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ACN Clips Fashola's Wings; Impose Cabinet on Governor

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  Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola seems to have lost his long-running battle with the leadership of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) after the party hierarchy succeeded in imposing a cabinet list comprising mostly professional politicians whose credentials and loyalty are to the party instead of the Governor, who purportedly nominated them.      

  The Lagos State House Speaker, Mr Ikuforiji Adeyemi, said that 21 of them would be Commissioners while 16 would be Special Advisers. The exercise, which lasted three days and was done in batches of 13, 12, and 12 ended last Friday, July 1, 2011 . They are expected to be sworn-in next week. Sources however told that the original list sent by Fashola was rejected by the Assembly at the instance of the party hierarchy, who advised the Governor to respect party discipline.      

  Sources closed to Governor Fashola told that all but five of the 37 cabinet nominees who scaled through the screening process in the Lagos State House of Assembly were handpicked by the so-called ACN 'Big Three' - the party national leader and former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; former Lagos State Commissioner for Works and now Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola and former Lagos State Commissioner for the Environment and now National Legal Adviser of the ACN, Muiz Banire.      

  The final list comprised mostly professional politicians who do not see themselves as having a lot to prove, especially as most of them had worked for former Governor Tinubu. Many seem to harbor ambitions beyond their current assignments and very few are technocrats. They included: Mr. Tunji Bello, a former Commissioner for Environment in the administration of Bola Tinubu. Tunji Bello, prior to his nomination, had worked as the Managing Director of the Lagos state Signage and Advertisement Agency, LASAA.  

  Others are: a die-hard loyalist of the Osun State Governor Aregbesola and former Special Adviser to Governor Fashola on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Ganiyu Johnson, who replaced Aregbesola in his erstwhile dual capacity of Special Adviser and Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure since no Commissioner has been appointed in the Ministry after Aregbesola. Other nominees included former Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Ben Akabueze; former Special Adviser for Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa; former chairman of Lagos Island Local Government Area, Mrs. Aderinsola Disu; and former Special Adviser on Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Senapkon Oworu.  

  Also on the list are a banker with First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Mr. Tokunbo Abiru; former aide-de-camp to Tinubu, Mr. Gbolahan Lawal; former Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris; former Commissioner for Science and Technology, Dr. Femi Hamzat;   former Special Adviser,   Taxation and Revenue, Oyinlomo Danmole; former Commissioner for Water Front and Infrastructure, Prince Segun Oniru; former Chairman of Mushin Local Government, Mr. Seye Oladejo; Mr. Bosun Jeje; and former Publicity Secretary of the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr. Wale Ahmed.  

  Other nominees include a lecturer at the Lagos State University , Mrs. Oluranti Adebule; former Permanent Secretary in the state, Mrs. Florence Oguntuase; former Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Private Partnerships, Mr. Gbeleyi Ayo; and a former state Treasurer of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Mr. Lateef Raji.        

  The screening exercise was, however, not without some drama. observed that those who were nominated by the party leadership and foisted on the Governor were allowed to scale through without problems. Only the technocrats nominated by the Governor were seriously drilled. Former members of the Assembly on the list were simply asked to take a bow and proceed. One of the nominees, immediate past Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Ben Akabueze, prayed for the lawmakers that God would not allow them to die in the course of their legislative duties. It was followed by a resounding amen.      

  Another nominee, Olutoyin Ademola Ayinde, turned lecturer, as he took time to enlighten the lawmakers. Asked what he thought about demolition of buildings, ostensibly in reference to Fashola's demolition campaign to rid the city of shacks and eye-sore structures, Ayinde, a professional Town Planner, replied that throughout his educational career, he never came across a course dubbed 'Demolition'.      

  Sources who spoke with lamented the situation and complained that the governor would not have any authority over the appointees. He also said the cabinet was so composed to guard against any likely breach of agreement and loyalty from the governor against those who made him. "Remember that the governor is believed to have almost beaten then to the game during the elections by organizing the Labor Party and funding the campaigns of some of the candidates on the party's platform.  

  "Now, since this is his second term, it is believed that the governor may become a major challenge to the party. The party leadership believes he may end up wielding too much power if the allow him breathing space and would end up polarizing the party in the state," said one of the sources in a telephone conversation with Continuing, he said that "with these appointments, the man now has a lot of open spies around him who would closely monitor his dealings and report back to those who put them in government."  

  But the accusing fingers were strongest against Governor Aregbesola who is accused of unobtrusive interference in Lagos State Government affairs, despite being the governor of Osun State . "What is the man still looking for? He left the Ministry of Works since Tinubu left office, yet he has continued influence whatever is done in the place through his godson, Ganiyu Johnson, who is feared in the cabinet because of his godfather. You can imagine that the Ministry gets a budget allocation that some states get as their overall budgetary allocation for a year, yet Lagos is still faced with huge infrastructural challenges.  

  "Aregbesola, seven months after becoming the governor of Osun state, has refused to pick his Commissioners, but he could nominate those to be appointed in Lagos state. This is very funny and I'm really scared for the governor as he may end up not achieving much this time except he is allowed by the party," a loyalist of the Governor said.