A Peep Into Buhari’s Probable Ministerial List
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari would unfold his nominees for ministerial appointment into the federal cabinet any moment from now. The President himself has been saying so. What nobody can say authoritatively, is, which names among the many currently circulating in the media would eventually feature on the list of Buhari’s clean Nigerians.
The other sad part surrounding the issue of appointment of ministers is the president’s confession of his distaste for them. “Civil servants do the work; ministers are politicians who make all the noise,” he was quoted as telling his French hosts recently. So, at last the true picture has emerged that the delay in appointing ministers was not mainly predicated on a meticulous search for Nigerians that are not tainted by sleaze, rent taking or influence peddling.
The major take away from the stated role of ministers in Buhari’s understanding of his presidency, does not border alone on the constitutionality. Above all, it depends on the mindset of the president, who invariably would preside over executive councils’ meetings, towards his ministers. But there is also a subtle suggestion that such weekly meetings could now be sparingly.
It also calls to mind what part of President Buhari’s idiosyncrasies as military head of state that he has done away with as civilian democratic president. How far he has been weaned for the presidential system Nigerians elected him to operate, as President would be seen in the way he relates to members of his cabinet. Would it be master-servant as in command and obey structure of the military? As number one citizen, President Buhari is not on trial but the worrisome aspect of his public statements is the impression that he disdains Nigerians to the point of loathing. Going by the undulating nature of his views concerning the ministers, is it right to ask, what if the President is taking the citizens for a ride after all?
Shortly after he was returned as winner of the March 28, 2015 presidential election, the then President-elect told some journalists that he intends to assemble a small cabinet that might be active before his inauguration. Two days after his inauguration, the President disclosed that state governors would not be involved in the selection of his ministers, contending to the joy of many Nigerians that after all he would not nominate their commissioners. Further he promised to look for competent, experienced and dedicated Nigerians to appoint as ministers.
When Nigerians became itchy about his delay in assembling the corruption-free and dedicated Nigerians, Buhari sent one of his spokesmen to tell Nigerians that he would delay the appointment of ministers until September. That was after he had broken the news in faraway United States.
The major take away from the stated role of ministers in Buhari’s understanding of his presidency, does not border alone on the constitutionality. Above all, it depends on the mindset of the president, who invariably would preside over executive councils’ meetings, towards his ministers. But there is also a subtle suggestion that such weekly meetings could now be sparingly. It also calls to mind what part of President Buhari’s idiosyncrasies as military head of state that he has done away with as civilian democratic president.
Barely a week later in that same month of July, the President’s second mouthpiece came out with further explanations that Buhari’s was ensuring a corruption-free environment before the arrival of the ministers even as he insisted that the delay “was nothing out of the ordinary”. But as the president confessed recently, the month of September has progressed rapidly beyond his contemplation and against his expectation. So the ministers would soon arrive. Already names of possible appointees have started making the rounds. Though, the ministers-to-be would consider themselves lucky and privileged, they would carry the added burden of trying to satisfy an incredulous boss. The following are the outlines of the soon coming saints; that is the President does not change his mind.
Prof. Patrick Okedinachi Utomi
PROF. Utomi came into national consciousness from his days at the Volkswagen Of Nigeria (VON). He has been around. Speculations that he would make Buhari’s cabinet started immediately the President was sworn into office. Based on his practical involvement and interest in investment matters as well as political economy, not many people know that Utomi had his first degree in Mass Communications before his further degrees in public administration and political economy.
His fist closeness to the seat of federal power was in 1982 when he was appointed Special Adviser to then President Shehu Shagari. A Fellow of Institute of Management Consultants of Nigeria, Prof. Utomi has served in various establishments, including; Nigeria Economic Consultative Association, (NECA) and Lagos Chamber of Commerce. He is a co-founder of the Lagos Business School.
In 2007 and 2011, Utomi joined the contest for the presidency. He is also involved in various business ventures, especially banking and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) firms. Utomi combines his civil society activism with his management expertise and comes out as one of the public intellectuals in the country. It is possible that President Buhari is bringing him into the federal government to marry his excessive theoretical postulations with practice and raising the country’s investment portfolio. Nigerians would be eager to see what value this candidate would bring to the long awaited Buhari cabinet.
Mr. Festus Odimegwu
NIGERIANS still remember Mr. Festus Eze Oha Odimegwu mainly for two reasons. He was swashbuckling Managing Director of Nigeria Breweries Limited and on account of that corporate office, he was part of the Corporate Nigeria mobilization for former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s third term plot.
Based on his involvement in the third term pranks, Odimegwu’s former employers sent him to school in US, precisely in the Stanford Graduate Business School for an executive development programme. When NBL unfolded its plans to retain him abroad in the Heineken Company, Odimegwu who has contacted the political contagion rejected the attempt to banish him on exile. He resigned, citing the urge to involve himself in ’other pastimes’. Loud and boisterous, Odimegwu, won a lot of laurels and likes to advertise the fact that he is a first class material. It was on account of his loquacious disposition that President Goodluck Jonathan asked him to excuse himself from the Chair of the Nigeria Population Commission (NPC)
A man blessed with an acerbic tongue, Eze Odimegwu penned a very damning feature article against former President Jonathan few weeks to the presidential election in which he described Buhari as the right man for the job. If President Buhari sees ministers as noisemakers, Chief Festus Odimegwu, may give him reasons to support his arcane joke. Odimegwu could do well in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Lt. General Abdulrahman Dambazau
DR. Dambazau is a product of the prestigious Barewa College and hails from Zaria in Kaduna State. He missed out in the early days of the Buhari presidency, when speculations became rife that he was on the way to being named the new National Security Adviser (NSA), as a close-confidant of Buhari. Dambazau has a degree in Criminal Justice and Ph.D. in Criminology and served as Chief of Army Staff in 2008. He was prior to that elevation the General Officer Commanding (GOC) Second Division, Ibadan. Given his pedigree and expertise within the military police circles, Dambazau may be the next Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC).
Mrs. Ifueko Marina Omoigui-Okauru
MADAM Omoigui-Okauru made a national mark as the Chief Executive of the Federal Inland Revenue, (FIR). She worked at the reputable management consultancy firm, Arthur Anderson and Company for 12 years. After serving as the first female chairman of Joint Tax Board, Mrs. Omoigui-Okauru was brought into the Presidential Economic Management Team that was responsible for tax reforms. A fellow of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA), Ifueko was once with Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc; and a visible member of the Executive Council of Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ). She is renown for her knack for thoroughness and transparency. She trained at the Imperial College of London.
Femi Falana (SAN)
TO an extent, Femi Falana on account of his visibility in Nigeria’s civil rights movement, reminds most Nigerians of the late Gani Fawhehinmi. A dogged fighter against social oppression and criminality, Falana has been around as a prominent legal/social crusader. But a lot people say he differs from Gani based on his political affiliations with certain bourgeoisie elements in the society.
It is based on this perceived closeness to some big guns that the Senior Advocate is being considered not for the position of Attorney General but Minister of Justice. That is if the plans by Buhari to separate the position of Attorney General from the Justice ministry takes place. Whichever portfolio that may be assigned to the Ekiti-born senior lawyer, Nigerians would not praise Buhari for searching him out. Falana has been readily available!
Abubakar Malami (SAN)
THE former Legal Adviser of defunct Congress for Progressive Change, (CPC) Abubakar Malami, is one of the few Buhari-adherents who helped him to found the CPC. Malami was very visible during the merger talks that gave vent to the emergence of the APC. He is an easy going and quiet spoken fellow. Two things are working in Malami’s favour: his closeness to Buhari and understanding of what the President wants to achieve in his second missionary journey. He was a resourceful member of the Ahmed Joda Committee. If the decision to separate the Justice Minister from that of Attorney General falls through Malami may be posted to the Attorney General’s office to oversee prosecution of corruption cases. Alternatively Malami may become the Defense Minister if Buhari sees merit in having a civilian as Minister.
Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola
WHENEVER the former Osun State Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, is eventually announced as a minister, most Nigerians may ask whether Prince Oyinlola is also among the saints. Omoba belongs to the ancient and modern of Nigeria politics. He once served as the military administrator of Lagos State. And as a beneficiary of Obasanjo garrison tsunami in South West in 2003, the Prince became the governor of Osun State. His second term in office was truncated by the Election Petition Tribunal on November 26, 2010. From the time the Brigadier-General joined politics after his retirement in 1999, he has remained like a beloved political son of Obasanjo.
As happened to his second term governorship, Oyinlola’s election as National Secretary of PDP was also truncated in controversial circumstances. Is he being considered for the Defense ministry? That is most likely to parry the alleged one-sidedness of Buhari’s appointments and concentration of emphasis in his Northern hemisphere.
There are suggestions that Ms. Sharon Ikeazor is being considered for the Women Affairs Ministry, but as the President is said to be keeping a lot of issues to his chest, especially about the ministerial appointment, nothing could be said to be cast on stone.