The desire of the in-coming administration of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to hit the ground running immediately after inauguration on May 29, may suffer a temporary setback following the endorsement of the out-going governor of Lagos, Babatunde Raji Fashola as the Chief of Staff to the president-elect.
The Premier exclusively gathered that Fashola who is one of the shinning symbols of the All Progressives Congress (APC) due to his good works in the ‘State of Excellence’ was expected to make the ministerial list of the new government. But despite his antecedents and pedigree the lawyer-turned politician did not make the list of the state in the new Federal cabinet.
Our correspondent gathered that Fashola who is being widely appreciated by most Lagosians because of his enduring transformational legacies which dots the landscape of Lagos has remained quite unpopular among the political class especially within the Lagos APC.
Many top-notchers of the party are said not to be happy with Fashola because most politicians did not benefit from his eight years tenure as governor of the state. Rather, he was said to have embraced technocrats and close relations at the detriment of party members who worked assiduously for his election in 2007 and re-election in 2011.
But Fashola’s greatest sin according to investigation is that he no longer enjoys the trust of APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. It was gathered that the conduct and the outcome of the party’s primary election had further deepen the gulf between the former governor and his ‘anointed’ son.
Fashola according to sources is displeased over the emergence of Akinwunmi Ambode as the party’s governorship candidate against his own candidate, Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat. “Fashola was not happy that he couldn’t bring his influence as governor to bear on the choice of his successor,” a source squealed.
He continued: “As a result, Fashola ensured that he put the party and the leaders at his mercy before the governorship election by giving everybody a cold shoulder. Even Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was not spared. He knew he did have the control of the local government chairmen, many of whom are Tinubu’s foot-soldiers. The chairmen fought vigorously to ensure Ambode won the governorship primary and as a reprimand Fashola sent them packing on the day their tenure expired.
“Whereas he should have approached the House of Assembly to extend their stay in office until after the general election. This explains the poor showing of the party in some local governments in the last election because the chairmen were no longer in the scheme of things.”
The development has therefore snowballed into a crisis of confidence between Tinubu and Fashola as the leaders of the party were said to have exerted so much pressure on Tinubu not to forward the name of the governor to Buhari as a minister designate.
In his place, we gathered that out-going senator representing Lagos West, Ganiu Olanrewaju Solomon is being touted as replacement. But GOS is increasingly becoming a hard sell. His critics say he is not influential, alleging that throughout his eight years in the upper chamber GOS did not initiate a single bill.
This development prompted Tinubu’s close associates to beam the searchlight on former commissioner for environment, Muiz Banire. But Banire, who is currently the Legal Adviser of the APC is said not to be interested in the ministerial job for now.
The anti-Fashola scheme is not yet done as former Lagos East senator, Olorunnibe Mamora was also penciled down for the ministerial slot. Mamora who was a visible figure before, during and after the presidential election should have been an obvious but his close relation with the president-elect is giving some clique within the Lagos APC a serious source for concern.
However, as the anti-Fashola scheme intensified, the in-coming president remain undeterred about the intrigues oozing out of Lagos APC. A reliable source close to the APC Transition Committee revealed that Buhari has a shocker for the anti-Fashola elements as he has penciled down the Lagos governor as his Chief of Staff.
“Unknown to many of them, Buhari appreciates Fashola’s pedigree and he wants him in his government whether he makes the Lagos ministerial list or not. In fact, Buhari has a bigger role for him as his Chief of Staff, a position which supersedes that of a minister,” says our source who craved to remain anonymous.
But Buhari’s plan to name Fashola as his Chief of Staff may signal a direct confrontation with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who many say had stomached Fashola’s perceived insolence in the past. Fashola according to sources would wield enormous influence on the new president at the detriment of Tinubu and his associates.
The development according to multiple sources has become a serious matter of concern among governors and leaders of the party who are wary of the likely consequence of a frosty relationship between Tinubu and Buhari at the early stage of the new administration.