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Lawyers on merging of ministries by President Buhari


‘There is nothing wrong in merging ministries’ – John Itodo

What is your opinion on the merging of ministries by President Buhari and his new ministers?

John Itodo

John Itodo

Let me take on the second one first. Many had thought that there would be a brisk move away from over-dependence on oil to agriculture, tourism and mining particularly as the price of oil is crashing on the daily. The president by appointing himself as the Minister of Petroleum has once again drawn or rekindled undue interest in the oil sector at a time we are supposed to move away from oil to other sources of revenue generation.

Back to the first, I am afraid if what the President meant is that he is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Commander in Chief and Minister of Petroleum Resources. If yes, then he should, please take a calm look at Section 138 of the Constitution which forbids the President from holding any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever during his tenure as President.

Appointing himself as the Minister of Petroleum Resources with due respect is a derailment and he needs to advise himself promptly in line with the Constitution. The fact that APC has the majority in the National Assembly and fears no threat of impeachment is no basis for going against extant provision of the Constitution he swore to uphold six months ago. That would be wrong.

As a matter of fact, the President needs not appoint himself as a Minister to micro-manage any ministry, all ministries are under his ace command and he controls, sanctions and scrutinizes all their activities.

The issue here is constitutional and goes beyond collecting salaries as the president and minister to many other real legal issues. He cannot start by doing violence to the same constitution he swore to uphold. I urge him to retrace his steps while the day is still young. If you ask me, we don’t need a Minister of Petroleum, the Minister of State in the person of Mr. Kachikwu is just fine.

In conclusion, there is nothing wrong with merging (or shrinking) ministries, but in so doing the president must ensure he has at least a Minister from each state.

And as you are aware, there can be a Minister and a minister of state for a ministry and to meet the constitutional requirement, he can have minister, minister of state 1, minister of state 2 and so on for the Ministries. In fact, if that is done we can make do with just 5 ministries, or a little more.

The President should resign as Minister of Petroleum, it is contrary to Section 138 of the Constitution. He can manage that ministry (as indeed he can to every other Ministry) without officially announcing himself as the Minister of that Ministry.


‘He obeyed the constitution’ – Adindu Ugwuzor



What is your opinion on the merging of ministries by President Buhari and his new ministers?

It is the prerogative of the President to determine how he wants to run his administration.  If he feels the 40 something ministries are too cumbersome, he can reduce them.  The only thing is that he succeeded in fulfilling the constitutional provision of appointing ministers from all the states of the federation and he has given all of them portfolios.

If he wants to reduce it to just one ministry with 36 ministers, he has fulfilled the constitutional provision.  There is no law that states the number of ministers.  What the constitution says is 36 ministers.

Two, I don’t know why we Nigerians should worry about portfolio given to anybody. First, are they qualified to be ministers?

Anybody that is appointed a minister should be able to run any ministry that he is given.  There are over 50 million Nigerians that are qualified to be ministers.  There are people that are better than those that have been appointed.

You cannot now say one person is okay for this ministry or that ministry. If you are not performing optimally in the ministry given to you, then you can re-jig.  He can remove you and bring another person.

Many of them (ministers) have held one public office or the other.  There is nothing static about the ministry given to anybody.  It does not mean you will be there for the four years.  You can be removed from the ministry anytime.  He who appoints has the power to remove.

Let them start work, let the government start working.  We will now see how they perform.  We could recall that (late) Bola Ige was given the Ministry of Power under Obasanjo.  He told us he was going to turn stone into bread.  He was later removed and another person was put there.  If any minister is not performing optimally, it is within the power of President to remove that person and put another person.

He can always re-jig the cabinet.


‘The president has done well’ – Ebun  Olu-Adegboruwa

Ebun  Olu-Adegboruwa

Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa

What is your opinion on the merging of ministries by President Buhari and his new ministers?

I think for the very first time, the President seems to be taking the right decision.  The better way to describe the assignment of portfolio is that former Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola is now the substantive Prime Minister in Nigeria.

By combining the position of Power, Works and Housing, he has become the Prime Minister, the achiever and the wonder boy of Buhari administration.

It will be more appropriate to refer to him as Minister of Infrastructure, because the three critical areas that affect Nigerians are power supply, lack of housing and lack of good roads. If these three areas are well tackled, we are on the way to economic progress.

So, I commend the President in the way he has assigned the portfolios. I believe if he gives them free hands to perform, we will witness a turnaround in the lives of Nigerians.

I agree with those who say that the President has put the round pegs in round holes.


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