Nigeria: Fierce Battle for New Cabinet Jobs Rages in States

National assembly.
25 April 2019

Thirty-five days to their May 29 inauguration, both the newly-elected governors and returnee-chief state executives are under intense pressure from politicians and interest groups for appointments as commissioners and aides in their proposed cabinets.

Since the governors-elect were presented their certificates of return by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), their homes and offices have come under siege by lobbyists seeking appointments and favours from them.

Apart from politicians, traditional and religious leaders have joined the jostling to have their loyalists in the incoming cabinets.

The lobbyists have also marked close relations and political godfathers of the governors-elect for assistance to get their desired offices.

In a nationwide investigation conducted by LEADERSHIP, it was discovered that some of the new governors and those re-elected for a second term in office are eager to run an inclusive government by allocating some positions to the opposition parties.

In Adamawa State, for instance, the governor-elect, Alhaji Ahmadu Fintiri, is looking beyond the usual winner-takes-all syndrome.

Sources close to him told LEADERSHIP that his cabinet would accommodate all the interests that ensured his victory at the March 9, 2019 governorship election.

Those being considered for appointments, according to one of the sources are key members of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), who worked tirelessly against the incumbent governor Muhammadu Bindow for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate to win the election.

The sources disclosed that the governor-elect would allocate two commissioners to Abdulazeez Nyako, the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), who was the third major contender in the governorship polls.

It was also learnt that even the blocs of the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari; former secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, and the Buhari Support Group would benefit from the Fintiri cabinet.

Other leaders, whose supporters are being tipped for some offices are Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate in the February 23, 2019 election, and former PDP national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.

The chairman of the 65-man transition committee, Alhaji Ismaila Numan, declined to disclose the identities of the would-be commissioners.

The battle is fiercer in Katsina State where 100 people are allegedly struggling to secure placement in the next cabinet of governor Aminu Bello Masari.

At present, seven persons from Katsina local government area have openly shown interest in Masari's upcoming cabinet.

An APC stalwart who sought anonymity, said: "There is a serious challenge before Masari as the extensive lobbying ahead of his inauguration for a second term in office has shown."

It was gathered that no fewer than three aspirants in each of the 34 local government areas of the state are lobbying to be in the State Executive Council (SEC) comprising 16 commissioners and a similar number of special advisers.

The APC leader added that virtually all the incumbent commissioners and aides are seeking to be retained in the next cabinet.

But another party source claimed that not up to five of the serving commissioners and special advisers would be retained if the governor walked his talk that their re-appointment would be based on their performance.

The lobbying for cabinet or other executive positions in the state is reportedly done through different platforms including the current favourite Islamic sect in Katsina, the JIBWIS. Pundits revealed that the sect influenced the appointments of no fewer than two commissioners and a special adviser among others in the present cabinet. The lobbyists are also said to have found the listening ears of the Daura monarch while his Katsina counterpart has reportedly remained indifferent.

According to the sources, one difficult bridge most aspirants must cross to get into the new cabinet is Alhaji Dahiru Bara'u Mangal, a business mogul cum politician, who has shunned public functions after the elections. He is believed to have travelled abroad to reduce the pressure on him as a major factor in who gets into the new cabinet.

On his part, Governor Masari, LEADERSHIP learnt, has assured that everyone that contributed to the landmark victory of Katsina APC in the last elections would be rewarded.

Similarly, the lobbyists have put the Kano State governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, in a tight corner over who makes his second term cabinet.

According to findings, the jostling for plum jobs in the state began as soon as INEC announced him as the elected governor of the state.

In a chat with one of the governor's spokesmen, he described the intense pressure on Ganduje as "unimaginable."

He said: "It's a normal thing for people to come out and jostle for positions after any political contest but what they are witnessing now would best be described as an act of desperation. In those days the governor-elect would be given a breathing space to choose the calibre of people to work with, but the story in Kano seems to be a far cry from the past."

Some top politicians in the state said that institutions including the Kano Emirate Council, the APC, the wife of the governor, influential senators and House of Representatives' members-elect could influence the governors on his new appointees.

Ganduje is said to be under pressure to include people of various political divides within and outside the APC in the new SEC.

In fact, LEADERSHIP learnt that Ganduje was told to reward those who parted ways with his former political mentor Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and defected to APC to ensure his victory.

Members of the 44 political parties who worked for the governor's re-lection are also to be compensated. The same goes for members of the Buhari Organisation, women and youth groups, who are angling for appointments.

Lobbyists Reach Out To Govs-elect Families In Gombe, Kwara

In Gombe State, the governor-elect, Mohammadu Inuwa Yahaya, is also under pressure from those scrambling for positions in his proposed cabinet.

The lobbyists have allegedly taken their ambition to the governor-elect's wives, Senator Danjuma Goje, the director-general of his campaign council, Mohammed Zubairu Umar, leading gubernatorial aspirants like Farouk Bamusa, Habu Muazu, Jibril Barde, Jamil Isyaku Gwamna, some APC leaders at the national level and presidential aides.

Some of the lobbyists have resorted to blackmail and character assassination to outwit their suspected competitors.

An associate of Yahaya told LEADERSHIP that "it is not unusual for people to lobby for positions after an election because some feel they worked hard for the party and therefore deserve to be rewarded, while others will rely on their personal relationship with the governor for appointments, some will bank on their connections with party big wigs or the governor's relative.

The associate who claimed to be in the picture of the underground lobbying said that Inuwa Yahaya should be guided by these events and shun those who want appointments to use the state institutions to further enrich themselves.

"If I were the governor-elect I would ask anybody who comes to lobby to spell out the issues of state interest that make him or her fit for a position," he said.

In Kwara State, the governor-elect, Alhaji AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq is not spared of pressure from various quarters on the formation of his cabinet. Following his announcement of an 80-member Transition Committee, the issue of appointments in the next administration has assumed the front burner in political discourse in the state.

Stalwarts of the APC, friends, political associates and the likes are positioning themselves for appointments into various offices when the administration takes off on May 29 this year.

Those jostling to make cabinet and other offices are reportedly lobbying the brothers of the governor-elect to help prevail on him to consider them for appointments.

Also, top stakeholders from the three senatorial districts in the state have reportedly been reaching out to top party leaders in the state and at the national level on the issue.

Various groups within the party that joined forces to defeat the incumbent PDP administration in the state have allegedly compiled and submitted the lists of their preferred candidates for appointments.

Those interested in the cabinet are said to be lobbying the governor-elect's elder brother and a younger brother, Dr. Alimi AbdulRazaq and Mr. Isiaka AbdulRazaq respectively, to influence their appointments.

Lull In Abia, Apprehension In Ebonyi

Unlike other states, lobbyists have virtually gone to sleep in Abia State due to the absence of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, who left the state for abroad immediately he was re-elected.

The lacklustre approach by political job seekers may not be unconnected with Ikpeazu and his Ngwa kinsmen's emphasisis that the administration is theirs.

Occupying nine of the 17 local government areas in the state, the issue of who gets what appointment as commissioner and other strategic offices have remained the Ngwas' decision ever since the governor came into office.

Most of what could be termed as juicy ministries and top government positions are occupied by them and there are no reasons yet to believe that there will be any change in the incoming administration.

Any idea or even simple advice from non-Ngwas has always been interpreted as opposition and aimed at challenging the state's Chatter of Equity upon which the governor came to power.

The immediate past governor of the state, now the Senator representing Abia North Central District at the National Assembly, Theodore Orji, has remained aloof in both the nomination of appointees and the running of the administration.

Perhaps, the only indication or signs of interest said to have been made by a non-member of the present administration is that of the commissioner for information and strategy.

As was the case when he was shopping for members of his first cabinet in 2015, Ikpeazu has never appeared as if he is under any form of pressure to nominate any for his next cabinet.

There has been apprehension among members of the Ebonyi State Executive Council following the rumoured plan by governor David Umahi to dissolve the cabinet and appoint new ones.

Shortly after the governorship election which he won, Umahi travelled for a two-week vacation in the United Arab Emirates and China where according to feelers, he may likely shortlist members of his new executive.

The governor, who is believed to be in charge of all his activities without any external influence or godfatherism is seen as not under any pressure to appoint his executive council members.

However, since the rumour of the decisions to draw his list while on vacation filtered in and that the governor may have kept the list to his chest, his country home has become a beehive of activities as many commissioners and aspiring ones have continued to visit his Uburu community to lobby the brothers who are seen as major power brokers in his administration.

Hard Choices For Oyo Governor-elect

The Oyo State governor-elect, Mr. Seyi Makinde is faced with the problem of how to appoint the principal officers including commissioners to help him steer the ship of the state in the next four years.

Since his declaration as the governor-elect by INEC, pressure has been mounted on him on the appointment of commissioners and other aides.

The coalition of political parties like the Zenith Labour Party, Unity Forum, the remnants of the PDP that united to ensure he triumphed over the outgoing governor, Abiola Ajimobi and his incumbent APC machinery have morphed into a committee of a sort.

The incoming governor has been engaging in a charm offensive, trying to win the people and power brokers of the state to his side in order to ensure a smooth transition.

Despite winning on the platform of the PDP, the nature of Oyo State is such that a few mainstays still have huge control over the state's political pulse. Wary of offending any party beyond the point of no return, Makinde is caught between a rock and a hard place.

The jostling for political appointments in Benue State has been silent following the governor's annual leave two weeks after his re-election.

Ortom Overwhelmed By Fresh Violence, Aspirants Bank On Niger Elder Statesmen

Governor Samuel Ortom has however cut short his leave to return to the state following the persistent killings of Benue residents, to join major stakeholders in addressing the crisis in Kastina Ala as well as at some border communities of the state.

The governor who according to the chief press secretary Terver Akase, is already in the country, explained that the decision became necessary following renewed killings of innocent people and destruction of property by gunmen especially in the Sankera area of the state.

The social media is washed with speculated names that have been pencilled for various positions, which is yet to be verified until the Governor arrived the state.

Lobbying for political appointments in Niger State is always more intense than the election itself because of the array of influential people who want to place their people in strategic positions in the state.

Consequently, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello is naturally under pressure, since he won his second term in the last general election, especially as the number of people who cluster around him has suddenly increased.

LEADERSHIP findings revealed that the governor even before he collected his certificate of return had started receiving more visitors before he travelled abroad to allow the pressure to go down.

It was learnt that the governor returned recently to meet lobbyists who have devised a strategy of approaching traditional rulers and former Nigerian leaders for support.

Findings revealed that the number of visitors received by the former leaders like General Ibrahim Babangida and General Abdulsalami Abubakar has increased.

A source hinted that whereas it was known that IBB would not out stick his neck to lobby for anybody even at the national level, some of the lobbyists are taking advantage of the governor as son-in-law to Gen. Abdulsalami to further mount pressure on him for strategic positions in the government.

Some of the lobbyists have taken their aspirations to the parents and brothers of the governor, making them to avoid many visitors to their homes whom they think may want to seek their intervention in the composition of the cabinet.

Tambuwal Troubled By Wamakko's Factor, Sule Plans Lean Cabinet In Nasarawa

Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal's re-election has come with a lot of nightmare as his defection from the APC to the PDP seems not to be taken likely by the leadership of the party and its members in Sokoto.

Admittedly, Tambuwal, after winning his first term in 2015 was left with no option than to retain 90 per cent of the political appointees of his erstwhile godfather, Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko.

Having won a second term in 2019 and in a different party with Wamakko, the greatest worry for the governor now would be either to retain majority of those appointees considered to be loyal to the senator or take a different cause.

Taking that decision, according to pundits, would either strengthen or worsen the governor's political mileage.

As thing stands, the seat of the Caliphate politics is between either making a new choice or continuing with known old faces who are considered largely to be loyal to Wamakko.

Bearing that in mind, lobbyists are engrossed in a series of nocturnal moves to not only get the governor's attention on the impending calculations but also, why he must take absolute control of those to be appointed.

In the viewpoints of these lobbyists, Tambuwal's best bet to control the SEC is to ensure that 98 per cent of those to be appointed are his loyalists.

This, according to them, will tilt the political equation in his favour in due course.

In Nasarawa State, the people have settled for a technocrat who has made his mark in the private sector, Abdullah Alhaji Sule as their new governor.

A source close to Sule hinted that like the outgoing governor, Tanko Al-Makura, he might not run a large cabinet with huge resources without any reasonable result in the name of politics.

But the jostling for commissionership and other positions has begun in earnest in the state.

The outgoing commissioners are believed to have reached out to Al-Makura to help them secure their seats in the new cabinet.

It was gathered that the incoming governor plans to bring home some indigenes of the state who are doing well in the private sector and understands his policy direction into the state to help him achieve his vision and mission.

1,000 Aspirants Emerge in Imo, Ayade To Trim Cabinet

With the emergence of a new order in Imo State, where Hon. Emeka Ihedioha emerged as governor-elect, a lot of scheming for one political positions has gained momentum.

As it is, all aspirants into political offices, including perceived political jobbers have been making both clandestine and other moves to be recognised for the purpose of being appointed into offices by the incoming administration.

The eyes of the lobbyists are on the strategic ministries of justice, health, commerce and industry, works and housing, women affairs and child development.

Knowing the daunting task at hand, Ihedioha recently set up a Transition Technical Committee (TTC) of 139-membership said that about 1,000 persons have indicated interest in his cabinet

In Cross River State, a lot of behind the scenes activities are on with politicians who are about to quit offices following the marching orders of governor Ben Ayade to his appointees to prepare hand over notes before the month winds down.

The lobbying spree in the state is not limited to the political class alone as academics and even fresh graduates want placement in Ayade's new team.

Ayade plans to reduce the size of his new cabinet. This may have accounted for why he directed the incumbent appointees to prepare their handing over notes before the inauguration date.

Tinibu, Shettima Take Charge In Lagos, Borno

In Lagos State, politicians have started lobbying the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, other members of Governor Advisory Council (GAC), the governor-elect, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat.

Ironically, there is a way it works in Lagos: the various positions are used by the party leaders to reward their followers who delivered their constituencies in any election.

This was why Tinubu ab-initio urged them to, "work and deliver your polling unit to party. If you lose your polling unit, you are on your own. If you lose your constituency, don't come home, it means you can't deliver."

The governor-elect or his deputy do not really decide who is appointed a commissioner or special adviser in the cabinet, members of the Governor Advisory Council (GAC) led by Tinubu having given out the number one and two slots of the governor, deputy governor also decide who gets the remaining slots.

Over time, the practice has been to give the governor-elect and his deputy a slot or two to nominate commissioners or advisers. What that means is that the pressure is not really on them to compile names of people to be appointed into the executive council.

LEADERSHIP checks showed that the politicians making overtures to be appointed have served in previous administrations in the state and are reaching out to power brokers to return to government.

Some of the old appointees who are political apostles of Tinubu have served at one time or the other either in the administration of Tinubu (1999-2007) or that of Babatunde Fashola (2007-2015) and are said to be in the front roll for a comeback.

Thus, the Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, campaign office of Sanwo-Olu and Bourdilon residence of Tinubu, also in Ikoyi, have become a convergence point for the former appointees, who stick around most of the time to ensure nothing is left to chances.

In Borno State, the lobby for who becomes who in the cabinet of the governor-elect, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, is restricted to the outgoing governor, Kashim Shettima, the APC and the incoming governor.

This is playing out because of the permutations and horse-trading that characterised the emergence of the governor-elect from the primaries to the main election.

Party men and aspirants who stepped down for Zulum before APC primaries want to be appeased with positions for their sacrifices.

Curiously, both the outgoing and the governor-elect have been out of the state for over a month with political pundits claiming that the duo purposely stayed away to be free from political jobbers.

No Pressure On el-Rifai, Bala Mohammed Relies On PDP Loyalists

Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State has reportedly commenced the selection of his second term team.

Though, LEADERSHIP learnt that many of his commissioners who performed below expectation would not come back, a sizeable number of his special advisers and senior special assistants will be reappointed.

The state government has already directed all political appointees to submit their letters of resignation by 30th April, 2019.

A prominent politician in the state who pleaded anonymity told our correspondent that other governors maybe under pressure over appointments but not el-Rufai.

He said: "I can tell you that the governor is not under any pressure over appointments but you know it is natural in politics there may be interest here and there. I said it because the governor knows who is competent to handle these positions. Everyone will be carried along but it does not mean the governor will compromise the standard. Each appointee may have set targets to meet."

The incoming administration in Bauchi State has a tough task of choosing its cabinet as high profile personalities had worked to ensure its victory at the polls.

The Transition Committee inaugurated by the governor-elect, Senator Bala Mohammed may play a major role in the selection of the new appointees.

The committee is headed by Senator Adamu Ibrahim Gumba, Alhaji Aminu Yapeco is the deputy chairman while Alhaji Umar Barau Ningi will serve as the secretary.

The inauguration committee has Senator Abdul Ningi as chairman with Alhaji Tanko Dutse as deputy chairman while Alhaji Maula Aliyu will serve as the secretary.

Youths Task Wike On Promises, Udom Not Set For Major Shake-up

There are speculations that Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, is under pressure from leaders of the ruling PDP in the state for their loyalists and supporters to be appointed as commissioners, special advisers and other appointments in the second term of his administration.

This is as the current members of Wike's cabinet and other political appointees are also lobbying to retain their positions, based on the roles they played in ensuring his reelection.

Also, there is pressure from leaders of a faction of the APC led by Prince Peter Odike, who are mostly loyalists of the senator representing Rivers South-East, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe. Before the conduct of the elections, the governor signed a social contract with youths of Rivers State, where he pledged to give 40 per cent of all appointments in his second term to the youths.

Based on this, the state chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) and the One Million Youths for Wike have not relented in their efforts to get the governor to fulfil his promise.

While most people want a new direction in the constitution of new Akwa Ibom State Executive council, Governor Udom Emmanuel is likely to keep his commissioners and special advisers intact.

LEADERSHIP check reveals that the governor is not worried about changing his commissioners and special advisers for now.

Although the governor during the build-up to the 2019 gubernatorial election had done away with some commissioners and other political appointees, loyalists of Senator Godswill Akpabio may not be retained in the upcoming team.

A close aide of the governor who did not want his name in print said most of the present commissioners and special advisers have performed well especially during the last general election that saw the governor to victory.

Political pundits believe that the governor needs fresh hands and ideas to assist him in his second term but all these are within the realms of speculations.

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