Buhari swears in INEC boss, Yakubu, commissioners today
• President inaugurates cabinet on Wednesday
• Disquiet over ‘secret’ appointment of Baba-Ahmed as Private Secretary
BARRING any last minute changes, President Muhammadu Buhari will today, swear in the new Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and five national commissioners recently confirmed by the Senate.
If sworn in, the coast would have been cleared for the conduct of the forthcoming November 21 and December 5 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states respectively.
Buhari had on October 21 unveiled the new INEC team to the National Council of States (NCS), after which he sent their names to the Senate for confirmation.
Today’s swearing-in of the Electoral Management Team (EMT) comes two days ahead of the expected inauguration of the first cabinet of this administration on Wednesday.
Both events are scheduled to take place at the Aso Council Chambers, State House, Abuja.
The Senate on October 29 confirmed the nomination of Yakubu, a Professor of Political History and International Relations and immediate past Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) as the Chairman of INEC as well as five others: Baba Shettima Arfo, Dr. Anthonia Taiye Okoosi Simbine, Mrs. Amina Zakari, Dr. Mohammed Mustapha Lecky and Prince Soyebi Adedeji Solomon as national commissioners.
A Presidency source confirmed to The Guardian yesterday in Abuja that the swearing-in of the ministers by the President would be followed by the first cabinet meeting of Buhari since his election in March and swearing in on May 29 this year.
The President has been widely criticised for his delay in unveiling his cabinet almost six months after his inauguration as the fourth democratically elected President in the fourth democratic dispensation.
Besides, Buhari, who had stirred a hornets nest for his claims that not all his ministers would be allocated portfolios, citing the dwindling revenue to the Federal Government, was also reported to have directed his ministers-designate, during their two-day retreat which ended on Friday to cut down the retinue of aides among others.
Meanwhile, there has been disquiet in the polity over the unconfirmed report of a “secret” appointment of a one-time Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Works, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed as the Private Secretary to the President. Baba-Ahmed, a one time Secretary of INEC coordinated the two-day Presidential retreat for ministers-designate that ended Friday after which, word went round that he had been named as the Private Secretary to the President.
In the seat of power, apart from the offices of the President and Vice, the offices Chief of Staff (CoS) to the President and Private Secretary are considered as some of the other ‘powerful positions.’
The appointment, though yet to be made public officially, has been generating ripples in the polity, given that, Baba-Ahmed hails from the North West, the same zone Buhari hails from.
Since he assumed office as the President, Buhari’s appointment of key members of kitchen cabinet has been generating ripples in the polity for its alleged lopsidedness.
Baba- Ahmed retired from civil service in the wake of reforms, spearheaded by a former Head of Service of the Federation (HoSF), Mr. Steve Orosanye, which pegged the tenure of Permanent Secretaries to two terms of eight years.
Key appointments so far made by the President include the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) given to Mr. Babachir David Lawal, a Christian from Adamawa State while prominent banker, Abba Kyari from Borno, was named Chief of Staff to the President .
So far, there have been no key appointees of South East and South West indigenes into the President’s “kitchen” cabinet, a move widely seen by the people from the two zones as a deliberate attempt to marginalise their people, an allegation vigorously denied by the Presidency.
When contacted at the weekend, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu confirmed that the INEC team would be sworn in on Monday and the first Federal Executive Council would hold on Wednesday.
but said: “We have not been informed of the appointment of a Private Secretary.”