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Fight For Commissioners

As the House of Assembly begins the screening of commissioner- nominees by the Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, political parties and general public pitch in by expressing concerns over the list, writes Paul Yovo

The Lagos State House of Assembly has denied media reports that it is ready for a duel with Governor Akinwunmi Ambode by constıtutıng a 15-man screenıng committee to subject his cabınet nominees to an unprecedented pre-screening before appearing before the entire 40 member House for another round of screening.

Making a strenuous effort to deny the report, the Deputy Speaker of the House, who ıs also the Chaırman of the Commıttee, Hon. Wasiu Sanni Eshinlokun, told journalists that the process was constitutional.

According to him, quoting section 192 (4) of the Constitution provided that nobody should be appointed as a Commissioner of the state government unless he was qualified for election as a member of the House of Assembly.

He stated the reason for the pre- screening is for a proper job to be done rather than askıng questions on the floor of the House. We want to check the certificates of the nominees rather than embarrassing them on the floor of the House. We want to do the necessary things because if we call the nominees to floor of the House and ask them to just take a bow and go, that would appear to be business as usual.

The whole thing bothers on the provision of the constitution,” Eshinlokun explaıned. But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State does not think the House is seriously considering doing a good job of the screening and considers the screening process as mere politicking, blasting Governor Ambode over the list of commissioners and advisers he sent to the Lagos State House of Assembly.

The Lagos PDP Publicity Secretary, Taofik Gani, told The UNION that most of the nominees were not competent but were only named based on sentiment. Gani said two of the nominees, Lola Akande and Deji Tinubu, are relatives of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

While Akande is the sister of Tinubu’s wife, Senator Remi Tinubu, the other nominee, Deji, is the nephew of the APC leader. Also, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, was Tinubu’s Chief Press Secretary from 2003 to 2007 while Gbolahan Lawal was Tinubu’s Aide-de- Camp when he was governor.

He, therefore, stated that the change the APC was advocating in Lagos was not a positive one but one that would take the state backwards. Gani, who urged the members of the legislature not to approve the nominees in the interest of the state said: “We also fault the nominations of Jide Idris, Akintola Benson, Anofi Elegushi, Ganiu Johnson and Folarin Coker because they had either been personal staff or relatives of a former governor of the state.

“Thus, it will continue to be business as usual in the governance of the state as the state resources will continue to be superintendent by the former governor, who is the incumbent governor’s godfather.” “This list is so mediocre, self-serving, embarrassing that it cannot justify the delay and waste of days.

Lagosians should not expect any change from Ambode. By this list, his hands are tied. He will only succeed to the extent that his godfather allows this list to serve Lagosians”, he added.

Just last week, the PDP said Ambode has been poor in the management of Lagos state and in decision making since taking over the rein of affairs in the state.

The Deputy Speaker however maintains that the relationship between the House and the Governor was very cordial, pointing out that if the relationship were messy, they wouldn’t have given the Governor’s request for budget re-ordering an accelerated passage.

“As you aware that cabinet nominees in Cross Rıvers State were asked to write aptitude test. We do not have any issue with the executive and it is wrong to say that we set up the committee because the Governor wrote that the cabinet members would be sworn-in on Monday 5th, October. “We are not even aware of such a date.

The Governor did not give us any swearing-in date in the letter he sent to us,” he stated, adding that they had to do their job properly as law-makers.

Eshinlokun explained further that any nominee that was found to have presented fake certificate would be automatically disqualified.

Saying it should no longer be business as usual based on the current change mantra in the country, he stressed that nominees would still be invited to the floor of the House for another round of screening at the end of the committee’s work, which would start today (October 5) and end on Friday, October 9.

Areas to be considered by the screening commıttee according to Eshinlokun, include proof of party membership with letters from the state chairman and respective chairman of the local government chapter of the nominee, as well as the concurrent of the honourable members representing the nominee’s local government.

Others are profiling by the Directorate of the State Security (absolving the nominee of act of terrorism or corruption) and certificate of fitness from any Lagos State Government General Hospital.

He said: “The Assembly has a very good relation¬ship with the executive, and if the relationship was messy, we would not have recently assented to the governor’s request for a re-ordering of the budget.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State House of Assembly has over ruled the Lagos state governor, Akinwumi Ambode, by adjourning sitting till October 13 without screening the nominees as against the mandate of the governor who had mandated that the house should the screening of the state commissioners list should commence immediately after the Sallah holidays.

Ambode, in a statement from his office, said “The screening of the list is expected to commence immediately after the Sallah holidays while cleared cabinet members would be sworn-in to resume the task of governance by Monday, October 5, 2015.”

Members of the committee to screen the nominees includes the Deputy Speaker of the House, Wasiu Eshilokun-Sanni (head of the committee), other members include Deputy Majority Leader, Olumuyiwa Jimoh, Chief Whip, Rotimi Abiru, Deputy Chief Whip, Omotayo Oduntan, Minority Leader, Akeem Bello.

Others are Victor Akande, Lanre Ogunyemi, Rotimi Olowo, Yinka Ogundimu, Mohammed Folajimi, Bisi Yusuf, Oladele Adekanye, Ibrahim Layode, Segun Olulade, and Dayo Fafunmi.

The Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, said the decision to first screen the nominees before they would face another screening by the general House was because the House rules permit the lawmakers to work at their convenience.

However, it was reported that the move was to prove to the governor to stop giving the impression that the House is a rubber stamp.

Reacting to the PDP’s criticism, APC State Publicity Secretary, Joe Igbokwe, said the PDP did not understand how governance worked. “For the avoidance of doubt, the nominated candidates are cerebral and very competent personalities who can hold their heads high anywhere in the world and answer their fathers’ names if the need arises.

“They have climbed through the ladder of leadership from various departments in Lagos State to get to where they are today. “They have been tested and therefore can be trusted to add values to Lagos State.

These gentlemen and women are no pushovers in their chosen profession and they are capable of assisting Governor Ambode to take Lagos to the next level”, he argued.

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