MANY commentators have given their views on the perceived ‘mass resignations’ in the cabinet of Edo State government; while a few hit the bull’s eye, many were definitely off the mark.
Yes, there was a resignation from the cabinet: that of Dr Tunde Lakoju, erstwhile Commissioner for Agriculture. However, Lakoju is a lucky man; he had the opportunity to resign and didn’t get fired as is done in many states and even at the Federal level. I will return to Lakoju’s issue shortly.
The commentators listed those who have resigned as Ahonsi Unuigbe, Commissioner for Budget and Planning; Prof Ngozi Osarenren, Commissioner for Education; Dr Moses Momoh, Commissioner for Health; Jackson Eribo, Commissioner for Special Duties (Oil and Gas) and Dr Simon Imuekemhe, Head of Service.
However, the fact is that Unuigbe who was on secondment from Stanbic Bank was recalled by his bank following the expiration of the two-year period granted him by the bank to work in the Oshiomhole cabinet and despite entreaties to the bank to allow him continue in his capacity as Commissioner, the bank insisted on his return to take up a vacant higher position.
On her part, Ngozi Osarenren who was elevated to the exalted position of a Professor at the University of Lagos, last year, was also recalled by the University, her primary employer, to assume her new status as a Professor in the University.
Meanwhile, while many commentators say the duo have resigned, both are still active Commissioners in the cabinet and have only given notice to the state government of their intent to resign and return to their primary constituencies.
For Dr. Moses Momoh and Jackson Eribo, both did not resign their appointments but were dropped by the Governor as part of measures to reposition governance in the state. This is a normal exercise in every government; commissioners or other aides are dropped and others injected into the system to re-energise the government. To this effect, two new Commissioners, Mr Calistus Ojeabu and Francis Evbuomwan were appointed as part of the team to drive the dream.
Also Dr. Simon Imuekemhe, the State’s Head of Service did not resign from the cabinet but has given a notice to voluntarily retire from the state’s civil service having put in 31 years as a civil servant and having served as Head of Service for five years, nine months during which period he served three governors.
Dr Imuekemhe who called a press conference to announce his intention to voluntarily retire from the civil service said: “I called this press conference to clear the air as regards my notice to voluntarily retire from service. What has happened is that having served in the Civil Service for about 31 years; specifically, l have done five years and nine months in the office as Head of Service; I felt that l have done enough and that l should give opportunity for others to aspire to the office.
“Consequently l briefed the Governor who graciously accepted my intention. Thereafter l gave a month’s notice to the Edo State Governor of my intention to voluntarily retire from the state public service with effect from the end of February 2011.
“So it is not an issue of resignation, having put in about 31 years in the service, there was no way that l could resign from the service. l looked at my date of retirement, it is on the 1st of July 2015 and l believe that spending that number of years in office as HoS would not be okay as there are others who are Perm Secs who would also want to be Head of Service.
“What l have done is based on my conviction to voluntarily retire from the service. I want to say that l have very good working relationship with the Governor. Myself and the entire Service have had a good working relationship with him. I enjoyed optimum co-operation from the entire public service of Edo State.
“I want to say that l am very happy with the quality of service that the Governor Comrade Oshiomhole is delivering to the people of Edo State. I am part of the team and l have done all my best to ensure that the train is on course and l will continue to support the administration.
But for now, l believe that having spent more than five years in the office as HoS, it is only fair that l allow others to aspire to the position. The Governor in his wisdom has appointed Mr. Anthony Edokpayi as HoS-designate. He would take over when l leave the service’’.
Now back to Dr
Lakoju. As I wrote earlier, he was lucky to have had the opportunity to resign when he did. He could have been told to do so immediately he declared his intention to run for the Senate ticket on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) last year; however, due to the good nature of the Governor, he and others who declared their intention to run for political offices were allowed to stay on in the cabinet despite the hue and cry from outsiders that their continued stay in the cabinet might bestow on them an undue advantage over other contestants.
Again, Dr Lakoju could have been fired just after the primaries over his comments against the Governor and Government in which he served as Commissioner, however, he was spared and allowed to resign.
Lakoju’s problem, to my mind, was that he expected the Governor to simply endorse him as the candidate, something Oshiomhole, an avowed apostle of “One man, one vote” would not do. The Governor simply allowed all the aspirants to go to the field to test their popularity with the electorate and Lakoju, as it turned out, failed the popularity test with the electorate as he lost the ACN Senatorial ticket in Edo North to Deacon Domingo Obende.
Many politicians are desperate for position and power and they show their true colour when they fail to get it. Lakoju’s resignation from the cabinet and the ACN, and the reasons he adduced in his letter to the party showed he belonged to the class of the desperadoes.
Politics is a game of numbers and thank God, the ACN primaries in Edo have been hailed for giving room to all members of the party to elect their candidates and has been adjudged very free and fair in many parts of the state.
If Lakoju failed to obtain the numbers required to win the Senatorial ticket, then he only has himself to blame; he should not denigrate the principle of ‘One man, one vote’; let the people lead because of his personal failure.
In the final analysis, did anyone resign from the Edo State cabinet? Yes. One disgruntled Commissioner who believed that the Governor should deliver a senatorial ticket to him on a platter of gold without going through free and fair primaries.
Mr. SAMUEL EGUAIKHIDE, a lecturer, writes from Ekpoma, Edo State.