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The Tinubu cabinet: Great expectations! By Dapo Okubanjo

By Dapo Okubanjo

All things being equal, President-elect Bola Tinubu will within 60 days of assuming office on May 29 submit his nominees for cabinet positions to the National Assembly in line with new requirements added to Section 147 of the 1999 constitution by the 9th National Assembly and signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.

This is not expected to pose any problem for the politically savvy Tinubu and his deputy, Kashim Shettima but all eyes would certainly be on the first ministerial nominees of the new government. And this would be against the backdrop of the President-elect’s oft repeated reputation as a talent spotter.

With the benefit of hindsight, a large chunk of people who made Tinubu’s cabinet as Lagos state governor between 1999 and 2023 have turned out as some of the most talked about Nigerians today in their various fields.

So what manner of cabinet members will Asiwaju Tinubu serve Nigerians this time that he has a larger scale to cater for?

From all indications, he is a far larger political being today than he was when he was governor but it is also true that, he had before then played on the national stage as a senator in 1992 during the short-lived military experience with diarchy.

So Asiwaju Tinubu clearly has a nationalist mindset which also reflected in his choice of cabinet members in Lagos.

Before the Tinubu years, the state was fortunate to have had a performer as governor in the person of late Alhaji Lateef Jakande during the brief civilian interregnum within the lengthy years of military rule that extended from 1966 to 1999, but it was not until Tinubu came on board, that Lagos witnessed a rainbow coalition of cabinet members.

It needs saying that he was not under any compulsion to have a cabinet that reflects the cosmopolitan side of the state but he did exactly that without necessarily trampling on the rights of the original indigenes even though there were pockets of dissenting voices.

Many Nigerians who are old enough to recall the situation back then can testify that the Tinubu cabinet was largely filled with professionals who were clearly square pegs in square holes. People like Dele Alake and Wale Edun for instance were ‘whiz kids’ in their respective fields but the then Governor Tinubu succeeded in luring them into public office and it is a testament to their calling that the duo like many others returned to the fields they were poached from after Tinubu left office 8 years after.

It is however not unexpected that men like Alake and Edun are back in the picture and played key roles in the run up to the election as well as the victory of their mentor. It speaks to the kind of boss Tinubu was.

Not surprising, keen watchers of Nigeria politics are already touting the duo for roles in the Tinubu’s federal cabinet but a glance into my crystal ball shows that this is just a bit of what to expect from the Jagaban.

*The task ahead*

Certainly, the task of putting together a federal cabinet cannot be compared to what Tinubu did in Lagos but the clear mindedness that led to putting together a talent-filled cabinet 24 years ago will also be necessary this time on a larger scale.

This is more so that there are quite a number of political interests that may have to be catered for especially as the Presidential election was an hard-fought one that demanded that all hands were on deck because of the calibre of opposition as well as the sentiments that were thrown into the political terrain.

But in the midst of these, the buck still stops on the desk of the main man, in this case, President-elect Tinubu who has to find a way to keep almost every one happy while at the same time giving his support base hope that his Renewed Hope agenda would be powered by a team that will hit the ground running.

As required by the principle of federal character, all 36 states of the federation will be represented in the Federal Executive Council (FEC), but one of Tinubu’s major headache is likely to be how to keep faith with an action plan that promised to hand cabinet positions to Nigerians below the age of 50 as well as women.

But even at that, many who have studied Tinubu’s politics since at least 1999 could afford to bet on him having a mix of technocrats who have some achievements to their names and politicians with professional background who are also loyal to the party’s cause.

And for those who have their sight on some form of government of national unity-whatever that means, any cabinet that is in line with Section 147 of the constitution with all states of the federation properly represented, is as good as any under a Presidential system of government.

Dapo Okubanjo-

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