The executive and legislative arms of government are in a race to beat the July deadline for submission, screening and confirmation of ministers.
President Muhammadu Buhari would submit his list of ministerial nominees to the 109-member senate when the national assembly reconvenes in July, barring a last minute twist in the tale, sources in the presidency and at parliament have told Pulse.
The 9th national assembly embarked on a recess last Thursday, June 13, 2019 and would resume plenary on July 2, 2019.
The senate would then embark on what a lawmaker called “end of season recess” on July 31 and would reconvene sometime in September.
Should President Buhari not get in his ministerial list across to the senate before July 31, Nigerians would have to wait till September when the senate reconvenes, to have ministers confirmed and inaugurated.
It is a scenario the executive and legislative arms of government are trying very hard to avoid.
Expecting the list
“We are expecting the list of ministerial nominees when we reconvene on July 2 so we can commence screening and confirmation processes as speedily as possible”, a senator from the south-south of Nigeria who craved anonymity for this story, told Pulse. “And the feelers we are getting from the presidency is that we would have the list as soon as we resume”, he added.
Another senator from the southwest who also pleaded that his name be left out of this story disclosed that the APC led federal government would not want to repeat the 2015 scenario when the nation waited six months for President Buhari’s ministers.
“The president knows that time is of the essence and recall that the excuse we gave in 2015 was that we were given shoddy handover notes by the departing PDP administration. That excuse won’t be tenable any longer. We expect the president’s ministerial list as soon as possible. This nation can't afford any more delays,” the senator said.
In May, shortly before President Buhari’s inauguration for a second term in office, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the nation won’t have to wait six months for Buhari’s second term team.
“What makes it better is that the leadership of the outgoing government is the same as the incoming one. The circumstances are no longer the same. So, there would be no delay. When you land in the mud of poor and delayed handover notes as happened in 2015, with a vandalized economy and a polity with different types of challenges, the delay would be understandable.
“But now, we have the good fortune of transition from government to government headed by the same president and vice president. Things can then be done more expeditiously”, Adesina said.
A fight across the states
Presidency sources have also disclosed to Pulse that there is plenty of in-fighting and bickering across the states over the make-up of the next cabinet.
Nigeria’s 36 states are entitled to at least a minister each in the spirit of equal representation and a constitutional doctrine called “federal character”.
Pulse has been told that some of these states, especially those in which the governing APC lost the governorship election, have been embroiled in internal squabbles and disagreements over who should represent them in Abuja.
“The situation isn’t pretty at the moment. Some states are yet to resolve who their representatives should be. That’s what’s delaying the list of ministers to the senate”, one APC chieftain who works in the presidency, disclosed to Pulse.
However, there’s plenty of apprehension and lobbying in the capital city of Abuja ahead of the president’s submission of the list of ministerial nominees to the legislative arm of government.
Immediate past ministers who aren’t sure they would be making the list or end up as nominees from their states for a second time, have been mounting pressure and pleading with kitchen cabinet members who have President Buhari’s ears, to make a case for them.
Briefcase lobbyists have taken over all of the ritzy hotels in Abuja since Buhari was re-elected for a second term in office in February, Pulse can report.
The composition of the next Buhari cabinet is also leading to plenty speculation in the country.
Last weekend, Punch newspaper reported that the immediate past governors of Lagos, Adamawa and Bauchi states, Akinwunmi Ambode, Mohammed Bindow and Mohammed Abubakar respectively, may make the list of the president's next cabinet members because the APC has reportedly resolved to nominate all APC governors who lost their re-election bids as ministers for their states.
The APC Organising Secretary, Adamawa State chapter, Ahmed Lawan, was reported to have confirmed the development.
Pulse has been unable to independently verify this bit of information.
Next Level or Old Level?
Buhari's first term cabinet was loaded to the hilt with politicians, at a time when technocrats would have sufficed. It remains to be seen if his second term cabinet would be any different.
President Buhari and his APC campaigned with the 'Next Level' slogan ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Analysts say the president used his first term cabinet to settle political debts and appease the patronage network that underpins governance in Africa's most populous nation.