KOGI CABINET: WADA'S WAYS
BY BOLUWAJI OBAHOPO
GOVERNOR Idris Wada has been unable to constitute a cabinet in Kogi State almost four months after stepping into office thereby putting the political class and other stakeholders in suspense over his direction and dictates.
MANY who thought Captain Wada's assumption of office in January rather than the expected April date would bring immediate change in the political scene seem disappointed. The governor, it turned out was not in a hurry to throw away the system he inherited. Indeed, he only dissolved the cabinet he inherited from his benefactor and predecessor until last month.
The absence of a cabinet has inevitably led to a dull in the political space. The dullness has been compounded by the absence of elected local councils.
However, under the apparent calm political atmosphere are deep-seated intrigues and lobbying by politicians, who have been running from pillar to post in order to make the list. Past appointees are still courting the favour of their boss, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris to aid in wooing the governor to either retain them or find another position for them.
Though late in coming amid pressure from the civil society, legislators, media and opposition, the dissolution of the cabinet took many people by surprise.
Delay in making new cabinet
However, as the people heaved a sigh of relief with the dissolution, the euphoria was short lived as it was not followed with the composition of a new cabinet. And this has heightened pressure and relative tension in the polity. Politicians and others alike are now using the vacuum to pressure Wada for one appointment or the other; a situation political analysts and observers say has created more confusion and tension in the state.
Idris' influence: Feelers from Government source say that the political maneuvering of topnotch politicians, bigwigs and lobbyists was constituting a clog in the governor's plan and made it impossible for the governor to appoint the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and constitute his cabinet on time.
The source added that the former governor was also bent on forcing some of his aides on the incumbent governor contrary to his promise of giving Wada a free hand in the appointment of the cabinet members.
Wada's dilemma: As it stands, the delay in the composition of the cabinet and appointment of political aides appear to have put the governor in a dilemma as doing contrary to his predecessor's wish may be considered as an act of ingratitude and betrayal considering the role Idris played in his emergence.
However, the Special Adviser to Captain Idris Wada on Media and Strategy, Mr. Jacob Edi assured that the new cabinet would soon be constituted. He said that the governor was taking his time so as to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the people, who are clamouring for a paradigm shift.
Mr. Edi, however, who could not give specific time frame for the re _constitution of the new cabinet. He, nevertheless, denied speculations that the new cabinet would be dominated by members of the recently dissolved cabinet former governor Idris.
A human rights activist, Comrade Idris MilikÃ¯ of Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR), warned that bringing any of the past political appointees would spell doom for the new administration because it would be counter - productive.
New trend of lobbying: A new trend of lobbying not known before has been introduced in the state as the home of the governor is now a Mecca of sort. Some politicians, who felt they are not getting the right signal and are being rejected, have shifted to Wada's father, Pa Ejiga who is believed to have a huge influence on his son.
Also, Chief Olushola Akanmode, who was Wada's director-General (Campaign) and Alhaji Isa Kutepa have assumed a position of authority in the state and seem to have a big influence over who would make the cabinet
Streets strewn with sacrifice
Presently, major junctions and intersections in Lokoja. the state capital and some major towns are littered with items used for sacrifice. Some observers link the situation to frantic efforts of political players and jobbers to either make the list or have their associates appointed.
It was learnt that at the last count, over 100 names have been submitted for various political appointments from the 21 local councils of the state.
Sources told Vanguard that professionalism and experience would be some of the yard sticks that would inform the appointment of commissioners, a move that is alien to the state political field.
Wada, at different fora, had said that the appointment of commissioners would not be business as usual. He said people who would make the list must possess the basic qualifications for such positions. Unlike what happened in the last dispensation where unqualified people dominated the government, Wada said those who would be appointed as commissioners must be graduates of high standing with requisite years of experience.
SSG slot tears Kogi Central apart: However, appointment of the SSG is already tearing apart the people of Kogi Central Senatorial District of the state where it has been zoned to.
At least, 10 persons are known to have been penciled down for the position. From Ogori/ Magongo, the likes of Mr. Vincent Aiyedun, Bode Ogunmola and Chief Matthew Keyi have emerged. From Ajaokuta federal constituency, Moses Ado Okino has been nominated. And from Okehi/ Adavi constituency are Arc. Mohammed Sule and Hon. Abdulkarim Salihu, a two- time member of the House of Representatives.
Among the 10, the race seems to be among four persons - Chief Moses Ado Okino, Arc. Mohammed Sule, Hon. A.K Salihu and Hon Bode Ogunmola. Incidentally, Mr. Okino and Hon Salihu are former members of the National Assembly, while Arc. Sule and Ogunmola were members of the state executive council at various times. However, the Adavi / Okehi federal constituency seems more favoured given political calculations and permutation.
Extension of lobbying
The lobbying has also been extended to the quarters of the state House of Assembly members, who are also believed to have a say on who becomes a commissioner, particularly from their constituencies.
The Supreme court judgement which threw out the case of former Bayelsa State Governor, Timipre Sylva may have given Governor Wada some hope given that his legal battle seems to be alike. What is left for him now is the other battle at the tribunal with the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate, Prince Abubakar Audu.
With some stakeholders urging Wada to do away with the godfather syndrome, which characterized previous administrations in the state and make haste in forming his cabinet, the next few weeks will be very interesting as maneuvering and intrigues reach feverish peak.