Tongues have continued to wag over the sack of three commissioners in Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s cabinet after 22 months in office.
While aides to the governor fingered disloyalty as one of their sins, political observers were quick to read between the lines that the power play ahead of the 2020 governorship election was the bottom line.
They opined that the sack of three commissioners was a tip of the iceberg that the governor would soon come out smoking by booting out those who he perceives as stumbling blocks to his re-election ambition which campaign will begin in full swing soon
The axed commissioners include Prince Solagbade Amodeni of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development; Mr Taofiq Abdusalam of the Ministry of Works and Infrastructures; and Alhaji Ismaila Olurimisi of the Ministry of Culture.
The sacked commissioners were alleged to be hobnobbing with some governorship aspirants of the party seeking to oust Akeredolu in the next year election and some leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, within and outside the state.
It was alleged that they had a political meeting with leaders of the party who are not on the same page with Akeredolu’s second term ambition.
For now, those said to be interested in Akeredolu’s seat include former party chairman, Mr Isaac Kekemeke; former governorship aspirants Olusola Oke and Segun Abraham, and the Executive Director of Engineering and Technical Services at the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited, NDPHC, Engineer lfe Oyedele.
This development, which did not come as a surprise to many across the state had further widened the crack within the cabinet over the governor’s style of governance and clamour that he should be denied a second term in office.
Many party members say that another four years of Akeredolu would be “hell on earth” for them as he has denied them political patronage.
While giving Akeredolu kudos for his achievement in the area of infrastructural development, they said he has failed in the area of ” stomach infrastructure” for the teeming party members across the state.
Vanguard, however, gathered that the three commissioners are known not to have hidden their displeasure over the governor’s style in the last 28 months in office.
The recognition of some senior special assistants and special advisers over and above many commissioners in their respective ministries had pitched them against the governor whose body language to all these complaints suggested that he cared less.
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Many of the commissioners complained that only friends and family members of the governor get juicy contracts.
Their complaints of non-appointment of board members following pressure from the commissioners’ constituencies was said to be another reason for their sack.
Also, reliable sources said that many of the cabinet members had removed their personal belongings from their offices in the last two months expecting the dissolution of the cabinet. Majority of the commissioners reportedly attend the weekly Executive Council meeting with palpable fear of getting the boot
Sources said that Governor Akeredolu had wanted to dissolve the cabinet after the party’s abysmal performance in the last election when many of the commissioners allegedly disobeyed his directive on candidates to support.
Sources said that during their weekly Executive Council meeting, last Monday, the governor pointedly told the cabinet members that he had been expecting those that have been complaining about his style of administration to have turned in their resignation letters.
Akeredolu was said to have added that since they have decided to remain in the cabinet and kept grumbling he was ready to help them by easing them out honourably.
Few hours after the EXCO meeting, the governor booted three of the aggrieved commissioners out.
To further assuage the feelings of the party members, he went on an appointment spree by announcing five new commissioners, five special advisers and within another 24 hours appointed five new special assistants and senior special assistants.
A statement by the governors Chief Press Secretary Segun Ajiboye said that the decision was to “re-jig the cabinet and part of the efforts being made to reposition the cabinet for optimum performance aimed at ensuring that the administration delivers on its mandate to the people.”The statement said that the governor vowed: “that the people will continue to be at the centre of the policies of his administration, while he continues to deliver the dividends of good governance to the people of the state.”
The statement further said the governor has nominated Mrs Yetunde Adeyanju, Mrs Titilayo Adeyemi, Temitayo Oluwatuyi, Hon. Fatai Olotu and Akindotun Olubunmi Owanikin Esq for the position of commissioners.
Two new Special Advisers, Hon Babatunde Kolawole and Hon Oyebo Aladetan were equally appointed.
Others include Dele Ologun as Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Political Matters (Central) and Andrew Ogunsakin as Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Political Matters (South), Mr Williams Ebimodehghan as Special Assistant, Niger Delta Matters and Mrs Elizabeth Akpan as Special Assistant to the Governor.
Reacting, one of the sacked commissioners, Solagbade Amodeni, said his “sack from Akeredolu’s cabinet was not unexpected. I have no regret for being dropped as a commissioner by Akeredolu.”
The former commissioner said he merited his sack from the cabinet because of the frosty relationship between Akeredolu and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who he described as his political leader and mentor.
Amodeni said he would continue to choose Tinubu as leader and place him above Akeredolu.
However, the sacked former Commissioner for Works and infrastructure, Mr Taofeeq Abdulsalam thanked Akeredolu for the appointment and privilege to serve the state for 22 months noting that “it has been a great pleasure working with the governor.”