There were strong indications last night that between 12 and 15 ex-ministers will join President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet. It was learnt that the ex-ministers’ names are on the list which was reportedly submitted to Senate President Ahmed Lawan on Wednesday. But there was still a pall of uncertainty on the size of the cabinet.
The President has the constitutional right to have a 36-man or a 42-man cabinete. The President is said to have decided to retain some of the ex-ministers on merit.
Those speculated to be on the list last night are ex-Ministers of Justice and AGF Abubakar Malami ( SAN); Adamu Adamu( Education); Hadi Sirika ( Aviation); Zainab Ahmed (Finance); Aisha Abubakar (Women Affairs); Lai Mohammed ( Information); Babatunde Fashola (Works, Power and Housing); Rotimi Amaechi (Transportation); Mohammed Musa Bello( FCT); Suleiman Adamu Kazaure (Water Resources); Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu (Science & Technology); Solomon Dalung (Sports & Youths Development) and others.
Although Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, former governors Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Niyi Adebayo (Ekiti) and Akinwumi Ambode (Lagos) were also being speculated last night to have made the list, none of our sources could confirm such speculations.
The sources confirmed that some ex-ministers, such as Adebayo Shittu (Communications) and Okechukwu Enelamah (Trade and Industry) lost the battle to return to the cabinet.
A government source said: “I know that the two women ex-ministers are returning to the cabinet. We have a few others who have really added value that the President will be retaining.
“It is not a total overhaul, which you are anticipating. What the President promised was to leave sustainable legacies in his second term.” As of press time, it was difficult to ascertain whether or not the President of the Senate had received the ministerial list.
A principal officer of the National Assembly said “Lawan dropped a hint that he will receive the list on Wednesday”. Another source said: “I think the list is already with the Senate President and some officers but they said it will not be made public until Thursday.”
A source in the Presidency simply said: “All things being equal, the Senate will receive the list on Thursday morning. “ Lawan confirmed on Wednesday that the list of ministers will be out this week. President Buhari had promised to appoint into his cabinet those who would help him to implement his “Next Level” programmes.
Lawan spoke during plenary on Wednesday, following a Point of Order by Senator Albert Bassey Akpan (Akwa Ibom Northeast). Akpan, who spoke under personal explanation, prayed the Senate to mount pressure on Buhari to transmit the list to the chamber. The senator reminded his colleagues that the Senate would embark on its annual recess within the next two weeks. He stressed the need for Buhari to transmit the list before the recess.
Akpan said: “Mr. President, in view of the yearly long recess the Senate and the House of Representatives will embark upon in two weeks, there is need to urge President Muhammadu Buhari to forward the much expected ministerial list to the Senate for screening and confirmation. “This is very important because if such list is not made available for the required legislative attention before we embark on the long recess, there will be no ministers and, by extension, the federal cabinet for the President to work with till September.
“Making the list more urgent now from the President before our long recess, is the fact that if it is not made available, the concerted effort being made by both arms of government to return to the yearly budget cycle of January to December will be defeated.
“On this note, I call on the President of the Senate to inform President Muhammadu Buhari of the need for the ministerial list before we embark on recess.”
Lawan said: “Let me, on the strength of this motion, inform the Senate that the Executive arm of government is working very hard on the ministerial list. “In fact, the list, based on information at my disposal, will be forwarded to us by the President before the end of this week. “May I, therefore, appeal to us all to be ready to make the necessary sacrifice in terms of sufficient time to be spent in carrying out thorough screening and confirmation of appointments of the expected ministerial nominees.”