Coming up on the first anniversary of his swearing-in as Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde is having to contend with deep-seethed internal crises that are tearing at the fabric of his administration. Some of the issues go to the heart and head of his administration, posing as at best, significant distractions, or potential impediments to the ability of the Governor to haveany meaningful achievement before his term is over.
Although all administrations in Oyo State have always been bedeviled by one form of internal crisis or the other, Makinde’sproblems seem to be exacerbated by the fact that he was propelled to power in part by a coalition of other politically strong politicians who had had their eyes on the gubernatorial seat forever, and still do. Makinde was able to literally buy their support. But no sooner than the administration settled down that the ingrained lack of respect for the Governor started coming to the fore.
From the deputy governor to the chief of staff, down to members of his advisory council and even some of his own commissioners, the lack of respect for the person of the Governor and his administrative capability are palpable.
And the feelings may be mutual between the Governor and some of the people he has had to get in bed with. I am told that the governor habors so much disdain for some of those around him that he would have never been in the same room with them if he didn’t need them for his election.
Within the PDP and remnants of the coalition, jostling for 2023has already begun. And although the administration will likely deny the existence of crises, unofficially and off-the-record, many members are speaking out, albeit in confidence to those they trust.
For instance, one senior party member told me he wasn’t sure the deputy governor didn’t wish something terrible happened to the Governor so he could take over like Alao-Akala took over from Ladoja in 2006. The same person questioned the Deputy Governor’s loyalty to the Governor, and charged that the Deputy Governor is the main cause of the corrosive fragmentation that now exists in the EXCO.
Another influential party member believed that the deputy governor was putting together a gubernatorial platform with which he would challenge Makinde in 2027; something akin to what former Deputy Governor Hazeem Gbolarumi did while serving under then Governor Alao-Akala.
Yet another leader wondered why the deputy governor could be making surreptitious plans to be governor when the administration was not even one year in office. A fourth person, who is also a highly-regarded party member, corroborated the first and added that Deputy Governor Rauf Olaniyan is jealous of Lagos Deputy Governor Femi Hamzat’s high profile, and wishes Governor Makinde would give him more public and more prominent roles in the administration.
“It is clear he doesn’t like the governor at all. I don’t know what it is, but he doesn’t like the Governor. He has no gravitas. He has no ideas. He has no viable solution to any of the issues. He is not as suave as Hamzat. There is no chemistry between him and his boss. If you look at what is going on in Lagos between Sanwo-Olu and Hamzat where they are working as a team, we don’t have anything like that here. And I don’t think the governor likes him either. I don’t know what we have going on here”, said the person.
He added: “In Lagos, Sanwo-Olu did not provide even one-hundredth of the elections funds. Everybody in his cabinet contributed money or brought in some entities that contributed money. They are all a team. And Sanwo-Olu is what you can describe as ‘primus inter pares’ – first among equals. It was not the same in Oyo. Makinde provided 99.9% of his election fund! Even the Deputy Governor could not move in his Oke-Ogun area without Makinde sending money. So, where is the loyalty? Where is the sense of belonging?”
Then one adviser to the Governor thought the “Chief of Staff has not been effective from Day 1 because he misplaced his priorities”. He alleged that Chief Bisi Ilaka “put personal gain above the collective government interest”.
A Commissioner said that Ilaka was “consumed more with his ambition to become a Senator than serving the Governor right now”. The same source emphasized that the Chief of Staff knewnext to nothing about managing the team around the Governor – which is the primary job of a Chief of Staff.
An adviser swore that the Chief of Staff feels threatened back home by the rising profile of one commissioner who is from his hometown, and who, prior to their electoral victory, had been primarily based in Ibadan but now appears to be planting roots in their hometown in preparation for a possible Senate run too. The Chief of Staff, the same adviser said, thinks the Commissioner “did not contribute anything tangible on the ground for their electoral victory”.
A fourth person, a Board appointee, said that the Chief of Staff is fond of questioning the contributions of other appointees to the electoral victory of the governor. One such appointee he allegedly tried to get rid of is the Special Adviser who, some have said, played an important role during the forging of the coalition that helped them win.
A confidant of Ilaka did not deny the fact that Ilaka feels uncomfortable with the roles assigned to some people in the administration who “risked nothing during the struggle to wrest power from the APC but are now reaping a lot”. He said: “Many of them who claimed they were with Makinde in Omi Tuntundid not stay with Makinde for free. Makinde was paying them for doing practically nothing; unlike some of us who never left the party and never got anything from him until election time. We were the ones spending our resources to keep the party faithfuls happy”.
Also, multiple sources close to the Governor’s Advisory Council said some of the members there think their Chairman, Hosea Agboola, also known as “Hallelujah” is too full of himself, hasan exaggerated opinion of his political self-worth, is arrogant, conniving and has so far done everything only to “feather his nest” rather than serve the Council altruistically.
One cabinet member agrees, and adds that Hallelujah “is intellectually challenged but has a big ambition to be governor” too! The source says Hallelujah is probably the biggest “problem” the Governor has. Hallelujah is alleged to have made a lot of enemies for the Governor among some elders in the party. The same person said that the Advisory Council Chairman is on a deranged witch hunt to remove all those around the Governor who he thinks have the ear of the governor.
Another cabinet member says Agboola believes that without his (Agboola’s) support, the governor would not have been elected, and considers himself the de factor godfather to whom the governor should listen. Agboola, he said, has little or no respect for Former Governor Rashidi Ladoja and does not think the governor should listen to Ladoja on anything that has to do with the party.
One person close to the Advisory Council claimed that Agboolararely consults with other members of the Council before offering opinions to the Governor on their behalves. Agboola – also known as Hallelujah – chairs the Council that includes such strong members like the former majority leader of the House of Representatives, Mulika Akande Adeola; Chief Bolaji Ayorinde(SAN); Mr. Joseph Olaitan; Hon. Kamil Akinlabi; former Senator Monsura Sunmonu; Chief Gboyega Laoye, Prof. KolapoHamzat, Chief Jacob Adetoro and Barr. Sarafadeen Alli.
(Recall that Hallelujah, a former Deputy Chief Whip in the Senate, is one of three people still under EFCC prosecution for an alleged N11.5 billion fraud.)
Alli, in particular, who was a candidate for governor himself, is said to not be too thrilled to play second fiddle to Agboola and abhors being credited with opinions to the Governor that he did not support or make. He is not a happy camper in the Council.
Two cabinet members, separately voiced surprise at the number of what one of them described as “termites and vermin” who are “profiting from the system”. They said that many of these people, in cahoots with senior civil servants, constitute themselves into clogs in the wheels of the administration’s progress by slowing things down unnecessarily “under the pretense of observing due process”. One of them stated that once, the governor wanted to move against them, “but since most are Ibadan indigenes, your elders say he should not be seen to be ending careers of ọmọ Ibadan!” (This writer is a native of Ibadan.)
But multiple senior civil servants deflected the accusation and stated that the Makinde administration “came in with very hungry people who thought they could steal everything in one day”. They claimed that they received too many frivolous and unorthodox requests that could imperil the careers of seasoned civil servants. “Governments come and governments go. But we remain. I can’t let these neophytes come and get me into EFCC trap”, one of them said.
One cabinet member described the governor as being very disappointed with the job performances and personal conduct of some of his appointees. He is frustrated that many lacked the air of originality and sense of purpose that had been the mantra of his campaign. He wants to shake up his cabinet and bring in those that would help him establish a good legacy. But he is hampered by the fact that he is politically indebted to a lot of the people in his administration and their godfathers outside the administration.
“I don’t know why he can’t just assert himself in a serious way and make an example of some of these dead woods with overblown egos. He is doing Mr. Nice-Man while they are destroying his administration. Every governor of Oyo State needs a little bit of Ajimobi in them. You need to tongue-lash some of these people or even sack them if they are not loyal or cannot perform. They don’t see the governor as someone they should respect. They see him as a rich weakling”, the cabinet member said.
*By Abiodun Ladepo*
Ibadan, Oyo State