SIMON EBEGBULEM, BENIN CITY
It was a sigh of relief for the people of Edo state after members of the state Executive Council finally emerged last week, eight months into the administration of Governor Godwin Obaseki. The governor had attributed the delay in constituting his cabinet to his resolve to put in place a template with which the Commissioners would work with in order to meet up with the electoral promises he made to the people of the state. Apart from that, the governor said he needed to get capable hands that will help him pilot the affairs of the state.
However, after a painstaking screening, including contributions from leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Commissioners were unveiled last week while a two-day retreat was organized for them in Lagos last Monday. Announcing their portfolio, Governor Obaseki said the Ministry of Lands and Housing has been scrapped just as he renamed some of the Ministries to suit his vision and mission. The Commissioners were picked from the 18 Local Government Councils of the state.
The governor was said to have informed the party leaders of the kind of qualities he expected from the commissioner nominees they should present to him.
Saturday Vanguard learnt that the leaders forwarded a list of three persons from each of the 18 Local Government Areas, giving the governor the choice to pick one out of the three. However, it was gathered that there are some Local Governments where the governor rejected the three persons presented as they were below the standard he wanted while fresh names were said to have been sent to him. In some cases he used his discretion to suggest names for the leaders. Among the commissioners, there were some of them who were referred to as super commissioners by virtue of having served in the last administration.
This category of commissioners include the former Commissioner for Finance during the administration of Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Mr John Inegbedion who has retained his position as Commissioner for Finance. Inegbedion is one of the young and dependable technocrats who was brought into the system by the former governor, in his eight years tenure in the state. Others include the current Commissioner for Minerals, Oil and Gas, Joseph Ugheoke, who was Commissioner for Land during the Oshiomhole administration. Emmanuel Usoh who is currently the Commissioner for Wealth Creation, Cooperation and Employment, is one young man who distinguished himself when he acted as the Chairman of the state Revenue Board during the Oshiomhole administration.
The new Commissioner for Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr Jimoh Ijegbai, will be bringing his wealth of experience as former chairman of Owan East Local Government. As a matter of fact, Ijegbai was one of the best chairmen during his time and it was not surprising that he was given this portfolio. The current commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Mr Paul Ohuobanmu who will take charge of the media for Obaseki, was former deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly. He is a lawyer by profession and one of the APC lawmakers then who battled their counterparts in the PDP to a standstill to make APC survive in the state.
Others who made the list of the commissioners include Yekini Idaiye (Energy and Water Resources); Emmanuel Agbale (Science and technology); Magdelene Ohenhen (Women Affairs and Social Development); Osahon Amiolemen (Infrastructure); Mika Amanokha (Youth and Special Duties); Hajia Maryam Abubakar (Budget); Edorodion Oye Erimona (Physical Planning and Urban Development); Prof. Yinka Omorogbe ( Justice); Osaze Osemwegie-Ero (Arts,Culture and Diaspora); Monday Osaigbovo (Agriculture and Natural Resources); Dr Christopher Adesotu (Education); Reginald Okun ( Environment and Sustainability) and Dr David Osifo (Health), Some of the Ministries were reorganized and renamed to suit the governor’s vision while the Ministry of Lands and Housing which was scrapped will now be supervised by the Property Development Authority.
At the first Executive Council meeting (EXCO) held last Tuesday in Lagos, Obaseki announced that Forestry and Sports had been made full commissions.
While stating that all the executive orders and gazettes necessary to show the new structure will be released immediately and that the terms of reference of all council members had been finalized, he then directed all commissioners to resume at their ministries on Thursday, July 13, 2017. A consensus was also reached that the State Executive Council meetings should hold every Wednesday by 10 am.
In his remarks, the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Osarodion Ogie, pointed out to the new commissioners that the governor should be referred as Chairman –in-Council and not His Excellency. He said that all documents and issues relating to the meetings are to be treated with strict confidentiality, adding that all such documents will be returned to the state upon expiration of the tenure of appointees.
The Head-of-Service in her submission urged EXCO members to ensure that they discuss the decisions reached with their permanent secretaries in order to get their support in ensuring the achievement of the objectives of government. The Chief-of-Staff, Taiwo Akerele who also spoke at the meeting called on appointees to ensure they pay good attention to areas covered by donor agencies in their ministries, stressing that the donors account for about 15 per cent of the annual budget of the state and must therefore be taken seriously. With the appointment of Commissioners, it is expected that the Obaseki’s administration will commence work in full force.
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