The emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as the President of the Senate and Yakubu Dogara as the Speaker of the House of Representatives may have altered the cabinet consideration of President Muhammadu Buhari, THE PUNCH has learnt.
Saraki, a former governor of Kwara State, is from North-Central while Dogara hails from Bauchi, North-East.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, is from the South-East while the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yusuf Lasun, hails from the South-West.
All these officers, except Ekweremadu, are members of the ruling APC.
The deputy senate president is the only member of the opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party.
President Buhari was said to be waiting for the outcome of the election before making announcement on key appointments in his government.
Apart from the ministers, he was said to be waiting for the election of principal officers of the National Assembly before naming his Secretary to the Government of the Federation, his Chief of Staff and Special Advisers.
Investigations by our correspondent in Abuja indicated that the position of the SGF hitherto reserved for the South-East may now go to another zone because of the emergence of Ekweremadu.
In anticipation that the position would go to the zone, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State was said to have submitted three names to the President.
Those on his list are a former Governor of Anambra State, Senator Chris Ngige; a former Governor of old Abia State, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and Prof. Anthony Anwuka.
It was gathered that in the negotiation that brought Saraki to power, the zone agreed to rather go for the position of the deputy senate president instead of the SGF.
The presidential source said, “President Buhari is seriously tinkering with the original list he has for political offices. This is because the emergence of the officers of the National Assembly has affected the original list he has.
“Though he was expecting some elements of surprise in the election, but I think he never bargained for a total disregard to party directive in the election of the officers.”
So far, in the distribution of offices, only the South-South region has not benefitted.
It was gathered that some people were arguing that since the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, hails from the zone, that should be considered as a position.
“Because of this, the zone is being considered for a strategic position by the President either as the SGF, CoS or others. But politicians from the North-East are still mounting pressure on the President to cede the position of the SGF to the area,” the source added.
The emergence of Lasun is also said to be threatening the zoning of the office of the office of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of the Federation to the South-West.
It was learnt that Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, was saddled with the responsibility of nominating a lawyer for the position.
The VP, it was further gathered, would be in charge of justice and law reforms to be carried out by the Buhari administration.
If those who want the office taken out of the zone succeed, it was gathered that it may go to Kebbi State, where a particular SAN who worked for the presidential bid of Buhari and Osinbajo was being considered.
The argument of these set of people, was that majority of those being considered in the South-West, are not card-carrying members of the ruling party.
It was learnt that the President has however not made up his mind on this issue.
Our correspondent also gathered that the name of a former Commissioner of Finance in Lagos State, Mr. Olawale Edun, was being touted as one of the people to be appointed from the zone.
The snag in his nomination, it was gathered, was that he was being nominated out of Ogun State where he hails from with the intention of occupying the slot of his home state.
However, it was learnt that the Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, is resisting the move by allegedly saying he would be the one to nominate minister from his state.
Also being touted as a minister is the Executive Chairman Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue and Chief Executive Officer Lagos State Internal Revenue Service, Mr. Babatunde Fowler.
Efforts made to get the reaction to the story however were not successful as calls made to the telephone of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, indicated that it was switched off.
He also didn’t reply to a text message sent to him.
But a Presidential source said that “the non- appointment of some of the key aides of the President was because President Buhari was waiting for the elections at NASS.
“He didn’t want to make the mistake of appointing his aides from the zone where the leadership of both the Senate and the House of Representatives could have emerged.
“You know that the case of the South-East was particularly worrisome because they didn’t vote for the APC and they don’t have any senator or Rep from the APC. So, the way of taking care of the zone in key appointment was giving us headache.
“Now, the zone has come through the back door to get the office of the Deputy Senate President. That is okay for the Presidency. That shows the zone has helped itself and has also helped the Presidency.”
It was learnt that anytime from now, the President would name some of the people to be appointed into the key positions, especially those that may not need the approval of the Senate.