Ben Akabueze the Anambra born Lagos commissioner
Published By Sammyshow on 2013-04-16 642 Views
The next nominee was Prince Ademola Adeniyi-Adele. He introduced himself briefly and said:
“I am a son of the late Oba of Lagos popularly called Adeniyi Adele. I am a chemical engineer by profession. I graduated from the University of Ife, having gone through C.M.S. Grammar School, Bariga and St. Peter’s School, Faji, Ajele, Lagos. I currently work and chair a number of groups of companies which includes the Structural Development Company.”
He added that he had lived in Abuja in the past three or four years and had returned to Lagos “after about eight years of misadventure in the PDP.”
After introducing himself, honourable members of the House unanimously agreed that the gentleman should not be allowed to answer any questions but should just take a bow and go. Was this because he was the son of a much loved former Oba of Lagos? Was it to prevent awkward questions being asked about his “misadventure in the PDP”? In any case, he bowed and withdrew from the chambers.
After Adeniyi-Adele, the next nominee to appear before the House was Mr. Ben Akabueze. Introducing himself, Mr. Akabueze said he was a graduate of the University of Lagos, a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and the Institute of Credit Administrators. He narrated his career path thus:
“I started my career in auditing and consulting at Price Waterhouse and then switched over to banking, starting with Nigerian International Bank and City Bank. I worked with three other banks and ended up as the Managing Director/CEO of NAL Bank Plc from year 2000 to 2005. During the consolidation period, I joined Sterling Bank as Executive Director from the beginning of 2007 to August when I left for private consulting practice, and in January 2007, I was invited to join the Cabinet of the Lagos State Government.”
The first question was from Hon. A.J. Adeyeye who asked the nominee to tell the House his State and Local Government of origin. The next question was from Hon. O. Olatunji-Edet (Oshodi/Isolo II). She asked the nominee: “What are the challenges that you faced in your last assignment and how best do you think you can tackle it in this present assignment you are about to embark on.” To these questions, the nominee gave the following answers:
“I hailed from Dunukofia Local Government Area in Anambra State, but I always make the point that in all my forty-seven years on earth, I have only lived for two years in Anambra State.”
On the question asked by Hon Olatunji-Edet, he said:
“In my last assignment, what I would consider the most significant challenge was basically the fact that revenues were running behind expenditure. In terms of my appointment in the last five months of the administration, with pressures to complete projects, revenue was lagging behind in terms of being unable to match the need to spend; therefore we had to do a lot of prioritisation. It is often very difficult to explain to one person why the other person’s own needs should take priority position.”
He also said he would ensure a growth in the revenue of the state as a way to better handle the assignment if it was given to him again. He said:
“If I have the responsibility again, the best way to do that is, of course, to ensure that we grow the revenue so that we do not have the need to prioritise but be able to meet all the needs in support of the development and growth of the state.”
No further questions were put to him and he was allowed to take a bow and go. The next nominee was Ademorin Aliu Kuye. Mr. Kuye said he was born on 11th February 1963. He also said he had his first degree in Law from the University of Ife. He said further:
“I have been in practice for so many years. I have worked as company secretary in some insurance companies and I have been in politics for some time practicing in Somolu Local Government. I was nominated to the office of the Executive Secretary in October 2003 and thereafter I got elected in March 2004 as the Executive Chairman of Somolu Local Government. After the expiration of our tenure, by the grace of this honourable House through an enactment, myself and some other colleagues in our various local governments were returned as Executive Secretaries. Up to date, I have served as the Executive Secretary of Somolu Local Government and I have equally served as the Secretary-General of the Conference of Local Government Chairmen in Lagos State.”
Two questions were put to the nominee. The first question came from Hon. B. Ogala (Ikeja I) and went thus: “If you are privileged to be made the Attorney-General of Lagos State, what kind of reforms would you wish to initiate in the justice delivery sector? What kind of repositioning would you do in the Office of the Public Defender and Citizens Mediation Centre. The second question from Hon. A.M. Balogun was: “if for instance you are made the Commissioner for Local Government, how are you going to bridge the gap between the legislative and the executive arm of Local Government councils?”
The nominee responded to the first question concerning the Office of the Public Defender thus:
“I have noticed that they do not exist at the Local Government level. The administration of justice in Lagos State has tremendously improved, but then, there could still be improvement in the area of having this kind of offices at the Local Government level and there has to be serious monitoring of our magistracy because that is where the quacks have their field days.”
On how he would reconcile the difficult relationship between the legislative arm and the executive arm of local councils he said:
“I have always been involved in this reconciliatory process even as the Secretary of the Conference of Local Government Chairmen… I have had to settle rifts between the legislative arm and the executive. Of course, most of the time, it is just a kind of ego trip that is between the two arms of government and we have been able to sort out things without necessarily disrupting the peace and tranquillity of the State. I want to assure this House that if I am given the benefit of serving in the Ministry of Local Government, I will continue to do what I have been doing and would make sure that we have peace and harmony between the two arms of government at the Local Government Area.”
However, some members of the House raise issues about a protest that happened in Shomolu, the nominee’s local government area, over perceived failure of government over the years to appoint somebody from that area as Commissioner. Actually Hon. M.A. Egberongbe (Apapa I) raised the issue when he said: “It seems this face I am seeing here now (referring to the nominee) resembles the face I saw on the television last week, mobilising some people to protest.” But the nominee denied ever protesting on television on the issue of commissionership. But some members were not satisfied insisting that there must be an explanation as to why after the protest, his nomination was changed from that of a Special Adviser to a Commissioner. But the nominee still responded that he was ready to serve the state in whatever capacity. As the matter was dragging on, the Speaker asked the Commissioner to take a bow and leave. And he left.
Incidentally, Mr. Kuye was the last nominee to be screened for the third allotted day. This was supposed to be the last day of the screening but one of the nominees, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, was not present. The Governor had sent a notice to the House that the nominee would be unavoidably absent.
However, on the 5th July, 2007, Senator Afikuyomi appeared before the House for screening. However the senator was neither asked to introduce himself nor was any question put to him. after reiterating that the gentlemen was a three time Senator of the federal republic of Nigeria, the Speaker only said to him, “Senator, this House has resolved that you should take a bow and leave, but if you so wish, to say a word or two, you are at liberty. But as far as this House is concerned you may just take a bow and leave”. The nominee responded by thanking the House for doing him such honour. And he left bringing to an end the four-day screening exercise of nominees for commissionership positions in Lagos State.
After the screening, the House approved and confirmed 20 out of the 22 Commissioners sent to it by the governor. Two were not approved, namely Mr. Enoch Ajiboso and Mr. Ademorin Aliu Kuye. The House refused to approve the nomination of Ajiboso because there was a petition against him to the House. In the case of Kuye, the House noted that he did not pass the questions put to him by members of the House concerning the issue of demonstration in his constituency, tax clearance certificate which was not included in his credentials and his general conduct while he was before the House.
Apart from the approval of commissionership nominees, the House also resolved to approve 19 Special Advisers as requested by the Governor to assist him in the discharge of his duties.