Ahead of the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term cabinet on August 21, 2019, a host of the 43 ministerial nominees cleared by the Senate on July 30, 2019, have been intensely lobbying for juicy portfolios, various sources in the nation’s administrative capital city of Abuja have told Pulse.
On August 6, 2019, the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babatunde Lawal, issued a statement to say the inauguration of the confirmed ministerial nominees would hold at the Federal Executive Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, by 11 am on August 21.
The statement had read in parts as follows: “The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, invites all ministers designate, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, federal permanent secretaries and top government functionaries (specifically invited) to a two-day induction retreat to be presided over by His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the retreat earlier publicised.”
Pulse has been told that there is an intense jostling campaign in Abuja for the ministries of Power, Works and Housing, Attorney General of the Federation, Petroleum Resources, Information and Culture, Finance and Transportation, among others.
“Most of the ministers-designate and their lobbyists haven’t left Abuja since they were confirmed by the Senate. For instance, the Finance portfolio that was vacated by Mrs Kemi Adeosun at the height of the NYSC discharge certificate saga is up for grabs. Some ministers-designate from the South West region have been strategically positioning themselves for this ministry and making their cases subtly to the president”, Pulse was told.
Pulse has also learnt that even though President Buhari intends to retain the trio of Babatunde Raji Fashola, Rotimi Amaechi and Hadi Sirika in the Works/Power/Housing, Transportation and Aviation ministries respectively, that hasn’t stopped other confirmed ministers-designate from dreaming of landing those big portfolios.
Some ministers-designate even went as far as dispatching emissaries to the president’s hometown of Daura, Katsina State, ahead of his Sallah vacation.
In Nigeria’s intricate power maze, some portfolios in the cabinet are considered juicer than others thanks to the size of their annual budgets and sheer importance to the daily lives of the average citizens.
Pulse has also been told that hotels in Abuja have been making a killing since the president tapped the nominees, sent their names to the Senate for confirmation and announced an inauguration date for the cabinet.
“Expect a few surprises here and there. But the over a dozen returning ministers-designate from the president’s first term cabinet would largely retain their old portfolios because the president wants the work some of them did in the first term to continue. He’s a conservative person. The man doesn’t want new hands who would take some time to settle in, so he’s going for the safer option of not interrupting what has been started from 2015-2019″, one of President Buhari’s media aides told Pulse on condition of anonymity because he had not been authorized to comment on the subject.
Nigeria runs a behemoth, bureaucratic federation where each state has a representative or two in the federal cabinet.
President Buhari, 76, was inaugurated for a second term in office on May 29, 2019 and has come in for plenty of stick for his glacial pace of governance and his dithering on the subject of appointments in both terms.