‘We won’t respond to speculation’ – Presidency
THERE are speculations that President Muhammadu Buhari may not appoint ministers until the end of August or early September.
A source very close to the President confided in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Monday, June 29 that Buhari is not in a hurry to form his cabinet until the “rot left behind by the past administration” is cleared.
“Mr. President cannot just build on the rotten foundation he inherited from the Jonathan administration. You cannot even begin to imagine the situation we have met on the ground; almost everything is in a state of decay.
“There is absolutely no way the new government can hope to achieve anything long-lasting without first building a new foundation,” the source claimed.
The source added that clearing the PDP rot was not a month’s job and said those who had been heckling the President over lack of cabinet were job-politicians.
“They have tried doing it other ways and those haven’t worked. They only want their cronies appointed to ministerial posts anyhow. They are the ones clamouring for an early cabinet at all cost.”
It was gathered that Buhari is taking his time to appoint only those who would align with his vision of governance. We were also informed that PMB is trying to identify the ministries that would survive government’s planned pruning and the desire to cut cost of governance.
President Buhari has been under intense pressure to announce his cabinet, having spent more than a month in power. The President was sworn in on May 29, 2015.
But it appears PMB’s media minders and strategists are really out to prep Nigerian’s mind on the likely development. Their position is that it would be impossible to appoint ministers to portfolios without first knowing which portfolios even exist after the on-going reforms.
There are strong indications that the President plans to cut down the number of ministries and parastatals with a view to cutting down the cost of running government. And since all these are procedures that require time and careful planning, Nigerians are being encouraged to take it easy with the septuagenarian President who doesn’t want to do anything in a rush.
In fact, they are telling Nigerians that Buhari has to make sure that all this is done without any job losses or mass retrenchments, arguing that this is not a day’s or one-month job.
Earlier on, Buhari had blamed the delay in the formation of his cabinet on late submission of the report of the Transition Committee, due to lack of cooperation by the former administration.
The thinking is that Buhari could not have realistically commenced the process of forming a cabinet without first receiving the full report of the transition committee and ascertaining exactly the situation his government faced.
When contacted on Monday, June 29, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said he would neither confirm nor deny there is a deliberate plan to delay the formation of the Federative Executive Council.
“Since it is speculation, then you know I can’t respond to it. Cheers,” the Presidential Spokesman said in his response to our SMS.
BUHARI MOVES TO MERGE MINISTRIES
Feelers from Aso Villa also have it that PMB might have adopted the recommendations of the Ahmed Joda-led Transition Committee of the All Progressives Congress to prune down the number of ministries to 19.
ENCOMIUM Weekly learnt that the President would appoint 19 senior ministers and 17 ministers of state as recommended by the Joda committee.
We also gathered that besides adopting the recommendation, the new regime would place serious emphasis on the appointment of technocrats to man critical ministries like Education, Finance, Works, Housing, the Environment among others.
The 18-man committee inaugurated on April 27, 2015 to prepare the ground for Buhari’s inauguration on May 29, 2015 submitted its report on Friday, June 12.
There were 28 ministries and corresponding number of ministers manning them under the immediate past administration.
Former President Jonathan also appointed 14 ministers of state.
“It is certain that the President is going to work with the recommendation of the Joda committee, which means he will operate only 19 ministries to be manned by 19 ministers.
“There will also be 17 ministers of state so that the President would be in tune with the spirit and letters of our constitution, which expects him to appoint ministers from all the 36 states of the federation,” claimed privy sources at the Presidency.
The Joda committee recommended 19 ministries, some of which would be products of merging of some of the existing ministries.
Those to be retained in their present form are just nine: Trade, Industry and investment; Education; Defence; Federal Capital Territory; Labour and Employment; Finance; Justice; Foreign Affairs; and Budget and National Planning.
Others would be merged or subsumed under other ministries.