Leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are in the dark over President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet as he is yet to discuss potential ministerial nominees with them, TheCable can report.
John Odigie-Oyegun, chairman of the party, and national leaders such as Bola Tinubu, former Lagos governor, and Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president, are all in the dark over nominations, presidential sources told TheCable. Buhari has also not discussed any potential appointment with Babatunde Fashola, former governor of Lagos, who accompanied him to the G7 meeting in Germany, sources in the know confirmed to TheCable.
Although there are strong indications that Fashola will serve a major role in the new government, Buhari is yet to give him the slightest hint. Rotimi Amaechi, former governor of Rivers, who has been variously tipped to be petroleum minister, secretary to the government and minister of Niger Delta affairs, is also in the dark over Buhari’s plans.
This is contrary to speculations that the ministerial list is ready and is about to be presented to the national assembly for screening. This has further increased the level of anxiety in the ruling party, with many former governors, defeated governorship candidates and party faithful on the edge over their immediate future.
An associate of the president told TheCable: “Newspaper reports listing ministerial nominees are not accurate. As close as I am to the president, he has never uttered a word to me on the list. We honestly don’t know what is going on in his mind.” A member of the APC national exco said: “Buhari gives nothing away. You meet with him, give him a list of suggestions on different issues, he collects it, says thank you and then sees you off. That’s all.” This is considered “frustrating” by some senior party members — but some think it is a good development that shows nobody can “predict or capture him”.
APC state chapters and governors are still expecting “communication” from Buhari requesting ministerial nominations but none is forthcoming. Buhari has already said governors would not nominate ministers for him since he does not nominate commissioners for them.
In a recent interview with Daily Trust, the president said any ministerial list circulating was false as he had not put a single name on paper. Ahmed Joda, chairman of the transition committee which submitted its report to Buhari on Friday, has also hinted that the cabinet may take longer to appoint. “I think he deserves a little bit more time. This is not an ordinary transfer of government from one president to the other. In this country, we’ve never witnessed this kind of transition from one political party to another,” Joda said at the submission of the report.
After the inauguration of the national assembly, Bukola Saraki, the new senate president, was in a fix over the adjournment of sitting because of the possibility of ministerial nominations which the senators have to screen. Sources told TheCable that Saraki had been willing to adjourn senate sitting for as long as Buhari wanted to prepare his list but there was no communication between the two because of the fall-out from the “rebellion” of Saraki in contesting for the nation’s No. 3 position.
Saraki eventually adjourned for two weeks, but there is yet no evidence that the list would be ready by then. “When the senate reconvenes, there are possibilities that Buhari would continue to be under intense pressure to name his cabinet, but if the senate is not sitting, there can be a justification for the delay,” a ranking senator told TheCable.
The early days of a new senate are usually focused on screening new ministers as well as setting up the working committees.