Barely six months into the second term of Osun State governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the contest among chieftains of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the available positions in the state cabinet seems to be reaching a climax in anticipation that a new cabinet will soon be constituted.
Governor Aregbesola, a few days to his second term inauguration on November 27, 2014, announced the dissolution of the cabinet that had worked with him for three years.
While this move, in no small measure, assisted the governor in driving some of his programmes, it nearly proved fatal and cost him a return to Oke-Fia Government House because almost all his commissioners were aloof to the the local politics going on in their various communities.
Also, before picking his team, Governor Aregbesola, in his characteristics shrewd approach, had pushed to the back seat, political patronage in selecting his team.
He went for young technocrats of Osun origin, scattered in all parts of the world, among them university scholars and other professionals.
Investigations by Vanguard revealed that virtually all the 13 commissioners that served in the cabinet in Aregbesola’s first term are interested in returning to the cabinet. Few of them, who had attempted to snatch the party’s tickets to contest for the National Assembly elections but failed, are said to be leveraging on their already-established relationship with Aregbesola to remain in pole position for reappointment.
After leaving office, many of these former commissioners, especially those in the good books of their boss, were still seen undertaking some functions on his behalf. To further consolidate their advantageous position in the race, many of these former commissioners also made selves available for party activities and were very visible in electioneering activities of APC in the state, holding key posts in the campaign structure of Buhari/Osinbajo project.
Not totally foreclosing the possibility of Governor Aregbesola leaning towards the recommendations of some elders in the party, those intending to return have also been currying favours of some personalities they consider may be crucial to their return as commissioners.
In the face of unrelenting moves by those commissioners that served during Aregbesola’s first term to return to the cabinet, some APC stalwarts interested in joining the state cabinet or with qualified candidates, appeared to be mounting a counter challenge to dislodge those considered as impediment among former commissioners.
Some APC bigwigs that have distinguished themselves as “kingmakers” in recent times, with scores to settle with majority of these past commissioners, are also pushing for better deal whenever the next state cabinet is formed and resultant effects of this move may put paid to the chances of these former aides.
Although no official list has been drawn of commissioner-nominees, party sources, however, confided in South West Voice that names are being compiled. However, going by the body language of key stakeholders that wield considerable influence in decision-making within Osun APC, the names being bandied around as those likely to man key portfolios in the new cabinet may be those that will eventually get a look-in.
Those on the list include Barrister Kunle Oyatomi, the Director in charge of the Directorate of Publicity and Research of APC in Osun State presently. Oyatomi, a former editor with Vanguard newspapers, though not a career politician, but he is one of the few professionals making waves in Osun politics at the moment.
The Ipetumodu-born media guru is drawing applause from many people, owing to the effective manner he has managed, what is being described as “the most proactive APC directorate of publicity and strategy” the in South-west region. He is being touted as the next Commissioner for Information in the state.
Mr. Sunday Akere, who was in charge of Ministry of Information during Aregbesola’s first term, is another man expected to play a role in the new cabinet. He has been a rallying point for APC in the state and the efficient manner he managed the corporate image of the government when he was Commissioner for Information, may have earned him another term in the team.
Barrister Jibola Basiru, Mr. Sikiru Ayedun, Dr. Wale Bolorunduro and Prof. Bukola Oyawoye are some of the former commissioners that may also be returning when a new cabinet is formed.
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Both Bolorunduro and Basiru are considered as key men behind Aregbesola’s success in his first term and if feelers coming from sources within the party are to be considered, Bolorunduro may be returning to the Ministry of Finance, while Basiru may be next head of the Ministry of Justice.
Former APC chairman in the state, Mr. ‘Lowo Adebiyi, Hon Nathaniel Agunbiade and Rotimi Makinde, the two lawmakers of the ruling party that lost re-election in the just-concluded polls are a few of the names on the list of possible commissioners, according to sources.
But Governor Aregbesola is at present not in any mood to constitute his cabinet now, no thanks to the dwindling revenue from the Federation Account to the state government, which is largely responsible for the inability of the state government to pay salaries of its workers for several months.