With the May 29 date of the swearing-in ceremony of the president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu drawing closer ,names of personalities that may form his kitchen cabinet have started flying across the media space.
Tinubu has said at many fora that he would hit the ground running as soon as he is sworn-in.
At Chatham House where he spoke about his agenda ahead of the February 25 presidential election, Tinubu put it mildly that he would hit the ground running on his first day and on his second day he would keep on running until he is able to reset the country on the path of economic growth and development.
Since he left the country a few weeks ago to France and Saudi Arabia for lesser Hajj, there have been speculations that the president-elect is abroad to strategise on who and who to form his cabinet so that work can begin with them as soon as he is sworn-in.
However, there are a set of people the incoming president must announce within two or three days of his swearing-in that will form his kitchen cabinet to kick start his administration.
These personalities are the Chief of Staff, The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, the Chief Press Secretary, the Aide-de-camp, the National Security Adviser and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
The constitution has given the president the prerogative to so appoint these categories of public servant to start the administration with him.
There are speculations that the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila may have wormed himself into the heart of Asiwaju Tinubu to become his Chief of Staff. His performance during the campaign and his tutelage under Tinubu for over 30 years may have worked for him to occupy the position.
Gbajabiamila himself had said a few days ago that his tutelage under Tinubu helped him to be a quality lawmaker and eventually a speaker and leader of the National Assembly.
A chief of staff is one of the closest allies if not the closest to the president. Chiefs of staff around the world are seen as the most trusted ally of the president. They draw the manifest for the president and advise which events the president can attend.
They delegate responsibilities to other senior aides including ministers and represent the president at some functions.
Gbajabiamila has been seen regularly around the president-elect. There was a viral picture of him and Tinubu where both wore white “Agbada” at a private meeting outside the country.
Apart from this, Gbajabiamila has not been seeing around the National Assembly since the politicking about the leadership of the 10th assembly began about a week ago. As a matter of fact, he was not there to receive his certificate when the Independent National Electoral Commission was presenting certificates of return to elected lawmakers in Abuja.
Although he claimed that he received his later, there were no pictures to suggest that he truly did. This perhaps suggests that his position as the next chief of staff may have been sealed.
Another person whose name is being mentioned jn the public domain for the Chief of Staff position is the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN). The former Lagos State governor was Tinubu’s erstwhile chief of staff when the former was the governor of Lagos State.
Fashola has proven to be a trusted ally of Tinubu over the years. He stands out among one of Tinubu’s beneficiaries in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet that will not allow ambition to demean his integrity. Of course he may have disagreed with Tinubu in the past, his role in the 2023 election cannot be overruled.
For the position of the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, there are two names in circulation and they are Mr. Bayo Onanuga and Mr. Dele Alake.
Both are veteran journalists and editors who have proven their relevance over time in the media industry. Alake and Onanuga are currently managing the media unit of the office of the president-elect.
There are indications that they may transit to become substantive aides as special adviser and senior special assistant respectively for media and publicity in the kitchen cabinet.
Alake was Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy under Tinubu’s governorship. He is regarded as a stunt ally of the president-elect. A very outspoken public communicator and advocate of balance reportage.
For the Chief Press Secretary, the first name that came to mind is Mr. Tunde Rahman who had been performing the function even before Tinubu declared his presidential ambition. Rahman was a former deputy editor of the Punch Newspaper and a former Editor at ThisDay Newspaper.
The presidential media unit is always a large one, which means that such names as Mr. Segun Ayobolu who is currently a member of the Nations Newspaper’s Editorial Board and Hon. Kehinde Bamigbetan, former Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy may be integrated into that unit. These are probable media assistants to the president. Their experience and competence will be needed to fortify the media wing of the presidency.
Bamigbetan succeeded Ayobolu as Tinubu’s Chief Press Secretary in Lagos then. He is a creative media personality and entrepreneur who can also do well as a member of President Tinubu’s kitchen cabinet.
Two names are also being circulated in the media as the probable Secretary to the Government of the Federation. They are Governor Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State and Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state.
Investigation revealed that the president-elect had preferred Abubakar who would be leaving office at the end of his eight years on May 29 but the loss of Matawalle of the All Progressives Congress to a PDP gubernatorial candidate in the March 18 election is making the president-elect to consider him for SGF position.
The positions of ADC and NSA are very sensitive. The president-elect will have to consider so many factors in choosing who becomes his ADC. Recall that his former ADC as Lagos Governor is now the traditional monarch of Iruland in Lagos, Oba Abdulwasiu Omogbolahan Wasiu.
He served Tinubu so closely and loyally that the president-elect will not want to appoint an ADC that will not have the quality of Lawal. Apart from the president’s wife, an ADC is the first to see the president in the morning and the last to see him before sleeping among the kitchen cabinet members. The person must be a trusted personality.
It is a sensitive position, which of course the president-elect must keep the card to his chest until he announces the name.
Be that as it may, the NSA position may go to somebody of high military qualifications and intelligence. There are a few of them on the list but the president-elect has kept it away from the public.