By Comrade Abejide Ogunlowo.
As President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, gradually settle down in the office, many Nigerians and other people across the global are eagerly await the composition of the Federal Executive Council by the president.
The curiosity and eagerness of the public are more heightened by the fact that because of the peculiarity of the situation at the moment, the nation needs people of high integrity, appropriate qualifications and experiences to be appointed as ministers.
These men and women needed now as ministers must be people that can faithfully discharge their allotted roles as well as those that have over the years been found to be outstanding in their personal and public dealings.
However, in the run-up to the formation of the Federal Executive Council, is now characterized by high-level lobbying and horse-trading. Top members of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the various states across the federation are jostling to be considered for ministerial appointments.
But unfortunately, this lobbying has seen all manner of characters throwing ‘their hats into the ring’ in this circumstance. These include some people that have proven themselves to be up to the tasks as well as some that have not been able to prove their competence or their integrity at their former appointments.
One individual, who has not hidden his desire to be appointed by President Tinubu as a member of the Federal Executive Council from Ondo State is Bunmi Tuji-Ojo, a member of the House of Representatives from Akoko North East/North West Federal Constituency.
With his silent lobbying intensified and now opened to most top members of APC in Ondo State, this ambition is now causing ripples and dissatisfaction among the membership of the party in the state, with many voicing their objection to this ambition.
The majority of those opposing this ambition are basing their stand on the fact that Bunmi Tunji-Ojo, popularly known as BTO, is seen by them as a cunning person whose integrity and loyalty to the party and even President Tinubu are in doubt.
His critics are quick to point out many events in the past and the track record of Tunji-Ojo in public office as the reasons why the Federal lawmaker is not a suitable person to represent the state as a minister in this new dispensation.
And this list of his offences that make Tunji-Ojo unsuitable for the position is long and thick. These reasons range from his dubious political affiliations, sponsorship of opposition candidates, and his track records in delivering on promises to the public and supporting party objectives.
Dubious Political Affiliations and Allegations of Disloyalty:
One significant point of concern is Hon. Bunmi Tunji-Ojo’s past political affiliations and allegations of disloyalty within the party. This grave concern just didn’t start with his joining APC but right from his foray into party politics. While he was in the Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN), and his former political parties.
In the run-up to this year’s general election, even before the parties’ primaries, Tunji-Ojo was at crossroads with the party objectives as well as the party’s candidates after the APC primaries at all levels, except his candidacy.
It is an incontrovertible fact that before the APC primaries, Tunji-Ojo was in constant secret meetings with leading aspirants of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party for the Ondo North Senatorial District and Akoko North West Local Government Constituency 2 in the Ondo State House of Assembly. After the parties’ primaries, he was a major financier of the PDP’s candidates for these two seats.
For the APC’s presidential primary, the lawmaker against the wishes of the majority of the APC members in Ondo State supported former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo against Bola Tinubu. Even though he was not a delegate at the presidential primary, he used the influence of his position as the then Chairman of the House Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to canvass for votes for Osibajo as he selfishly believed the cabal will have its way and get the APC presidential ticket for the former Vice President. But the result of the primary vindicated the about 85 per cent of the Ondo state delegates, including members of the party’s state top hierarchy, that stuck to their choice of the Jagaban of Borgu as their choice for the ticket. But sadly, Tunji-Ojo’s opposition to Tinubu did not end after APC presidential primary as he continue to oppose Tinubu’s election and was lukewarm to his campaign.
This move raises doubts about BTO’s dedication to party unity and casts aspersions on his loyalty to the APC. His anti-party activities before and during the 2023 General Elections can be ascertained by the concerned authority through a thorough investigation into these allegations.
This public opposition to the party’s choices in the 2023 General Elections raised questions about Tunji-Ojo’s commitment and loyalty to the APC and its objectives. Can the party and the President afford to appoint a Minister from within the party, who could not align closely with the party’s values and work cohesively with fellow party members to get the party’s candidates elected? What assurance do we have that such a person, if appointed a minister will diligently work towards fulfilling the president’s promised agenda for the people?
A minister representing Ondo State should prioritize the interests and advancement of the APC and its agenda rather than lending support to opposition parties.
Controversy over school attendance and Questions of Trustworthiness:
One major question on the integrity of Bunmi Tunji-Ojo is his educational qualifications and the higher institutions he attended. When he first burst into the Nigerian political terrain, the story he and his supporters spurned was he attended the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. But when the controversy over this started, his supporters revealed that he left the B. Engineering course in Electrical /Electronics Engineering in his third year to continue his studies in the United Kingdom at the University of North London (now London Metropolitan University, studying Electronics and Communication Engineering. But the allegations by his critic are that he was expelled from the prestigious Nigerian university.
There are also lingering doubts regarding the authenticity of his higher educational certificates with stories now abound that he contested the last election for the House of Representative seat with his Ordinary Level certificate as the highest education certificate attached to his form submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)..
Track Record in Delivering Results and Party Support:
An essential criterion for appointing any ministerial candidate should be his/her ability to deliver tangible results and actively support the party’s objectives. Unfortunately, there have been reports of failed infrastructure projects associated with Hon. Bunmi Tunji-Ojo’s tenure as a member of the House of Representatives from June 2019 to June 2023. Some of the roads he sponsored are now in a terrible state of disrepair, raising concerns about his effectiveness and commitment to fulfilling promises made to the constituents.
A minister representing Ondo State should be dedicated to executing the administration’s initiatives and projects across the federation. Will a minister who was not able to execute a sustained project for a section of a state and its people be able to rise to this huge expectation and the centre stage?
As the selection process for the membership of the Federal Executive Council rounds up, it is crucial to critically evaluate the qualifications and suitability of each candidate from each state. For Ondo State, Bunmi Tunji-Ojo’s candidacy for the ministerial position representing the state raises concerns regarding his suitability viz- a-viz his dedication to the party’s ideal, contributions to the victory at the polls and his track records in public office. Also, the question about his educational qualifications, and allegations of involvement in unholy activities, have cast a shadow of doubt on his integrity and moral character.
At this juncture of Nigeria’s development, it is imperative that those to be appointed as ministers should be trusted to act in the best interests of their respective states, Nigeria and its citizens while upholding the highest ethical standards. Does Bunmi Tunji-Ojo fit into this mould?
Hence, the President and those saddled with respective state nominations should ensure that only qualified, dedicated, and trustworthy people are nominated and appointed to these positions. As such it is imperative to thoroughly scrutinize all candidates and prioritize individuals who have demonstrated unwavering loyalty to the party, and proven commitments to delivering on promises with tangible and verifiable results. In Ondo State, there is a large number of individuals, including APC members and the youth cadre, that are well known for their great contributions in the professions and political arena in these regards. These people who symbolize these qualities and can effectively contribute to national development and progress deserve to be considered for the ministerial slot of Ondo State. But is Tunji-Ojo in the first eleven of this elite group?
With the rising concern over Tunji-Ojo’s lobbying for a ministerial slot, representing Ondo State in the Federal Executive Council, it becoming necessary for a rigorous and transparent selection process to be conducted by the Ondo State Chapter of APC before the nominations are sent to Mr President. This process should include thorough background checks, verification of qualifications, and scrutiny of the nominees’ track records. It is vital to select a nominee, who not only possesses the necessary qualifications, but has also demonstrated unwavering loyalty and commitment to party objectives, and has a proven ability to deliver on promises.
The ultimate goal should be to appoint a minister, from the state, who will effectively represent the interests of Ondo State, work in harmony with the party leadership, and contribute to the realization of President Tinubu’s promised agenda.
He/she should not be someone who has a powerful godfather, he/she can piggyback on to a greater public office. Ondo State deserves a minister who can be trusted to prioritize the welfare of the people, and who will actively champion the development and progress of the state.
This will ensure that the right individual is chosen to represent Ondo State’s interests, Nigeria and contribute to the overall success of the Tinubu administration.
Comrade Abejide Ogunlowo, the Director General, Tinubu-Shettima Mandate Group, Ondo State writes from Akure, Ondo State