Inside Aisha Ahman-Pategi’s curious resignation

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By Abdullah Abdulganiy

The worse came to the worst last week in Kwara State, as Ms Aisha Ahman-Pategi finally resigned her appointment as Commissioner for Special Duties with the AbdulRazaq led administration. The use of ‘finally’ was deliberate because it has been a thought running through her mind since July. Despite declaring in a statement that she had ‘moved on’, it turned out that she still appears not too conformable and pleased. Her Friday’s resignation story initially started as a mere social media gossip and in fact, attracted a lot of back and forth arguments before it was cast in stone by the state government through a terse statement issued by the Commissioner for Communications, Harriet Afolabi-Oshatimehin.

Hajiah Aisha Ahman Pategi

Outsiders, who are not conversant with the intrigues will mostly hail Pategi and call her a rare politician, given the Nigerian political factor where public officials work with a kind of ‘sit tight’ ideology. Isn’t it therefore befuddling that a Nigerian political office holder is personally resigning, without being slammed with a sack letter? On the flipside, those who have been following Kwara politics religiously in recent times are very much likely to attribute the development to the other day’s face-off that occured between her and her finance counterpart, Mrs Florence Oyeyemi-Olasunbo, and, of course, which tellingly ruffled her feathers with her relocation from the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.

Hajiah Aisha Ahman-Pategi (L) and Mrs Florence Oyeyemi-Olasunbo (R) when the going was still good.

Despite vehement denial by Pategi at a press conference, majority of the people still believe the disagreement broke out as a result of accusations of monthly diversion of LG funds to the tune of 300 million naira she allegedly levelled against her colleague in the finance ministry. This misunderstanding exacerbated to the extent that multiple reports had it at the material time that she had, in the heat of the furore, contemplated resignation. Follow up stories, however, narrated how some influential personalities prevailed on her to maintain her stay.

Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (T); Mrs Florence Oyeyemi-Olasunbo (L)); Ms Aisha Ahman-Pategi (R)

It’s however no longer a matter in the realm of conjectures. Ahman-Pategi has dumped the AbdulRazaq led cabinet. Her resignation comes weeks after Professor Wale Sulaiman’s, former Special Adviser on Health Matters. Although both did not really come out clearly on the purposes of their resignation, keen observers would argue that all is not well. Indeed, there is no smoke without fire. Certain forces must have pushed them into the deliberation. These forces are what observers are oblivious of, and have only been resorting to speculations.

Professor Wale Sulaiman

While Sulaiman’s resignation did not raise so much dust, Pategi’s dominated most of the discussions on streets and social media, given the perceived circumstances that led to her resignation and some of the idle talks/rumors associated with her person. Just like the two figures, the government did not also show that anything was wrong. Yet, the storm is likely not to be calm. Two public officials, consecutively?

This happening, undoubtedly, would have implications on governance, politics, administration and whatnot in the state. The magnitude of the implication is what analysts may differ on. For instance, Pategi is a grassroots mobiliser and politician. If she had left on acrimonious terms as the charged atmosphere suggests, there are, no doubt, ripple effects for AbdulRazaq’s political base. Whether it will be a minor or major minus is what is subject to debate. A lesson for Governor AbdulRazaq here therefore is to step up in putting his house together by studying the factors that might have warranted the successive resignation and avoiding a recurrence. Tact!

‘Soldiers go, soldiers come, barrack no dey end

What’s unfolding in Kwara is not out of the ordinary, no matter the real or imagined reasons attributed to it. It’s only natural that some public officials will choose to leave when they weigh their options. Governance must, nevertheless, continue. And of course, the response of the government matters a lot at these critical times. The certain thing, however, is that there are many better replacements for the outgoing public officials in the state. Oyingbo market in Lagos, or Ipata market in Ilorin is a microcosm of the larger society where the absence of a buyer may not be significantly felt. As an Arab poet puts it, “There are numberless substitutes for humans spread across the world.” This is why social life has not discontinued with the demise of anyone, no matter how powerful or influential. Like my people would say, “Life goes on”.

So, the most essential thing now is to move on and ensure that the vacuum left by those vacating their positions is well filled, in governance, strategy and politics. Thankfully, Professor Wale Sulaiman was replaced with a burgeoning scholar, who is incidentally also a Professor and an indigene of Kwara South, by the name of David Dunmade. Professor Dumande, according to a release from the government, is a “sought-after expert in the ear, nose, and throat (ENT) medicine with over 48 publications in local and international journals in his field of study.

“He is a fellow of the KKR ENT Hospital and Research Institute, Chennai, India; fellow of the West African College of Surgeons; fellow of the Medical College of Otolaryngology; member of the Nigerian Surgical Research Society; member of the Nigerian Society of Neurological Sciences affiliated to World Federation of Neurology; member of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria, among others.”

I want to believe that Professor Dumande’s appointment would not make us miss the interventions of Professor Sulaiman. I task him to bring his wealth of experience to bear and serve to the best of his ability. It is a big challenge for him if one considers the nature of his appointment. By the same token, I hope Governor AbdulRazaq will also shop for another diligent and intellectually mobile Kwaran to replace Ahman-Pategi. Going by her background, you can accuse Ms Pategi of everything, but definitely not lack of qualifications and experience. This gap must also be adequately bridged. Kwara is blessed with rich human capital resources, that I know for sure. So, it’s no rocket science getting a befitting stand-in.

Meanwhile, a number of theories have followed Pategi’s resignation. Articles and write-ups have been flying around in recent times, suggesting that she might have resigned because she didn’t have access to public coffers or the till, added to her penchant for ordering her colleagues around in exerting undue influence and power. All these are not decent for her public perception. I hope Pategi understands this and comes with her own side of the story now that she’s no more in government and has some levels of freedom than before.

Also, it will do Kwara a great deal of good if she can avail relevant authorities with proofs, provided she has any, of diversion of LG funds since she manned the Local Government Ministry when the accusation was thrown up, and reportedly by her. This is essentially important because some elements from her homestead, Pategi are trying to play politics and whip up sentiments with her resignation already, saying she was victimized due mainly to her whistleblowing role. Now is not the time to keep mum, as silence is not golden. Kwarans want to know the ins and outs of the LG funds kerfuffle. Her side of the story, if not memoirs, is mostly needed. And I believe she’s now at a vantage to push it out more than ever.

Tongues are also wagging that she has jetted out of the country. If this is anything to go by, it may only be strengthening the theories churned out to explain her curious and controversial resignation. That she is a blustering fellow who takes pleasure in oppressing colleagues as she throws influence around, and the ‘O to ge’ government declared that megalomaniac behavior a no-no. Or who else can flout the international flight ban in the middle of a pandemic except the bully? The aggregation of public opinions is definitely not by Pategi’s side regarding the resignation. Poor Pategi! She therefore owes the society more details about her controversial resignation. I rest!

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