‘How election case denied Akume agric ministry job’
Barely one week after President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated his new cabinet, indicators have emerged on how former governor of Benue State, Senator George Akume, lost out in the race for Minister of Agriculture to a job.
Checks by The Guardian revealed that the former governor, who was penciled to replace his kinsman, Audu Ogbeh, in the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, was replaced in the last minute for certain considerations.
The change of plans in the presidency saw the former two-term senator moved to the Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Relations.
Akume is still challenging his loss in the February 23 National Assembly election to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Emmanuel Gev, at the election petition tribunal sitting in Makurdi.
A member of the committee saddled with the responsibility of assigning ministerial portfolios confided in The Guardian that the committee felt that appointing Akume to the Agric ministry might pose a distraction to the former senate minority leader.
He added that based on that consideration, a less hectic ministry was assigned to the former Benue governor, while the agriculture ministry was apportioned to Kano State.
The Guardian also gathered that while other chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) like the former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio, withdrew their election cases from the tribunal to face their new assignments squarely, Akume vigorously continued with his.
“The insistence on pursuing the election petition when other ministers-designate made a strategic move to brighten their chances raised questions of indecisiveness on Akume’s part. He did not know whether to pursue his senatorial mandate or a ministerial position.
“Therefore, to be on the safe side, the committee handed him a ministry it considered relatively ‘safe’, one that even if he decides to leave midway, the government would not be affected.
“Agriculture is one of the focuses of the Buhari administration. As such, there were fears that if a minister in charge decides to leave midway into major government policy, the entire administration might be affected,” the source explained.