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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

As Prof. Afolabi Retires, What Fate Awaits South-West In Government?



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Prof Oladapo Afolabi

Probably worried that in the next few weeks the exit of Professor Oladapo Afolabi as the Head of Service of the Federation [HoS], will mean a total non accommodation of Yoruba Nation in President Goodluck Jonathan’s government as they would have been comprehensively relegated to the background in the political scheme of things; the Yoruba Council of Elders [YCE], stormed Aso-Rock to register their anger over the marginalization of Yoruba race to Mr. President. In response, President Jonathan assured them that he is working round the clock to correct the imbalance. An Internet site, RepublicReport.Com quoted President Jonathan thus: “the issue of federal character and position, especially those political offices, were quite worrisome to me, but we had to achieve political balancing and federal character. “That is why this thing you describe as zoning was to make sure that every zone should be represented in the one you describe as top six, but for some political reasons, it was not possible. But on my own, in terms of appointments, I tried to see that the way appointment was made, you will agree with me that the appointments we have made so far did not exclude any section.”

Though all agree that President Jonathan is not the architect of Yoruba nation marginalization in his administration but the onus is on him to ensure a balancing policy in the short and medium run to avoid the looming scandal of edge out- not seeing a single Yoruba man at the decision making level of his government. Thankfully, he had assured the delegation of YCE, led by the President of the Council, Gen. Adeyinka Adebayo (rtd), that any existing lapses in the distribution of positions and offices would be corrected to conform with the principles of Federal Character. Mr. President’s assurance here could be seen as frank and helpful. The consensus of Nigerians is that the Yoruba nation is very educated, sophisticated and useful to Nigeria growth generally and therefore should not be consigned to the fringe in the political scheme of things in the nation. Professor Afolabi’s retention is a classical example of Mr. President’s assurance here.

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A brief roll call in geo-political appointments in the three [3] arms that constitute Federal Government, reveals the following: South-South produced the President and the Commander -in- Chief of the Armed Forces, the Senate Leader, the Chief of Staff in the Presidency. South-East went home with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representative. North on the other hand, corned the following posts: Vice President, Senate President, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of Court of Appeal, and the Chief Justice of the Federation. South-West has only the Head of Service of the Federation.

It is almost obvious that the next Head of Service of the Federation will not come from this heavily politically marginalized South-West, to cushion the looming scandal of comprehensive political exit of Yoruba in President Goodluck Jonathan’s government. If Professor Oladapo Afolabi’s successor will not come from South-West as we are sure of, it certainly follows that either of these blocks, South-South, South-East or North will have it. If this scenario plays itself out, what will be the political fate of South-West in the short and medium run, in the administration of President Jonathan in view of the obvious existing imbalance in the polity? How long will they have to wait for Mr. President reassurance on their quota in the federal character mix, in this circumstance?

Surely, President Goodluck Jonathan has a tricky task ahead of him as Professor Afolabi, an accomplished intellectual and astute reformer exits the exalted position of HoS in a couple of weeks. By the Civil Service Extant rule, Prof. is expected to leave; however on moral and political expediency ground now, where will his successor come from- which geo-political zone will produce the next head of service of the federation, in view of the fact that other geo-political zones have had a fair share in the distribution of offices in President Jonathan’s administration, from the point of view of federal character.

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Only recently, President Jonathan, while trying to persuade the leaders of South-East to see reason with him on why the next Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] should come from the North East, reminded them that the zone being considered has not got a single position to their credit. Even in considering the North-East for the post of Chairman of PDP, the Constitution of the party had to be sidestepped for equity sake. It is a well known fact that there is no law against peace, equity and stability, and the President as the giver of these, is at liberty to ensure its effect in practical terms.

Clearly then, President Goodluck Jonathan, could as well extend the tenure of Professor Oladapo Afolabi for two [2] years or more, to avoid a complete and comprehensive shot out of Yoruba race from the decision making arm of his administration which will be a negation of his government’s commitment to equity. The alternative is for Mr. President to search for Prof.’s replacement from South-West zone, but the problem here is that the fellow must be next to him in terms of civil service progression, it is clearly impossible. Thankfully, Prof’s intellectual ability couple with his reformist inclination will be a veritable asset in the ongoing merger of parastatals and agencies of government exercise. His retention as HoS will ensure intellectual fine-tuning and coordination of the final report of the committee set up for the merger purpose, in line with the transformation agenda of Jonathan’s administration, which must be based on zero tolerance for job loss at the end of the fusion implementation. In-fact, Professor Afolabi should supervise the final collapse of most of the Parastatals and Agencies into their parent Ministries as Head of Service, to avoid instability associated with massive job loss that may arise from rationalization in the end. It is in the light of all these that his tenure should be extended.

Emeka Oraetoka

Information Management Consultant & Researcher

Wrote in from Garki-Abuja

P.O.Box 18928


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