Willy Eya, Vincent Kalu, Tony John, Billy Graham Abel, Laide RaheemAnd George Onyejiuwa
Three weeks after inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term in office, anxiety has gripped leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), governors and other influential stakeholders of the ruling party over the composition of the next cabinet.
The suspense following the President’s silence on the composition of his cabinet has however not stopped the increasing number of lobbyists who continue to mount pressure on him to have their candidates make the cabinet likely to be constituted in July, reliable sources say.
The various state chapters of the APC are equally in the dark over the possible list, thus throwing the race for appointment open to the strongest and the fittest especially among those whose state governors are very close to the President.
Some of the state chapters of the party told Saturday Sun that so far, nobody has asked them to submit any nomination for appointment into President Buhari’s incoming cabinet.
The development, it was gathered, has led to the increased pressure on those who could influence the appointment including President Buhari, his associates and other influential people around him like former Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, former Minister of state for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai, former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the First Lady, Aisha Buhari.
Saturday Sun gathered that the pressure has become so intense to the extent that some aspiring for ministerial positions and their godfathers have had to travel to London when the President was in the United Kingdom and in Mecca when Buhari went for Umrah, recently, with a view to meeting him.
The confusion in the state chapters of the party has not helped the situation, leaving interested individuals to battle for their own survival as some governors are also totally in the dark over the process.
For instance, in Ondo, sources in the state chapter of the party said their nomination list was not collected from them just as the state governor is also not in the right standing to nominate anybody because of his frosty relationship with powerful APC leaders. It was also learnt that the traditional ruler of Akure, the Ondo state capital city, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi (Odundun II) has been the one pushing for the appointment of an indigene of Akure through President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo.
“Let me be sincere with you, we are totally in the dark here in Ondo state. Nobody collected any list from us and our governor is not in a position to influence anything because of his relationship with these people”, a member of the state working committee of the party told one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity.
Speaking to Saturday Sun, the Adamawa state organising secretary of the APC, Ahmed Lawal, said the state chapter has not sent any list for ministerial appointment due to some resolutions taken by the national headquarters of the party. He said the national body of the party has resolved that all the states where APC governors lost elections, such candidates have been selected for ministerial appointment. “So, we did not send any list in compliance with the party’s resolution, that is how things stand now in Adamawa state”, he said.
In Rivers, the APC faction loyal to the former Minister of Transportation and governor of the oil-rich state, Chibuike Amaechi, has maintained secrecy on whether or not it has submitted a ministerial list to the presidency.
When Saturday Sun contacted the factional party’s Publicity Secretary, Chris Finebone, he said that the reason for that was strategic. He simply said: “We would rather not discuss that for strategic reasons. That’s our reaction”.
The Imo State Caretaker Chairman of APC, Mercellinus Nlemigbo said that the state chapter has already sent a list to the party’s national headquarters.
The party chieftain said the state chapter has already sent a list of 150 persons, which includes party leaders and stakeholders. He said: “We have already sent a list of 150 names which includes leaders of the party and stakeholders from the state to the national headquarters but what I don’t know is if it is part of the ministerial nominees. But we have sent a list nevertheless.”
Party sources in Ogun state said, no name has been forwarded as a ministerial nominee to the presidency. One of the sources who hinted that the party might be on a collision course with the former governor and now a senator, Ibikunle Amosun, over the ministerial nomination, however, said wide consultation would be made by the party before any decision would be taken over the matter.
When contacted, the Publicity Secretary of the Ogun APC Caretaker Committee, Tunde Oladunjoye, he said the party has not received any directive from the presidency on any ministerial nominee. He added that the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee in the state, Yemi Sanusi, was not also aware of any nomination request.
However, reacting to the anxiety and tension building up in the party over the delayed ministerial list, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Lanre Issa-Onilu, cautioned Nigerians not to jump the gun, saying, there is no constitutional provision on the deadline for the formation of cabinet.
His words: “What does the constitution say in terms of deadline for that; so, we cannot be talking of delay or lateness if there is no timeline. Secondly, the institution, the National Assembly you are going to submit the ministerial nominees to was just put in place, and they have gone on recess until July 2.
“I don’t know if the ministerial nominees list is ready; it is only the president that can draw it, and if it is ready, he can’t bring it out and submit it to that institution, as spelt out by the constitution. What is the essence of circulating the list when the Senate that was supposed to receive it is on recess? Why not allow this institution to be available before we begin to suspect if there will be any delay or not, as there is no basis for that.”
On the claim that in any state where the governorship candidate of APC lost the election that such a candidate becomes the ministerial nominee from the state, the APC spokesman said, it is speculative to be talking about that, stressing that “it is waste of time to begin to talk on this issue that is neither here nor there. We should wait for the president to do what he feels is the best for the country.”
Meanwhile, there was speculation on Friday that the immediate past Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu has been appointed by President Buhari as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
Onu is a close ally of President Buhari. In 2015, many analysts believed and speculated that he would be appointed SGF before the position went to Babachir David Lawal who was later removed on alleged fraud charges and replaced by Boss Mustapha.
Neither the presidency nor Onu’s aides was willing to confirm the appointment as at yesterday night.