BREAKING: All the president’s key men: Will Tinubu’s trusted allies deliver the goods

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is famed for spotting and working with top talents in governance. This reputation became established when he served as governor of Lagos State.

During his time as governor, he worked with the likes of former Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, former governor and minster, Babatunde Fashola, Budget czar, Ben Akabueze, communications expert, Dele Alake, economist and banker, Wale Edun, among an elite cast….CONTINUE READING

One of the strong arguments in favour of Tinubu in the build-up to the presidential elections was his deliberate selection and accommodation of competent people in governance. His supporters argued that he was always open to discovering great talents, and even more impressive, always disposed to respecting their views and letting them function optimally.

Some of them called this quality his greatest administrative attribute, the secret to his governance success. They thus raised expectations among Nigerians when he won. Many eagerly awaited his list of appointees to verify if it indeed measured up to the hype. As speculations flew from different corners about potential appointees, Nigerians began to get something of a glimpse into the planned direction of the new administration as it pertains to personnel. But nothing was concrete.

Then came the slew of first appointments. Femi Gbajabiamila. George Akume. Dele Alake. Wale Edun. Nuhu Ribadu. These names stood out. These men— needing no introduction— were distributed to strategic positions. It became readily clear that they would be the president’s go-to men as he sought to define his presidency, and by his constitutional mandate, a nation.

For the most part, the reactions were positive. It was as if most people appreciated the rationale for their selection. For many, the majority of the appointments came as no surprise. They were of the opinion that any close watcher of Tinubu’s inner circle from his governorship days and afterwards, would have expected the picks. Perhaps the only name that brought a bit of surprise to some was Akume. But some were quick to rationalize his pick. They pointed to his not-so-public closeness to the president, and his being an ideal geo-political-balance-induced loyal pick. One can conclude that these were, by and large, safe picks. Typical of any kitchen cabinet selection, some may argue. But will they help define Tinubu’s presidency for good? Can they?

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Femi Gbajabiamila

Gbajabiamila’s appointment as Chief of Staff came as almost no surprise to many. Speculations were rife. He was almost everywhere with the then President-elect, somewhat performing the role of a chief of staff. It made sense to many as to why he was an ideal choice. He was a trusted ally of the president’s, he had successfully managed diverse interests in a high-pressure role as Speaker of the House of Representatives, he was good with people, he understood the inner workings of government at the highest level, and his network was both diverse and strong.

Coordinating the president’s inner team engagement plans in perhaps the most important office in Africa understandably requires someone of Gbajabiamila’s stature and skill set. So far, the president’s assent to some strategic bills like the Electricity Bill and the Data Protection Bill have the imprints of Gbajabiamila. His meetings, engagements with key stakeholders and participation at local and international events have also showed clear coordination and relevance to the times, revealing underpinning strategic direction that can be tied to this office.

If his credentials and his start are anything to go by, Gbajabiamila will be one defining force in Tinubu’s administration.

George Akume

A two-time governor, former senator and former minister, Akume comes to the role of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), one of the most demanding and consequential positions in the executive, with much experience, political capital and stature.

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His appointment points to Tinubu’s appreciation of the demand of the office, and the need for experienced hands.

Tinubu will be looking to Akume to help coordinate the behemoth that is the presidency— inclusive of all offices, departments and agencies under it— and ensure that personnel, logistics and the administrative system are aligned with the president’s vision. This will be no mean task.

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Dele Alake

A communications expert, Alake has been with Tinubu since the early days, and was his pick for commissioner of information as Lagos State governor. His appointment as adviser to the president on media did not come to many as a surprise.

Alake understands Tinubu’s politics, but also understands his governance. He has been with him in battlegrounds of campaigns, and also in the hallways of governance. Well spoken and engaging, he will be expected to drive the narrative of the new administration against a tide of counter views.

During the campaigns, he was combative, challenging both the opposition and even the media, or a particular media platform deemed biased against his principal. Now, as spokesperson for the president, he must know his role bears a significant difference, with a mandate now to shape perception for a president of all, not the candidate of a party. Some will argue that given his experience and skill set, he will acquit himself well.

Wale Edun

Edun is Tinubu’s economic oracle, almost. He is said to be the one to whom Tinubu can entrust the economic fate of the nation and go to sleep. An economist and banker, his name was on the lips of many a political watcher as sure a pick in Tinubu’s cabinet, or even as CBN governor.

As the president made us know, before he was even given an official appointment, he had already started working. It was he who drafted portions of the inaugural address. It was he who detailed the economic policy direction of the president for the nation.

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His appointment as special adviser on monetary policy is a curious one since the executive’s role is fiscal policy. This appointment solidifies the speculation by many that he is likely going to be the CBN governor.

As Tinubu’s commissioner of finance while governor, he knows Edun too well, and his trust appears to remain intact. Edun may have been saddled with the greatest responsibility of his career— leading the turn-around of Nigeria’’s challenged economy. His president trusts him. Experts regard him as one of their own. And the nation looks to him and his team with great expectation.

Nuhu Ribadu

Everyone knew Ribadu would get an appointment. Many called his appointment as National Security Adviser. There was little surprise. He had become a close ally of the president’s over many years of close association and shared engagements.

Ribadu’s reputation going back to his days as pioneer EFCC boss is cemented on the minds of many Nigerians. He is deemed competent by many. But if his task as EFCC boss was a huge challenge, perhaps he has an even greater challenge in front of him. Insecurity has placed this country in a desperate state. And an urgent rescue is required.

He will need to speedily coordinate Nigeria’s security chiefs to build a solid security architecture fuelled by inter-agency coorperation and coordination to stem the tide of insecurity in the country.

His international network will also be needed at this time. He must leverage his network to make access to weapons and training easier for Nigeria’s security outfits. Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, IPOB secessionist unrest and other crises confronting the country require urgent action. His principal and the nation will be hoping he delivers….CONTINUE READING