Cabinet: Battle shifts to portfolios

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Barely few hours after the release of ministerial list, the battle has shifted to the struggle for portfolios by nominees and their godfathers.

It was learnt that Buhari did not attach the list of ministries to be managed by the ministerial nominees whose screening started yesterday.

All the nominees were kept in the dark yesterday of where they will serve because it is the prerogative of the President.

The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing may be split into two or three.

According to sources,  top-rated ministries/offices are the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Finance; Petroleum Resources; Health; Power; Works and Housing; Transportation; Education, Aviation, Budget and National Planning, Defence, Interior and Communications.

Some political leaders, governors and ex-governors are lobbying for “influential or weighty”  portfolios for their favourites.

They are mounting pressure on those who have the ears of the President.

Some of these influential peddlers are also said to be hiding under “advisory service”  to push for strategic cabinet positions for their favourites.

While it is taken for granted that Abubakar Malami( SAN) may return as the nation’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, nobody seems sure of who will man  the Ministry of Finance.

It was also learnt that the President is being advised to split the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing into two or three.

A source said: “ The battle has shifted from nomination to portfolios for the ministerial nominees. I can tell  you that the intrigues are also intense.

“Although Festus Keyamo (SAN) is a legal luminary  in the cabinet, the consensus favours the retention of  Abubakar Malami (SAN), who has earned the confidence of President Muhammadu Buhari.

A governor from the  Northwest is allegedly lobbying for the retention of the former Minister of Finance, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, whereas some members of the “inner caucus” are making a strong case for an economist, Mahmood Sabo Sanono. Senator George Akume may likely be assigned the Ministry of Agriculture, coming “from the food basket of the nation”.

“Others are pushing for a former Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu to have the Finance portfolio – for his commitment to probity. And being a leader the President defers to, some power brokers want Adamu Adamu to be in charge of Special Duties, The Nation learnt.

With her recall from UNESCO, Maryam Katagum may have the Education Ministry as Adamu is said to be no longer interested in the office.

Responding to a question, the source, who pleaded not to be named because he is not permitted to talk on the matter, added: “The jostle for the Ministry of Communications is between Sunday Dare (an outgoing Executive Commissioner with the Nigerian Communication Commission) and the immediate past Director—General of NITDA, Dr. Ali Pantami. But with a Northerner as the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, the arguments for Communication Ministry  are for Dare.

“While the former General Manager (Crude) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Goddie Jeddy Agba will be in charge of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources,  it is unclear whether or not he will be a substantive Minister or he may retain the status of the Minister of State like his predecessor.

Also being considered for Petroleum Ministry is Uche Samson Ogah, who has been a key stakeholder in the sector for more than 20 years, it was learnt.

Said the source: “It is unclear if the President will still be in charge of Petroleum Resources like the case in his first tenure. His management of the ministry has mitigated the corruption, which the industry was noted for in the past. The petroleum sector is close to the heart of the President.”

The Health portfolio is believed to be for either Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora of a former Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire. Some “strategists” are rooting for Dr. Chris Ngige, a retired director in the Federal Ministry of Health.

The appointment of ex-Deputy Governor Paullen Tallen (a close associate of the First Lady)  is said to be part of steps to rev up Hajiya Aisha Buhari’s agenda for women. “There was a disconnect between the office of the First Lady and ex-Minister of Women Affairs Aisha Alhassan. Going by her gift in mobilization, Tallen is likely to be in charge of Women Affairs,” said another source, who also pleaded not to be named.

Another source said the “coming of Gen. Bashir Magashi into the cabinet might change the nation’s defence narrative,” adding: “We expect a radical change.”

“It is also very much likely that the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing will be split into two or three with ex-Governor Babatunde Fashola limited to Power. Ex-Governors Rauf Aregbesola, Godswill Akpabio and a new nominee, Olamilekan Adegbite, are being considered for Works and Housing  – given their records of physical developments in their states.”

Other permutations are Mohammed Musa Bello (FCT);  Geoffrey Onyema (Foreign  Affairs);  Rotimi Amaechi (Transportation);  Hadi Sirika (Aviation); Lai Mohammed ( Information); Ogbonnaya Onu( Science and Technology); Suleiman Adamu (Water Resources).

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