OPINION: Kwara: Appointments, alliances and other things. By Dr Hassan Salih

Date: 2019-06-03
I have always argued that Kwara is a peculiar case. This applies before the election as it does this moment when the election has been won and lost, and a new government inaugurated. Going forward, genuine and sincere would-be critics of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq must cut him some slack with regards to speed and temperament on the job for a number of reasons.

AbdulRazaq, while being his own sponsor in terms of the war chest for prosecuting the election, is a product of various forces of change. Different politicians, interest groups and ordinary citizens tired of the old order had formed an informal alliance that resulted in the landslide victory of March 9, 2019.

For that reason, decision making may be tough and deliberately thorough for AbdulRazaq. As he himself recently conceded at a meeting of the thoughts leaders in Ilorin, he would always need to consult with (the hawks and the doves within and outside of) his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Such consultations are firmly rooted in democratic culture. But the snag is that decision making takes time as it is more participatory. One suspects this has been the case with the rather unusual delay in the announcement of core appointments of the Spokesman/Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Chief of Staff (CoS), Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and maybe Director of Protocol (DoP). This is where those making comparisons miss the point. Speed is good. But consultation is intrinsic to participatory democracy.

Some may argue that AbdulRazaq has had two straight months to consult with stakeholders and make up his mind about these key appointments. But anyone who understands the nature of politics and decision making process would be kind enough to be circumspect in their criticism of the Governor. What was agreed upon a few minutes ago may have to change for some reasons. Anyone who has emerged from such arrangement would have to ensure he massages as much ego as possible to keep the alliance, or the most of it, behind him. This is one major trade-off such governments battle with.

This brings us to the next issue. Everyone who has helped to enthrone this government in whatever way has a historic responsibility to ensure it succeeds. Like parents who get blamed or praised for the actions or inactions of their children, every member of the coalition in Kwara will share in the success or otherwise of AbdulRazaq. What this means is that they must watch their demands and be flexible in all matters to make things easier for him.

To be sure, the initial appointments of CPS, CoS, SSG and DoP are mostly personal to the Governor. They are not offices to be used to compensate partisan interests. The governor must be convinced that occupiers of these offices can have his back anytime. They are his kitchen cabinet.

It is in the interest of everyone to make the job of the Governor easy. While the buck truly stops at his table, there is no way all the stakeholders won't get some accolades or criticisms if the government fails.

Equally important for the people of Kwara, especially the social media analysts, is to study the new governor and modify their expectations accordingly. If the demeanour of AbdulRazaq is a guide, then it is safe for Kwarans to expect a rather quiet government. He is an introvert. This doesn't mean a non-performing government. Rather it means the government will say too little -- to the disappointment of those who are used to the garrulous (yet often deceitful) previous administration. Those who understand the role of actors in public service will get this.

If followed through, his non-partisan, passionate and clear-eyed discussions about wealth creation, agric value chain, revenue generation, development plans and implementations of such plans point to a brighter future for Kwara.

AbdulRazaq means well and would deliver according to resources available to him, according to insider accounts of him. What he lacks in chit-chat is compensated for in his energy and global exposure as an entrepreneur. Yet he won't say beyond what works for an introvert. It doesn't mean a disrespect for the people or an attempt to run a secretive government. No. It means the head of this government is a very quiet person who would seek little attention. Perhaps the clearest indication of this was how he decided against an elaborate and expensive inauguration.

It may be argued that his spokesman should do the constant talking. It doesn't work that way. Even if he appoints the parrot to lead his media team, the parrot would just have the choice of aligning itself to the reality of the nature of its principal or talks itself into trouble. All said, I see the governor doing a lot to deliver on his campaign promises but this would be low-key most of the time. Kwarans would do well to understand this unique nature of their new leader and not fall victim of the loquacious opposition that, when given 16 years to fix the state as the ruling party, squandered the people's goodwill and drove the state to the precipice as revelations are beginning to show.



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