By Vincent Ujumadu
THE first tenure of Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State will officially end on March 16, 2018 and following his re-election during last year’s governorship poll, he will be sworn in on March 17, 2018. A committee for the governor’s second inauguration headed by one of his aides, Chief Ifeanyi Ibezim, has been working for the past one month to ensure a smooth handover ceremony expected to take place at the famous Alex Ekwueme Square in Awka.
Since November last year when the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared Obiano winner of the election in which he scored the highest number of votes in all the 21 local government areas of the state, most of the political stakeholders who apparently assisted in facilitating the victory in their various areas, have been lobbying to be allowed to nominate certain political appointees in the incoming government.
In fact, homes of some prominent politicians, traditional rulers and influential clerics have become very busy in the past one month with people expecting to get one political appointment or the other in the next Obiano administration. Even serving political appointees are also understood to be using those they feel can get the governor’s ear to lobby on their behalf so as to either retain their current positions, or get new appointments
This atmosphere of intense lobbying was still on when newsmen stumbled on a memo by the SSG, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, directing all political appointees and heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, who are not civil servants, to prepare their handover notes and submit them to their respective permanent secretaries or the most senior civil servant in their offices by March 16, 2018, a day to the swearing-in ceremony.
The letter signed by the SSG reads: “His Excellency, Chief (Dr) Willie Obiano, Governor of Anambra State, has directed that all political appointees and non-civil servant heads of MDAs in the state submit their handover notes/reports on or before Friday, March 16, 2018 to the Permanent Secretary of their respective MDAs, or to the most senior civil servant there in the absence of a Permanent Secretary.
“All SSAs/SAs are to submit their handover notes/reports to the Permanent Secretary, Office of the SSG. A copy of the handover note/report must be submitted to the Secretary to the State Government on or before Friday, 16th March 2018.
“Further to the above, political appointees and non-civil servant heads of MDAs and SSAs/SAs under reference, are to also handover any government project/utility vehicles in their custody to the Permanent Secretary, Office of the Secretary to the State Government on or before Friday, 16th March 2018. The contents of this letter are for your attention and necessary actions, as I assure you of my high regards.”
Following the publication of the SSG’s letter in the media, some officials of the state government swiftly argued that the directive to the affected persons did not amount to a sack as reported by the media. The Commissioner for Information and Communication Strategy, Ogbuefi Tony Nnacheta, who faulted the publication, said it was a disservice to the state for the media houses to say that the political appointees were sacked.
Speaking in an interview in his office, Nnacheta said: “Some media houses told Nigerians that the Anambra State Executive Council has been sacked by Governor Obiano. We had thought the reporters would revert to us to authenticate the information, but most did not.
“Governor Obiano was embarrassed by that report. He was pained that he was accused of what he didn’t do on a matter which is verifiable. It really embarrassed him among his fellow governors who had often told him that he has a wonderful team.
“That letter from the SSG was supposed to be an internal memo to government appointees to do the normal thing. There is nothing in the memo that is draconian. March 16 is the end of the governor’s first tenure and any further action taken by the appointees after that day is ultra vires. So the memo says hand over your notes and in particular, project vehicles. It is a measure of level of governance in Anambra State.
“You don’t sack a man and ask him to hand over in two weeks. The state executive council has not been dissolved, has not been sacked and has not been removed. The governor will take his oath of office on 17th March and other details will emerge.
“Though it won’t be a lavish ceremony, Anambra people are encouraged to come to Ekwueme Square and applaud themselves for running the state peacefully for the past four years and their expectation for the next four years.”