‘What caused the delay’
– GARBA SHEHU, SSA Media & Publicity
NEWS filtering in from Abuja, the seat of power has it that President Muhammadu Buhari is now ready with his ministerial list, even as his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu blamed the delay on the last administration.
Some of Buhari’s likely ministers, according to ENCOMIUM Weekly sources, include the immediate past governors of Lagos and Rivers States, Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi respectively.
Former governors of Ekiti and Osun State, Engineer Segun Oni, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, his former Osun counterpart, Olagunsoye Oyinlola as well as Professor Pat Utomi of the Pan African University have also been pencilled down as members of the Buhari cabinet.
Meanwhile, former Minister of Education and the Bring Back Our Girls campaigner, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Abdurahman Danbazzau and the former Chief Economic Adviser to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Dr.Tanimu Yakubu Kirfi were also sighted in the list.
Their portfolios were, however, not disclosed as at the time of filing in this report.
Presidency sources told ENCOMIUM Weekly that Buhari was keen on having a small cabinet, though it might be difficult since the 1999 Constitution stipulates that every state of the federation must be represented in the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
Nigeria has 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and each is expected to be represented at the FEC by a minister.
On the provisions of Section 147(1-3), our source said, “It is difficult for the President to manage a cabinet that is less than 36 because of the constitutional provision.
“The President may, however, reduce the perks of office of ministers and make the posts less lucrative except for genuine ones who want to serve the nation. So in the light of 147(1-3), the President is handicapped and he has to run the government with at least 36 ministers unless the constitution is amended.”
And to ensure that the interest of stakeholders are respected, President Buhari has also consulted with senior citizens like the former president Olusegun Obasanjo, the former Chief of Army staff, Gen. T.Y. Danjuma, the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and the former vice president Atiku Abubakar.
“The President has been consulting widely on the list of his ministers. All things being equal, some candidates from ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, ex-Chief of Army Staff, Gen. T.Y. Danjuma, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and the newly-elected Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki may make the list.
“Some of these heavyweights have submitted their preferred names but it is left for the President to reject or accept them.
“Governors will have less input into the cabinet. The President is actually fine-tuning the list of ministers which he will soon send to the National Assembly. We are hopeful that in the next one week or two, they would get the list.
Only last week, Buhari’s SSA on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu said the delayed report of the transition committee affected the constitution of the FEC.
In fact, Garba blamed late delivery of Handover Notes for delay in Buhari’s cabinet announcement. Amid public outcry over President Muhammadu Buhari’s delay in announcing his choice of ministers, the Presidency begged Nigerians to be patient.
Garba Shehu, in an interview with Sahara TV on Saturday, June 13, 2015 even defended his boss.
According to Shehu, following the 2011 elections, many South-West governors took several months to form their governments.
“The President did say he would hit the ground running,but he has not been given the chance to hit the ground running because the administration that he succeeded -the Jonathan administration -did not deliver the handover notes until two or three days to the inauguration, meaning that these handover notes were submitted at a time when everyone had been consumed by (inauguration) activities.
“Unfortunately, there was no time to look at them until after the President had been inaugurated. The President was left in the dark. He had to understand what the situation was and what was on the ground. That was why he set up a different transition committee. It was only this week that the committee, led by Dr. Ahmed Joga, scrutinized the handover notes and handed over the report to him (Buhari).
“To be fair to him (President Buhari), he would have hit the ground running if the previous government had handed over the notes early. However, the Jonathan government did not even permit any minister to interact in any way with the Buhari Transition Committee. Evidently, we had our hands tied behind our backs until we took over. Thus, there is nothing shady about it.”
The Presidential spokesman added that “ministerial appointments had yet to be made because the committee needed to conclude its findings first, an 800-page report of which was presented to Buhari on Friday, June 12, 2015.”
Also responding to ENCOMIUM Weekly inquiries on the issue on Monday, June 15, 2015, Garba said President Buhari will made public his ministerial list in few days time.
“You will soon hear from him,” he assured.
Multiple sources also confided in ENCOMIUM Weekly that President Buhari would, this week, make some key appointments including the Chief of Staff, Secretary of the Government of the Federation, Chief of Staff to the President, among other presidential aides.
On the SGF, we were told that the odds favour former governor of old Abia State and APC Chieftain, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, former Governor of Anambra State, Senator Chris Ngige, former Governor of Rivers state, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, among other contenders.
Originally zoned to the South East to guarantee equitable geo-political spread of plum political offices, it however, emerged last weekend the office might go to any suitably qualified Nigerian.
The highly political argument is hinged on the fact the all the major geo-political zones are now effectively represented at the centre. According to their calculation, the North West is represented by the President; the South West, Vice President; Senate President, North-Central and the Deputy Senate President, South-East and the Speaker, North East. The analysts closed their eyes to the fact that the South South are yet to be given any prime office, either at the Executive or legislative arm of government.
– UCHE OLEHI