It is no longer news that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and members of the House of Assembly have a strained relationship.
Since the establishment of the Fourth Republic, the House of Assembly has always given the government the go-ahead for screening and confirmation of commissioner-nominees.
However, the schism between the executive and legislative branches of government has resulted in lawmakers rejecting 17 of the governor’s 39 nominees for screening and approval.
Governor Sanwo-Olu submitted 39 names to the House for screening and confirmation as commissioners on July 25.
The Assembly, however, chaired by Mr Mudashiru Obasa, rejected 17 nominees and affirmed 22.
While Governor Sanwo-Olu has remained silent on the issue, Speaker Obasa has asked people who are interested to “approach the House.”
Why did we reject the nominees—Obasa
Yesterday, the Speaker explained why the House rejected 17 nominations.
“Anyone interested in knowing why we took such decisions should approach the House,” Obasa remarked at the resumed sitting.
“As a body, the House refrained from revealing what was discovered during the screening exercise, and we would not be forced to spill it.”
“The House passed so many resolutions that the executive did not carry out.” Nobody has taken notice, and nobody has spoken anything about it.
“So I’m not sure what led to the mistaken belief that the House is fighting the governor.”
“We must get this right: we have our constitutional responsibility, which we have exercised by clearing some and denying others, and we have our reasons for saying no, which I believe people making input from the left and right are unaware of.”
“We must comprehend what a political party entails. It is about a group of people that want to achieve power, therefore we have power since 1999 and must keep it. We must defend our party. In the past, technocrats would come and go, but we will remain.
“So, I’m trying to protect my party, and I’ll keep doing so.” We will not forsake service to our people in the name of technocrats.
“We have said no and will continue to say no.” If there is any reason for us to change our minds, if there is a valid and convincing reason, I believe we will, but not by threat.
“We are politicians; without us, technocrats would not be appointed.” They were appointed as a result of our success, and in our opinion, if they had not performed well, we would have had the right to say no, which we did.
“We will not be threatened, but it is prudent to advise a man living in a glass house not to throw stones; otherwise, the glass will soon be shattered.”
Yesterday, when presiding over the plenary, Obasa emphasised that the House conducted comprehensive work in the screening process, adding that all applicants were allowed to express themselves as their history, present, and future were investigated.
Members of the APC must be compensated—Lawmaker
Mr Kehinde Joseph, the lawmaker representing Alimosho Constituency II, encouraged the governor to consider APC members who contributed to the party’s electoral triumph in the 2015 general elections.
“People have been calling us (politicians) thieves, but they forget that we are closer to the people,” he explained. What do these so-called technocrats know about the neighbourhood or the wards? The trick is that whenever the executives sit in on executive council meetings, they want to discuss topics that affect people at the grassroots.
“I would like to urge our governor that whenever he chooses a commissioner, he should first consider those of us who have been labelled irresponsible.”
“We delivered 87,000 votes in Alimosho; there is no way these things will not come back to haunt us.” Alimosho, Mushin, Agege, Ifako-Ijaye, and Kosofe local government areas had the most votes. If we do not encourage those who have worked for the party to gain, they will feel cheated, which is what happened to us (the APC) in the last general election. The majority of party members are displeased. The party’s leaders should make certain that individuals who worked for the party are properly compensated.”
“Election is not the same as appointment,” a confidential source added. The governor should appoint two commissioners/special advisers, the deputy governor shall appoint two commissioners/special advisers, and the speaker and other members should appoint the remaining 35 commissioners/special advisers depending on each constituency’s performance.
“Otherwise, Sanwo-Olu should look within and appoint those who worked tirelessly to get him elected for a second term.”
The battle for supremacy
Another individual familiar with the situation told Vanguard: “The cold war between the governor and the speaker could be regarded as a battle of supremacy.” It has nothing to do with citizenship or determining who is and is not an indigenous person.
“He is fighting to keep more technocrats out of Sanwo-Olu’s administration than politicians who fought for the party’s victory in the last general election.”
“He has met with all of the council chairmen in all of the different wards to gain their support on the issue.” Obasa is not a Lagosian, and he cannot fight for either indigenous or non-indigenous people.
“Obasa is fighting against a list of commissioner nominees dominated by technocrats rather than politicians who fought for the party’s stability.” He is not alone in this regard. He is only acting as a spokesperson, and Sanwo-Olu must listen to the prayer.”
Obasa responded by stating that lawmakers represent the people in their various constituencies and should be compensated.
While some All Progressives Congress, APC, supporters argue that some nominees are well-known in their respective areas, others argue that they did not contribute to the party’s win in the 2015 general election.
“We are the mouthpiece, the ears, and the eyes of the people,” he stated. “We have been given the responsibility by the constitution, and we have done what we believe was best in deciding what should be best for the state.”
“We will not allow people who do not understand what it is all about. We must guide them and protect our party. I have the right to protect my party and will continue to do so, but we will not sacrifice service to the people in the name of technocrats.”
“The rejected technocrats have no idea who their Wards are.” They were all gone during the general election. The party’s win was insignificant to them.
“Would he be able to appoint the rejected nominees, who don’t know their wards and polling units, if we all went out and didn’t vote for Sanwo-Olu?”
“There is no basis for me or the House to fight the governor, who is a brother, friend, and colleague in serving the people of Lagos State.”
It is unjust to blame Sanwo-Olu — APC member concerned
However, while some state players say that Sanwo-Olu is helpless in the issue, others argue the opposite.
A concerned APC member, on the other hand, asked why the uproar over the rejection of 17 commissioner-nominees in Lagos State was so loud that it could be heard in distant New Zealand, the country farthest away from Nigeria.
The APC member claimed that Governor Sanwo-Olu should not bear the entire blame.
“Out in the public domain, it is alleged that the Lagos Speaker, by rejecting 17 nominees, is out on a vengeance mission because it is said that Governor Sanwo-Olu did not want him back for a third, fourth, or fifth term as Speaker, although the man in the eye of the storm has denied any rift between him and the governor,” the concerned APC member said.
“It is insulting to Lagosians’ intelligence for the Assembly not to reveal the reasons for the disqualification of the 17 nominees, many of whom many believe performed well in the eyes of the public during the first term.” Why not reveal their crimes if their motivation is genuine? Now, the Speaker argues that the House has solid reasons for rejecting the 17 nominees, and he invites people who want to know why to contact the House.
“What do they expect the Governor to do in some LGs, such as Lagos, where more than three names were forwarded?” Should he use his discretion or not?
LGs and GAC members are divided.
“What is expected of the Governor in some LGs where the three or four GAC members could not agree on three names to be submitted?”
“In some LGs, such as Somolu, where a GAC leader submitted a different list than the LG council chairmen, which list should take precedence?”
“How is the Governor to know that all leaders met to agree on the three names if the leaders agreed to send three names from each local government to him?”
“In some local government areas, such as Mushin, the only GAC member submitted two names for his caucus (Mrs Ayoola, who has now been appointed as Special Adviser (non-cabinet) and another nominee from another caucus that has a leader, while a third caucus submitted a third name!”
“Is it fair for that leader, where there are three caucuses, namely Justice Forum, Mandate Movement, and Ideal Club, to pick a name for his caucus and then go ahead and pick a name for another caucus that has a distinct leader who is pro-Tinubu as opposed to someone he picked who is pro-Aregbesola Mandate?”
“It is also said that in Mushin Local Government, the GAC member’s caucus is the only one that has the council chairman, vice chairman, council secretary, council legislative leader, and LGA party chairman.” Is such imbalance just and fair to the Justice Forum and the Mandate Movement?
“In that case, should the governor go along with the GAC/Ideal leader, Ganiyu Olawale Solomon, affectionately known as GOS, and allow him to choose a nominee for another caucus?”
“Is it right to choose a pro-Aregbesola member for the cabinet in a local government like Alimosho, where a GAC member, a Justice Forum member, and other pro-Tinubu Mandate members submitted names?” In Alimosho, the pro-Aregbesola bloc already possesses five of the six local government chairmen.
“Doesn’t the Assembly have the right to reject such a name?” Should Aregbesola’s anti-Tinubu group continue to dominate in Alimosho after working for the Labour Party in the presidential election?
“How true are the stories that some nominees lack PVC while those who do have PVC are registered in areas other than where their names have emerged as nominees?”
“Is it true that a name emerged from Surulere on which there was no agreement?” Who proposed the name from there? Is it the governor or another?”
According to the APC member, “if these issues are thoroughly investigated, it will be discovered that both the accused and the accusers have flaws here and there.”
“There can be no loser or winner in this situation; all cases must be investigated peacefully and fairly and resolved as a family.”
“If our party’s glory/unity is sacrificed on the altar of muscle-flexing and inequalities, the governor, legislators, and GAC members will stand condemned.”