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Clash of Interests: Titanic battle as potential ministerial nominees emerge

By Dapo Akinrefon

AHEAD of the May 29 inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari for second term, some members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, have begun jostling for ministerial and other appointments.

cabinet,Lai Mohammed
Federal Executive Council (FEC) Meeting

President Buhari is billed to take oath of office for a second term, having been re-elected in the February 23 presidential election.

During his first term, it took the President about six months to constitute his present cabinet, which was inaugurated on November 11, 2015 after his swearing-in on May 29, 2015.

Disappointed Nigerians berated him for what they described as taking them for a ride.

Between September and October 2015, the list of ministerial nominees picked from each of the 36 states was submitted to the Senate by Buhari in two tranches.

Buhari just issued a directive to outgoing ministers to submit their handover notes.

The order is part of the process for the dissolution of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, ahead of his second term inauguration.

The directive, contained in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, read, in part: “As the first term of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration winds down, the President has asked for a comprehensive status reports on policies, programmes and projects from cabinet members on their respective ministries, departments and agencies.”

A circular to this effect, issued by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, also requested members of the FEC to “ensure that all outstanding memoranda they intend to present to the FEC are submitted to the Cabinet Affairs Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, not later than Tuesday, 30th April.”

Ministers and heads of agencies, Sunday Vanguard was made to understand, last week, have, in compliance with the directive, been turning in their handover notes.

The directive has inevitably led to the jostle for ministerial appointments in the states by APC stalwarts (including outgoing ministers) and technocrats, who have their eyes on the federal cabinet.

The Constitution provides that a President shall appoint a minister each from the 36 states of the federation.

It is not surprising that intense lobby has commenced among party stalwarts from across all the states of the federation.

Across the states, APC chieftains want to have a piece of the cake in Buhari’s second term cabinet.

In fact, many party members are reaching out to those who can influence their nomination for ministerial appointment before the President.

Buhari’s current visit to London, according to sources, is partly to enable him fine-tune the list of his next cabinet.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the First Lady, Aisha Buhari; the President’s influential uncle, Mamman Daura; Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, and perhaps, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, have been approached by those seeking seats in the next FEC to use their connections with the President on their behalf.

It is, however, important to note that Buhari is known for keeping his plans close to his chest. He may spring a surprise on many who may think their FEC appointment is a done deal in his second term.

Lagos: Fashola vs Ambode

Observers in Lagos State are watching to see how events will play out as to who gets what in the state.

While some are pushing for the reappointment of current Minister of Works, Power and Steel, Babatunde Fashola, SAN, others want the President to include outgoing Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in the federal cabinet.

Though Ambode has been romancing Abuja and this might give him an edge, unfortunately, the governor is not in the good books of the Lagos APC.

Time will tell whether this might negatively affect his chances.

Oyo: Ajimobi, Adelabu, Shittu as frontrunners

In Oyo State, the APC lost the governorship poll to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, during the 2019 general elections.

Senator Abiola Ajimobi’s efforts to install his successor as governor of Oyo State failed; so also was his senatorial ambition botched.

Ajimobi, who has a score to settle with the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, a close ally of Buhari, is also said to be scheming to be a member of the next FEC.

On the other hand, Shittu is believed to jostling to pick the ministerial slot from the state or, worse still, secure an ambassadorial appointment.

Adebayo Adelabu, the defeated APC governorship candidate for the state, also has his hopes raised to be appointed minister having been a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, before venturing into politics.

Cross River: Eyes on Ndoma-Egba

Cross River State is not left out as underground moves by APC bigwigs have begun.

Party sources said the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Usani, who not only lost his bid to fly the APC flag in the governorship election in the state, but was recently suspended by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, might find it difficult to return to the cabinet. Usani’s predicament is likely to open the door for a former Senate Leader and immediate past Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Senator Victor Ndoma- Egba, to join the federal cabinet.

Ndoma-Egba, who represented Cross River Central in the Senate between 2003 and 2015 on the platform of the PDP before defecting to the APC, lost a comeback bid to the Senate in recent polls.

However, there is no doubt that his impact was felt in Cross River (a stronghold of the PDP) during the polls as the APC won the Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency seat in the central senatorial district of the state, where he comes from.

The former Senate Leader has filed a petition before the Election Tribunal, challenging the declaration of Dr. Sandy Onor as senator-elect for Cross River Central.

Overtures, it was learnt, have, however, been made to Ndoma-Egba to settle for a ministerial slot if he fails to upturn the victory of the PDP candidate.

Pundits in the state are of the view that he remains the most qualified among APC chieftains in the state pencilled down for ministerial appointment.

Ndoma-Egba has a 12-year experience as federal lawmaker, four of which he spent as Majority Leader of the Senate and during which he displayed capacity in lawmaking, legislative advocacy and proficiency in building bi-partisan alliances.

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Aside this, the lawyer-turned-politician has an LL.B degree from the University of Lagos and an LLM degree from the University of Calabar.

He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1978 before his elevation to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, in 2004, and has also been Director of the Cross River Basin and Rural Development Authority, as well as Commissioner for Works and Transport in the state.

Adamawa: Odds against Bindow

Governor Jibrila Bindow of Adamawa State, having lost his bid for second term to the PDP candidate, Ahmadu Fintri, is also scheming for a ministerial appointment.

Unfortunately, he may not achieve his goal because the First Lady, who hails from the state, according to sources, already has her preferred candidate.

Bindow, as gathered, is no longer in the good books of Aisha Buhari and this worked against his second term ambition.

Bauchi: Gov Abubakar’s chances slim

Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State, who lost re-election bid to PDP’s Bala Mohammed, is also bidding to make Buhari’s second term cabinet, but may find it a hard nut to crack owing to vested interests.

Ekiti: Oni ruled out

In Ekiti State, the recent reported suspension of Engineer Segun Oni from the APC may have put paid to his securing a slot in the Buhari cabinet.

Oni was allegedly suspended over alleged anti-party activities.

The former governor had gone to court after the May 26, 2018 APC primary to challenge Governor Kayode Fayemi’s eligibility to participate in the Ekiti governorship election.

Oni had said that, going by the constitution of the party, Fayemi, being a minister, ought to have resigned 30 days to the primary.

The suspension was carried out by the APC executive in Ido/Osi local government, but Oni dismissed the suspension, saying “There is a way things are done in the party.”

Ogun: VP Osinbajo to have final say

In Ogun State where the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, hails from, the outgoing governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, may not have the opportunity of nominating the minister from the state.

Despite Amosun’s closeness to the President, dating back to the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) days, the Vice President will ensure he has his way when the chips are down.

A former governor of the state, Chief Segun Osoba, who has an axe to grind with the outgoing governor, will form a team to scheme Amosun out in presenting a ministerial nominee for Ogun.

Delta: Uduaghan, Ogboru, Omo-Agege in contention

APC chieftains in Delta State, who failed to win at the recently concluded elections, will engage in a battle to emerge as the ministerial nominee from the state.

A former governor of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who was the APC senatorial candidate for Delta South in the 2019 elections; Chief Great Ogboru, governorship candidate; Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and, perhaps, Olorogun Otega Emerhor will not rest on their oars to ensure they make the President’s list.

Observers are, however, waiting to see how events will unfold in the state.

Imo: The Uzodinma advantage 

Governor Rochas Okoroacha of Imo State, who has been suspended from the party for alleged anti party activities, may find it difficult to have his way as far as the ministerial nominee from the state is concerned.

This is because the governorship candidate of the party for Imo in the general elections, Senator Hope Uzodinma, will work to ensure he represents the state in Buhari’s cabinet.

Uzodinma is said to have a cordial relationship with the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomohole

Commenting on the jostle for seats in the next FEC, a legal practitioner, Mr Kayode Ajulo, expressed optimism that the President would have the finest politicians and top grade technocrats in the cabinet.

Ajulo said: “I am optimistic that Buhari’s next cabinet would be made of the best quality of people. It is my expectation that finest of politicians and top grade politicians would make the list.

“I say this against the hindsight of the fact that the past four years have given President Buhari the opportunity to know those that worked with him and what should work for him.

“I’m sure, now he knows those who sincerely worked for him, who must be compensated. He also knows those who truly represent their people and who must be brought on board to represent their people in his government. I’m also sure he knows the loopholes in his government and the areas where he needs technocrats to fill the gap.

“I, therefore, expect remarkable change, as I am rest assured, with his recent utterances, of giving Nigeria the best in his second term.”

VANGUARD

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