L-R: Ex-Govs Oyetola, Ganduje, Lalong
Ex-Govs who should not be in Tinubu’s cabinet
By Tajudeen Suleiman
In a few days’ time, speculations would begin on the composition of President Bola Tinubu’s cabinet as many would expect the president to quickly form his government in view of the enormous task ahead.
He already got the approval of the Senate to hire 20 special advisers. After the election of the leadership of the 10th National Assembly, attention will shift to persons likely to be in the cabinet of the president.
Surely, expectations would be high. The president has impressed many Nigerians, including some of his harshest critics, in his last two weeks in office.
He’s probably the only elected Nigerian president who was welcomed into office by the threat of a nationwide strike by workers following an unexpected hike in fuel price due to removal of federal government subsidy.
But he wasted no time to nip in the bud a workers’ strike that could paralyze the country and increase economic hardship.
He has also demonstrated that government is heading in a new direction by some of the actions he’d taken since coming to office.
The crisis between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Department of State Services over ownership of a building in Lagos was quickly resolved after presidential intervention.
Under the past administration, such misunderstanding could have snowballed into a skirmish before someone would think of resolving it!
Without much ado, the unpopular Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, was also quietly suspended while investigation into his tenure had commenced.
So, it’s been a momentous two weeks for Mr President, and Nigerians expect the positive actions to escalate.
This is why I’m inclined to make my own suggestions on how Mr President can sustain the momentum he started off. And one of the ways he can keep all of us applauding is to appoint the right cabinet.
The list of his ministers and special advisers is what everyone will be waiting to see, as it would be an indication of the capacity and direction of his government.
Tinubu is known for rewarding loyalty. But he has also built a reputation as a brilliant head hunter.
He demonstrated this while he was governor of Lagos State.
But Nigeria is not Lagos. Nigeria is a bigger proposition. No doubt all the All Progressives Congress state governors who helped his election first as presidential flagbearer and later as president would expect payback. Some of them lost re-election while some have completed their two terms.
His challenge with ex-governors will cut across the 25 states where he scored above 25 percent of the votes. But the pressure would be more in the states he won outrightly including Jigawa, Zamfara, Kogi, Niger and Osun, where the governors are now jobless, except the Kogi governor who would end his second term in November.
Tinubu will also be under a moral burden to accommodate ex-governors who worked for his success but couldn’t win their states, and are now jobless.
These include Nasir El-Rufai, Simon Lalong and Atiku Bagudu of Kaduna, Plateau and Kebbi States, respectively.
Of course there are also ex-governors in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party who worked for him. But none compares to Nyesom Wike, ex-governor of Rivers State who delivered the state to Tinubu in the presidential election.
Out of all these ex-governors who may be angling for cabinet positions, there are a few that must not find their ways into the cabinet either as a ministers or special advisers. Government apparatus is big enough and Tinubu could find other ways of rewarding his men besides cabinet positions.
After a personal assessment of the ex-governors, it’s my opinion that some of them would be unsuitable for cabinet positions on account of their performances in office. The criteria for my assessment are two things—achievements in office and public perception.
The ex-governors that failed my assessment, and who I strongly believe had not shown capacity and would not bring any goodwill to the Tinubu administration include Bello Matawale of Zamfara State, Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, Simon Lalong of Plateau state, Gboyega Oyetola of Osun and Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger States.
While Nasir el-Rufai is an achiever who had amply demonstrated competence to deliver on the mandates of all the public offices he had occupied, including as governor of Kaduna, I however score him low on public perception.
El-rufai is largely perceived as a divisive and polarizing figure even in Kaduna State-his home state. The Tinubu administration needs personalities who combine competence with public acceptability.
Tinubu needs people who bring amity to government, not hostility. Considering the strong opposition to the ticket that brought him to power, President Tinubu needs men and women with capacity and goodwill in his government to help quickly heal a fractious nation.
Ex-governors Ganduje and Oyetola may have performed in their states, but they have little or nothing to bring to the government in terms of public goodwill. The viral image of Ganduje pocketing dollars from government contractors in Kano is still in the memory of Nigerians while Oyetola will be largely seen as an appendage of the First family—being Tinubu’s cousin.
Matawale and Sani Bello did not impress in their states as governors and they will transfer that baggage to the new administration. Under Matawale, terrorism thrived in Zamfara and he was unable to control insecurity. He also left no legacy of infrastructural projects when he left the government house in Gusau. Sani Bello is also a co-traveler in this regard.
Lalong is another lackluster ex-governor who did not leave his mark on Plateau State. While I can make a case that Tinubu should not allow him hang out in the cold due to the role he played in his presidential campaign, I can not recommend him for a ministerial appointment.
He did not transform the fortunes of his state as governor for eight years.
But I can make a case for the former Kebbi State governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who pioneered the rice revolution in the north and turned his state into the leading rice producer in the country.
Kebbi State rice production has hit 3.56million metric tonnes with the prospect that the state may start exporting to other countries. I’m minded to say he could be a good minister of agriculture.