AWKA — Anambra State Governor Prof. Chukwuma Soludo has sent his list of commissioner nominees to the State House of Assembly, almost two weeks after his oath of office at Government House in Awka, the state capital. Recall that on March 17 during his swearing-in address, Prof. Soludo had assured that he would send his list of would-be commissioners to the House of Assembly that same week. But perhaps owing to certain political reasons, he was unable to send the list as assured.
However, sending his nominees’ list barely two weeks after taking the oath of office is still a record time effort, considering that it normally would take a new governor at least up to a month to harmonize various interests before coming up with a list of commissioners.
The list of would-be Anambra commissioners numbering twenty, an addition of one nominee as against the nineteen that served during Obiano’s term as Governor, is not all new. For instance, Chika Anara, Ifeatu Onejeme, and Paul Nwosu, were all members of the Executive Council in Obiano’s government. However, Ifeatu Onejeme is the only commissioner under Obiano that got reappointed. Anara and Nwosu served as Special Advisers. Ify Obinabo, and Agha Mba, were transition chairpersons of Orumba North and Onitsha North, respectively; during Obiano’s administration, although Ify Obinabo served as Special Adviser under Obiano as well. Engr. Felix Odimegwu and Ify Igwebuike were part of Obiano’s government.
Engr. Felix served as transition chairman of Nnewi South before serving as Senior Special Assistant to Obiano. Paulinus Onyeka was a member of the 5th Anambra State House of Assembly before serving as an assistant to Governor Obiano after failing to secure reelection in 2015. He served briefly and in 2017 joined the opposition party against Obiano’s reelection bid. Tony Ifeanya has served as the Anambra State secretary of APGA till his nomination by Prof. Soludo. In summary, no less than half of the commissioner nominees are known persons that have been around and have been part of government before. Some people feel it might be business as usual, but then, Onejeme, Odimegwu, and Onyeka, among others, are known for their exceptional brilliance.
On the flip side, Prof. Offornze Amaucheazi, Dr. Obinna Ngonadi, and Prof. Ngozi Chuma-Udeh are some of the very impressive green horns that made the cut. Amaucheazi is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, an intellectual of very high repute. For many, it was a shock that he accepted to serve as a commissioner. Maybe his long-standing relationship with Prof. Soludo at the University of Nigeria might have played a role. Offornze’s closest to the Anambra state government was his membership of the transition committee that worked on the Obiano/Soludo transition. What is still a puzzle to many is why Offornze, a professor of law of the finest quality and a SAN, would be nominated to serve as Anambra State Commissioner for Land and not Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice. Time can only resolve this puzzle.
On a general note, the list of commissioner nominees submitted by Prof. Soludo is not particularly spectacular. Many people who thought they would make it to the list did not make it. Notwithstanding, by clearly spelling out the nominees’ designation, the nominees have the privilege to network, unofficially commence work or at least do some study in their various ministries before their confirmation and subsequent swearing-in by the Governor in his first executive meeting. So this is a plus. Past practice was for the names of nominees to be released without being assigned ministry. But this time around, candidates were interviewed before they got nominated by Soludo.
As for when they will resume, it depends on how fast the House of Assembly can discharge its duties. The House Committee on Screening, Chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Pascal Agbodike might consider expediting action on screening nominees, but this depends on specific political understanding. The screening report by the committee is what the House will rely on to approve or reject any commissioner nominee.
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