Undercurrents of Lagos State cabinet reshuffle

Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode

Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode

Several interpretations have trailed the sacking of three members of the Lagos State Executive Council by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Wednesday. Among the insinuations are that the governor took the decision to assert his authority and to send a warning signal to other members of the executive.

Those affected were Commissioners for Tourism, Folorunsho Folarin-Coker; Finance, Mustapha Akinkunmi; and Transportation, Ekundayo Mobereola.Apart from the argument that Ambode wanted to affirm his authority, it was also contended that the decision was taken to ease out those who are perceived to be too strong and financially independent and could constitute a stumbling block to the second term ambition of the governor in 2019.

Some quarters also considered the decision as part of the subtle political rivalry between the factions loyal to the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the alleged South West clique in the Federal Executive Council.

According to those in that school of thought, “Ambode, must consolidate his political strength before 2019 and all those that could constitute hindrances have to be sacrificed. There was nothing new in what the governor did because his immediate predecessor, Babatunde Fashola, who inherited some commissioners from Tinubu, did sack them in his second term.”

On the other hand some political analysts posited that the sack was because the three commissioners were not living up to expectations in their various duty posts.

However, a close source to the State House disclosed to The Guardian that the major reason Ambode took the decision was because “two out of the affected cabinet members became so arrogant to the extent that they no longer had regard for the person of the governor.”

It was gathered that Folarin-Coker, for instance, served as the Personal Assistant to Tinubu from 1999 until 2003 when he was appointed and served as the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Governor’s Office.

After a year, he was appointed to serve as the Managing Director of the Lagos State Number Plates Production Agency and in 2014, Fashola appointed him as a member of the State Executive Council and Special Adviser on Central Business Districts before he was later made a commissioner under Ambode.

The affected commissioners were also alleged to have appropriated to themselves the special status of ‘Tinubu boys’ who should be answerable to Tinubu whom they regard as their boss and not Ambode.

A source said, “Under normal circumstances, such personalities who have served in various capacities under the previous administrations ought not to have been appointed a commissioner under Ambode.”

The sacked Commissioner of Transportation, Dr. Mobereola, was a former Managing Director of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) under Fashola and prior to that he had served as Adviser to Tinubu, in the field of transport operation and management, institutional development and structuring, procurement, needs assessment, annual budget preparation and project management.

He also conceptualised and implemented the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) scheme.However, no specific interpretation was attached to the sack of Akinkunmi other than he has not been able to effectively grasp the workings of the finances of Lagos in line with the governor’s vision.

However, all those who made comments on the development yesterday concurred that the decision couldn’t have been taken without the approval of Tinubu, who in the first instance was instrumental to their appointments.

It was also agreed that Ambode has done nothing out of the ordinary. For instance, Fashola in 2001 dropped some cabinet members during his tenure.

In a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Tunji Bello, the governor also directed the Special Adviser, Arts and Culture to take over as the Acting Commissioner for Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Special Adviser on Transportation to takeover as Acting Commissioner for Transportation while the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance takes over as the Acting Commissioner for Finance pending the appointment of new commissioners in the respective ministries.

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Akinwunmi Ambode
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