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the next cabinet

By Bisi Lawrence
This is a time of fear and anxiety, of hope and expectations, and of plots and counter plots among those who are desirous of being considered for appointment to the new cabinet at the federal level, as well as in the State governments.

The nation is agog with speculations. It is being said, for instance, that President Goodluck Jonathan is not going to reckon too seriously after all, with the list of nominees he has received at his own request from the State branches of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Though he might indeed not be tightly glued to the suggestions which, in any case, would appear to be too many for the ministerial positions in view, it is inconceivable that he would rely solely on his own inclinations in such an issue that is alI-important to the integrity of the party political machinery.To some individuals or groups who have rendered services of a sterling nature to both the retention of power at the federal level by the PDP, and the return of the President to Aso Rock. It is now payback time.

It is also being noised about that preferences would be given to technocrats, as against politicians in the choice of ministers into the new cabinet. I do or not believe that President Jonathan’s view about the essential quality of a cabinet, which is the effectiveness of project execution, could be so dim. Apart from the Attorney-General of the Federation, who, for obvious reasons as the Minister of Justice, has to be a qualified lawyer, the Constitution is generally not adamant about professional expertise as a requirement for ministerial appointments.

Ministries, especially those with various parastatal arms, are best served by experienced administrators who are able to combine men, material and money to achieve desired ends through the concerted efforts of other people. I believe they are loosely referred to as “managers”.

Of course it does not hurt if such people have a background of the subject at hand, which would tend to make them fit the description of technocrats. Indeed, there is no reason why a technocrat cannot, or should not be a cabinet minister. In the present situation of the country in which academicians and professional experts are being lured into politics, and are finding comfortable berths there, that would be practically unavoidable. But it might be ineffectual to mount a faculty of professionalism at the peak of a cabinet.

The release of the PDP ministerial list will now heighten, rather than lessen the pastime of speculation from which many commentators, and so-called commentators, cannot tear themselves away. They are now on firmer ground, and the names that are now known for a fact would at least curtail the flights of fancy that earlier produced names like that of Dimeji Bankole, the Speaker of the House of Assembly. Although re-cycling has its place in political adjustments and replacements, that still would be gratuitously untidy.

Those who are really in line for recycling – or feel they should be – are some of the former office-holders who have lost their positions. There would appear to be more this time around than at the other times, with the Southwest providing quite a crop into the pool.

When these losers were in office, they seemed to forget that the glory and honour, along with the spoils are all transient aspects of a public career.

Dimeji Bankole’s speakership of the House of Representatives is one for the records. Its mismanagement boggles the mind in its freewheeling run through scandals challenged or  yet to be probed. He leaves a trail of discontent and disharmony behind him as he leaves  the House. If he had been even merely proposed for a ministerial appointment, it would be  a case of re-cycling at its most galling height.

We recall that his appointment as the Speaker of the House of Representatives was accompanied by the high distinction of a national honour – the CFR, the third highest, no less. This was before he had done a stroke of work in the new position at that time. But some of his supporters felt that, the honour was even too low, since David Mark, the Senate President, had been awarded an honour that was one step higher – the GCON.

We felt that it was all rather precipitate, and said so at that time. We averred that the honour would be better awarded after he had served and proved himself worthy of it. Well, now that he has served, is he truly worthy? Or has his performance earned him the advance to a ministerial post? His “tribe” abounds. Its members should be turned around to face where they are coming from.

There are, of course, those who did lose in the recent elections because of the rejection of the PDP in their constituencies. Such people, to my mind, are deserving of consideration as a way of compensating them, as well as for the sake of the party’s image. Their case is the more proper in that they were not unseated from a former legislative or executive position, nor had they really ever served in government in any capacity.

One could mention Ade Dosunmu of Lagos State who was severely mismatched against a tartan in BRF at the Lagos State gubernatorial contest. Babatunde Fashola has but one more term, and a ministerial appointment now may arm Dosunmu for a better encounter next time, especially against a less formidable opponent. After all, Fasholas don’t come with every season.

One may also consider Olajumoke Akinjide who has the advantage of being a lady and would smoothly fill a slot within the promised one-third concession for female officeholders in Jonathan’s government. Her qualifications, of course, far outstrip such mundane considerations.

Scion of a well-known family to which politics is no stranger, she is sure to be an asset to the progress of any plans for Oyo State PDP in future. And, to stay a while with the distaff side, we have Elizabeth titi Uvoh-Gardner of Delta State, Esther John Audu, of Abuja, Habibah Isa Dutse of Jigawa, and Halima Jabiru of Nasarawa, not forgetting Kafilat  Ogbara of Ogun, Folake Akinjoko of Ondo, and Margaret Ebokpo of Cross River – women and hopeful for a chance to make President Jonathan fulfill his pledge to promote women to “the next level”, as the saying goes. (But we must not digress. Election promises are easier made than kept. We all know that.)

It is certain that the President does have his own nominees, of course. Most of them, it is easy to assume, would be the ministers he will retain. Our urbane Foreign Affairs lVlinister, Odein Ajumogobia; articulate, vivacious Deziani Madueke and others who would keep the stream of continuity flowing.

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the new “ka-bio-osi”
It was on a bleak, Christmas Eve in Kano., some fifty-eight years ago that the death of the reigning Emir of Kano was announced. He was the father of the current monarch, a father-figure much beloved by his subjects. The harmattan night took on a harsher aspect as a curfew was immediately imposed on the city.

All the social functions arranged for the festive occasion were immediately cancelled. No one dared to contemplate a disregard of the curfew because the “Wokilin Doka” was a man who brooked no nonsense from any quarter, and it was his father who had died. That was what Alhaji Ado Bayero was in those days – the head of the native authority police. The eldes son of the deceased Emir, Alhaji Sanusi, who was the Ciroma, was immediately named as the new Emir while Alhaji Ado succeeded him as the head of the city’s administration.

The citizens sat up. As head of the police or local government, Alhaji Ado would simply not be messed up by anybody. After a period of almost six decades, the situation, it would appear, remains the same. Alhaji Ado Bayero, Sarkin Kano, is still Alhaji Ado Bayero.

And so the Vice President, Mohammed Namadi Sambo, found out recently when he was late for an engagement with the Emir. He got an earful

But, more to the point, could a natural ruler in the Southern part of this country have given the VP dressing down, and got away with it? Have you not heard about what Adebayo Alao-Akala is up to in his disgraceful confrontation with the Alaafin of Oyo? Well, that is how well we have kept the honour of our traditions in  Yorubaland. The governors are the new Kabiyesi.
Time out.


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