The Surprises In Hope Uzodinma Cabinet Dissolution

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ONWUASOANYA FCC JONES

While it is common practice in this part of our world for governors to regularly "rejig" their cabinets by sacking, dissolving or reshuffling their cabinets every now and then, it is my opinion that such action exposes the governors as individuals who didn't carry out their background checks well before recruiting their team members. A cabinet should remain intact, except, in cases of resignations and sacking of one or two individuals for serious offences or political considerations, for the lifetime of that administration. That to an extent will guarantee consistency in policy design and implementation and as well reduce cost. However, Governor Uzodimma is not alone in this administrative blunder, as it is hard to find a governor in the entire 36 States who would retain the same set of commissioners for the duration of his four years tenure.

No one who has been following Imo politics in the last few months would be completely surprised by this decision of the governor. If anything, most people expected this to have happened before now. Some inside sources within the administration had expected the governor to dissolve his cabinet at the beginning of April, but this didn't happen, maybe, as a result of the unpalatable events of that month.

But, no matter how clairvoyant any political pundit was, it would have been difficult to correctly predict the ousting of some of the casualties of this cabinet dissolution. Some commissioners who were seen as untouchable were surprisingly shown the door.

The most surprising of all these is the Attorney-General of the State, Chief COC Akaolisa. Outside the fact that he was seen as a major plug in the engine room of the Hope Uzodimma administration his sack becomes more surprising, given that Commissioners for Justice are usually the last people standing in any cabinet shakeup. This portfolio is hardly vacant, given the sensitivity of the position. If the governor has any plans to recall this his longstanding ally to the cabinet, he would definitely not have sacked him in the first place. The governor seems to have sent a clear message with the sack of Akaolisa, that no one is untouchable in his cabinet. And depending on the governor's reason for sacking him, it would either motivate those working with the governor to sit up as they know that any slack will see them thrown out or make them demoralized and less ready to take risks for the governor as they would have been convinced that anyone is expendable as long as such individual has outlived his or her usefulness to the system.

Akaolisa, to an outsider in that administration was, at least, one of the brain boxes of the Hope Uzodimma political plots and one of his longest standing allies. If he wasn't found wanting in some significant official duties or political considerations, then, he should have been one of those who should be guaranteed of their jobs for as long as they are ready to serve. But, if he had been found wanting, especially, in official responsibilities, then, his sack is justified.

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Another big surprise is the returnee Commissioner for Science and Technology. Unless, the professor is actually building some secret technology programs in the State, his impact hasn't been felt in the last one year of his appointment as Commissioner in that ministry. In fact, I didn't know that the ministry still exists. The governor's judgement in retaining a man, who in my thinking has merely being occupying a space without making much impact would be telling enough about what informs his choices for filling up sensitive political positions.

Another surprising escape in the cabinet dissolution is Declan Emelumba. While I do not subscribe to governments sacking its officials based on pressures from certain interest groups, I do not think that Emelumba has performed so creditably to be rewarded with a reapportionment. In fact, the information commissioner is responsible for most of the blunders for which this government is notorious for. Even though one can understand that no matter how exceptional a public relations expert one is, he can't do much to win support for a wobbly and underperforming government. With the many failings of the current administration in meeting up with the aspirations of the people, Emelumba has added to the negative public perception of the government, as he seems more interested in attracting controversies to the government than winning friends for the government. One of the first laws in hiring an image maker is that such image maker must to a good degree enjoy some good relationship with media operators. Emelumba is whom one can describe as a snobbish, always bitter, combative and cantankerous old man, who seems to get the right kick fighting with everyone.

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With the controversies surrounding the appointment of Mrs. Doris Nkiruka Anite as the Commissioner for Finance and the coordinating Commissioner for the Economy, one would have expected the governor to seize this opportunity of cabinet dissolution to ease the woman off his shoulders. Given the sensitivity of her position, the governor should understand that very few people will be willing to do business with the State with her as the chief exchequer. Hers is a position that requires trust and a lot of integrity and with the very loud silence with which she responded to the heavy accusations against her by a group of fine finance heads assembled by the Ihedioha administration, who accused her of culpability in shortchanging the State of multiple billions of Naira in excess bank charges during her time as a staff of Zenith Bank, it would have been appropriate to excuse her from the cabinet, except she or the government has a more convincing rebuttal to make over the accusations by the Dr. Abraham Nwankwo led Economic Advisory Committee.

Maybe, I am wrong to have assumed that nothing has been happening in the youth ministry in the State, except for the commendable efforts made by Noble Atulegwu when he was in the ministry of Entrepreneurship and Skills Development, where he reportedly attracted some funds and loan facilities to Imo youths through that ministry. The only times, I one would hear anything about youths in the Uzodimma government is either when Eric gathers some noisemakers to hail the governor or when another group of hailers visit the Commissioner. Conceded that the Heartland Football Club has been doing well in the Nigerian Professional Football League, but it is either the Youth and Sports ministry's public relations department is redundant or the credit for the encouraging performances of the team should go to the Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, Chyna Iwuanyanwu who would always get the credits for the transformation of the team.

Simeon Ibegbulem who is notably, Oshiomhole's eyes in the Hope Uzodimma administration may be the most courageous decision yet, by the governor. By sacking Ibegbulem, the governor may have sent a signal to anyone who cares to take note that he is ready to take full charge of his administration and no longer ready to retain individuals with divided loyalty in his cabinet.

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In picking his next batch of commissioners, the governor should take extra care to ensure that he brings the best hands possible into his cabinet. The governor's chance to redeem his faltering government is to a great extent dependent on those he brings on board this time. While it must be understood that political considerations are paramount in the constitution of cabinets anywhere in the world, the governor should be patriotic enough to concede some key ministries to core technocrats in order to reposition his administration for better results in the remaining two years.

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