By Emmanuel Aziken
Mr Femi Adesina’s famed proclivity towards President Muhammadu Buhari political philosophy was evident last Wednesday at the inauguration of the country’s 44-man cabinet. Central to that viewpoint is that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP as an entity fouled Nigeria’s democratic space in the 16 years it held power.
In effect, the party should not be mentioned or credited for whatever thing in the gathering of change agents now directing the nation towards the high level of security and economic prosperity.
As the master of ceremonies, he was also tasked with the duty of reading the profiles of the ministers. As he did so, it was easy for the discerning to see how Adesina, the former editor, Enugu chief and expositor of the wailers’ syndrome had progressed as a politician.
Of course, his journalistic capacity to turn hidden facts into news headline has not been lost.
Your correspondent admired as he turned the illustrious tale of Senator Tayo Alasoadura’s climb from messenger to chief executive in 16 years into a punchy news headline.
However, it was easy to notice conspicuous omissions in his narration of the profiles as pertaining to 12 of the ministers.
When it came to Alhaji Lai Mohammed the role he played in the formation of the All Progressives Congress, APC was especially brought to bear. So was Ms. Sharon Ikeazor, the former woman leader of the Congress for Progressives Change, CPC.
Rotimi Amaechi was a particularly interesting subject. He may have been introduced as the manager of the president’s first and second election successes, but his life before then was completely shut out.
So was Senator Godswill Akpabio, the man who once taunted President Buhari and his All Progressives Congress, APC.
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The common thing with 12 ministers that Mr Adesina sought to summarise their profiles was that they were all recently chieftains of the PDP.
With APC chieftains like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole seated for the second APC cabinet inauguration, it seemed out of place for the event’s organisers to admit that more than a quarter of the ministers had the PDP gene in their political make-up.
Why it looked awkward was the fact that the president and even some of the former PDP chieftains turned APC zealots, from time to time, claim that the problems of the country were caused by the PDP.
The 11 men and one woman who belonged to the PDP but now partnering Buhari to achieve his next level agenda bear testimony to the impermanence of political relations.
Indeed, who would ever have conceived in 2011 of Buhari soldiering on in the political arena without Buba Galadima, the engine of The Buhari Organisation, TBO!
The 11 men and one woman whose PDP identities were carefully screened out can now be revealed. They include Godswill Akpabio, Timipire Sylva, Pauline Tallen, George Akume, Chris Ngige, Rotimi Amaechi, Gbemisola Saraki, Goody Agba and Mohammed Abdullahi from Nasarawa State.
Others include Mahmmadu Maigari (Sokoto State) Ikechukwu Ogar (Abia) and yes, Sunday Dare (Oyo).
Ogar, the billionaire owner of Masters Energy was said to be such a benevolent supporter of the PDP and helped equip much of the party’s state secretariat. Unlike Aisha Alhassan he, however, did not claim back his donations when he left the party. It is claimed that he was one of about three persons shortlisted by Chief and Chief (Mrs.) T.A. Orji for succession in 2015.
Or who would forget how Mr Agba fresh from the NNPC in 2014 almost took over the PDP from Governor Liyel Imoke. Or who would forget Ngige, the PDP apparatchik who was at one time famed for being a rich depository of the institutional memory of the PDP?
Whether it is true or not that Dare’s nomination came from Tinubu may remain a matter of conjecture, but the fact is that the National Leader was shrewd enough to tap him from the PDP’s Prof. Dora Akunyili under whom he worked as a special assistant.
In appointing Mr Dare as his chief of staff, Asiwaju again demonstrated his capacity for headhunting veritable human resources to project his political aspirations.
Mr Dare’s stellar performance at the Senate screening was a pointer to what drawing talents to yourself can do.
That capacity for looking above primordial sentiments to tap the best brains for the greater good of the nation is, however, what critics flay is lacking in the general build-up of the cabinet.
President Buhari after coming to power in 2015 claimed ministers were noisemakers and promptly went ahead to appoint the minimum number of 36 as stipulated in the constitution.
Four years on, with 44 ministers including the substantive minister of petroleum, the country now has the highest number of ministers ever, putting to question how productive the cabinet session would likely be. No wonder the president insisted that ministers must come through his chief of staff to get an audience with him.
Given the fact that with few exceptions that the cabinet has not inspired much confidence, one then wonders why the size.
Of course, the sentiments over the religious inclination of the cabinet is another matter. 21 of 23 ministers from the North representing 91% are Muslims, a fact that has befuddled many of President Buhari’s Christian supporters from the North!