Some politicians, who think that their closeness to President Bola Tinubu, will fetch them ministerial positions are in for a shock, an investigation by Sunday PUNCH has revealed.
It was gathered that the President might rely on security reports on individuals whose names were already sent to security agencies for screening ahead of the submission of the ministerial list to the Senate before Thursday, July 27.
Lawmakers in the Red Chamber were scheduled to proceed on a long recess on July 27, but the non-submission of the ministerial nominees may delay their vacation. Tinubu was sworn in on May 29, and the new law says he must present the ministerial list to the Senate for confirmation before 60 days. Today (Sunday) makes it 48 days since he assumed office.
It was gathered that the President had forwarded the names of some individuals to security agencies for clearance, but top sources said their clearance might not be an indication that they would make the list when the nominees are eventually presented to the Senate for screening.
The President was said to have been inundated with the names of politicians, associates, party bigwigs, professionals, and others, who showed interest to be part of his government.
One of the sources said, “While the President is keeping his cards to his chest, there are former governors, especially those that finished their tenure on May 29, who are showing interest in becoming ministers.
“Also, as expected, there are political bigwigs, traditional rulers, captains of industries, and those in the Diaspora. But instead of waiting to compile the list, the President was sending them to the security agencies piecemeal for clearance.
“That was why the Presidency was correct when it said there was no ministerial list anywhere.”
Recall that the presidential spokesman, Mr Dele Alake, recently said Tinubu’s ministerial list was not ready.
“There is no iota of truth in all of those things. When the President is good and ready, you will be the first to know his intentions,” Alake said.
The source said that rather than reject nominations of individuals and some politicians, Tinubu might rely on the outcome of the security screening, which he explained had reached an advanced stage.
The source added, “Corrupt politicians, indicted individuals and others who are showing eagerness to be part of this government will be shocked when they see the security reports on them.
“So, the President, instead of outright rejection, will use the reports to check them. And if they are adamant on serving, I think there are senators from such individuals’ states that will raise objections to their clearance on the floor of the Senate.”
Another source specifically mentioned two former governors accused of corruption as among those that might be shocked that they would not make the list despite their perceived contribution to the electoral victory of the President.
“Just wait. Some will be shocked, others will want to constitute themselves into opposition because neither them nor their nominees will be on the list,” the source added.
It was also gathered that the President was also considering rehabilitating a former governor of Lagos State, Akinwumi Ambode, to return him to political relevance in the state.
Ambode, who succeeded Babatunde Fashola as the governor of Lagos State, was denied a second term by political leaders in the state.
He was replaced by Babatunde Sanwo-Olu. Since he left office, Ambode had remained silent until the emergence of Tinubu, who recently met with him, Fashola, and Sanwo-Olu recently in Lagos.
Ambode also visited the President in Abuja on Thursday.
A source privy to the political calculations in the state and the Villa, said, “There are possibilities that the former governor will get a position either in the Presidency or in the state if permutations work well in his favour.”
Part of the permutations, it was gathered, was the possibility of making the senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Tokunbo Abiru, a minister while Ambode would replace him in the Senate.
It was also learnt that Wale Edun, who has been named as the Special Adviser to the President on Monetary Policies, might become a minister representing Ogun State.
“Edun’s case was one of the issues the President discussed with Ogun State traditional rulers when he visited them a few weeks ago,” another source confided in Sunday PUNCH.
Edun was said to be the preferred candidate of Tinubu as a minister under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari but he was denied the ticket.
APGA, NNPP ready to serve
Following the recent approach to the 36 states governors by President Bola Tinubu to nominate competent persons from their folds to serve on boards of federal parastatals, the All Progressives Grand Alliance and the New Nigeria People’s Party have indicated their readiness to release their members if they are approached to do so.
This is even as the opposition parties also pledged their readiness to bless any of their members who may be nominated by the President to serve as ministers.
Speaking exclusively with Sunday PUNCH, an APGA chieftain and representative of the Abia South Senatorial District, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said the party was ready to serve in a government of national unity should the proposal come to fruition.
“If the government constitutes a national unity cabinet and invites APGA, we will probably accept,” he said.
Also speaking, the immediate past National Chairman of APGA, Victor Oye, told one of our correspondents that “since Nigeria belongs to all, the party is ready to work with the Tinubu government,” adding, however, that it was the governors that often do nominations on behalf of the party.
Asked if APGA was open to allowing its members to serve on the boards of government parastatals as well as ministers, Oye responded in the affirmative, saying, “Why not? Does Nigeria not belong to all of us? Usually, it is the prerogative of the governors to do these nominations.”
On his part, the National Publicity Secretary of the NNPP, Agbo Major, argued that with the elections over, the party was ready to team up with Tinubu to move the nation forward.
He said, “Elections are over, but we have a country to guard jealously. We need to move on. We have no problem serving in this government because we must work in the overall interest of Nigeria.
“This country must flourish. The courts are handling the cases arising from the elections, but there is a government in place rightly or wrongly.
“If our members are nominated to serve on the boards of government agencies or as ministers, we are not going there to serve any political party but Nigeria. We have no reservations whatsoever in serving at whatever capacity. What is important is how our democracy can make progress.”
Efforts to get the position of the Peoples Democratic Party were not successful as of the time of filing this report as calls and messages to the National Publicity Secretary and Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba and Ibrahim Abdullahi, respectively, were not acknowledged.
The National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, had on Monday expressed the hope that Tinubu would patronise the party both at the state and national levels for appointments.
Adamu’s position was in reaction to speculations that the President would appoint more technocrats than politicians into his cabinet and other positions.
Speaking during a meeting of the National Working Committee with the APC state chairmen at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja, Adamu said the Tinubu administration was currently trying to form the government, adding that the next two months would witness appointments of persons into various vacancies.
He stated, “Every APC member has an inherent right to hope to get some patronage. And we cannot all get one here. We cannot all be ministers of the government. We cannot all end up as board members, directors of parastatals and MDAs across the country.
“It is our hope and prayer that Mr President will come along with us in that regard and strengthen the relationship of the party in the states and at the national level, and that members will enjoy some level of patronage in the new government. Those are the key issues that we hope to share with you during this meeting.
“The President has just started. And he is doing extensive consultation before coming up with his nominees for ministers. The nomination of the ministers will come first. They will go through their screening until they are pronounced after they have been submitted by Mr President. And Mr President will formally appoint his ministers and swear them in.
“Only after doing that will he disclose each of them to the country to know which minister is going to which ministry and how many ministries we are going to have. After that is done, the ministers will assume office and make a comprehensive report starting from all the ministries and departments and agencies under them before we are going to know what vacancies exist for chief executives, directors and part-time directors. These are some of the exercises that will take place in the next two months. It cannot happen by next week, but certainly, that is what we should be expecting.”
‘Don’t appoint non-contributors’
Meanwhile, members of the Tinubu/Shettima Independent Campaign Council of the APC, Bayelsa State chapter, have appealed to the President to reward them with appointments into federal positions for their hard work.
They claimed that they deserved to be favourably considered for appointments, having worked hard to deliver votes for Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima in the February 25 presidential poll in the state.
A chieftain of the APC and ICC Director of Administration in the state, Pastor Joseph Fafi, who stated this at a press briefing in Yenagoa, said they were worried by the actions of some highly placed individuals both within and outside the state in recommending people, who contributed next to nothing for the President’s victory, for appointments.
Fafi noted that the group, under the leadership of the state coordinator, Preye Aganaba, “painstakingly set up the required structure up to the polling units and worked assiduously to produce the result we had.”
The APC chieftain urged the President to avoid the mistakes made in the past by others who gave positions to complete strangers instead of members who toiled for the party’s success.
ACF, CNG, PANDEF speak
A member of the National Executive Council of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Alhaji Baba Sule Bisalla, said competence and credibility must be paramount when choosing persons for the cabinet.
Bisalla, who is also the Sarkin Shanu Zazzau of Suleja, in an interview with Sunday PUNCH, urged the President to choose technocrats who would work for the good of the nation and not themselves.
He added that people with pending cases with any anti-graft or law-enforcement agency should not be considered for any position, adding that the government had to build credibility in order to gain the trust of members of the public.
He said, “Although the President would have to pick the names of people he wants, the National Assembly has to approve the names. There are criteria for giving anyone a position. Credibility matters in government. All ministerial appointees must be corruption-free and without any baggage. There are some that are going in and out of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s office.
“Some former governors are already looking out for appointments, saying they are the ones who brought the President to power. Some of these governors have skeletons in their cupboards. Some are in court. Some have been alleged to have received kickbacks, bribes and all whatnot. Such kinds of people should not be seen on the list of the President. Anyone who wants to be a minister must be seen as one who is accountable, transparent and has integrity.”
He also noted that fresh faces and voices and younger persons should also be considered for various appointments irrespective of their political affiliations or ethnic representations.
For the spokesperson for the Coalition of Northern Groups, Mr Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, no former governor should make the list of ministers, as most of them lack integrity.
He said, “With the way Mr President is going about things from the start, we do hope that we are going to have credible personalities in the cabinet. Nigerians are hopeful that he will remain strong, steadfast and resolute.
“Certainly, there are people who should not be. All the past governors should not be on that list. This is because most of them lack credibility. If someone has been in the Government House for eight years, they should not be made to come back. They should not bother to come back. It is part of the greed and thirst for power they want to export from their states to the federal level.
“As we can see, some of them, though they are no longer in power, have appointed their friends as commissioners. Some of their wives and children are in top positions. They cannot be allowed to block the federal vacancies so they can continue to wreck the country. But, I know Tinubu is too wise for them. He is more dedicated and committed than they are and he should not toy with them.”
The National Publicity Secretary of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Chief Ken Robinson, said Nigeria was in the process of rebuilding, repositioning, refocusing and redirecting, adding that only people heading in that direction should be appointed into the cabinet.
Robinson stated, “The country has suffered eight years of gross rudderless and purposeless leadership. It is only people who are committed to the course of making Nigeria a better country should be on the ministerial list. We are sure that by this time, he should have pencilled down some names; one person per state and an additional one person from the six geopolitical zones, making 42, most likely.
“The people will not come from the moon; they are Nigerians. They have been in this country and they know the challenges Nigeria has been facing.
“The buck will stop on the President’s table. No matter whom he decides to appoint, it is the country that will suffer it. The country is more important than any other affiliation or consideration, be it political party or friendship.”
The Chief Executive Officer, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, Dr Muda Yusuf, said the people who would man each of the ministries must have good knowledge of the ministries.
The former Director-General of the Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry said in an interview with Sunday PUNCH, “The appointees must know the technical understanding of what the ministry does. If one has been put in health, he or she must be a medical personnel. The education minister must be very vast in the education sector. This should be the same with agriculture, works and housing, and the rest.
“Technical understanding of the portfolios of what each person has been appointed to handle is fundamental.
“The experience is also important. Qualifications alone do not cut it. These individuals must have operational knowledge. Also, the track record of their previous performance is key. These appointees must have integrity.
“If people are having cases with the EFCC, even if they have not been convicted, it does not speak well for an administration. We don’t need people with all manner of baggage. It is not good for the reputation of the administration. The quality of character of the people also matters.”
A former presidential aspirant under the APC, Chief Charles Udeogaranya, wants people who share the same ideology as Tinubu and can think outside the box to be considered for appointments.
He said, “As a Nigerian, I want the best for my dear country regardless of any other consideration. First of all, the ministerial nominees must be people who think of Nigeria first. Secondly, they must be ministers who must underscore the urgency of now, which is to turn Nigeria from a redundant nation to an economic production hub on the continent.
“Thirdly, Nigerians need federal ministers who will be focused on ensuring that hunger is made history in Nigeria. And finally, they must be ministers who think outside the box, not those who think like the President, but men and women who can proffer solutions and strategies different and unique from that of the President.”
The North-West Publicity Secretary, APC, Musa Mailafiya Mada, said the President had an uncanny ability to headhunt the right people.
He stated, “First of all, we trust the President because he has demonstrated capacity as Lagos governor.
He has proven himself to be a talent hunter. I believe those he will consider are people who the cap fit. They must also be people who have excelled in their respective fields of endeavour. At the same time, we want those who have worked for this government’s success to be equally considered.
“Another thing people should consider here is that the government is a larger institution and can accommodate everyone. There is enough to go around for the technocrats and loyal party supporters. But we trust the President to do the right thing.”
The Chairman, APC, Lagos State, Cornelius Ojelabi, pleaded with those still doubting Tinubu’s ability to put round pegs in round holes to cut him some slack.
He said, “No, we cannot be the ones to determine that. The President knows what he wants and what he has promised the people of Nigeria. I am also confident that he always has an idea of those he wants to choose to actualise that particular goal.
“So, let us give him that particular responsibility to determine his cabinet. As far as he is concerned, he has been the governor of Lagos State for eight years and selected the people that assisted him to deliver. At the end of the day, he successfully raised the bar in Lagos. I think it is the same thing he sets out to achieve as President.
“So, let us leave the responsibility of who and who will make his cabinet to him. May God see us through.”
CSOs give opinions
Similarly, the Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr Debo Adeniran, said the President must not appoint people with previous records of fraudulent practices, or those who could not command public trust.
He added that Tinubu must also not appoint people without cognate experience or knowledge of the technicalities of whatever position they are to be appointed to.
Adeniran noted, “Whoever will make the list must not be someone who has a record of fraudulent practices in the past. He should not be someone who has employed brigandage to get somebody elected.
“If he cannot command public trust by maybe his outward behaviour, he should not be appointed, because it will be a bad advertisement of the government. Anybody that doesn’t have cognate experience in public administration and knowledge of technicalities of the office to be administered should also not be appointed.”
The Coordinator, African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, Chido Onumah, said the prospective ministers must be people of integrity, who would be the face of the government, adding that the country was in dire need of direction.
He stated, “They must be people of integrity, because ministers are supposed to be the face of the government, and the country is in dire need of direction.
“I know the need for them to balance party needs, personal needs, geopolitical needs and all kinds of needs, but also the bottom line is that you have to realise that it’s the interest of 200 million Nigerians that is at stake. So, you have to appoint people of integrity who have the capacity, willingness and desire to bring about change.”
The Co-convener of the Civil Society Situation Room, Mr James Ugochukwu, said the President must “jettison partisan or parochial interests” and instead appoint people who could help to fix the country.
“When it comes to the appointment of ministers, the President should be aware and fully persuaded that he inherited a country that needs a lot of fixing. And in doing so, he must jettison partisan or parochial interests and look at appointing technocrats and career men and women,” he stated.
The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Rafsanjani, expressed worries about those that might make the cabinet.
He noted that some of the people who had been visiting the President and had been parading themselves around the Aso Rock Villa were those who lacked credibility and were under investigation.
Rafsanjani argued that it appeared that the President had more interest in maintaining ties with his political allies and expanding his political space than considering the right individuals for positions.
“We are afraid that it may not be people with integrity and responsibility, but people with integrity deficit. He (Tinubu) may not see people with credibility, integrity or patriotism, and that’s very worrisome to many of us because the issues will continue,” he stated.
‘Don’t pressurise Tinubu’
The spokesman for the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council for the 2023 election and former Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, SAN, said Tinubu should not be put under pressure over ministerial appointments.
Keyamo said in an interview with Saturday PUNCH that the President was within his constitutional rights on when to unveil the names of the minister-nominees and should not be pressurised.
He said, “I don’t think there is any delay because there is a constitutional period for the President to do it and we are still within that period.
“We can only start talking of delay when it is outside the constitutional period; so, please nobody should pressurise the President because he is still within his constitutional right.”
The immediate past President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Dr Samson Ayokunle, advised Tinubu to be wary of appointing cheerleaders who were power-hungry.
He stated that such people were not after nation-building, but to steal from the country’s treasury.
He also said people who have been indicted for corruption should not be considered for appointment into the President’s cabinet.
A political scientist, Prof Babafemi Badejo, noted that the ministerial list was just speculative but the President had a lot of political debts to pay.
“It will be unrealistic to think that he will just sit in Aso Villa and decide that these are the best people who can push the country forward. He has to pay a number of political debts that are there. You can name people in terms of political debts,” he stated.