President Muhammadu Buhari

Second Term: Buhari’s ministerial list to be ready after vacation

NEWS DIGEST–President Muhammadu Buhari will compile ministerial list for his second term during vacation abroad, multiple Presidential Villa sources told Daily Trust on Sunday.

The president is set to proceed on his annual vacation abroad in a few days time. A letter to this effect would soon be transmitted to both chambers of the National Assembly, one of the sources told our reporter.

He said in the president’s absence, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo will act in compliance with Section 145 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution.

The source said the President would use the opportunity of his vacation to compile the list.

“It is expected that the President will compile the list during his vacation abroad. He doesn’t want anybody to interfere with it,” he said.

Previously, the president had spent his vacations in London. His last holiday was in August 2018.

Since his declaration as the winner of the February 23 presidential election, politicians, traditional rulers and other interest groups have been visiting him at the Presidential Villa, Abuja to congratulate the president over the victory.

He will be sworn in for a second term of four years on Wednesday, May 29.

It is expected that the President would dissolve the present cabinet, before his inauguration for second term. At the moment, there are 31 ministers, against the 36 that were appointed in December 2015 when the federal cabinet was constituted.

Another source disclosed that the President’s vacation this year may last longer than the usual 10 working days he spent in the past, as he was expected to use the opportunity to attend to “private matters.”

Buhari took six months before appointing his first cabinet after taking power in 2015, an action that was blamed for slow pace of governance in the early days of the administration.

But one of the Presidency sources said there would not be delay in constituting a cabinet this time around. “Our expectations are that immediately after the inauguration of the National Assembly, the ministerial list would be transmitted for screening and confirmation,” he said.

Lobbyists Rebuked

A group of prominent politicians recently incurred the anger of the President when they tried to lobby him to consider certain individuals for appointment as ministers, Daily Trust on Sunday reliably gathered.

Top presidential sources said the President was furious when the group, after congratulating him, raised the issue of ministerial appointment.

Specifically, they told the President that they wanted to nominate certain politicians for consideration for ministerial appointments.

“He was very angry with them when they raised the issue of ministerial appointment. He sent them away because he doesn’t want any interference,” one of the sources said, pleading not to be named.

The source said the President was keeping the issue of the ministerial appointments close to his chest.

“Except when those people came and he was angry, he has been keeping the whole thing to his chest. He doesn’t want any interference,” he said.

Another State House source said the President’s body language indicated that massive changes would be made in his new cabinet.

“I don’t know who and who among the ministers will not be re-nominated. What I know is that a lot of the cabinet members will not make the ministerial list.

“The President has been so generous to us. The tradition has been that after two years or even less, the cabinet is reshuffled. But since 2015, there hasn’t been such a thing. With the exception of two ministers who joined after a year, the rest have participated in four budget circles. This is enough for them to perform and score pass marks,” he said.

The president throughout his first tenure did not appoint or reshuffle his cabinet except when Amina Mohammed, former Minister of Environment, left in December, 2016 to become the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, and also when James Ocholi died in a car crash along Kaduna-Abuja road.

While Amina was replaced by Suleiman Hassan, Professor Stephen Ocheni succeeded the late Ocholi.

Presidential spokespersons, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, declined comment on the matter, when our reporter contacted them separately.

However, President Buhari while at a victory dinner organized by his wife, Aisha, at the State House Conference Centre weeks ago, gave a clue on how his next cabinet will be, saying it would include youth, women and old people.

Buhari said: “I assure you that I have listened to the representation made that my cabinet should include women and youth. Don’t celebrate it yet, I said I have listened to some of the representation made here.

“Well, I myself, I am considering some of the old people and I will protect my constituency too, but I will assure you that I will continue to have a team of people of integrity that is really concerned about Nigeria and Nigerians.