Almost three weeks after firing his commissioner for finance, and two others in the ministries of transportation, as well as tourism and culture, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is said to be awaiting the nod of the powers in the ruling All Progress Congress (APC) to name replacement for the sacked cabinet members. Lagos runs a 42-member cabinet.
A source told Metrobusinessnews that there are high-powered intrigues surrounding the appointment of commissioner for finance in Lagos, as certain interests must be satisfied in order not to draw the ire of the powers in the state.
The source said Ambode is painstakingly consulting with the powers to pick a replacement for Mustapha Akinkunmi, his erstwhile commissioner for finance. According to the source, to be named the commissioner for finance, the candidate must be endorsed by powers beyond the governor.
“Certain interests must be satisfied,” said the source, who, however, added that Ambode is closing in on the preferred candidate.
It was learnt that the governor is sourcing for a person with a pedigree in finance, who must also have a fair knowledge of the working of the public sector, to oversee the finances of Nigeria’s biggest economy state with a GDP of $131 billion dollars and an annual budget of N662.588 billion for 2016.
Although a member of the state’s executive council is said to be eyeing the position, it was learnt that Ambode is interested in an expert from outside his existing cabinet to fill the vacant position, which is being occupied by the permanent secretary in the ministry of finance in acting capacity.
Finance commissioners play pivotal role in formulating and shaping the fiscal policies of their states. They also define high-level goals and long-range outcomes for government, and choose the ways and the means to achieve those outcomes and to guide the decision-making process leading to them. They are usually close confidants of their governors, and influential among their fellow cabinet members.
In Lagos, the finance ministry has had more commissioners than the other 22 ministries. A check list shows that while other ministries have had three to four commissioners at most since 1999, the ministry of finance has had seven, and expecting the appointment of the eighth within the next few weeks.
Among past commissioners for finance in the state between 1999 and date, are Wale Edun, Ismail Adewusi, Akin Doherty, Rotimi Oyekan, Adetokunbo Aburi, Ayodeji Gbeleyi and Mustapha Akinkunmi. Of these seven, only Wale Edun served full term of four years (1999 -2003), and began a new term into 2004 before he was replaced. The next to have served his four-term was Rotimi Oyekan (2007-2011), while all others served fragmented terms.
Lagos, Nigeria’s economic hub is rated the fifth largest economy in Africa with a GDP in excess of $131 billion. Aside its populous, estimated at 20 million, Lagos stands ahead of other 35 states of the federation, with incremental internal revenue generation, from a mere N600 million in 1999 to between N23 and N24 billion monthly, by date.
Akinkunmi was removed on October 19, 2016 alongside Dayo Mobereola, commissioner for transport, and Folunronsho Folarin-Coker, commissioner for tourism and culture. The governor was said not to be satisfied with their performance.
Ambode had asked the special adviser in the ministry of transportation, Olarenwaju Elegushi and his counterpart in the ministry of tourism and culture, Adebimpe Akinsola, as well as permanent secretary, ministry of finance to step in acting capacity as commissioners. It was, however, learnt that Elegushi is favoured to be confirmed as substantive commissioner for transportation.