Politics

Cabinet: Will these commissioners-designate make or mar Gov Abdulrazaq’s administration?

Last Thursday, the Kwara State House of Assembly finally confirmed the
sixteen commissioner-nominees earlier sent to it by Governor
Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq ending weeks of anticipation and horse trading
among members of the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress
(APC). In this report, HEAD POLITICS, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM appraised the
circumstance that led to their emergence and readiness for the task
ahead amidst growing concerns in the polity about the pace of
governance so far.

What actually is Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq trying to achieve
with the list of the commissioner-nominee sent to the House of the
Assembly and how will their confirmation by the legislators after
weeks of expectation for the Governor to form his cabinet really
impact on the governance of the state. Moreover, now that their
confirmation has been concluded by the lawmakers, who will be
appointed into what ministry and how will his choices impact the
system? These and many other questions have agitated the minds of
stakeholders and political watchers in the state, many of whom have
expressed divergent views over the issue.
Governor’s Cabinet
Following the uproar that the list of the cabinet generated within the
party, many political observers believed that the final outcome of the
horse trading among top party stakeholders did not reflect their
concerns and input. Following serious complaints during the
compilation of the first batch of nominees submitted by the Governor
by the top stakeholders that they were not carried along in the scheme
of things, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq reportedly called for a
truce meeting to address such concerns raised by the aggrieved
chieftains many of whom contested the governorship ticket with him.
Party insiders noted that although many of them were assured that
their interests will be considered in the selection of the remaining
list, that was however not the case as the two batches that
subsequently followed didn’t fulfill such promise. It rather further
widened the already expanding gulf between him and the party leaders.
According to some leaders of the party, the leadership crisis rocking
the party has its root in the 2023 election, accusing the governor of
plans to build his own structure away from the consolidated platforms
that thrust him to power. Already, the issue has polarised the party
executives with some supporting the governor and others queuing behind
the Chairman of the party, Bashiru Omolaja Bolarinwa (BOB) which has
led to the suspension of some ward party chairmen across the state.
From the Plenary
While the issue of the nomination of the cabinet members almost
crumbled the party and still threatening its unity, attention shifted
to the plenary of the Kwara State House of Assembly for the screening
and confirmation. The l6-man list which came in three batches of 4, 6,
6 had 10 women including 26 years old Joana Kolo who was still engaged
in her NYSC service when the governor picked her. However, following
the conclusion of the screening exercise which reversed the ratio with
which their names were sent to 6,6,4 pattern of screening, the three
days grilling has thrown up another round of concerns and queries by
political players.
Although the lawmakers did not spare any of the first 6-nominees on
Tuesday during the screening based on earlier vow that the House will
not adopt the bow and go pattern, the speaker however used his good
office and diplomacy to ‘rescue’ some nominees who may find it
difficult to handle the missles that were hurled at them by his
colleagues. But the first six nominees who heralded the exercise came
under scrutiny for over six hours and they appeared ready for the
fireworks.
Analysing the Nominees
Following the conclusion of the screening exercise, it was clear that
the Governor’s list at the end of the day was a mixture of
technocrats, politicians and professionals all rolled up in one. While
some of them dazzled especially the first batch made up of Ayinla
Jawondo Salman (Asa); Suleiman Rotimi Iliasu (Moro); Aliyu Mohammed
Saifudeen (Kaiama); Afolabi Oshatimehin Adenike Harriet (Ifelodun);
Sa’adatu Modibbo Kawu (Ilorin South); and Dr Raji Razaq (Ekiti), the
likes of Murtala Olarewaju (Oyun); Aremu Abosede Deborah (Irepodun),
Oyedun Julianna Funke (Isin) Joanna Nnazua Kolo (Edu) and Ahmad
Fatimoh Bisola (Ilorin West) amomg others were ‘bailed’ by the speaker
and given the privilege to take a bow and go. The daugther of former
Governor Muhammed Lawal,  Arinola Fatimah Lawal (Ilorin East) was the
only nominee who did not say a word throughout the screening because
of the position her late father occupied in the state. But the
question that has remained in the lips of many is why would the
governor chose to appoint a fresh graduate as regards the issue of
Kolo against those considered to be more competent with political
experience and exposure. The onus now lies on her and other appointees
with whom some people have expressed certain reservation about to
prove bookmakers wrong.
Concerns on portfolios
While the screening lasted, the exercise once again brought to the
fore the need and importance for governors to consider attaching
portfolios to the list of nominees that are sent to the House of
Assembly. All the nominees now commissioner-designates that were
screened were all questioned on probability of heading certain
portfolios based on their resume which is not necessarily a yardstick
at the end of the day. Although the likes of Barrister Jawondo and  Dr
Raji Razaq may have been designated for the ministries of Justice and
Health, some industry watchers believed their successes in that sphere
may be hampered by certain encumbrances if care is not taken. For
instance while some top legal experts in the state advised that
Jawondo must draw the line between being a politician and a lawyer to
properly advise the government and not incur unnecessary litigation
and judgement debt for the state. Experience has shown that appointing
a practitioner to head the health ministry has always been defeated by
the serious internal rife among the various associations in the sector
leading to demand that a non health practitioner be appointed. Also,
with the look of things, there might be the issue of many party
supporters weighing the option from the equally difficult choice of
whether to have technocrats against politicians in the cabinet
especially with the 2023 election in perspective a situation which
consumed former Lagos Governor Akinwumi Ambode despite his
performance. Same also apply to some of them who are considered to
have been nominated on the strength of an ‘intimidating’ resume like
Aisha Ahman Pategi and quite a few others. The issue however is to see
how they will be able to function and perform to meet the huge
expectations of the people some of whom are already worried about the
pace and direction of governance in the state.
Interesting Hypothesis
Now that the issue of the cabinet is over and people awaits to see how
best fit the commissioner designates will be for the ministries, the
real issue is whether this set will be able to add real value to the
programmes and policies of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq
administration especially in the light of the circumstance that it
rode to power or they will shoot themselves in the foot if they choose
to be albatrosses that will ultimately devalue the government if they
fail to properly rationalise and situate the need to have good
governance in line with the expectations of the people vis-a-vis the
political exigencies and expectation of the people that brought the
All Progressives Congress (APC) government to power. In a nutshell,
will these commissioners-designate make this government or become a
clog in the wheel of its progress. The scenario will become clearer in
the days ahead.

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