Sunday, 28 April 2019

Godswill Akapbio,Others May Make Buhari's Next Cabinet As Anxiety Mounts Among APC Stalwarts

A thick cloud of uncertainty is currently hanging over Aso Rock, the nation’s seat of power as President Muhammadu Buhari prepares to dissolve the federal cabinet, ahead of his inauguration for a second term on May 29, 2019.

The current cabinet, which was constituted in November 2015, attracted a lot of criticisms, coming six months after the President’s inauguration and falling short of the expectations of Nigerians in terms of the calibre of ministers in the team.

Apparently keen to avoid a repeat, Buhari was said to have resolved to toe a different line by constituting his next cabinet early and avoiding undue influence from his party and political associates.

President Buhari, who is currently on a 10-day private visit to the United Kingdom (UK), had on April 17, directed the ministers to prepare the handover notes, including a comprehensive status report of their policies and projects, and submit same to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) on or before last Wednesday.

Although that was a signal that the administration was winding down gradually, a subtle panic came upon the ministers last Wednesday when it was announced that the President would be holding a valedictory session with them on May 22.

Our correspondent reports that the issue of the dissolution of the current cabinet dominated discussions when the ministers met on Wednesday at the FEC meeting in Aso Rock.

A number of the ministers wore straight faces as they left the Presidential Villa after the meeting.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe, while emerging from the meeting, jocularly told State House Correspondents standing on the corridor leading to the President’s office that he was expecting a send forth party from them.

”I hope you will hold a send forth party for me?” He said, smiling as he walked briskly past the reporters. He dashed into his car before journalists could approach him for an interview on the subject.

It was gathered that the President would use the opportunity of his short vacation in London to review the provisional list of ministers he has compiled and finalise the choice of those who will make the next cabinet.
There have been speculations that about ninety per cent of the present crop of ministers would be shown the exit door while the remaining ten per cent would be retained as the nucleus of the next cabinet.

Sources close to the Presidency said that if any of the ministers would be re-appointed, the Minister of Education, Alhaji Adamu Adamu, a bossom friend of the President, will be among them. Others likely to make the list include the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohamned; Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Amaechi; Minister of State for Aviation, Sen Hadi Sirika; Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola and Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, the Minister of Science and Technology.

There is yet no clue as to the identities of those likely to join the new cabinet except for the wild speculations that former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and erstwhile Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, and a few others like him, who fought gallantly to “capture strategic states” for the All Progressives Congress (APC) but failed, might be compensated with ministerial portfolios.

However, a senior aide to the President who prefers not to be quoted, said that politicians and some members of the current Federal Executive Council (FEC) have been lobbying intensively to get the attention of the President as the date for his inauguration draws nearer.

In an interview yesterday, the presidential aide said that nobody at the moment knows the mind of President Buhari, with regards to who will make the list for the next cabinet.

”No one can emphatically tell you that he is sure of making the next ministerial list. That issue remains a very private thing to the President.

”President Buhari desires to have competent Nigerians who will impact on the government. So, he will make the right choice, I believe, not on the basis of any lobbying, ” he stressed.

It could be recalled that in 2015, President Buhari shunned all entreaties and lobbies from the big wigs within his party when he constituted his cabinet. However, critics if his administration have accused him of kotowing to the influence of a cabal outside the party and ending up with poor choices.

Source:Sunday Telegrapgh

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