By Adebayo Abubakar.
On the 29th day of this month, 19 days from now, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq administration will be 2 year-old, and the media would be awash with verdicts on his performance by public policy analysts, in the days leading up to that time.
To some people, the administration Governor AbdulRazaq is the best thing to have happened to people of Kwara State, after the discovery of “Fura Dá Nunu”; while to some others, his government is an affliction. It all depends on who is looking at what.
The essence of this piece, is not to highlight, whether or not, he has performed well, over the last two years, relative to his predecessor(s), but to examine whether or not, he could have done better, had he done some things differently.
If you are of the opinion that, he has not performed, up to expectations, or at all, it is perspectival; and everybody is entitled to his own opinion.
And if you see him as our “Lee Kuan Yew”; good. But that is immaterial, as far as this piece is concerned.
The crux of the piece is that; could he have performed a bit more, or far better than he’d done, if the colour and shape of his cabinet was a tad different from what we witnessed in the past two years or so?
It is the belief of this writer that, yes he would.
He would have performed outstandingly better than he he’d done, or is doing at the moment, had he not chosen to populate his cabinet with political/administrative rookies.
It was impressive enough to see that, he did much of “affirmative action”, by making sure he had more women among the immediate past set of commissioners than he had, men. After all, there is no single woman among the elected members of State House of Assembly. It is also on record; his symbolic gesture of appointing the youngest Commissioner in the history of this country. Some of those appointees, it was learnt, had not really worked in a very complex organisation, to understand how to navigate the murky water of the bureaucratic processes in the public sector. This is apart from the high-wired politicking that goes with such offices.
But beyond the symbolisms of having more women than he had men, and a very low average age in his cabinet, governance is a much more serious business than the experimentation that the Governor has been doing with the formation of his cabinet.
At the screening session last week, when the new set of nominees appeared on the floor of the State House of Assembly, performances of some of them, when they were given the floor to market themselves before the people’s representatives, to determine their suitability or otherwise, are better imagined than witnessed.
While the Governor is constitutionally empowered to choose whosoever pleases him, he needs to be reminded that, he is not doing the people of Kwara State any favour by forming a cabinet, many or all of whom could be politicians or technocrats. It is expressly stated in the 1999 constitution, section 192 (1) that:
“There shall be such offices of Commissioners of the Government of a State as may be established by the Governor of the State.”
It is further reinforced in section-193, subsection-2 (A, B and C ) that:
“The Governor of a State shall hold regular meetings with the Deputy Governor and all Commissioners of the Government of the State for the purposes of –
(a) determining the general direction of the policies of the Government of the State;
(b) co-ordinating the activities of the Governor, the Deputy Governor and the Commissioners of the Government of the State in the discharge of their executive responsibilities; and
(c) advising the Governor generally in the discharge of his executive functions, other than those functions with respect to which he is required by this Constitution to seek the advice or act on the recommendation of any other person or body.”
So it is constitutionally, a matter of compulsion that, a State Governor constitutes a State cabinet – appointment of Commissioner’s.
The constitution is very explicit on what and what constitutes the duties of the Commissioners i.e,” determining the general direction of the policies of the Government of the State.”
Therefore, there is no gainsaying, the fact that, failure in the first 6 months of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, is a violation of that provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He has also, in the process, denied himself the benefit of their advisory roles in fine-tuning his Administration’s policy thrust. It also means, the State Executive Council meeting, where course is charted for the government, is not being held, as stipulated by the construction.
Ultimately, at the receiving end of the Governor’s refusal to appoint commissioner’s (on time), is the citizenry, who deserve to reap the dividends of a democratic government, in which they have invested their hopes, collective destiny and emotions.
Having sent the first set packing late last year, one would expect the Governor to expedite action on reappointing new ones, but “NO”. Instead, what we are seeing is, piece meal nomination.
As if that is not enough, majority of the first set of nominees are some of those he discarded.
Please, don’t get it twisted; the Governor has not violated any rule by reappointing those who had earlier worked with him; But if that was going to be the case, why sack them, in the first place, when a rejig or minor cabinet reshuffle would have been okay?
To those in government, four or eight years might appear like a lifetime, but before any one could say “Jack Robinson”, another cycle of election would come. Yet a Governor is experimenting with greenhorns, every 12 months, as commissioners, who might not possess the required intellectual mobility to give “life” to his vision and policy direction.
Kwara is too endowed, with high level Human resources, scattered across the globe, to have to settle for a bunch of inexperienced appointees to man portfolios where the much-needed developmental agenda needs to be set and implemented, for a timely delivery of democratic dividends.
With due respect to the out-gone set of commissioners, most of whom tried their best, there are other places they could be of more value-adding inclusion in the administration, than being a Commissioner; an office that requires a great deal of political, intellectual and administrative sagacity, rooted in experience.
While it is good to have “youths-Inclusion” in governance, such strategic offices as commissionership should not be made a theatre of experimentation. It should not be reduced to the level of SIWES.
The Governor need to scout the whole universe, and headhunt technocrats of Kwara State origin, with the required intellectual mobility, needed to launch the State into the comity of 21st century States, in terms of socio-economic development.
In about two weeks’ time from now, May 27, Kwara State will be 54-year old. It does not stand to reason that, somebody who has never run more than a business centre with one or two photocopying machines to be managed, is being appointed to oversee the resources that will shape the socio-economic destinies of millions of Kwarans, in the next three decades or beyond.
If it requires closing rank with some of his enstranged political allies, in the State to get more experienced hands on the deck, I don’t think it would too much a price to pay, for the Governor, in order for him to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the people (of Kwara) who gave him their votes freely in 2019. By so doing, his name would be etched in gold, whenever the history of the State written.
Adebayo Abubakar writes from Ilorin