•Four jostle for Ondo ministerial slot
By Dapo Akinrefon
In line with tradition, President-elect Bola Tinubu is expected to make his first appointments after being sworn in as President tomorrow by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola.
There are at least three appointments that ordinarily should be made by the new President to keep the wheel of government moving pending when other appointments that must have the seal of the National Assembly will follow.
The three appointments are the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief of Staff and presidential spokesperson.
There has been a jostle for appointments, including ministerial, under the Tinubu administration since the president-elect emerged after the February 25 presidential election.
Names have been mentioned as those being considered by Tinubu including those of very close associates but Sunday Vanguard was made to understand by sources close to the president-elect at the weekend that nothing was certain on appointments under the incoming administration including those that announced must, as a matter of tradition and necessity, be made tomorrow or Tuesday.
The president-elect, it was learnt from multiple sources close to him, yesterday, has kept allies and close associates, among others, guessing over those that will form his cabinet.
Sunday Vanguard was reliably informed that Tinubu has refused to disclose the list of potential appointees at any level be it personal aides, Presidential Villa officials and ministers.
This, it was understood, is a source of intense anxiety among those lobbying to be appointed to the next government.
Meanwhile, there were insinuations that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola; Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State and Mr James Faleke, a federal lawmaker from Lagos, are likely to play some roles in the Tinubu cabinet.
It has been reported that el-Rufai alongside two other outgoing governors – Aminu Masari of Katsina State and Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State – are in the race for the SGF office.
Former Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State is also, according to reports, in the jostle for ministerial appointment. He is said to be highly favoured for the External Affairs portfolio.
Traditionally, top members of the ruling party who lost governorship election in their states are usually compensated with ministerial appointments and this may also play out in the unfolding Tinubu government.
Multiple sources, however, said Gbajabimila was facing huge opposition to the possibility of emerging as Chief of Staff to the President.
There has been no word on who will emerge as a presidential spokesperson but there are high-profile professionals around the president-elect who fit the bill.
Some of them served in the Tinubu Presidential Campaign and they include Mr Bayo Onanuga and Mr Dele Alake.
Tinubu keeping list secret – Source
A source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, disclosed that all the names being peddled for appointments in the Tinubu administration remained in the realm of speculation.
The source said: “President Tinubu is likely to make his first appointments on Monday or Tuesday because he wants to hit the ground running.
“But all the conjectures about who is in and who is out in the cabinet and other appointments are in the realm of speculations.
”Everyone has continued to speculate but from what I know, the list is with the president-elect. “He is keeping it close to his chest. All those who go to him, he promises them but he won’t say anything.
“You know that Tinubu is also a politician but no one knows those on the list. Even the speculation about Femi Gbajabiamila being considered as Chief of Staff is dicey and not something anyone can confirm and, as you know, Gbajabiamila is going with him all over the place. I’m not sure if Gbajabiamila will get the Chief of Staff slot.
“We have also heard the names of Mr Babatunde Fashola who is speculated as being considered as the Attorney-General of the Federation as well as Mr James Faleke and Mallam Nasir El-Rufai who may be among those to be appointed”.
Reports from Ondo said four persons are in strong contention for the ministerial slot for the state.
They are Chief Olusola Oke, Mr Lucky Aiyedatiwa, Hon Tajudeen Adeyemi Adetisoye and Prince Ademola Adegoroye.
Whereas Oke is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Aiyedatiwa a former Deputy Governor and Adegoroye a member of the outgoing federal cabinet, Adefisoye, fondly called Small Alhaji, is the outgoing member of the House of Representatives (Idanre/Ifedore Federal Constituency).
Adefisoye, the Deputy Chairman of the House on Army, is said to be a grassroots mobilizer and he enjoys large support of youths in his federal constituency and state at large. The Idanre-born politician is still very young and he may just fit into Tinubu’s plan to accommodate youths in his administration. The young man had surprisingly at the age of 34 contested and won a House of Representatives seat in 2019.
Anger Grows in the North over Gbaja
In a related development, a source said at the weekend that Speaker Gbajabiamila may lose out in the scheme of things over the zoning of the presiding officers for the 10th National Assembly.
It was gathered that some northern leaders are not disposed to Gbajabiamila’s involvement in the choice of Mr Tajudeen Abass as the next Speaker and Mr Benjamin Kalu as Deputy Speaker.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), backed by President-elect Tinubu, had zoned the speakership to the North-West and micro-zoned the office to Abbas (from Kaduna State) while zoning the deputy speakership to the South-East and micro-zoning it to Kalu (from Abia).
A source, who expressed the North’s anger over the alleged imposition of Abbas, told Sunday Vanguard: “The last five days have been very instructive because the issues of public concern have just been falling on one another.
“Our first concern was when Vice President-elect Kashim Shettima had to arrange a meeting between the Deputy Speaker, Mr Idris Wase, and the president-elect.
“We consider that as someone playing a double game because we even learned he was the one who pressured Asiwaju to have an audience with Wase.
“Ever since then, a lot has happened and there is serious tension and anger in the North. It is as if the South-West is trying to impose someone on us and the people of the North hate that type of perception.
“For now, if we say we have the required numbers, we are deceiving ourselves because since the National Chairman made that remarks about our choice, Abbas, people are confused.
“I can tell you that what we have on Senator Godswill Akpabio’s side is less than 40 senators while about 73 are undecided especially those in the opposition parties.
“For Abbas, unless we break the G-6 alliance, the opposition may gather over 200 members-elect on their side because, by next week, if we don’t break them, we won’t be able to do so again because the opposition parties are determined to work against our party. For real, those who have made up their minds for Abbas in our camp are less than 100 Reps members-elect. I can tell you for free.
“The whole North is already painting us as if we from the North are betraying one of our own, Wase, who had served as deputy to Gbajabiamila.
“Deep down in us, we know Wase had been very faithful and loyal to the Speaker. But what do we do once the party has spoken?
Pressure on Tinubu
“For now, we know that the president-elect has washed his hands off because there is enormous pressure on him from Yoruba leaders who have warned him to calm down on this speakership issue so that it will not look as if there is a North-South tussle.
“We know the number of traditional rulers who have called to discuss with us, including their apprehensions about the potential Chief of Staff who they claim is using his closeness with Tinubu to maltreat Wase.
“For now, the North has the feeling that someone from the South-West is oppressing a northerner.”