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Surprises await Nigerians, as nominees undergo security checks

By Adamu Abuh, Azimazi Momoh Jimoh and Terhemba Daka (Abuja) and Seye Olumide (Lagos)
07 July 2019   |   4:32 am
As stakeholders and ordinary citizens get impatient over the delay by President Muhammadu Buhari to send his list of ministerial nominees to the Senate for their input and vetting, there were strong indications yesterday that the list will be out this week.

[FILES] Buhari

s stakeholders and ordinary citizens get impatient over the delay by President Muhammadu Buhari to send his list of ministerial nominees to the Senate for their input and vetting, there were strong indications yesterday that the list will be out this week.

An insider source, not willing to be named, said the list has been forwarded to security departments for appropriate checks and that only the President and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo know details of every nominee that made the final list.

The source added that even the Secretary to the Government of Federation (SGF) and Chief of Staff (COS) to the President will only see the final list tomorrow or early in the week when it’s set for the Senate.

On whether it was the President alone that nominated all the names, the source said that governors and other stakeholders sent in nominees but no one knows for sure whether their nomination was eventually accepted.

This was as some founding members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), who confided in The Guardian yesterday, said that President Buhari’s cabinet may not be too new as majority of the ministers that started with him are set to return. They supported their assertions with the re-appointment of Kyari as COS despite criticisms.

Regarding chances of former ministers returning, the insider source tipped former Works, Power and Housing minister, Babatunde Fashola as being ahead of others from the Southwest. The source wouldn’t tell whether Fashola is getting the job on his personal reckoning, or whether a godfather is putting in a word for him.

The source, however, assured of plenty surprises. While the possibility of former governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode getting a slot is said not to be categorical, Fashola, for instance, may not continue to enjoy the status of super Minister, having the three ministries under one portfolio like he did for nearly four years. A split is very likely.

The source added that former Industry and Trade Minister, Okechukwu Enelamah is not coming back because he doesn’t seem a favorite of the Presidency cabal. The immediate past Minister of State, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Prof. Claudius Adaramola is also not returning on performance ground, just as he has been accused of not using the post to the utmost advantage of the party and his people.

On another hand, former presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina may be set for promotion to a higher office, while other presidential spokespersons, Garba Shehu and Laolu Akande, whom many expected to have been named last Friday along with other Presidency aides, the source assured, will all come back.

As the President continues to keep the ministerial list to his chest despite the concerns it is generating across the country, another source hinted at some factors that had been causing the delay of the final list.

One important factor, the source told The Guardian, was that since most of the immediate past ministers were being considered for possible return, forensic investigations of financial misdeeds by some of them had to be done, thereby causing some delay.

The other factor, the source added, was the appointment of SGF and COS, which the President did on Friday, because the two offices, apart from coordinating ministers’ affairs, would also interface with principal officers of the National Assembly for clearance of government appointees.

Meanwhile speculations about the names that have made the President’s list have continued unabated. Checks by The Guardian revealed that a founding member of APC, based in the Southwest, was pushing for former Commissioner of Finance in Lagos, Mr. Wale Edun to take the Ogun slot but a truce is said to have been made with Vice President, Prof. Osinbajo.

The Egba people are bent on producing the minister since Ogun East had produced the Vice President and the governor, Dapo Abiodun. Although, the Yewa people in Ogun West are also contesting the ministerial slot, the Egbas have maintained that the volume of votes President Buhari scored in the last presidential election surpasses what the entire Ogun West generated and as such, they should have the slot.

In Ekiti State, there has been a strong argument in support of former governor of the state, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, who has been on the flanks since 2003 when he left power and has remained loyal and committed to the party. This is, however, not in consonance with the desire of some forces pushing for the likes of former Lagos Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Dele Alake and former Senator Femi Ojudu.

To further secure and entrench the interest of APC in Rivers State ahead of the 2023 election, the party is said to have strongly supported the retention of the former Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi. The Guardian learnt that APC may not have alternative to the former governor of Rivers State.

Moreover, the immediate past minister is adjudged to have performed creditably as minister, especially with the strides made under his leadership in the railway transport sub-sector.

As a matter of fact, President Buhari is said to be impressed with Amaechi and the immediate past Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Mr. Gbenga Ashafa, who some party members have also said is likely to be compensated by Mr. President with some appointment because of the milestone achieved in the railway sector. Recall that the railway sector featured as one of the strong campaign points of the party in the last election.

Meanwhile, anxiety has continued to grow in the Senate over the delay in the submission of the ministerial list by the Presidency.

As the upper legislative chamber prepares to embark on its six-week end of session recess by the end of July, one of the newly elected APC principal officers expressed concern over the delay.

He said it was the expectation of many lawmakers that the President would have submitted the ministerial list before the resumption of the Senate from the two weeks recess it embarked upon shortly after its inauguration.

The lawmaker said the Senate is seriously looking forward to having the list of nominees for screening and confirmation, at least, within the next two weeks so that it could conclude work on it before the end of session

“If you check around the Senate premises, you will notice that our offices are yet to be furnished. Yet, we decided to remain in session because of expectations of that the list would soon be sent to us,” he said.

Another lawmaker, a former House of Representatives member who just got elected into the Senate, said that although the President is still within reasonable time if he submits the list before the end of July, expectations were that President Buhari would make up for the time lost during his first term when he delayed the ministerial list for six months.

But the National Auditor APC, Mr. George Moghalu has thrown his weight behind the President over the delay, saying it was his exclusive preserve.

In a chat with journalists in Abuja, he said there was no cause for alarm over the development since it has not affected the smooth running of government.

Moghalu said: “Has government stopped functioning? Since government has not stopped functioning, there is no need to worry over the issue. The government itself is conscious of the fact that ministers would be appointed.”