Ministerial list: Why Southwest gives Buhari most headache

Buhari Taking Time To Recruit Capable Hands– Momoh

Yesterday was exactly one month since President Muhammadu Buhari has been operating without a cabinet after being inaugurated for a second and final four-year tenure.The Guardian learnt from very authoritative sources that one of the factors delaying the selection list is the serious internal wrangling/intrigues rocking the ruling party, which has caused the President to prevaricate.

The Southwest zone, it was gathered is where intrigues are most contentious and the intra-party rivalry vicious.Feelers are that Buhari, and indeed the Presidency may have decided to keep the ministerial list discreet in order to fence the likes of National Leader of APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and stop them from having undue influence and advantage.

According to a source, “Buhari has refused to consult on the ministerial list, or yield to other interests since he was re-elected.”While certain interests have impressed on the President to appoint Mr. Wale Edun, who served as Lagos State Commissioner of Finance between 1999 and 2007, the former governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba, and Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, it was gathered are not favourably disposed to that idea since they also have their preferences.

Since the former Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun (from Ogun State) resigned after a protracted NYSC certificate scandal, Osoba and Osinbajo, are said to be of the view that her replacement should come from the state. Apart from Osinbajo and Osoba’s positions, Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun is also said to be uncomfortable with the idea of fielding Edun, who all stakeholders/antagonists said played all his politics in Lagos State and so cannot be foisted on Ogun by anybody.

It was also claimed that the push for Edun through Ogun (just like in 2015, which failed), may be to foreclose chances of the immediate past governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, being named Finance Minister. Buhari is also facing similar challenges in Ekiti State. While Governor Kayode Fayemi, who is currently the chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) is putting forward Otunba Niyi Adebayo, a former governor of the state to fill its ministerial slot, the national leader is said to prefer another former governor of the state, Mr. Segun Oni.

One of the major causes of friction in Ekiti State is the propensity of Fayemi to want remain his own man while Oni enjoys some liking from Lagos.It is therefore, not an exaggeration to say that Fayemi would never allow Oni to be imposed as minister, as he may use the office to empower himself for future contests and power play.

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There are, however, strong indications that Buhari may eventually appoint legal luminary and Human Rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana as his Attorney General and Minister of Justice. If this happens, the President would have ignored both Fayemi and the National Leader of the party and settled for a neutral person.

Though, efforts were made to push Falana in 2015 to no avail, this time, Buhari himself is said to have picked interest in the rights lawyer, believing that he has the capacity to help push and fine-tune the restructuring agenda, which is now in high demand.A reliable source said Buhari needs a vibrant lawyer with International reputation to handle the issue.

In Ondo State, the President may opt for one of his loyalists, Ifeoluwa Oyedele, an engineer, who has stuck to him since his Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) days. He was also in the Buhari Campaign Council for 2019. Although, there is a consideration for the former National Legal Adviser of the PDP, Chief Olusola Oke, he is being tagged as being deeply rooted in the opposition party, in addition to being a nomadic politician, who moves too easily.

Buhari nearly appointed Oyedele as minister in 2015, but former Governor of Osun State and former interim national chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande felt that the first cabinet was dominated by CPC members.

In Lagos State, the campaign against Ambode may eventually be thrashed as sources said the Presidency is bent on giving the immediate past governor a slot to, at least, compensate him for the humiliation he suffered, when he was denied a second term ticket despite the President’s intervention.

An APC stalwart authoritatively told The Guardian that it would take a miracle for Buhari not to hand Ambode a portfolio to represent the Southwest, while the immediate past Minister of Power, Housing and Works, Mr. Babatunde Fashola deserves to be retained in the new cabinet to represent Lagos State.

Findings revealed that Buhari is yet to make up his mind whether to drop the former Communications Minster, Adebayo Shittu, whose misunderstanding with the immediate past governor of Oyo, Senator Abiola Ajimobi was partly responsible for loss of the state in the last presidential and governorship election.

In Osun, a cabal within the ruling party is said to be canvassing for Senator Iyiola Omisore to be appointed minister as compensation for what he did to help APC win the governorship election last year. Buhari is also yet to make up his mind whether to drop Prof. Isaac Adewole, the immediate past Minister for Health, who sources claim is interested in returning to his former office.

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The President’s predicament in Osun is that former Governor Rauf Aregbesola is also lobbying to get a ministerial appointment. If Omisore carries the day, then the alleged ‘Abuja cabal’ would have succeeded in beating the Southwest ‘leader’ to the game.

MEANWHILE, a founding member of the APC, Prince Tony Momoh has said that Buhari has not committed any crime over his inability to name his cabinet till now.According to him, the one-month delay is occasioned by the President’s insistence on getting the right people who, who would assist him achieve the Next Level agenda.

“The President set up a committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to, among other things, review the last four years of his administration and also project the ‘Next Level’ agenda. I am not too sure if the committee has submitted its report,” Momoh said.

In view of this, the APC chieftain said Buhari should not be castigated over the delayed ministerial appointment, bearing in mind the immense intrigues, pressure and politicking that are ongoing in the 36 states as a result of the exercise.“I challenge the media to find out the kind of pressure mounted on party leaders across the states over the ministerial list. And just as pressure is mounted on party leaders in the states, the Presidency is also experiencing the same from interested parties. Mind you, the President would also have to submit the names of these nominees to the National Assembly for clearance.”

The former Minister of Information therefore, appealed to Nigerians to exercise patience, stressing that the cabinet would soon be formed, and “there is no way it would be delayed up to six months this time around.”National Publicity Secretary of APC, Mr. Lanre Isa-Onilu, on his part said intrigues were normal in situations like these, even as the development is not peculiar to the ruling party.He also faulted the use of the word “delay,” saying delay can only be used if it was established that the President has breached certain norms of constitutional provisions for the appointment of ministers.

According to him, “Let’s even assume that the cabinet list is ready, the National Assembly that would clear the ministerial nominees was just inaugurated few days ago. I therefore do not see anything wrong yet.”Onilu also cleared the air on allegations that the national Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole said that only loyal and committed party members would be considered for appointments.

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According to him, “The party did not say this in isolation of the Presidency. This is the most the party can do, in conjunction with the President to ensure that loyal members make the cabinet”.

HOWEVER, opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday said that the infighting and hostilities in the APC and the Presidency arose from the brazen stealing of the presidential mandate that Nigerians freely gave to the PDP and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in the February 23, presidential election.

The party in a statement released by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, made it clear that the vicious struggles “for positions as ‘booty’ of a stolen mandate further exposed the APC and the cabal in Buhari’s Presidency as power mongers, who are only interested in power grabbing, treasury looting and plundering of our national patrimony, and not in the welfare of Nigerians.

“Very recently, Nigerians painfully watched a reality show of the fate that had befallen them in the past four years, as persons close to the President openly declared that a cabal has been running the affairs of our nation.“Nigerians also watched as a faction within the power-grabbing APC, in a loud protest in our nation’s seat of power, Abuja, last week, listed the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, Mr. President’s cousin, Mamman Daura, and his long-standing friend, Isa Funtua as members of the said cabal that has appropriated the Presidency and held President Buhari hostage,” the PDP added.

The party observed that “in a counter-protest, supporters of the cabal had also accused a prominent APC governor of a North West state and his ‘brother,’ who is a prominent former minister and former governor of a South South state, as those fanning the embers of discord in the Presidential Villa in order to achieve their desperate ambition for power in 2023.”

According to the PDP, “the despicable scenario is a pointer to the disposition of the APC, as a sanctuary of power mongers and looters, as well as accounts for the unpardonable selfish reason that the APC and President Buhari’s handlers rigged the presidential election”It argued that, “the shameful in-fighting is a further confirmation of President Buhari’s incompetence and leadership failure, which is directly responsible for the painful economic and security situation, which our nation has been sunk in the last four years.” The PDP noted that the harsh reality is that, with the situation at hand, there is no hope in sight for Nigeria and Nigerians under the APC and the Buhari Presidency.

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