As the nation awaits President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial nominees to help him shepherd his second term, there is anxiety and uncertainty amid endless closed-door meetings by leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as to who will make the list. The president’s silence on the issue has ratcheted expectations and fears amongst hopefuls. The battle for ministerial appointments has peaked significantly in the last few weeks even as Buhari is said to be preparing a final list of those he wants in his cabinet due for announcement anytime soon.
The battle to make the Next Level cabinet has been made particularly competitive, because of former ministers, who are itching to return to cabinet, former governors who have either completed their two terms in office or those who lost re-election bid or lost the ticket to other candidates and other members of the APC, who feel a need to be compensated for their roles in the victory of the president in the just concluded 2019 presidential election which earned him a second term.
Although unlike the 2015 approach, insiders have hinted that apart from selecting candidates each from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the president has also decided to appoint another six to represent each of the geo-political zones in order to actualise his promise of inclusive government.
Unfortunately for a majority of party leaders, the president has kept the information about his Next Level cabinet to himself alone, the very reason the APC governors after a meeting last week conceded the choice of cabinet members as entirely the president’s prerogative.
To that extent, the silence of the president and the obvious lack of clue on who might get what from other Villa sources have further stiffened the jostle for appointments, even as the nation is on tenterhooks about those that would make the cabinet.
In Lagos State for example, while the appointment is strictly between two former governors, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode, there is the understanding that, while Fashola, who was Minister of Power, Works and Housing may return representing the Lagos slot, Ambode is being considered for the South West slot. Fashola is said to be loved by the President while Ambode’s case is being championed by the President’s men in the Villa.
The situation in Rivers State is still believed to favour former Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi. But there are those who feel the governorship candidate of the party, Mr. Tonye Cole, who was denied the opportunity of challenging Governor Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by different courts, is also being considered for a ministerial appointment. How to balance the two interests is what many do not however know.
The slot for Delta State is a straight slugfest between former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu and the President’s Campaign’s spokesperson for the 2019 election, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN. Kachikwu is itching for a return while Keyamo feels he did well fending off the President’s opponents without apologies and as such deserves a cabinet shot.
In Ogun State, the choice of candidate is Wale Edun, Pastor Tunde Bakare and one Mr. Kayode Odesola. But neither of the last two candidates is believed to have sweeping support of stakeholders in the state. They are however in the good books of the president.
The choice between Mr. Adebayo Adelabu and former Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi makes the battle for the state a tough one. Adelabu is said to be eyeing Ministry of Finance. And further compounding this is the fact that the former Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu is also in contention for the slot from the state. But Buhari might have made his choice already.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed is believed to be itching to come back as the Kwara State candidate for a ministerial post, but he does not appear to have the much needed support from home, as a majority of the people feel, the opportunity should go to other parts of the state for balancing.
Former Governor George Akume of Benue State and the immediate past Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh are the two candidates for the Benue slot. Not only are the both of them qualified, they both also worked for Buhari’s re-election. The stakes are therefore high in Benue.