SUDDENLY, PRESIDENT BUHARI’S CIRCLE OF ADMIRERS is expanding in defense of the president’s late appointment of his cabinet ministers. Cashing in on this, the president continued to give excuses and explained off reasons, justifying, what analysts see as “inaction, weakness or failure” in not promptly appointing his cabinet ministers to drive governance.
Thursday night, last week, at a maiden meeting with leadership of Nigeria’s National Assembly, at Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Buhari told his guests that only known hands, capable of delivering assigned mandates will make his ministerial list; and he was under “tremendous pressure” to constitute the Federal Executive Council, FEC.
Despite the pressure, Buhari said he would nominate only persons known to him personally, for ministerial jobs. “Many at this dinner meeting are saying they want to see the list of the proposed cabinet so that they can go on leave peacefully. I’m very much aware about it; I’m under tremendous pressure on it.
“But the last cabinet which I headed, most of them, the majority of them I didn’t know them. I had to accept the names and recommendations from the party and other individuals. I worked with them for three and half years at least – meeting twice or two weeks in a month. So, I know them.
“But, this time around I’m going to be quiet me – me in the sense that I will pick people I personally know,’’ Buhari said. And sought support from the lawmakers to partner with the executive, to leave good legacy for the country in the last lap of his administration.
It was the same tune the president sang in 2015 – that he was searching for “credible and incorruptible men with integrity” to run his government. It took about six months after his election to appoint his ministers; and when the list came out, they were names, analysts said, would not have take the president weeks to assemble.
Already, four months, in 2019, have passed, after his re-election for second term, and two months after inauguration, on May 29, and the country has no cabinet ministers. The president is singing the same old tune – searching for mr and mrs right with integrity; this time, they must be personally known to him.
Wednesday last week, at plenary, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said President Buhari might send his ministerial list to the National Assembly before the end of the week. “I can imagine that before this week runs out, we could get the list”. And added: “I want to assure you that once we get the list, every senator here has shown the desire to stay long enough to screen and confirm the nominees in the interest of this country.”
Lawan was responding to point of order raised by Senator Bassey Akpan, of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Akwa Ibom north-east, that continued delay in submitting the ministerial list by the president could affect the commencement of the senators two-month vacation.
Akpan said: “If we are going on recess in two weeks and by now, we have not received the ministerial nominee, it means we have to put ourselves under intense pressure. I’m just calling the attention of Mr President that there is a need for you to urge Mr President to send the list of ministerial nominees”.
On his way out of Thursday’s meeting with the president, Ahmad Lawan, Senate President, spoke to journalists. In a twist, he refuted media reports that quoted him saying that President Buhari could submit the ministerial list to the senate within week. “Let me take the opportunity to correct that. A senator raised a point of order under personal explanation.
“He said we should be sent the list of the ministers by the executive arm of government and in my response, I said the executive is working so hard to ensure that the list of Nigerians that will help this administration work is going to be transmitted and we could even receive it this week”.
Lawan further said: “We could’ is conditional and I will urge everybody here to report it as it is”. There, arguably, was no difference between what Ahmad Lawan was angling with words to correct, from what he was reported to have said at plenary on Wednesday. He could be rationalising with President Buhari known “inaction, weakness, or failure” in appointing his cabinet ministers, according to analysts.
Ahmad Lawan and his team that included Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy Senate President; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Idris Wase, swelled Buhari’s admirers for his “weakness or failure” in appointing his cabinet ministers.
Present, also, at the meeting was Adam Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and other presidential aides.