President Muhammadu Buhari is said to be weighing his options on who will be on his next batch of ministerial nominees.
According to The Nation report, the jostle for the remaining slots had become intense and there was last minute horse-trading and lobbying going on in the affected states.
The affected states were listed as Ondo, Kogi, Abia, Enugu, Imo, Bayelsa, Borno, Cross River, Nasarawa, Yobe, Zamfara, Osun, Kaduna, Bauchi, Sokoto, Adamawa, Lagos.
The president had on Wednesday, September 30, submitted the list of the first batch of ministerial nominees which contained 21 names.
In Imo state, the ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo reportedly wants the slot for a former chairman of the National Population Commission Chief Festus Odimegwu, but Governor Rochas Okorocha wants that same slot for his in-law, Prof. Anthony Anwuka.
In Osun state, the president is expected to pick from three candidates, Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola (recommended for his support and loyalty to Governor Rauf Aregbesola and the APC); the immediate past vice chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Isaac Adewole and a prominent politician in the state.
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“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,” a source said.
A reliable source disclosed that though the president had his own criteria for picking ministerial nominees, party leaders and governors have been trying to reach out to him.
“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,” the source said.
Reportedly, most governors belonging to the All Progressives Congress (APC) were shocked that President Buhari did not give them the opportunity of providing input into the choice of his ministers.
A source in the APC Governors Forum said that though they were surprised, they are consoled by the fact that he chose credible people.
The source added that the president does not choose commissioners for the governors so they cannot pick his ministers for him.
Though governors and senators are eager to know those on the first batch of the ministerial list, they will have to wait till Tuesday as Senate President Bukola was said to have refused to open the envelope sent to him.
Meanwhile, strong indications have emerged that Buhari 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.
According to reports, the president believes Kachikwu cannot be in charge of the NNPC and still be the minister of state for petroleum resources.
“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,” a source said.