GOVERNOR Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, last Wednesday, caused a rumble within the state Executive Council when he relieved Commissioners for Tourism, Mr. Folorunsho Folarin-Coker, Finance, Dr. Mustapha Akinkunmi, and Transportation, Dr. Ekundayo Mobereola of their appointments in a minor cabinet reshuffle.
The reshuffle came exactly a year after Governor Ambode constituted his Executive Council, precisely on October 19, 2015. The sack, according to sources, could not be unconnected with poor performance, misdemeanour and inability to key into the goals, vision and mission of the present administration.
However, the Governor, in a statement by the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Mr. Tunji Bello, directed the Special Adviser, Arts and Culture to take over as the Acting Commissioner for Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Special Adviser on Transportation will take over as Acting Commissioner for Transportation, while the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance takes over as the Acting Commissioner for Finance pending appointment of new Commissioners in the respective ministries.
It will be recalled that on September 19, 2016, Ambode sacked quite a number of heads of parastatals and agencies. Notable among them was General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Mr. Michael Akindele who was replaced him immediately with Mr. Tiamiyu Muyiwa Adesina in an acting capacity.
Also, on March 14, 2016, following the collapse of a five storey building under construction at Lekki Gardens, Kusenla Road, Ikate Elegushi, in Eti-Osa Local Government, Ambode sacked the General Manager of the state Building Control Agency, LASBCA, Engr. Adeigbe Olushola.
The governor also sacked the Head of Inspection and Quality Control in the Agency, Adeoye Thomas Adeyemi, the Zonal District Officer in the Agency, Dosunmu Gbadebo, while the Zonal Head of Eti-Osa West of the Agency, Mrs. Akinde Adenike Sherifat was compulsorily retired from the civil service.
Ambode, in a statement through the state Head of Service, Mrs. Olabowale Ademola, said the affected officers were dismissed having been indicted of negligence, which according to the governor is an act of misconduct under the Public Service Rule 040401.
According to the governor, Rule 040401 of the Public Service act of misconduct states inter alia: “A willful act of omission or general misconduct to the scandal of the public or to the prejudice of discipline and proper administration of the State Government,” should be visited with dismissal from the Public Service in line with the Public Service Rule 040503.
All these sackings, it was gathered, received the blessings of former governor of the state and National Leader All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who is known to be the main backer of the governor.
Reasons for the sack
Sequel to the eventual sack, facts emerged that the affected commissioners were recently reprimanded by Ambode on the need to raise their game on performance or face exit. According to the source, the affected commissioners were sacked based on issues ranging from lack of capacity to deliver, disloyalty and flagrant disobedience of the Governor’s directives on several occasions and lackadaisical attitude towards government’s goals
Some of the commissioners were also said to be indifferent to the governor’s directive on some major issues, believing they owe their allegiance to their godfather, Tinubu. The source said like any other Governor or President, Ambode relieved the cabinet members of their appointments based on political expediency, capacity to do the job, among others.
He recalled that many of the cabinet members were appointed a year ago based on merit and the need to put round peg in round hole, but in the last 15 months, it had become apparent that some of them cannot cope with the pace of the Governor, while some have demonstrated utter disloyalty to the office of the Governor.
They were also accused of flagrant disrespect to the office of the Governor with impunity, thereby undermining his authority coupled with unresolved disputes with some cabinet members.
The source said: “You see, one of them for instance, (names withheld) falls in this category.
“Having been in government for the past 16 years, his carriage was that of a man who believed that he cannot be touched. So, it was not a surprise to close observers that he was among those sacked by the Governor.”
Yet another one was dropped on account of being arrogant and unable to work as a team player and above all, he was allegedly approving money without the governor’s consent.
In addition, he was also accused of treating lawmakers in the state with disdain. Sometimes ago, members of the relevant Committee of the state House of Assembly were stranded and embarrassed during an oversight visit to the office of the commissioner, who was not on hand to receive the committee members without a word or excuse for the action after being duly notified of the visit.
He was also accused of often delegating officials to represent him at key events without cogent reasons for doing so.
Hence, the decision of the Governor to wield the big stick to serve as deterrent to others in order to fall in line and key to his vision of making Lagos great and transforming the state massively.
It was gathered that the other casualty- Akinkunmi, was said to be found wanting.
Being a finance expert himself, Governor Ambode, according to another reliable source, was uncomfortable with his style of operation to the extent that he had to be tongue-lashed at cabinet meetings by the Governor on issues that bordered on abysmal performance.
Meantime, Folarin-Coker, in a swift reaction to the development, denied being removed for poor performance but said it was in the interest of moving Lagos forward.
His words: “Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is my leader and boss. He is a visionary leader and understands well what Lagos needs best. He is also a close personal friend. There was no clash between us whatsoever. Lagos needs to move at an accelerating pace and my time to depart just happened to be today.
“I remain totally loyal to him and the party. Change is always good thing and I am grateful to God to have been able to serve my state for 18 years.”
A text message sent to Moberola and Akinkunmi’s mobile phone lines were yet to be responded to at press time.