PUSH NEWS 24 INTERNATIONAL: August 28th, 2023
OBASA SQUARE UP WITH SANWO-OLU IN LAGOS.
If it was a deliberate move to embarrass Lagos state Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, it was spectacularly effective and devastating.
The Governor was left red-faced as he felt the first challenge to his authority since he took office in 2019.
The Lagos State House of Assembly in a surprise move had rejected 17 nominees that Governor Sanwo-Olu submitted to the Assembly.
Of the 39 nominees screened, only 22 scaled the hurdle while the others, mainly returning former commissioners were rejected.
This had never happened in the history of Lagos especially since the All Progressives Congress (APC) controls both the executive and the legislature.
To most people, the action of the House showed that there was a political war between the governor and the Assembly.
But what could have led to this?
Before the face-off, there had been no love lost between the Governor and the Speaker of the Assembly, Hon Mudasiru Obasa.
Following the decision of President Bola Tinubu to hand over the political control of the state of excellence to Sanwo-Olu, the Governor saw it as an opportunity to exert his authority on the polity, and especially the House of Assembly and its Speaker who saw himself as the alternate governor. So obvious was the aloofness of Obasa that he never attended any function with the Governor.
He would rather delegate other Assembly members to represent him on such occasions.
Sanwo-Olu saw his new position as political leader as an opportunity to cut the Speaker to size. In the build-up to the selection and election of the House of Assembly leadership, the governor propped up Hon Abiodun Tobun to challenge Obasa for the Speakership of the House.
The political move created so much tension in Lagos that President Tinubu was forced to invite both gladiators to State House, Abuja during which he brokered peace among them.
The President was said to have persuaded the Governor not to humiliate the Speaker but let Obasa retain his position as Speaker even as he specifically drummed it to the hearing of all those present at the peace meeting that the Governor remains the political leader of the state and party in Lagos.
While the President’s decision is seen as a mediation, Obasa sees it as a move to consolidate his hold on the Assembly.
Immediately after he was re-elected Speaker, he ensured his loyalists in the House were put in leadership positions just as he alienated the opposition.
He also went ahead to start challenging the Governor’s leadership.
The House accused the government of being soft on every issue, and more especially on security. They ordered him to address the House more than once.
A move that had never happened in the history of the state.
It was in the middle of this tension that the Governor, to comply with the constitutional requirement of 60 days to submit his cabinet list forwarded a 39-man commissioner nominees list to the State Assembly.
Most of those whose names were submitted included returning commissioners- ers who were mainly technocrats brought in during Sanwo-Olu’s first term.
This was where the face-off between the Legislature and the Executive became glaring.
Many of these technocrats, even though they held political positions for four years, never joined the party or related with the politicians and members of the House.
What’s more scandalous, they never registered as party members nor were they registered to vote at the election. Also, when queried, they do not know which ward they come from.
They were also accused of having collected over
N50 million each to mobilize voters, but never did.
This, the legislators lamented applied to the most highly profiled members of the last cabinet who see themselves as untouchables.
Another contributory factor is that almost all those rejected “have no political base and no grassroots affiliation.” Most of them are friends of the governor.
For instance, former Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who was rejected, has no political base, he is not a politician.
The Assembly swept them aside because of this.
For instance, if performance was the yardstick for the confirmation, there is no way Abayomi will be disqualified, there is no way Gbenga Omotoso will be rejected, there is no way Folasade Adefisayo will be rejected, there is no way Sam Egube will be turned down, yet they were all rejected because of their political naiveness.
Another factor that worked against some of the nominees not cleared is that they were never registered in Lagos and they moved up to another state to vote, yet they aspire to political positions in the Centre of Excellence.
The Assembly saw this as cheating on behalf of those who were around and took part in the election.
Some of the Commissioner nominees did not perform well during the screening at the House of Assembly. For instance, the former Special Adviser on Works and Infrastructure, Aramide Adeyoye, was said to have performed poorly during the screening.
The House embarrassed her while the screening lasted.
Aside from this, Adeyoye is said to be the architect of her misfortune.
As the special adviser on Works and Infrastructure during the first term of Sanwo-Olu, she was supposed to report to
the Deputy Governor, Dr. Kadri Hamzat.
She was said to have bypassed him and reported directly to the governor. She only reported to the Deputy Governor after certain decisions had been taken.
This did not go down well with Hamzat, who is not happy about the development.
This made her case special and there was no way she could have scaled the screening as many forces were against her.
Religious factor is another reason many nominees were dropped.
About 15 of those dropped by the Assembly are Christians.
Some Muslim groups had raised dust that of the 39 Sanwo-Olu nominees, only nine of them were Muslims. This might not be unconnected with why about 15 Christians were rejected by the Assembly.
Rebellion is in the air in Lagos, and it is threatening to derail the well-ordered system put in place by Tinubu.
That the people and politicians think differently is now widely accepted.
Why they do so is another matter.
One possible explanation is that in the time politicians spend plotting, the people are docile expecting miracles from nowhere.
As the tension builds up, Lagos remains an exception to the rule in the political firmament of the country.
There is only one Nigerian for whom Lagosians, great and small will turn up en masse and on time, he is President Tinubu.
This is because he controls the levers of politics in the only self-reliant state government in the country – Lagos.
In the political firmament of the state, he is the lone Iroko tree that makes a forest.
Today, Tinubu has moved up and on in the political ladders of the nation. Realizing this, he handed over the control of the political levers to Sanwo-Olu.
He invested the Governor with the title of leader and head of the powerful Governance Advisory Council.
A committee of old but powerful political leaders in the state.
If this did not go well with these leaders, no one can say, but if the unfolding face-off between the Governor and Speaker of the State Assembly is anything to go by, this is the beginning of a possible protracted battle the end of which nobody can determine.
Before now, issues such as these would have been handled by Tinubu, but with him becoming the president, and now focused on the nation’s governance, Sanwo-Oluu is now on his own.
How he handles it would determine a lot in the coming
Olorogun Gbolahan Bago-Stowe.