Okorocha’s in law, Barth Nnaji, Odimegwu alsoBarely three days after submitting the list of the first set of ministerial nominees, President Muhammadu Buhari is weighing options on the next batch of nominees.Last minutes of intense horse-trading and lobbying are ongoing in the affected states.
There were strong indications yesterday that the Presidency is shopping for a new Group Managing Director for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) following the nomination of the present holder, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu as a Minister-designate.
It was learnt that President Buhari believes a Minister cannot be a regulator and an operator at the same time.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the jostle for the other slots has become intense in the last 72 hours.
Most of the states are Ondo, Kogi, Abia, Enugu, Imo, Bayelsa, Borno, Cross River, Nasarawa, Yobe, Zamfara, Osun, Kaduna, Bauchi, Sokoto, Adamawa, Lagos.
A reliable source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Despite the fact that the President has set his own criteria, he is weighing options on the remaining candidates because of interplay of factors.
“Although some aides are proposing the retention of the 42-man ministerial structure, others are urging the President to stick to the 36-team model prescribed by the 1999 Constitution.
“The submission of the first batch of 21 names to the Senate has heightened lobby for the remaining slots.”
It was gathered that governors, party leaders at all levels and associates have been trying to reach out to the President and “strategic aides.”
But the battle for the slots was said to be keen at press time because no one knew the mindset of the President.
Another source said: “For instance in Imo, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo wants the slot for a former Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), Chief Festus Odimegwu but Governor Rochas Okorocha is rooting for his in-law, Prof. Anthony Anwuka (a former vice chancellor).
“Also in contention is a former governorship candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) in 2011, Hon. Emeka Nwajuba.
“In Abia State, the jostle is between Buhari’s old associate, Ike Emenike and the party’s governorship candidate, Anyim Nzeribe, who is a loyalist of Governor Rochas Okorocha in the state.”
“Having been familiar with the politics of Kaduna, President Buhari is taking sole charge of the ministerial nominee from the state, based on certain indices.
“In fact, Governor Nasir el-Rufai is actually staying away from making any input in the nomination process. He has left the President and other stakeholders to sort it out.
“In Ondo State, the race for the ticket is between a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) and a top politician from the state, who was an executive of a multinational company.
“In Osun, there are three candidates for the slot and Buhari is expected to pick one. They are ex-Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola (recommended for his support and loyalty to Governor Rauf Aregbesola and APC); the immediate past Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Isaac Adewole and a prominent politician in the state.
“Apart from also being a favourite of Obasanjo, ex-Governor Oyinlola’s candidacy is also being promoted by some forces in APC.
In Enugu State, our source said the list is longer despite the fact that the state chapter of APC could only garner 14,000 votes (less than 3 per cent of the total votes cast) for Buhari.
The source added: “We have Comrade Osita Okechukwu, who is a reliable associate of Buhari. Although Okechukwu, the National Publicity Secretary of CNPP, has not met Buhari since his inauguration, he is said to be not too keen.
“But others vying for ministerial slot are ex-Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji (seeking a third term in FEC); APC National Vice Chairman, South-East, Emma Eneukwu; APC governorship candidate, Chief Okey Ezea and Chief Onyemuche Nnamani.
“In spite of the Kwara State slot going to the National Publicity Secretary of APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki is still lobbying for the return of his “godson” and ex-minister of sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, who was the Deputy Chairman of the Strategy Committee for the APC Presidential Campaign Council.
Abdullahi was rated as an asset during the campaign, and for resigning from ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s cabinet, he has earned the respect of some APC leaders.
“Saraki’s position may lead to the resuscitation of geopolitical representation in the Federal Executive Council to make the team 42.”
Investigation revealed that the challenge at hand is how Buhari will manage the choice of the remaining ministers because there are more than qualified party members, technocrats and long-standing and trusted associates.
A source in the Presidency added: “From the look of things, we may have to resort to consensus on some nominees as the case in some states.
“Let me give you the example of Ekiti State. When the nomination of the candidate for the state was knotty, ex-Governors Niyi Adebayo and Segun Oni met with Buhari where Oni declared without reservation that the slot should be given to Dr. Kayode Fayemi. And that assisted in tackling the matter.
As at press time, findings confirmed that most APC governors were shocked that the President did not allow them to make input into the choice of his ministers.
A source in the APC Governors Forum said: “The President determined those he wanted to work with him. To a large extent, the governors were not consulted on those picked from our states. But they have to bear with the President because it is his constitutional prerogative.
He said many governors woke up to read the list of cabinet members like every Nigerian.
“Since the President does not choose commissioners for the governors, they cannot pick his ministers for him. I think he is trying to do away with the past culture put in place by the PDP.
“The governors were no doubt shocked or surprised but the consolation is that he has chosen credible people.”
Apart from the governors, senators desirous of having the ministerial list would have to wait till Tuesday because the Senate President was said to have refused to open the envelope sent to him.
A Senator said: “We have all been pestering Saraki to have a glimpse of what was sent to him by the President but he said he would not open it until Tuesday.”
Meanwhile, the Presidency is shopping for a new Group Managing Director for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) because the present GMD. Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, is minister-designate.
“The thinking in the Presidency is that as a minister, Kachikwu cannot be a regulator and an operator at the same time.
“We have had instances in the past when the two portfolios were combined, but the Presidency does not think along this line at present. Kachikwu is an asset; this is why he is moving up.
“After the inauguration of the ministers, a new GMD may be appointed by the President after consultations with Kachikwu and other stakeholders.”