Discordant tunes trail Buhari’s plan for ‘ministers without portfolios’

Buhari

Buhari

Fashola, Adewole, Ocholi may head ministries of Power, Education, Justice

AS Nigerians await President Muhammadu Buhari’s allocation of portfolios to his ministers-designate already confirmed by the Senate, opinions are divided over the likelihood that some of them may be without portfolios.

The President had, in New Delhi, India, on Thursday, said the economy was not buoyant enough to pay the huge wage bill so many ministers would entail.

But while stakeholders disagree, there were indications yesterday that former Lagos State Governor, Raji Fasola may be heading to the Ministry of Power while the former governorship aspirant in Kogi State, James Ocholi San may have been penciled down as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.

Though, information about the portfolios of the ministers-designate was still scanty by

Fashola

Fashola

yesterday evening, the senator representing Central Kaduna District, Shehu Sani and a former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa say there is nothing wrong with Buhari appointing ministers and not allocating them individual portfolios while the chairman of the Port Harcourt branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dennis Okwakpam, said it is unconscionable to appoint ministers with portfolio and not pay them salaries.

Similarly, while Professor of Law in the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), Prof. Gab Agu and two other lawyers, Mr. John Nwobodo and Olu Omotayo agreed that it was within the President’s prerogative to appoint ministers without assigning them portfolios, a former Attorney General of Enugu State and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Anthony Ani, said such a step by the president would be unconstitutional.

Another SAN , Sabastin Hon said the decision to tinker with ministers is at the discretion of the president going by the express provisions of the constitution.

“It’s at Mr. President’s discretion. Under the constitution, combined reading of sections 5, 147 and 148 show that the President has almost an unlimited discretion in terms of appointing ministers and assigning portfolios to them. He is the chief executive officer and he knows where it is pinching him most.”

According to Sani and Musa, there is no constitutional provision barring Buhari from appointing 36 ministers with some of them manning designated ministries, while others function as non-

But Okwakpam told The Guardian that if Buhari intended to reduce the cost of governance, he ought to have forwarded a bill to the National Assembly as soon as he was sworn-in to seek for an amendment of the constitutional provision that provides for at least one minister to be appointed from each state of the federation.

Agreeing with Buhari, however, Agu and Nwobodo in separate interviews told The Guardian in Enugu that what was important was representation of each state in the cabinet, stressing that such would mean contributing to issues of governance.

Agu said: “The constitution did not give express approval that every minister should be assigned with portfolio. It is within the prerogative of the president to assign such portfolios as he wishes.”

On his part, Nwobodo, who is also the state chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), stated that it was important that the ministers contribute to policy issues of governance.

Omotayo said what was important was appointing the ministers to reflect federal character and not their portfolios.

But a law lecturer at the University of Lagos, Dr Fassy Yusuf said: “I don’t know what the president means by that, maybe he will appoint them Ministers of State. He can not do such thing; that would be a constitutional aberration. Ministers are not appointed until they are assigned portfolios.

I think what he is saying is that they would not be assigned substantive portfolios but serve as Ministers of State.’

‘‘If he wants to minimise cost, then he should direct the Revenue Allocation, Mobilization and Fiscal Commission (RAMFC) to reduce the salaries of public officers.”

Expressing his own view, a Lagos lawyer, Chief Michael Agbamuche said: “Are they even going to attend the meeting of the Federal Executive Council? He needs to clarify issues. If you are attending FEC meeting, representing Benue State for instance and you don’t have any ministry that you are assigned to, it is not a proper representation of the state. It means they won’t have a stake in governance. That is why the constitution says 36 ministers for 36 states.”

The source, which maintained that Fashola was heading to the Power ministry said given the importance of the ministry to the development of the nation, the President is rooting for Fasola to help deliver the President’s promise on power to the nation.

Ocholi is being considered as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice based on his excellent performance during his screening at the Senate.

Former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Audu Ogbe is penciled down for Agriculture based on his success as a farmer.

Others believed to have been assigned portfolios include former governor of Ekiti state, Dr Kayode Fayemi ,former National Chairman of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Dr Ogbonnaya Onu for the Ministry of Works and Gen Abdulrahman Dambazau for the Ministry of Defence.

Sources in the presidency disclosed that Okechukwu Enelamah may head the Finance Ministry, Ondo-born Professor of Sociology, Cladius Daramola may be posted to the Ministry of Interior while former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi may be posted to the Ministry of Niger Delta.



10 Comments
  • vic

    BUHARI IS NOTHING BUT A PROPAGANDIST TALK-TALK PRESIDENT , A LAIR AND A DISHONEST CHEATER, CHEATING NIGERIA WORKERS AND PENSIONERS WITH UNTIMELY PAYMENTS OF THEIR SALARIES, PENSIONS AND OTHER ENTITLEMENTS.

    NIGERIA CANNOT PROGRESS UNDER SUCH A DEADWOOD, UNPRODUCTIVE AND UNPROGRESSIVE SNAIL SPEED RESIDENT.

    JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED.

  • vic

    MR BUHARI, FASHOLA IS A THIEF WHO IS YET TO ANSWER THE CHARGES ON MONEY LAUNDERING AND MISMANAGEMENT OF BILLIONS OF NAIRA LEVELED AGAINST HIM.

    LET FASHOLA CLEAR THE CHARGES FIRST BEFORE THIS THIEF IS APPOINTED TO ANY POLITICAL POSITION. BY SO DOING, MR BUHARI, YOU ARE LOSING WAR AGAINST CORRUPTION AND YOU ARE BOLDLY ENCOURAGING LOOTING AND SYCOPHANCY IN THE COUNTRY. YOU SHOULD REFRAIN FROM APPOINTING THIEVES TO KEY POSITIONS IN THE COUNTRY.

    • Martino

      Vic, Fashola, Amaechi and others may never be convicted of their “ALLEGED” financial crimes if there are no CONCRETE evidences against them. We are not a nation known for gathering evidences; NTA for example has basically lost their archives of epic Nigerian Soap Operas. If NTA can’t produce from their archives, all the episodes of the Village Headmaster, Samanja, The New Masquerade, etc., nothing should make us expect the BIG fishes to ever be convicted of wrongdoing.

      • beelaw

        You are absolutely correct, hmmm…………….no more investigative journalism except for copy and paste. imagine NTA going with their branded vehicle to an indian company that pollute the area with which the people have seriously complained about. took video coverage from afar and different direction and when the people around when back home hoping that their view will be heard..NTA went back to the company and release the video and delete it and collect money in return.

        It is so sad.

        • Martino

          Na these people dey make corrupt people get away because no evidences. They even recall earlier publications as falsely published.

      • vic

        Hi Martino, you are perfectly right in your analysis and conclusion.

        have a nice evening.

        • Martino

          Thanks, Bro. Have a good one.

  • emmanuel kalu

    what complete stupid comment by some lawyers. The president can’t use the excuse of reducing cost to not assign portfolios to the confirmed nominees. if these people truly want to serve the nation, they would ask for less salary, and the president can direct the agencies in charge to reduce their salaries. Also policy direction and effective running of ministry, would surpass the cost of the salaries for this minister. The lack of a cabinet is now costing the nation more money than it save not having minister assigned. if Nigeria is serious about cutting the cost of governing, we need to do away with a minister from each state. That is pure madness and waste of money. we can represent the country, by nominating minister from regions, at least two from each region. we need to reduce the amount of MDA’s and committees we have.

  • stan Emelogu

    Some of those parading as professors and constitutional lawyers are making a mockery of our constitution. Ministers without portfolios. What does that mean? How will Buhari determine the ministers without portfolios? Since we didn’t vote for him in the SE maybe all the nominees from the southeast will have zero portfolios. Lack of innovation on the part of the president may set precedents that may derail our democracy. Our democracy is not strong enough at this stage to absorb these abuses and divisve issues irrespective of what these newspaper profs and constitutional experts say.

    It is unfortunate that the country retrogressed by electing a man who has very scanty democratic credentials and respect for civil rights as president at a time when the rest of the world are electing individuals with strong democratic tendencies. With Buhari as president Nigeria is doomed because for him and the APC there is no difference between campaigns and governance. Furthermore, the president is appealing to our worst characters including religious intolerance, tribalism, bigotry and nepotism.

  • New Nigerian

    Welcome to Nigerian History lesson 101 – We had Ministers without Portfolio in the 60s and in the 70s they were called Federal Commissioners of “Special Duties” – Recall Commander O. P. Fingesi, anyone? He was Minister without Portfolio or as he was called Federal Commissioner of Special Duties

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