (Media & Public Affairs); Yetunde Sekoni – Senior Special Assistant; Motunrayo Jinadu – Senior Special Assistant; Segun Dada – Special Assistant (social media); and Paul Adekanye – Special Assistant (Logistics).

Others are Friday Soton, Special Assistant (Housekeeping); Special Assistant (Catering) is Shitta-Bey Akande, Nosa Asemota as Special Assistant (Visual Communication) Personal Photographer and Kamal Yusuf will be the Personal Assistant for Special Duties to the president

The President had also named Adeniyi Adewale, a Yoruba man, as the Ag. Comptroller General of the Nigeria Custom Service, Kayode Egbetokun as the acting Inspector General of Police, the President also appointed Folashodun Shonubi, as the acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), following the removal of Godwin Emefiele.

Read also: Who is Folashodun Adebisi Shonubi, acting governor of CBN?

In an effort to have full grip of the security forces at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the President appointed his kinsman, Adebisi Onasanya, a Colonel, as the Commander, elite Guards Brigade, that provide personal protection for the President.

He also appointed Moshood Yusuf, a Lieutenant Colonel, as Commander, 7 Guards Battalion, Asokoro, Abuja.

The Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Health, Olufunso Adebiyi has been redeployed to the State House and has assumed duties after handing over ceremony at the Ministry on Friday 11 August 2023.

Bisoye Coker-Odusote is the general manager/CEO of the Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency (LASIMRA) who has been appointed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Director General (DG) of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

Coker-Odusote had previously worked as a Special Adviser on Technology to President Tinubu, when he was the Governor of Lagos, from 1999-2007

On Friday, the President also named Mojoyinoluwa Dekalu-Thomas as the new Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO) for a term of four years.

All the above appointees are of the Yoruba stck.

Others include Auwalu Inuwa, Commander, 177, Guards Battalion, Keffi, Nasarawa State, Mohammed J. Abdulkarim, Commander, 102 Guards Battalion, Suleja, Niger and Olumide A. Akingbesote, as Commander, 176 Guards Battalion, Gwagwalada, Abuja, all, within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and its environs.

Other Military Officers appointed in the Presidential Villa, include Isa Farouk Audu, (KN/14695), a Major, as the Commanding Officer, State House Artillery, Kazeem Sunmonu (N/16183), a Captain as Second-in-Command, State Ho Artillery, while Kamaru Hamzat (N/14656), also a Major, as the Commanding Officer, State House Military Intelligence.

This is just as TS Adeola (N/12860), a Major, takes over as Commanding Officer, State House Armament, A. Aminu (N/18578), a Lieutenant, as Second-in- Command, State House Armament.

The strength of South West lobbying power also reflected in the recent appointment of Ministers, as they got nine Ministers

Read also: Full list of ministerial portfolios according to geo-political zones

This includes; Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, Minister of State, Environment -Ishak Salako, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of The Economy

Wale Edun, Minister of Interior, Bunmi Tunji-Ojo.

Others are the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, Minister of State, Health and Social Welfare, Tunji Alausa, Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake, Minister of Tourism, Lola Ade-John, Minister of Marine & Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola

On the other hand, the South East was allocated five Ministries, including the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Anite, Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, Uche Nnaji, Ministry of State, Labour and Employment, Nkiruka Onyejeocha, Ministry of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy and Ministry of Works

David Umahi

The South-South had Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development Festus Keyamo, Minister of Niger Delta Development

Abubakar Momoh, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, Minister of State, (Gas) Petroleum Resources; Ekperipe Ekpo, Minister of State, ( Oil), Petroleum Resources; Heineken Lokpobiri, Minister of Sports Development; John Enoh and that of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike.

The North West also had nine Ministers, including Minister of Art, Culture and The Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa, Minister of Defence, Mohammed Badaru, Minister of State, Defence, Bello Matawalle, Minister of State, Education, Yusuf T. Sununu, Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Ahmed M. Dangiwa

Others include Minister of State, Housing and Urban Development Abdullahi T. Gwarzo, Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu, Minister Of State, Federal Capital Territory, Mairiga Mahmud, Minister Of State, Water Resources and Sanitation, Bello M. Goronto and a yet-to-be allocated Minister of Youth Development.

Similarly, the North East has the Minster of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, Minister of Education, Tahir Maman, Minister of Transportation, Sa’idu A. Alkali, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf M. Tuggar, Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Ali Pate; Minister of Police Affairs, Ibrahim Geidamand; Minister of State, Steel Development, U. Maigari Ahmadu.

The North Central got the Minister of State, Steel Development, Shuaibu A. Audu; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi; Minister of Information and National Orientation, Muhammed Idris, and Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon B. Lalong.

Others are Minister of State, Police Affairs, Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim; Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Zephaniah Jisalo; Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Joseph Utsev, add Minister of State, Agriculture and Food Security, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.

These appointments were seen as a likely repeat of the former President Buhari’s era, which completely negated the expectations of a cross section of Nigerians that the President Bola Tinubu administration would have first initiated a broad-based policy for national reconciliation to strengthen unity and gain acceptance.

2015, Buhari’s appointments, had attracted a widespread outcry, because, as many as 75percent of such appointees were Northerners.

Former Governor Samuel Ortom in a lecture in Enugu, saw those appointments as further helping to “balkanise” the fragile ethnic situation

A retired Military officer, Umar, once noted that Nigeria, under Buhari “became dangerously polarised and risks sliding into crisis on account of the lopsided appointments, which continue to give undue preference to some sections of the country over others.”

According to Suleiman Audu, an Abuja-based lawyer, “Nigerians had wanted the President to publicly acknowledge that the 2023 general election was badly flawed and move quickly to initiate policies for electoral reforms.”

He disclosed that Nigerians had wanted the President to carry out comprehensive reconciliatory programmes to unite the badly fractured social cohesion, resulting from the former President Muhammadu Buhari’s “years of misrule and highly nepotistic policies,” prioritise actions that would have given Nigerians the confidence that his administration has the interest of all Nigerians at the centre of his administration’s policies.

They also believe that the place to start is not by “wishing away” the election and asking for Nigerians’ support.

Audu, in his analysis, believes that the APC government and in particular, President Bola Tinubu, will however face a herculean task, given the process through which he emerged.

“There is no doubt that globally, many of Nigeria’s trading partners will be very cautious in dealing with him, based on the opinions of international observers on the outcome of the 2023 general election.

Audu, who believes that the world is now a global village, noted that only a strong policy initiative to revive the economy will help create the needed confidence in his administration

“He must also not make the mistake of bringing in those crooks who helped him to rig the election in the name of rewarding them.”

Auwal Ibrahim (Rafsanjani), executive director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) a non-governmental, non-profit organisation, also counselled the President to accept that his election was flawed, adding that “like the late Yar’Adua, he must take urgent steps to heal the wounds arising from the conduct of 2023 election.

“Let him be a statesman like the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who admitted that his election was flawed and went ahead to address the issue by setting up the Justice Uwais Committee on Electoral Reforms.

According to him; doing that would have made Nigerians believe he is serious and is also prepared to move the nation in the right direction.”

Ibrahim, who insisted that Nigeria is going through unstable political atmosphere, added that “once the political atmosphere is not stable, you cannot stabilise any other sector.”

According to him, “Buhari made a mistake of sidelining those who did not vote for him, in 2015, he must not repeat the same mistake.”

Read also: Tinubu seeks US support for economy, accepts Biden’s UNGA invitation

According to him, Tinubu should have distanced himself from those he described as political “crooks and criminals,” adding that “the government must not be used as compensation platform for political thugs and miscreants in the name of rewarding political associates and who helped him to win the election.”

He declared that these would ensure that his government has legitimacy and would attract the necessary support.

“He needs to ensure that whoever he appoints also declares his/her assets, immediately they take over offices, as well as carry out strong judicial reform and ensure a proper separation of powers between the three arms of government.

“Others will include carrying out deep-rooted security reforms, because we cannot continue to allow our policemen to guard crooks and criminals,” he said.