How 1985 Informed Buhari’s Cabinet, ‘Northernisation Agenda’



CONTRARY to suggestions in several quarters that President Muhammadu Buhari took time to constitute his cabinet in order to ensure round pegs are put into round holes, there are indications his choice of aides, as well as allocation of portfolios to ministers, may have been informed by his experience three decades ago.

Buhari was removed from office as military Head of State on August 27, 1985 in a coup and placed on a three-year detention by several actors who also overthrew the democratic administration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari on December 31, 1983.

“It was, therefore, to avert a similar scenario of being a figurehead that the President started by recruiting those he considered loyal and trusted allies in his initial appointments, which attracted widespread allegation of sectionalism and northernisation of the federal government. Unperturbed by the uproar against the sectional tendency of his appointments, Buhari ensured the heads of military and paramilitary agencies are of northern extraction,” a source told The Guardian.

The President had responded to the outcry against perceived marginalisation of other sections of the country in his appointments by saying during his state visit to the United Kingdom that there was no way he could reward those that gave him 97 and five per cent of his winning votes equally, even as his media aides explained that there were yet many other appointments to be made.

“The President, therefore, used the allotment of portfolios to his ministers to strike a kind of balance in which ministers from the South West got definitive portfolios such as Works, Power and Housing; Communications; Finance; Solid Minerals and Information.

“The implication of the allocation of responsibilities in Buhari’s federal cabinet shows that while his trusted and loyal allies take care of his kitchen cabinet and security, the bulk of the work of the administration would be done by his foot soldiers from the South West,” the source added.

According to the source, “Further analysis of the distribution of authority and responsibilities in the emerging federal government shows the possibility that in the event of the failure of the administration, South West ministers would shoulder the burden of failure while the President retains his anti-corruption image.

“Politically, there are indicators that if former Lagos State Governor and Minister of triad ministries, Babatunde Fashola, lives up to his billing, he could be supported to contest the Presidency alongside the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), to appease the North East and Northern Christians.

“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has zoned the 2019 Presidency to the North East. As such, if Buhari’s scheme sails through, the PDP would have to begin its search for a Northern Christian to match the Babachir David Lawal/Fashola ticket.”

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