Govs, APC Nominate Buhari’s New Ministers
President Muhammadu Buhari has handed over the task of nominating new ministers to his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Daily Trust learnt from credible sources yesterday.
The party leaders will, however, carry out the assignment in consultation with state governors, our sources said.
The expansion of the cabinet will also come with cabinet reshuffle and the splitting of some big ministries, the sources hinted.
The president announced at the party’s NEC meeting last month that he would expand the cabinet to accommodate wider interests and eliminate disaffection.
At the inception of his presidency, Buhari almost single-handedly formed his cabinet with little or no input from the party and state governors.
This drew flak from party faithful who felt short-changed despite helping to ensure the victory of Buhari.
One of the sources said: “The president had spoken, the cabinet would be expanded but what I would add here is that there would be cabinet reshuffle, meaning fresh hands would come on board, this is certain.
“And this is where the APC would come in; the governors are already working to get good hands because the president said they would have a say and the party would also have a say,” he said.
When asked if Buhari is only succumbing to pressure because he needs a second term, the source said: “No, not at all; the president is extremely popular with the masses but the fact is there is the need to fully accommodate the interest of the party and that of the governors.
“We are operating a federal system of government and the president cannot operate as an island, there is need for synergy and this can only come when everyone has input in governance,” he said.
In 2015 President Buhari insisted that governors should allow him select people he would work with as ministers.
The APC was also reportedly side-lined during the selection process; a development that rendered the ruling party very weak amidst serious complaints from those who worked for its success.
A source familiar with the matter told Daily Trust that based on plans, six new ministers will be introduced, while some current ministers may be dropped and replaced.
It was gathered that “disloyal ministers and those with dual allegiance” would be shown the way out.
“Above all, there are some who did not perform and would therefore be replaced,” he said.
Our source said barring change of plans, the names of the ministerial nominees will be submitted to the Senate for confirmation next week.
The source said the list was supposed to be forwarded to the Senate this week, but the plan was shelved due to the 2018 budget presentation to the joint session of the National Assembly.
Another source told Daily Trust that the President is set to bring eight new ministers into the federal executive council.
“We have been told that Lagos and Kano states will get one more minister each. The two states will have two ministers in the cabinet,” the source, who is close to the Villa, said.
He said one slot has been allocated to each of the six geopolitical zones of the country.
“From all indications the cabinet will now be 42 as against the 36 that we have at the moment,” he said.
The source added that the nominees have submitted their Curriculum Vitae (CV) to the presidency for scrutiny.
“One of the persons being considered who is presently at the Senate told me that he has submitted his CV. The person is from the home state of the president,” he said.
According to him, some of the serving ministers have been pencilled down for sack.
He also said some close aides of the President may be affected.
New ministries coming
Some ministries, including Power, Works and Housing as well as the Ministry of Transport would be unbundled to reduce pressure and workload on the ministers manning them at present, our sources said.
It was gathered that while the ministry of power might become independent to confront gigantic projects, two more ministries, including one in charge of aviation and another in charge of railway transportation might come on board.
Another source said even the ministry of agriculture might be split to have another one that would handle dry season farming and irrigation.
“Agriculture is one area the president would like to live a legacy and he is consulting, seriously consulting to make the ministry work,” the source said.
How cabinet expansion idea came about
A credible source said Buhari’s resolve to expand the cabinet is not all about 2019; rather, he has realized the need to do so considering the complexity of the Nigerian state and the workload that needed to be dispensed with.
A source said, “If it is because of 2019, Buhari will not increase the number of ministers because he is not power drunk; but you know, the issue of capital projects are very close to the heart of the president.
“He wants several power projects, including the gigantic Mambilla Hydro Dam; the newly conceptualized ones and some abandoned projects to be completed.
“And look at the various railway projects, from Lagos to Kano, Enugu to Maiduguri and Kaduna to Kano among others, that is why there is the need to have a new ministry,” he said.
Speaking on this, the National Secretary of the APC, Mai Mala Buni, said Buhari is fully carrying them along adding that as leaders, they had for long understood that the president was being circumspect in giving out appointments because of the peculiar situation the country found itself.
“There was no money and the country was in recession; his major concern was to have enough money; prioritize and then swing into action.
“And now that the recession is gone and the economy is stabilizing, the president is not relenting; you know very well that we passed a vote of confidence on the president during our various meetings, including NEC and Caucus meeting; this goes to show that we are in tune with what he is doing, Nigerians are in tune with what he is doing and Buhari’s popularity is swelling everywhere because of his impeccable integrity,” he said.
Buni said those saying Buhari is only reaching out now because of 2019 are not being fair.
“But the fact that Nigerians are endorsing him day-after-day shows that he is a man to beat. We believe in his style of leadership and he would always have the ‘right of first refusal’; I said this severally because even in advanced democracies, incumbents have this opportunity and we cannot be an exception; we want him to continue with his laudable projects,” he said.
Daily Trust gathered that besides improved economy, Buhari decided to toe the party line and carry governors along because it was clear many chieftains were not happy.
“Everyone was actually sad and many were ready to go; you know that the APC is a combination of forces from legacy parties, including the defunct ANPP, CPC, ANPP, part of APGA and the nPDP.
“The worst scenario then was that the party (APC) and the government were not on the same page and this aggravated the problem with serious crisis in almost all the state chapters.
“Therefore, some leaders from the legacy parties had perfected plan to leave the APC but suddenly the president took ill and everything subsided because the major issue then was the survival of Nigeria.
“And thank God, when he returned, the apprehension and acrimony came to the fore once again and in order to douse tension, the president met with party leaders including the Caucus ahead of the NEC meeting where everyone ventilated his anger.
“The president agreed with many of the submissions and promised to make amends with a caveat though.
He was said to have told both the party and the governors not to nominate people with garbage on their head, people with questionable integrity or those who stole public funds because he would never compromise his anti-corruption fight,” he said.
Another source said one problem confronting the president and the APC is that several organs are missing.
“Their works are beyond just NEC and Caucus, the party needs to have strong BoT, zonal executives and major committees such as think-tank, research and documentation among others; all these must be sorted out so that we can be truly a ruling party,” he said.
Source: Daily Trust