President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday sent a list of 43 nominees to the Senate for screening and confirmation for ministerial positions. Twelve members of his first term cabinet were returned and 18 were dropped.
While there were no shockers in the list as it was populated by known and familiar figures in the All Progressives Congress (APC), interest has shifted to those who did not make the list despite being dubbed “favorites”.
Some of those who served as ministers in the first tenure were dubbed “favourites to return” while others who were strong party members were dubbed “favorites to be compensated” for being strong party members or supporters in the 2019 general elections.
Newspeakonline takes a look at these personalities in the two categories and some of the reasons that possibly ruled them out.
Barr. Adebayo Shittu (Oyo) – Minister of Communication
Oyo was a major battle ground for ministerial nomination. Shittu, who was Minister of Communication in Buhari’s first term, was among those who made Oyo State a major battleground over ministerial nomination. He had expressed belief that he could be returned because of his achievements in office. He claims credit for the the stability witnessed in the telecommunication sector. He also cited his closeness to Buhari as a major advantage over other “favourites” in the state. His chances even looked brighter when Buhari said few weeks ago that he would appoint only those who were known to him.
But his conflict with former governor of the state, Abiola Ajimobi and the entire APC structure in the state, did not help his course. It was very sure that the party hierarchy at the state and federal levels would do anything to ensure that he does not make the list. Apart from the fact that many Nigerians do not rate him high as Communications minister, his alleged anti-party activities were believed have contributed to the party’s lose in the governorship and state assembly elections.
Abiola Ajimobi – Ex-governor, Oyo State
A ministerial position would have kept Ajimobi in “the system” following his senatorial election loss to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Senator Kola Balogun. He was dubbed favourite because of his stature in the APC and as a former governor. But many party members opposed his nomination, with a lot of them blaming him for the party’s loss in the elections. He was accused of polarising the party and causing the exodus of members to the PDP and the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
Newspeakonline however recalls that Ajimobi recently stated that he prefers a seat in the senate than as a cabinet member. “I will actually prefer a younger person to be considered for the ministerial slot since I am pursuing my senatorial ambition,” he said. “I am in court for my senatorial election. I only expressed my preference that I am in court because I prefer the Senate.”
His critics however dismissed that statement, saying he already knew he was not in Buhari’s consideration.
Adebayo Adelabu – Former CBN deputy governor
Adelabu was the APC governorship candidate in the March election in Oyo State. His supporters argued that he should be compensated for losing the election due to Ajimobi’s alleged undoings. They argued that Adelabu sacrificed his CBN job and committed a lot of financial resources to the campaigns in favour of APC. Another section of supporters argued Adelabu, being a former CBN boss, could pass as a technocrat for Buhari’s cabinet.
Joseph Olasunkanmi Tegbe – Oyo governorship aspirant
Many within the party would swear to prove that after Tegbe was forced to surrender his governorship ambition to Adelabu at the party primaries, he was promised a ministerial position in Buhari’s government as compensation. As a matter of fact, when placed beside Shittu, Ajimobi and Adelabu, Tegbe looked like the most favoured. But Buhari ended their dreams by going for Sunday Dare, who many believe, came via Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s outstretched influence in the South West Dare, once served as media adviser and Chief of Staff to Tinubu.
Akinwunmi Ambode – Immediate past Governor of Lagos State
Ambode, who was governor from 2015 to 2019 was hugely expected to be on Buhari’s list as compensation for remaining and working for the APC after losing his second term governorship ticket to current governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Even though the second term ticket was forced out of his hand by the party leadership, allegedly at the behest of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Ambode played a massive role in getting Sanwo-Olu elected. He was also part of President Buhari’s campaign. He disappointed those who thought he would jump ship and contest the election on the platform of another party, preferably the PDP, which reportedly tried to lure him with its ticket.
Solomon Dalung – (Plateau) Minister of Sports
Few weeks ago, Dalung stared the hornets nest by saying that “no man born of a woman” would stop his renomination for a ministerial position except God. The red berret-wearing lawyer claimed to have performed excellently as Sports Minister. His greatest undoing may have been the arrogance of his claims coupled with the fact that he was always fingered in the leadership crisis rocking the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
Dalung was also fingered in a number of corruption cases in the sports sector and was not in good terms with the governor of his state, Simon Lalong. Dalung’s approval rating among Nigerians is also low.
Audu Ogbeh – (Benue) Minister of Agriculture
Ogbeh’s appointment as minister in the forst place was cntroversial as many comsidered him “too old” and “too conservative” to match the standard left behind by Akinwumni Adesina who served in the same office under former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Even though Ogbeh claims Nigeria’s agricultural sector has recorded many gains under him, many Nigerians would argue that those gains were just verbose statistical claims used to rate the Buhari administration high. Some may however argue that Ogbeh would see his non-nomination as a blessing as he would have been comsumed in the power play and controversies surrounding Fulani herdsmen and the proposed creation of Ruga settlements.
Isaac Adewole (Osun) Minister of Health
A lot was expected from Adewole in the Health sector but it became clear that the challenges in the sector were higher and deeper than he thought. More than three years with him in office, the rot and decay in the health sector shifted no ground. Crisis abound from industrial actions by health workers, migrating medical doctors and nurses to broken down tertiary health care facilities.
Adewole would also not have been able to outwit the political machinery of former governor, Rauf Aregbesola, who made the list.
Ibe Kachikwu – (Delta) Minister of State, Petroleum o
It is believed that immediately after his removal as Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Kachikwu was frozen out of the scheme of things in the country’s petroleum sector. He was seen as a mere figure head as Minister of State of Petroleum with President Buhari as Minister of Petroleum and Maikanti Baru as NNPC GMD. His non-nomination may however not mean a loss to him as he is a private sector person who claimed after his appointment that his earnings as a minister was far lower than his earnings in the private sector.
Besides, his need to give way for Festus Keyamo, who made the new list, was expected. Keyamo, who was Buhari’s 2019 campaign spokesman, is seen as a stronger political force and a louder voice than Kachikwu. His ability to lead the APC in Delta State is however in doubt.
Heineken Lokpobiri (Bayelsa) who was Minister of State, Agriculture, is already gunnimg for the governorship seat in Bayelsa State while Aisha Alhassan – (Taraba) Minister of Women Affairs, who was one of the strongest female APC women, has left the party. Besides, that she lasted in Buhari’s cabinet is unbelievable to many as she had declared support for Buhari’s major contender in the presidential election, Atiku Abubakar.
Other ex-ministers who did not get renomination are:
- Udo Udo Udoma – (Akwa Ibom) Minister of Budget & National Planning
- Ibrahim Usman Jibril – (Nasarawa) Minister of State, Environment
- Hajia Khadija Bukar Ibrahim- (Yobe) Minister of State, Foreign Affairs
- Cladius Omoleye Daramola (Ondo) Minister of State, Niger Delta
- Prof Anthony Onwuka (Imo) Minister of State, Education
- Mansur Dan Ali (Zamfara) Minister of Defence
- Okechukwu Enelamah (Abia) Minister of Trade, Investment & Industry
- Aisha Abubakar (Sokoto) Minister of State, Trade & Investment
- Abubakar Bawa Bwari (Niger) Minister of State, Solid Minerals
- Pastor Usani Uguru (Cross River) Minister of Niger Delta