Barring any last minute change of mind, Governor Udom Emmanuel is planning to appoint few new Commissioners into his exco, sources at Hilltop Mansion have told TheMail Newspaper.
The governor, TheMail understands, has already sent the list of his nominees to the State House of Assembly for screening and subsequent confirmation.
Impeccable sources in the Governor’s office said the list has been with the House of Assembly for over a week now.
Our very credible sources in Government hinted that the names of commissioners sent to House of Assembly for screening are very few, most likely not exceeding four.
The Governor is planning to unbundle the Ministry of Agriculture and Women Affairs, our source hinted.
“The Ministry would be split into two. Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare. Dr Glory Edet might be retained in the Ministry of Women Affairs where she hitherto held sway for many years or she might be shipped out to Ministry of Agriculture if the governor’s wife favours another woman to run the show in the Women Affairs ministry”, said our source.
The Commissioner in-charge of Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Udo Ekpenyong would most likely emerge PDP State Chairman next month if the party is able to get INEC to observe its congress. With this development, one of the governor’s new nominees would take over from Udo Ekpenyong.
In the Ministry of Works, Akparawa Ephraim Inyang has been appointed Chief of Staff to the governor. In the statement by the Commissioner for Information, Charles Udoh who announced the appointment after a state exco meeting, Ephraim is to continue acting as Commissioner for Works until a new substantive commissioner is appointed to oversee the ministry. One of the new nominees is expected to take over from Ephraim Inyang in order for him to fully concentrate on his new role as the Governor’s Cos.
“Another bureau”, our source hinted, “may likely be created out of the existing ministries or bureau to accommodate a fresh Special Adviser”.
TheMail on good authority that the AKHA has been in receipt of the list sent by the governor for screening.
“The House of Assembly and the governor had pending issues to sort out, though the issues are not related to the commissioners/special adviser’s list.
“The issues has to do with Constituency briefing/empowerment money which the governor had promised to give to them. Also, the legislative aides of the new members have not been captured in the payment voucher by the state government. So, they have not been paid by the state government since they assumed office in June 2019. There are several other allowances and emoluments which the assemblymen/women are requesting from the governor before they can go ahead to screen the nominees and consider other proposals/requests of the governor. Hopefully, that would be sorted out soon. Probably, the screening would take place on Thursday if a consensus is reached between the governor and the lawmakers”, our source said.
Meanwhile, very close sources to the governor say the state’s helmsman will not make wholesale changes in the state exco because of the new realities occasioned by the advent of Covid-19.
“Initially, the governor had planned for this set of exco members to stay for only one year. The reason for this was to reward them with the appointment for a year for the roles they played in re-electing the governor in 2019.
“But the novel Covid-19 was announced in Nigeria in ending of February and Akwa Ibom recorded cases the following month. So, the attention of states governments, including that of Akwa Ibom immediately moved from politics to battling Covid-19.
“Budgets were revised. Every aspect of government has been affected. So, the plans had to change. There is no way he can make wholesale changes to the constitution of the present exco.
“If he disbands this present exco, he would have to pay severance allowances to those who won’t make it back to the exco. He would have to buy new cars for the new commissioners and give them other allowances including wardrobe allowance. This would run into millions of Naira.
“The governor is looking at making judicious use of every available resource at his disposal to wriggle his way out of the economic quagmire Covid-19 has presented the state. Apart from that, you can’t change a team in the middle of a war. The state is fighting a war (with Covid-19) and can’t afford to change the team. Virtually all the ministries are working hard to ensure a smooth sail of the government and state at large, hence you can’t remove the political heads of these ministries now.
“The governor might decide to appoint more commissioners later this year or next year when the situation improves”, our source hinted.
With this latest development, the governor has disappointed a lot of political stakeholders and other Akwa Ibom indigenes within and outside the state who have been lobbying to be appointed as Commissioners.
It could be recalled that the Governor, during a media chat in June had said that he has been receiving a lot of requests from Akwa Ibom people in diaspora, lobbying to be appointed in to the state exco.
“I have received a lot of request from our people in the diaspora for appointments as Commissioners. Well, there is only limited opportunities in the exco. We are however ready to work with any of our children in the diaspora who has ideas to offer”, the governor said.