- Senate May Get Names of Nominees This Week
- President Facing Tough Choices in Some States
- Settles For Ganduje, Kwankwaso as Nominees For Kano, N/West
Less than two weeks to the 60-Day Constitutionally mandated deadline for the appointment of Ministers, President Bola Tinubu has found a way around the looming dilemma as he struggles to build his cabinet, THEWILL can authoritatively reveal.
The president according to THEWILL checks will unveil his ministerial picks in batches with the first set likely to emerge this week. Partly responsible for this decision are the diverse interests he is taking into consideration as he assembles a cabinet that he intends to use to deliver on his campaign promises.
According to sources familiar with the president’s thinking, the leader plans to form a government of national interests across party lines by giving appointments to members of opposition parties with his eyes already on the 2027 general elections.
These calculations coupled with the need for further consultations with key stakeholders within and outside his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), according to our sources, has been forcing the president back to his drawing board to constantly tweak portfolios to assign to states and who to appoint to effectively man the post. This development has seen Wale Edun returned as Minister for Finance.
THEWILL checks show that President Tinubu is scheduled to send the first batch of nominees to the Senate for confirmation as early as this week, just to beat the July 29, 2023 Constitutional deadline. “He will subsequently forward more names to the Senate for confirmation after the deadline”, one of the sources said, asking to not be identified.
The constitution mandates the president to appoint a minister per state. There are 36 states in the federation and the FCT. For political considerations, the president is expected to nominate at least six more persons with one coming from each of the 6 geopolitical zones.
RAGING BATTLES IN STATES:
Prominent among the states giving President Tinubu dilemma is Kano State in the North West. After weeks of consultations and political engineering, THEWILL checks show that political arch-rivals and former governors of the state, Dr Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and his successor, Abdulahi Ganduje of the APC, will be nominees representing both Kano and the North West zone in the cabinet.
THEWILL recalls that Tinubu and Kwankwaso following their post-election meetings, have sealed a deal to work together ahead of the 2027 polls. For Kwankwanso, coming into the cabinet will be the first step towards consolidating this understanding with the President. Ganduje is a foremost Tinubu loyalist.
CROSS RIVER, RIVERS
Some of the problematic states where President Tinubu is trying to manage political interests include Cross River, Rivers and Delta.
In Cross River, ex-Governor Ben Ayade, who failed to win his senatorial bid but delivered good numbers for Tinubu in the February 25, 2023 presidential poll and delivered the governorship for the party, is having a running battle with his successor, Bassey Otu. The Governor, THEWILL learnt, is not keen on Ayade becoming the state’s nominee. “The governor has said he will not nominate Ayade for the post of Minister representing Cross River,” a source close to Otu told THEWILL.
Unlike Cross River, the situation in Rivers State is complicated. Right from the eve of the presidential election in February when former Governor Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, openly declared his support for Tinubu’s candidacy, the state chapter of APC and its members were relegated in the scheme of things. Tinubu did not help matters for his party members in Rivers when, politicking for votes, he paid them no attention but embraced Wike.
After all, the APC in the state is factionalised. One of leaders of the factions and former Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, had maintained a cold distance after he lost the presidential primary election to Tinubu in July 2022, right up to the campaigns.
Wike, apart from rallying his G-5 led aggrieved PDP governors for Tinubu, also donated heavily to Tinubu’s campaign war chest and delivered Rivers votes to him. These ‘sacrifices,’ have endeared the former Rivers helmsman to the president who is said to be ready to reciprocate the gesture though also with an eye to the repeat electoral performance in the state in 2027.
Besides, there is another leader of the factionalised APC in the state, Senator Magnus Abe, who is loyal to Tinubu. He campaigned for Tinubu during the polls even after he fell out with Amaechi and defected from the APC to the Social Democratic Party, SDP, on whose platform he contested the governorship election in April 2023.
As at press time, it remained unclear how president Tinubu would navigate the interests of these players in these states and the South-South zone.
In Delta State, the battle appears to be between a former Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege and former Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Festus Keyamo, spokesman of the APC Presidential Campaign Council.
Although Omo-Agege, who was the governorship candidate of the APC in Delta State, is currently contesting his loss to the PDP candidate, Sheriff Oborewhori, at the Election Petitions Tribunal in the state, he is said to be in contention with Keyamo for the ministerial position in the state.
The rivalry between Omo-Agege and Keyamo heightened during the governorship primary of the party when forces loyal to the former Deputy Senate President routed Keyamo’s. But the latter reasserted his power when he delivered his ward to the president, a no mean feat in a state that has been under the grip of the PDP since 1999.
“So the dilemma in the South-South zone for the president is who to pick to represent the states and zone,” our source said.
In Lagos, where he was the pioneer governor for two-terms and controls the political structure, things are surprisingly yet to fall in place for Tinubu. The nominee list had undergone three tweaks in the past weeks, according to THEWILL investigation.
GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL INTERESTS/UNITY
The presence of loyalists like Wike and Kwankwaso who are members of the PDP and the NNPP, respectively, in the cabinet will fulfill the President’s desire to create a government of national unity. It is in that same light that he called on the governors of the 36 states to send nominees for appointments into the 42 governing boards of all federal parastatals, agencies and institutions and government-owned companies, which were dissolved a fortnight ago.
Last Friday, the President constituted a special committee led by his Chief of Staff, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume, Special Adviser to the President on Political and Intergovernmental Affairs, Mallam Yau Darazo and some other persons to draw up nomination modalities to be used to appoint competent and capable persons into the recently dissolved boards of government agencies.