August 18, 2019

Ministerial portfolios: Round pegs in round holes or…

Ministerial portfolios

By Clifford Ndujihe, Acting Political Editor

AS President Muhammadu Buhari swears in the 43 ministers-designate on Wednesday, all eyes are on him to see the portfolios he will assign the seven women and 36 men.  Will, he put square pegs in square holes and round pegs in round holes? Will it be round pegs in square holes or square pegs in round holes? Will he saddle some ministers with tasks that are beyond their competence or too many duties as was witnessed in 2015? 

Following a groundswell of calls on him to avoid the mistakes of 2015 by forming his second-term cabinet on time, President Buhari on July 11, 2019, made a shocking remark.

At a maiden dinner with the new leadership of the National Assembly, he vowed that only tested persons who are capable of delivering on assigned mandates would make his cabinet.

Practically passing a vote of no confidence on some of his out-gone ministers, he unwittingly blamed them, his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and some individuals for the flaks his administration has faced since he assumed power on May 29, 2015, on account of the poor performance of some ministers. President Buhari assured that this time he would appoint those he knew to help drive his next level agenda.

I’m very much aware of it. I’m under tremendous pressure on it (appointment of ministers). But the last cabinet which I headed, most of them, the majority of them I didn’t know them. I had to accept the names and recommendations from the party and other individuals.

I worked with them for three and a half years at least; meeting twice or two weeks in a month. So I know them now.  But this time around, I’m going to be quite me in the sense that I will pick people I personally know”,  he vowed.

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Indeed, the president took steps that are markedly different from what he did in 2015. Exactly 55 days after his swearing-in for the second term, he sent the list of ministerial nominees to the Senate for screening and confirmation.

The number was seven higher than the 36 he submitted in 2015. This time he did it in less than two months compared to the 124 days or four months it took him to send his first list of nominees on September 30, 2015.

If the ministers-designates are sworn-in on Wednesday, it means the president will get his second term cabinet ready in 84 days, that is two months and 23 days. This is remarkably better than the over six months it took him to do so in 2015.

As the August 21 swearing-in date beckons, will President Buhari continue with the improvements observed so far with the assignment of portfolios? Interestingly, he re-appointed 14 of his first term ministers. Will the returnees retain their portfolios or will they get other jobs?

In terms of 35 per cent Affirmative Action, there is little or no difference in the number of women nominated in 2015 and now even though the lot of women was marginally better four years ago. In 2015, there were six women (16.67 per cent) in a list of 36. Now, there are seven women (16.28 per cent) in a list of 43.

The seven women nominated are Pauline Tallen (former minister and deputy governor of Plateau); Mariam Katagun (Nigeria’s ambassador and permanent delegate to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO); Sadiya Farouq (federal commissioner of National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons); Sharon Ikeazor (Member of APC BoT and executive secretary of Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, PTAD); Gbemisola Saraki (former senator); Ramatu Tijjani (national women leader of the APC), and Zainab Ahmed (immediate past minister of Finance).

Looking at the list, one question on the lips of observers is whether or not they can drive President Buhari’s Next Level Agenda. No doubt, most of them boast of fine credentials and experience but a host of them were part of the last cabinet, whose performance has been wrapped in divergent arguments. The list includes seven former governors, seven former senators, a collection of party leaders in some states and a couple of fresh nominees, whose names do not ring a bell in the political firmament.

Pedigree of the ministers 

Given their credentials and pedigree, a host of the ministers-designates can make an appreciable impact if properly deployed as a peep into their pedigree and accomplishments reveals.


The 60-year-old politician served in the cabinet of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. She was then the minister of state for science and technology. In 2007, she was elected deputy governor of Plateau state and later contested the governorship election in 2011 but lost to Jonah Jang. The University of Jos sociology graduate defected from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress before the 2015 election. She is the first female to be a deputy governor in the northern region.


Katagum is Nigeria’s ambassador and permanent delegate to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a role that she has occupied since June 2009. A deputy director at the ministry of education, she occupied the office of the secretary-general of the Nigerian National Commission for UNESCO between 2001 and 2009. The Ahmadu Bello university graduate is also the deputy chair of the board of governors of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and member representing Nigeria on the UNESCO executive board.


She has a Bsc. in Business Administration (Actuarial Science), Master’s degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy, 2008.  She is the federal commissioner of National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons. Between 2011 and 2013, she was the national treasurer of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), a political party founded by Buhari ahead of the 2011 elections. She served as the national treasurer of the party between 2013 and June 2014.


Ikeazor graduated with an LLB Hons in 1984 and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1985. She was the executive secretary of Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD). In 2011, she was elected the national women leader of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and emerged APC’s interim national women leader after the merger that produced the ruling party. In 2014, she was appointed to APC board of trustees.


She is the daughter of Olusola Saraki, former strongman of Kwara politics, and a sibling of Bukola Saraki, president of the 8th senate. In 1999, she was elected into the House of Representatives to represent Asa/Ilorin West federal constituency of Kwara. In 2003, the 54-year-old, who holds a bachelors degree in economics from the University of Sussex, was elected senator representing Kwara central senatorial district. She held this position till 2011 when she tried to succeed her brother who was governor of Kwara between 2003 and 2011 but she lost despite having the backing of her father.


Ramatu Tijjani is the national women leader of the APC. The 49-year-old holds a bachelor’s degree in urban and regional planning from the Ahmadu Bello University. She is the first female national vice-chairman (north-central zone) of the then leading opposition political party, the All Peoples Party. In 2010, she became the national woman leader of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and on June 2014, she became the national woman leader of the APC.


She was appointed a minister of the state of the budget and planning in 2015 and later substantive minister of finance in 2018 following the resignation of Kemi Adeosun. The 59-year-old holds a degree in accounting from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and a master’s in business administration from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun. She was the executive secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). Ahmed is the daughter of Yahaya Hamza, the foster father of Nasir El-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state.

Isa Pantami

Isa Pantami before his nomination was the current Director General (DG) of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). Prior to his appointment as the DG in 2016, Isa was a professor of Computer Information System at the Islamic University of Madinah, Saudi Arabia.

He had both his first and second degrees in Computer Science from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi after which he got a PhD in Computer Information Systems from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.

He was also a lecturer at the Federal University of Technology Bauchi for over a decade, teaching courses like software engineering, hardware technology, fundamentals of software engineering, management information systems among others.

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Sunday Dare

Sunday Dare, a seasoned multimedia journalist, was commissioner in charge of Stakeholders management in the Nigerian Communications Commission’s (NCC).  Before his role at NCC, he was the Convener of the Social Media Clinic, a new media platform that educates people on the use of information technology tools.

He also worked with the former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu as the Chief of Staff as well as Special Adviser on Media.

He got his first degree in International Studies from Ahmadu Bello University and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the University of Jos. He later studied Media and Public Policy at the Harvard Nieman Journalism Fellowship.

Godswill Akpabio

The former two-term Akwa Ibom State Governor and Senate minority leader got his Law Degree from the University of Calabar, Cross River State.

Uche Ogah

A Consultant Physician/Cardiologist (Special Grade) University College Hospital, Ibadan, served as Commissioner/ Chief Executive officer, Ministry of Health and member of Abia State Executive Council (August 2010- May 2015). He is a major player in the oil and gas sector.

  Muhammadu Musa Bello

Born in 1959, Adamawa state, Bello is a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, where he obtained a B.Sc. in Management with a major in Banking and Finance in 1980 as well as an MBA in the same field.

Chris Ngige 

Born in August 1952, Ngige is a medical doctor, who made his mark in the federal civil service. He was governor of Anambra State in from May 29, 2003 to 17 March 2006 before the court annulled his election(PDP). He was elected Senator for Anambra Central Constituency in April 2011. He is one of the returning ministers and served as minister of Labour and Productivity in the last cabinet.

Adamu Adamu 

Adamu is an accountant, writer, former journalist and minister of Education. He served in the last cabinet as education minister

  Timipre Sylva

Former Governor of Bayelsa State and He was a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly in the 1990s

Sen. George Akume

He was the Minority Leader of the Senate from June 2011 to June 2015. He was also the Governor of Benue State from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007.

 Mustapha Baba Shehuri

Former Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing. Born July 4, 1961, he graduated from the University of Maiduguri in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology and Anthropology.

 Goddy Jedy-Agba

A farmer, and bureaucrat, Judy-Agba has a Degree in International Studies from Ahmadu Bello University, Samaru, Zaria,1983, and a Master’s Degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos, Akoka, 1989.

Festus Keyamo

Born in January 1970, Keyamo is a senior Advocate of Nigeria, columnist and human rights activist, he received a Bachelor of Law degree in 1992 from Ambrose Alli University at Ekpoma, Edo State and was called to the Nigerian Bar on December 1993. He was the spokesman of President Buhari’s campaign team in the 2019 election

Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu

A returnee and immediate past Minister of Science and Technology, Onu graduated with a first-class degree in Chemical Engineering in 1976 (UNILAG), and obtained a PhD in Chemical engineering in 1980 from University of California, Berkeley. He was first civilian governor of old Abiandu State before the creation of Ebonyi State.

Dr. Osagie Ehanire

Immediate past Minister for state Health, Studied  Medicine at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany qualifying as a physician and went to Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland where he obtained postgraduate Diploma in Anaesthetics.

Clement Ik Anade Agba

Former Commissioner for Environment and Public Utility, Edo and also briefly served as Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Housing.

  Otunba Richard Adebayo

First Executive Governor of Ekiti State from May 29, 1999, to May 29, 2003. He attended the University of Lagos where he studied Law and obtained (LL.B Hons)

Geoffrey Onyeama

The immediate past Foreign Affairs Minister has a (B.A) degree in Political Science, Columbia University, New York (1977), (B.A) degree in Law from St John’s College, Cambridge (1980), and Masters of Law (LL.M), London School of Economics

Emeka Nwajuba

He was called to the Nigerian bar in 1989, pursued his LLM at University of Lagos and PhD at University of Jos. He served as House of Representatives committee chairman on Land, Housing and works from 1999 to 2003

Suleiman H Adamu

The Former Minister for Water Resources has a B. Engineering (Hons.) Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 1984; and M. Sc. (Project Management) Univ. of Reading, UK, 2004.

Dr Mohammed Mahmoud

Former Chairman, Universal Basic Education Commission.

  Sabo Nanono

Mr. Nanono, who was a former chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, in Kano… Ahmadu Bello University [ABU], Zaria… B.Sc [Business Administration – 1972. The University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA

Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi, read, is a lawyer and a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. He holds a national award of CFR. He was military Governor of Sokoto State in the 90s.

Sen. Hadi Sirika

Former Minister of Aviation, former pilot, Former General Manager Katsina State Transport Authority, Former Member House of Representative, and Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

  Abubakar Malami

lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). He is Nigeria’s immediate past Minister for Justice and Attorney-General. He graduated from Usmanu Danfodiyo University where he studied Law and was called to the bar in 1992.

  Rahmatu Tijani

Graduated from Ahmadu Bello University with a degree in Urban & Regional Planning. She also has an  M.PA

in Public Administration from Nasarawa State University, Keffi.

Lai Mohammed

He earned a bachelor’s degree in French from Obafemi Awolowo University, in the year 1975. He proceeded to obtain a Law degree from the University of Lagos, and then Nigerian Law School.

Babatunde Raji Fashola 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Fmr. Governor of Lagos and Immediate past Minister of Power, Works and Housing. He studied Law at the University of Benin from where he graduated with a Bachelor of Laws, LL.B.(Hon), a degree in 1987.

  Adeleke O. Mamora

He obtained a B.Sc, Health Sciences, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) University of Ife, Ile-Ife and became a Health Practitioner. He was Senator for the Lagos East between 2007 to 2011

Mohammed H. Abdullahi

Former Secretary to the State Government, Nasarawa State. Fmr. Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice Nasarawa.

Usman Danfodiyo University Sokoto

LLB/BL (1990), Nigerian Bar Association 1991.

Ambassador Zubairu Dada 

He is a diplomat and also an Ambassador, Embassy of Nigeria, Warsaw Poland, since 1999….

Arch. Olamilekan Adegbite 

Former Commissioner for Works & Infrastructure, Ogun State.

Sen. Tayo Alasoadura 

Obtained the Association of Chartered Accountants (ACA) of England Certificate as well as that of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria(ICAN) All in 1974

  Rauf Aregbesola 

Former Governor of Osun state, Fmr. Lagos State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure has H.ND in Engineering.

  Rotimi Amaechi 

Former Governor Rivers State, and immediate past Minister of Transport. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree (Honours) in English Studies and Literature from the University of Port Harcourt in 1987

  Muhammadu Maigari Dingyadi 

Former Chairman, NCCE Governing Board

  Eng Saleh Mamman 

Mamman Kwagyang Saleh currently works at the Agricultural Extension and Rural Development, Ahmadu Bello University. Mamman does research in Agricultural Plant Science, Food Science and Animal Science.

  Abubakar D. Aliyu

Served as Deputy Governor of the state for the past 10 years, making him the longest-serving deputy governor in Nigeria’s political history.