By Adekunle Adekoya
THE main issue that dominated headline news for most of this week is the issue of political appointees declaring interest in elective offices whilst still holding the positions into which they were appointed. Controversies had raged over the issue, which could easily have been made a non-issue if the person who ought to draw the line had done so, in the nick of time.
He didn’t until the whole matter became messy – politically, judicially, and administratively. And so, after a pronouncement, there suddenly came a flurry of resignations, leading one to wonder whether those who are resigning didn’t see the need for it before they were told, or were just testing the system, to see how elastic it is, or whether it would snap in all.
In all probability, readers may recall that the issue had been subject of litigation; Section 84, sub-section 12, of the Electoral Act 2022, as amended, which disqualifies political appointees from being voted for in party primaries.
But I have a problem. Who is a political appointee? I want to define such as somebody occupying public office in the behest of a superior authority which is usually the appointing authority.
A political appointee, in our clime may be a minister or commissioner, special advisers and assistants, chairmen and members of boards of departments and agencies. Some even say the heads of some specialist organisations are political appointees. In my book, that is grey; neither black nor white.
Let’s leave the colour for now. Since political appointees are usually found in governments, it is safe to assume that they are appointed by Presidents, Governors, and Chairmen of Local Governments. How do these potentates get to their positions, from where they start making appointments? By election, right? What is an election? Online resource, Wikipedia, describes an election as “a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold public office.”
Elections have been the means by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century. Elections may be used to fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the executive and judiciary, and for regional and local governments in many countries of the world. This process is also used in many other private and business organisations, from clubs to voluntary associations and corporations.
If elections are a formal process, then it can be averred that it is also a means by which a social collective appoints people to direct its affairs using a mutually-agreed set of rules, usually called a constitution. To that extent, the potentates – President, Governors, and Chairmen of Local Governments are political appointees. Let’s take this further a bit. If a governor intends to run for the presidency, should he not resign his governorship before declaring his intention?
Similarly, if the chairman of a local government wants to become governor, should he resign his chairmanship first, before going ahead to declare his bid? And now, heads of ministries, departments and agencies of government, as political appointees, are required by another political appointee to first quit their jobs before they can take their aspirations further.
Beats me, just like the purchase of nomination and expression of interest forms in the ruling everything Progressives Congress, APC. Many things befuddle minds here. First, very few of the more than 30 aspirants went to the party to obtain the forms by themselves.
One group, with a name usually from Outer Mongolia, had always purchased the forms for them.
They are too big to go and buy the forms themselves because the application fee of One Hundred Million Naira is too small? It must be, given the ease with which people are buying the forms. So, N100 million can become “pure water”? When they get into office, they will be too big to do the work for which we elected them.
Another thing: if the APC thought that the N100 million fee was a perfect entry barrier instrument, given the status of our economy, they not only got it wrong, but woefully under-estimated Nigerians, especially their own party men.
Of course, if I were in the APC, I would be one of the first to buy the forms, even for N500 million, knowing fully well that I don’t stand one tiny chance of winning the ticket from here to Jupiter. Or else how do you explain the multitude of presidential aspirants dropping N100 million as if it is a satchet of pure water? TGIF, jare!
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