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Appointments: Mixed Fortunes For Tinubu’s Campaigners



Appointments: Mixed Fortunes For Tinubu’s Campaigners

For members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), especially those who didn’t vie for elective positions or failed to win the respective offices they contested for in the 2023 elections, the dream that they will be compensated with appointments by President Bola Tinubu is fast becoming a mirage. FELIX NWANERI reports

Political appointments serve two distinct functions. One is to reward supporters, and the other, to control the state. Such is the character of politics as the spoils belong to the victor. The reward function is a feature of many traditional patronage systems, where the political party that wins an election rewards its campaign workers and other active supporters with appointments into government positions.

The term was in use in the early days of American democracy, but it was made famous in a speech made in 1832 by Senator William Marcy of New York. In defending one of President Andrew Jackson’s appointments, Marcy said: “To the victor belong the spoils of the enemy.” At that time, the term “spoils” referred to political appointments such as cabinet offices or ambassadorial positions controlled by an elected official. Advocates of the spoils system are of the view that it guarantees party loyalty, which results in more effective government as appointed office holders have a stake in helping elected officials to carry out their policies and fulfill their campaign promises.

Some members of another political school are however of the opinion that the spoils system often result in appointments that are based strictly on the needs of a party, without regard for the appointee’s qualifications or ability to do the job. The arguments by both sides, notwithstanding, party men always smell lucrative appointments, contracts and consultancy jobs after victory at the polls. It is against this backdrop that some chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who worked for the party and its candidate in last year’s presidential election were optimistic that they will be adequately compensated upon President Bola Tinubu’s inauguration on May 29, 2023.

The contributions of this men and women cannot be quantified as Tinubu emerged tops in what many describe as the most keenly contested presidential election in Nigeria’s history. He defeated 17 others, who took part in the election by polling 8.7 million votes to beat his closest rivals – Atiku Abubakar of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP), who had 6.9 million and 6.1 million votes, respectively to place second and third respectively. But, almost a year after Tinubu took charge, most of these party chieftains, who worked for his victory are yet to be accommodated in the scheme of things as expected.

They include those who served in the APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) and the Transition Committee that worked with the then Muhammadu Buhari administration to ensure a smooth transfer of power. Some members of the APC under the aegis of the Progressives Young Leaders Assembly, had in August last year, warned that the reward system will affect the fortunes of the ruling party in future elections if President Tinubu fails to correct it. Members of the group, at that time, alleged that the President rewarded the wrong people with ministerial positions, while ignoring many who were responsible for his victory at the poll.

Chairman of the group, Abubakar Kurawa, expressed concern that the ruling party seems to have derailed in the choice of appointment of prominent Nigerian politicians, particularly those who gave their time, physical energy and hard-earned resources to support the victory of the APC in the 2023 elections. His words: “We are disturbed that a considerable number of the people that the APC rewarded with ministerial slots are those who could not match the resilience, sacrifice of energy and resources of other members that are yet to get even a simple letter of commendation for their effort.”

The group regretted that prominent APC politicians including former Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi; former Deputy Senate president, Ovie Omo Agege; Kano State chieftain, Abdussalam Zaura, and the gubernatorial candidate of the party in Adamawa State, Aisha Binani, could not find place despite their important contributions to the party. Also named by the group as important contributors overlooked by the President were former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole; former Chief of Army Staff, General Abdurrahman Dambazau; former Governors Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina), Umaru Tanko Al-makura (Nasarawa) and Ahmad Sani Yerima (Zamfara); Senator Andy Uba and Dr. Nasir Yusuf Gawuna.

The group further stated: “We can go on and on, giving a long list of stalwarts of the APC, who seem to be left out in the cold. But the bottom line is that the party’s reward system needs serious overhaul. It would be suicidal for that party to keep moving without remembering and rewarding these people for their efforts. “Our group therefore, insists that prominent Nigerians, especially members of the ruling party, who demonstrated their love and loyalty for the party by committing hundreds of millions if not billions, deserve priority attention.

“It would be quite threatening to the future electoral fortunes of the APC to relent in rewarding hard-work and unalloyed loyalty of its party members, especially those who spent fortune running for political offices in 2023 general elections across Northern and Southern parts of the country. “We have offered our voluntary advice, hoping the APC and President Bola Tinubu will avoid a mistake that would hunt the party down in 2027 and beyond.”

Presidential Campaign Council

Although hope was raised that members of the PCC would be compensated for their contributions to the party’s victory in the presidential election, it is still a long wait for most them to reap the reward of their labour. The Director-General of the campaign council, Simon Lalong and Secretary, James Faleke, had in a statement that announced its dissolution on April 23, 2023 (a month before inauguration of the president), declared: “Since the campaign council began in September 2022, we have witnessed an unprecedented, relentless, and engaging mobilisation of our members nationwide and in the diaspora towards securing the majority popular votes for the Tinubu/Shettima presidential ticket.

“The journey has been a worthy one with our hard-won victory. The credit goes to all our members particularly, the leaders and members of the various campaign directorates. We would like to express our deepest appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari, for his unwavering support and leadership throughout the campaign. We could not have achieved this level of success without his single-mindedness, commitment, and forthrightness. However, we have concluded that it is in the best interest of the campaign and its stakeholders for us to dissolve our council with immediate effect.

“This has become necessary to retune us towards the May 29, inauguration of the President elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s administration. The process of transitioning into a new era of Renewed Hope is underway and all our energies and activities must reflect the principles underlying this process. We hope that you will all continue to stay involved in Nigeria’s political process and to advocate for issues that you believe in. Our democracy is stronger when we all participate in the political process with patriotism.”

Notable among members of the campaign council, who were not on the ballot during the polls are ex-Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who was first runner-up in the APC presidential primary (Special Adviser on Infrastructure), former Managing Director of Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, who served as Deputy Director General (Administration); Suleiman Argungu (Deputy Director General, Organisation); then governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje (Adviser, Political affairs and Coordinator, Kano State) and then governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai (Adviser, Policy, Strategy, Enforcement and Coordinator, Kaduna State).

Others outgoing governors at the time on the PCC were Ben Ayade (Zonal Coordinator, South South), Badaru Abubakar (Regional Coordinator, North), Bello Matawalle (Zonal/Zamfara Coordinator) and Bello Masari (Coordinator Katsina/ Special Adviser, Administration and Government). Some ex-governors were not left out. They include Kayode Fayemi (Adviser, Foreign Affairs/Ekiti State Coordinator), Ibikunle Amosun (Adviser, Contact and Mobilization), Babatunde Fashola (Election Planning and Monitoring), Gboyega Oyetola (Coordinator, Osun), George Akume (member, Local Government Directorate, and Isa Yuguda (member, Local Government Directorate).

The PCC also had then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila (Adviser, Legislative Matters), Senator Margaret Okadigbo, wife of a former Senate President, late Chuba Okadigbo (Anambra State Coordinator), Dele Alake, a former Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Lagos State (Adviser, Media, Communications and Public Affairs), Dimeji Bankole, a former Speaker of House of Representatives (Adviser, Human Capital Development), Mohammed Idris (Strategic Communications), Aminu Jaji (Contact and Mobilization), Musa Babayo (Policy Research and Strategy), Bayo Onanuga (Media and Publicity), Festus Keyamo (Public Affairs) and Femi Fani-Kayode (Special Media Project/New Media).

Others were a former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu (Stakeholder Relation), Wale Edun (Finance), Musiliu Obanikoro (Sustainable Development for Nigeria), Hassan Liman (Legal), Dayo Adeyeye (Support Group Coordinator, South-West), Uju Kennedy Ohanenye (Vice Chairperson, SouthEast), Salihu Lukman (Deputy Zonal Coordinator, North-West), Ovie OmoAgege (Coordinator, Delta State), Aishatu Binani (Coordinator, Adamawa State), Sadique Abubakar (Coordinator, Bauchi State), Teslim Folarin (Coordinator, Oyo State), Tonye Cole (Coordinator, Rivers State), Uche Nnaji (Coordinator, Enugu State), Ali Ali (Deputy Director, Media and Publicity), Lanre Issa-Onilu (Deputy Director, Strategic Communications), Hannatu Musawa (Deputy Spokesperson) and Kassim Afegbua (Secretary, Public Affairs).

Equally on the PCC were Bashir Ahmed (Deputy Director, New Media), Sunday Dare (Deputy Director, Stakeholder Relations), Dayo Israel (member, Local Government Directorate), Bello Goronyo (Youth Mobilization), Birnin Kudu (Parliamentarian), Mustapha Muhaja (Campaign Planning), Gbemisola Saraki (Trade and Economic), Bobboi Kagama (Labour), Ade Omole (Diaspora), Jack Rich (Fund Raising) Zack Orji (Performing Arts), among others.

Transition Committee

While members of the Presidential Transition Council set up by then President Buhari to facilitate and manage the handing over of power by his government were not in strong contention for appointments at that time, the case was different for those nominated by Tinubu. The 24-man Transition Council (22 nominees of the Federal Government and initial two by the then President-elect) – a former governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu and Wale Edun (a former Lagos State commissioner for Finance) – was inaugurated on February 14 and headed by the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.

The council was mandated to ensure proper documentation and communication of the Buhari administration reforms in clear terms, so that the incoming administration understands what it has done, the basis of its decisions, what was achieved and the opportunities for continuity. It was also charged to facilitate the handing over process, organise for the security of the then President-elect

A considerable number of the people that the APC rewarded with ministerial slots are those who could not match the resilience… of other members that are yet to get even a simple letter of commendation for their effort

and Vice President-elect, including coordinating security briefings on the nation’s security matters post-elections, among others. Tinubu later nominated 14 more persons into the council. Bayo Onanuga, who served as Head of Media and Publicity and the then acting National Deputy Chairman (North) of the APC, Senator Abubakar Kyari, who coordinated and directed the council’s finance and budget.

Others were Abdulazeez Yar’Adua, younger brother of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who served as head of security and ceremonial parade for the inauguration; Stella Okotete, a former Executive Director of Nigeria Export Import Bank, (Secretariat, Planning and Monitoring); Dr. Betta Edu, then APC National Women Leader (Medical Team) and a former Ekiti governorship aspirant, Makinde Araoye (Venue, Parade and Swearing in).

The rest were ex-Director General of National Broadcasting Commission, Dr. Danladi Bako (Inauguration Lecture); Zainab Marwa Abubakar, daughter of the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), who anchored the pre-inauguration dinner and gala night; Samira Saddik (Children’s Day), Abuh Andrew Abuh (Accommodation), Hajiya Hadiza Mohammed Kabir (Transportation and Logistics), Donald Wokoma (Protocol and Invitation), Bishop Adegbite (Church Service) and Imam Fuad (Jumat Service).

Already compensated

A handful of members of the APC Presidential Campaign Council have been adequately compensated with appointments as senior aides to the president, ministers and heads of agencies and parastatals. Some have equally had their wards and loyalists appointed into positions considered to be lucrative. Among those who fall into this category include the Femi Gbajabiamila, who contested and won the Surulere 1 federal constituency but was later appointed by President Tinubu as his Chief of Staff; George Akume (Secretary to the Government of the Federation), Nuhu Ribadu (National Security Adviser), Hadiza Bala-Usman (Special Adviser to the President on Policy Coordination), Dele Alake (Minister of Solid Minerals Development), Atiku Bagudu (Minister of Budget and Economic Planning) and Festus Keyamo (Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development).

Also rewarded Abdullahi Ganduje, who got President Tinubu’s approval to take over from Abdullahi Adamu as National Chairman of the APC and had is son, Umar, appointed as Executive Director, Technical Services of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA); Badaru Abubakar (Minister of Defence); Wale Edun (Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy) and Abubakar Kyari (Minister of Agriculture and Food Security).

The list of compensated campaigners further has Betta Edu, who was appointed as Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation but got suspended over alleged corruption; Mohammed Idris (Minister of Information and National Orientation), Gboyega Oyetola (Minister of Marine and Blue Economy), Hannatu Massawa (Minister of Art, Culture and Creative Economy), Uju Kennedy Ohanenye (Minister for Women Affairs), Bello Matawalle (Minister of State for Defence) and Uche Nnaji (Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology). Others are Bayo Onanuga (Special Adviser on Information and Strategy to the President), Ali M. Ali (Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, News Agency of Nigeria) and Issa-Onilu (Director General National Orientation Agency).

Waiting in the wings

While the lucky ones are savouring their appointments, many, who also served in the campaign council as well as the transition committee, are yet to be considered by the President and his body language has left some analysts to wonder if he will ever compensate these party chieftains, who were his foot soldiers during the electioneering period. Top on this list is Femi Fani Kayode, a former presidential aide and ex-Minister of Aviation, who as Director of Special Media Projects,/ Operations and New Media of the PCC, relentlessly attacked the candidates of the PDP and LP, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, respectively, during the campaigns.

Interestingly, Fani-Kayode, a known critic of President Tinubu, dumped the PDP for the APC ahead of the 2023 elections, a move, many likened to a dog going back to its vomit given the way and manner the former minister attacked the APC and its chieftains, Tinubu inclusive, before then. It is against Fani-Kayode’s constant attacks and jibes at Atiku and Obi during the campaigns that informed the belief that he would make the first batch of President Tinubu’s appointees, but till date, he has not been considered, leaving some analysts to wonder if his time will ever come as the President will soon mark one year in office.

For ex-Governor Ben Ayade of Cross Rivers State, who dumped the PDP through which he was elected governor of the South-South state for the ruling APC in May 2021, his bid to fly the flag of the ruling party in the 2023 presidential election not only failed, his senatorial ambition also hit the rocks. Ayade served as Zonal Coordinator, South-South, of the APC PCC although he was one of the aspirants, who vied for the APC presidential ticket. He was only able to garner 37 votes out of the 2,203 votes cast at the party’s special national convention to elect its standard bearer. With his presidential ambition hitting the rocks, Ayade settled for the Cross River North Senatorial District ticket of his party in a bid to return to the Red Chamber, where he was between 2011 and 2015, when he was elected as governor for the first term.

The APC primary election for the Cross River North Senatorial District ticket was won by Ayade’s former Chief of Staff, Hon. Martin Orim, but a political arrangement has seen Orim handing the ticket to Ayade. However, the political arrangement that saw him through at the primary election could not take him back to the Senate. He was defeated by Senator Jarigbe Agom-Jarigbe of the PDP. The belief that Ayade would be considered for ministerial appointment having lost the senatorial seat did not also materialize as the President opted for his ex-commissioner for Health, Betta Edu, who later became APC National Women Leader.

The case of the immediate governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, is more pathetic given the roles he played in the build-up to the APC national convention that produced Tinubu as the party’s presidential candidate and during the campaign as Adviser, Policy, Strategy, Enforcement and Coordinator, Kaduna State. He led Northern governors of APC extraction at the time to ensure that the

You have endured the campaign, you must endure more, and I assure you that a very bright light beckons for you and your children. Nigeria will prosper, and we will all reap the benefits

party’s presidential ticket was not only zoned to the South against the wish of some political leaders in his region, but mobilized party delegates from his state for Tinubu at the primary election. It was against this backdrop that el-Rufai was initially tipped to run with Tinubu, before the latter opted for Kashim Shettima, a former governor of Borno State. The former Kaduna governor’s name resurfaced again shortly after inauguration of Tinubu as president.

This time, he was tipped for the position of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), but the President named George Akume, a former governor of Benue State. Reprieve, however came for el-Rufai, when he was listed on the first batch of ministerial nominees forwarded to the Senate by President Tinubu on July 27, 2023 for screening and confirmation. Interestingly, el-Rufai was not confirmed over what the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, described as his inability to scale “security checks.” Similarly, inability to scale the security check hurdle was cited as reason why the Senate did not confirm Stella Okotete, who headed the Secretariat, Planning and Monitoring committee of the Transition Council as minister.

Also on the waiting list are ex Governors, Kayode Fayemi (Ekit), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Babatunde Fashola (Lagos) and Isa Yuguda (Bauchi), who were prominent during the campaigns given the respective positions they occupied in the PCC. The trio of Fayemi, Amosun and Fashola, not only hail from the SouthWest as President Tinubu, but it would be recalled the former governors of Ekiti and Ogun, withdrew from the APC presidential primary at the convention venue and declared support for Tinubu. Fashola, on his part, succeeded Tinubu as governor of Lagos State in 2007.

This, perhaps, informed the conviction that they will be in the front seat in the Tinubu administration. But politics being a game of the possible in which nothing is foreclosed, the trio seemed to be have been shut out by the new power bloc that has emerged in the South-West with Tinubu’s emergence as president. It was believed that Fayemi in particular would be appointed as minister given his experience as a two-term governor and former minister, but some analysts opined then that it would be difficult for Tinubu to drop Dele Alake, who hails from the same state with Fayemi given their relationship since his days as governor of Lagos State and it played out as speculated.

For Dayo Adeyeye, a former Minister of State, who also hails from Ekiti State, his case is another pathetic one. He was the brain behind the South West Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA), which was in the forefront of Tinubu’s presidential project. That the group mobilised support for Tinubu right from the onset cannot be overemphasized. Besides SWAGA, Adeyeye also served in the campaign council as Support Group Coordinator, South-West. So, it is surprising to many that the President is yet to consider him for an appointment almost a year in office. For Dayo Israel, National Youth Leader of the APC and member, Local Government Directorate of the PCC, he helped in mobilizing young Nigerians across board for the party during the elections. He even launched what htermed “Jagaban Army” to further drum support for the President during the polls.

This particular step earned him the wrath of many Nigerians, who described the “Jagaban Army” as a militia group, following the military like uniform adorned by members of the council, including the APC Youth Leader himself at the group’s inauguration. Israel, however, clarified issues, when he said the “Jagaban Army” is a peaceful and democratic organization of young canvassers, whose task was to facilitate support and ensure the success of the APC in the general election. No doubt, some actions of the APC national youth leader during the elections pitted him against some youths, but most members of his party, who believed that he did a good job, lobbied for him to be appointed as Minister Youth Development.

But that did not materialize as the President opted for Dr. Jamila Bio Ibrahim. Other known ardent supporters of President Tinubu, who many believed, would hold key positions in his administration given their roles during the campaigns, but are yet to be considered include the immediate past Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare, Suleiman Argungu, who served as Deputy Director General, Organisation of the PCC and a former speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, who also stepped down for the President during the primary election and served as Adviser, Human Capital Development of the PCC.

The endless list of known supporters and campaigners yet to be considered by President Tinubu also has some APC governorship candidates, who were defeated at the polls. They are the immediate past Senate Deputy President, Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta), Senator Aishat Binani (Adamawa), Senator Teslim Folarin (Oyo), Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar (rtd), a former Chief of Air Staff (Bauchi) and Tonye Cole (Rivers). The belief in this regard, is against the backdrop of appointment of Nnaji, the party’s governorship candidate in Enugu State, who lost to his PDP counterpart as Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology.

While Tinubu, who will mark one year in office on May 29, has three more years to go, there is still hope for some of these campaigners and supporters as the President is yet to appoint ambassadors after recalling all those representing the country around the September last year. There is also the belief that some of them may be drafted into his administration as members of boards of agencies that are yet to be reconstituted.

This optimism is buoyed by the President’s words, when he hosted members of the APC PCC and teh Independent Campaign Council to Iftar at the State House in Abuja, last week. He said: “It is your effort, resourcefulness, and dedication that has brought us here. The results will not come suddenly, you have endured the campaign, you must endure more, and I assure you that a very bright light beckons for you and your children. Nigeria will prosper, and we will all reap the benefits. We will work with determination and persistence.”

Source: New Telegraph