A political appointee is a term that refers to anyone who has been appointed by someone who was elected into office to man different positions and for different reasons.
A political appointment can be made by another appointee also such as an agency head. However, people often use it to refer to appointees of a President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Governor or Chairman of Local Government areas in Nigeria.
Appointments are made for different reasons and each appointee has his or her different role. While some appointments are mandatory or statutory, others are time bound or may be made at anytime.
The most popular appointments are usually the appointment of a cabinet which in Nigeria consists of Ministers at the federal level, commissioners at the State level and supervisors at the local government level.
Others, such as the Press Secretary, Chief of Staff, Secretaries of Governments as well as Accountants General are usually more personal for the Chief Executives as they are termed ‘principal aides.’
However, Cabinet members are often viewed as more powerful as they control a large chunk of the finances as they head ministries.
Political watchers say the appointment of a cabinet usually adds or subtract from the public rating of any administration.
Is this true?
They have been questions about how long it should take to constitute a cabinet. Should this be an issue?
In Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari took 54 days to announce his cabinet which consisted of 43 ministerial nominees that were screened by the National Assembly and later sworn in.
The President had said he was under pressure to announce the list even as he stressed that he wanted those he knows personally to be in his cabinet.
How are cabinets constituted?
In Cross River, it took Governor Ben Ayade 169 days before he nominated three commissioners on November 14th and 13 days later, he swore in one out of the three.
Seven days later, on December 4th, he nominated 36 more commissioners who were eventually sworn in on the eve of Christmas.
Given the political history that has seen commissioners play the role of party leaders in their local government areas, how can one balance the act of politics and governance in appointing cabinet members?
Mixed reactions trailed the release of the names and later portfolios. There are concerns about the direction of the administration. While critics argue that the Governor walked back on his talk of running a lean government, some are of the opinion that he is right in enlarging his cabinet.
What exactly is the pulse of the populace and across partisan lines?
Furthermore, concerns have been raised concerning the distribution of political positions in the State, should this be an issue?
What are the roles of the commissioners? Who got what? Who returned? Who gained most? Who lost out?
With the recent directive streamlining the flow of information, how will this impact on the way residents will react to Government policies?
To discuss these and more with us was the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Asu Okang and the Convener, Coalition of Cross River State Civil Society Organisations, Anthony Bissong.
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