Presidency reportedly shopping for new SGF

It was gathered that two ministers, two senators, and four others are top on the list of possible candidates for the SGF position.

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President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Lawal last Wednesday for allegedly awarding a contract to a company in which he has interests and for 'misappropriating' funds meant to cater to the needs of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-East.

According to the newspaper, Lawal and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayodele Oke, who was also suspended for his role in the $50 million found in an Ikoyi, Lagos apartment, are not likely to have a place in the Buhari administration any longer.

The new SGF may be assuming more roles as Buhari is said to be considering a reduction of the workload of his Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, and adding it to the job description of Lawal's replacement.

Three geopolitical zones - North-East, North-Central and the South-East - may produce the next SGF, it was learnt.

Those being recommended from the North-Central are Minister of Agriculture Audu Ogbe (based on performance in office); Senators George Akume and Barnabas Gemade, the report said.

From the Northeast are a yet to be named Minister, a former Ambassador to Botswana, Hajiya Fatima Balla-Abubakar, a former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Sen. Joel Ikenya, and an architect.

Sources say Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu's name, the Minister of Science and Technology, keeps recurring but doubtful if the Presidency would consider giving the slot to the Southeast less than two years after the exit of former SGF Anyim Pius Anyim.

"The battle for SGF Lawal's job is also assuming a religious dimension, with Christians demanding the replacement of the suspended occupant with another Christian," a source cited by The Nation said.

"But the President  pays more attention to merit and capacity than religious or ethnic colouration.

"Buhari might strengthen the office of the SGF in order to reduce the heavy workload on the Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari who is doing a lot now. There are some schedules which ordinarily ought not to be handled by the Chief of Staff but since such matters demand trust, the President saddles him with them.

"He spoke of a plan to restore the Office to the era of Sir Ufot Ekaette under the administration of ex -President Obasanjo."

Lawal and Oke are currently under investigation by a three-man presidential panel headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

The committee members also comprise of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno.

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