President Muhammadu Buhari will any moment from now swear in and assign portfolios to the 43 incoming ministers recently screened and approved as ministers-designate by the National Assembly.
The list comprises seven women and 36 men among whom are 14 ministers retained from the last dispensation.
They are expected to assist the president in achieving the All Progressives Congress’s ‘Next Level’ agenda.
The list also includes seven former governors and senators, party leaders, in addition to several other notable chieftains and a couple of fresh names in the political arena, all of whom had excelled in their private businesses and public services.
In the last two days, the ministers were undergoing retreat at the State House Conference Centre on policies, programmes, and projects the administration intends to evolve to tackle its economic and infrastructural development agenda meant to lift the bulk of Nigerians out of poverty and lay the groundwork to progressively take the country into the comity of developed nations.
The swearing-in ceremony comes exactly two months 23 days after Buhari’s re-election for a second term February 9.
This is a sharp contrast to his first tenure during which he did not name his ministers until after six months in office.
Considering the list, observers are of the view that most of them boast of appealing credentials and experiences in diverse fields of endeavour and capable of adding value to the administration’s quest to uplift the nation and improve on the people’s welfare.
Since portfolios were not attached to the names of the then respective ministerial nominees forwarded to the National Assembly for screening, and the nominees, in view of some, were screened ‘blindly’, many have speculated the portfolios likely to be assigned to them based on their academic trainings, professional callings, pedigrees, and acumen.
Hajia Zainab Ahmed, the immediate past finance minister, was formally minister of state budget and national planning in 2015. Following the resignation of Mrs Kemi Adeosun as finance minister, she assumed the position. The 59-year-old accountancy graduate from ABU, Zaria is being tipped to retain her portfolio.
Between Keyamo and Lai Mohammed
For the information ministry, the choice is between its former occupant, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and spokesman of Buhari campaign organisation, Festus Keyamo, SAN.
For Mohammed, he seized every opportunity to stand up to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and faulted the 16 years of the party’s administration by often portraying them as years of corruption, maladministration and criminal waste of enormous national resources.
While the former minister was believed by some to have done a yeoman’s job in information management, particularly in selling the administration’s policies to the populace during Buhrai’s first tenure, others felt he was still living in the opposition days.
Also, some are tipping Keyamo to head the ministry, giving his “mastery of issues during the campaign ahead of the 2019 polls.”
Besides, the legal luminary was also a star witness at the ongoing presidential election petition tribunal where the ruling APC is being challenged by the PDP and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
His testimony on the INEC server palaver, some posited, was significantly responsible for the ruling party’s victory at the Supreme Court which Tuesday dismissed the plaintiffs’ petition.
Dr Ibe Kachukwu was the minister of state for petroleum but was not included in the list of 14 ministers retained by President Buhari. There are speculations that the president may likely hand over the portfolio to either Dr Goddy Jeddy-Agba, a bureaucrat with cognate experience in the oil industry.
Similarly, Uche Ogah might be considered for the portfolio in view of his experience as a major player in the oil and gas sector.
For defence, former Sokoto state military governor, Major General Bashir Magashi(rtd) is the most senior military officer on the list of ministers-designate and therefore may be assigned the defence ministry, especially at this time of the nation’s teething security challenges.
Though the ministry of power, works and housing going by popular demand, may be split, it seems unlikely that Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, would be rooted out of the power ministry.
In the work’s ministry, the choice is between ex-governor of Osun state, Rauf Aregbesola, an engineer by training, or Olamilekan Adegbite, an architect and former works and infrastructure development in Ogun state.
Ngige, Akpabio, Amaechi, Onuh
Dr. Chris Ngige got no little bashing from labour unions lately giving the impression that he may perhaps not return to the ministry of labour, while new entrant former governor of Akwa Ibom state is likely to lead the Niger Delta ministry or interior.
Both Rotimi Amaechi and Dr Sylvester Onuh are expected to retain their ministries, though transport may be broken into three ministries. Onuh was minister in charge of science and technology under the last dispensation.
Will he be retained in education? For Adamu Adamu, the trained accountant cum journalist may return to his earlier duty post as education minister, giving some reforms he was believed to have caused in the sector. The ongoing JAMB ‘revolution’ comes handy
For Abubakar Malami, SAN, his chances of being reappointed as the nation’s number one legal officer are greater, notwithstanding the many criticisms that trailed his tenure by lawyers and non-lawyers alike, particularly on the administration’s alleged non-adherence to court orders.
A faithful Buhari loyalist, Malami was a member of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), a party led by Buhari and one of the amalgams that formed the APC .
Meanwhile, the presidential retreat came to a close Tuesday with President Buhari charging participants to rise to the challenging responsibilities of ministerial office.
The second and final day kicked off with a presentation on cabinet processes and procedures by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha.
This was followed by a presentation by the APC national chair, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, on aligning government policies with the ideology, manifesto and campaign promises of the ruling party.
Subsequent presentations touched on budgeting, civil service reforms, public procurement, relationships between ministers and permanent secretaries, and effective partnerships between executive, legislature and state governments.
The SGF in his remarks, announced the introduction of a new cabinet memorandum review and approval process, aimed at improving the quality and efficiency of government decision-making and policy implementation, and increasing coordination and coherence within the government.
The president in his closing remarks, reminded participants that the challenges ahead of the administration remained significant, and urged them to work collaboratively and purposefully, and give their best to the task of delivering a more prosperous country for all Nigerians.
The ministers-designate would be sworn in Wednesday(today) at the State House, after which they would be allocated portfolios by the president.
Following the swearing-in, each minister would be given a mandate, based on the assigned ministry, and which would spell out priorities, deliverables and timelines.
In addition, a robust monitoring and evaluation framework would also be put in place to track the implementation of all policies and programmes over the next four years.