After four months of waiting, President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, 30th September 2015, has finally submitted the much-awaited list of ministerial nominees to the senate for screening and approval. The list submitted to the Senate contains twenty-one names and according to the President, fifteen more names will be added to the list by Tuesday, 6th September, 2015 which will make it a total of thirty-six names (which is the minimum it should be. Maximum – forty-two)
PMB has fulfilled the promise that he would reveal his ministers in September. After painstakingly picking his “dream team,” he employed the element of surprise which caught his detractors unawares. By 5.20pm on Wednesday, September 30, the Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, alongside the President’s Chief of Staff, Alhaji Abba Kyari showed up at the Office of the Senate President with the ministerial list which will be unfolded by October 6, when the Senate reconvenes.
While many criticise the delay of the of the ministerial list and subsequent appointments, they often forget to see that it has actually been beneficial to the nation in general, in the “money-saving” sense of it. The “delay” has helped Nigeria to save the N845.558 million that would have accrued to the 42 ministers. This figure excludes the salaries and allowances of three ministerial aides, escort drivers and police orderlies. The President has saved N79, 578, 709.56 as salaries for the would-be 42 ministers between May 29 and September 30 and also saved N765, 979, 200 (at about N18, 237,600 for each minister) for accommodation, furniture and vehicle loans.
According to a document obtained from the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), the monthly salary of a minister is about N631,577.60 including: Basic salary (N168,866.66); Accommodation (N4, 052,800); Furniture (N6,079,200); Vehicle loan (N8,105,600); Vehicle fueling and maintenance (N126,650); Personal assistant (N42,216.66); Domestic staff (N126,650); Entertainment (N75,990); Utilities (N50,660); Monitoring (N33,773.33) and newspapers/periodicals (N25,330) on assumption of office.
On the reason for the delay, PMB chose the 55th Independence nationwide broadcast to give the explanation. He said in his national address to the nation:
“Our government set out to do things methodically and properly. We received the handing over notes from the outgoing government only four days before taking over. Consequently, the Joda Transition Committee submitted its report on the re-organisation of the Federal Government structure after studying the handover notes. It would have been haphazard to announce ministers when the government had not finalized the number of ministries to optimally carry the burden of governance.”
Here are the already submitted names in the 21-man list according to reports:
- Akwa Ibom – Udoma Udo-Udoma
- Anambra – Chris Ngige
- Benue – Audu Ogbeh
- Delta – Ibe Kachikwu
- Ebonyi – Ogbonaya Onu
- Edo – Osagie Ehanire
- Ekiti – Kayode Fayemi
- Jigawa – Sulaiman Adamu
- Kaduna – Amina Mohammed
- Kano – Abdurrahman Dambazau (rtd)
- Katsina – Sirika Hadi
- Kebbi – Abubakar Malami (SAN)
- Lagos – Babatunde Fashola
- Niger – Ahmed Musa Ibeto
- Ogun – Kemi Adeosun
- Oyo – Adebayo Shittu
- Plateau – Solomon Dalong
- Rivers – Rotimi Amaechi
- Taraba – Aisha Alhassan
- Ibrahim Usman Idris
- Lai Mohammed
PMB made sure they were no external influence, or at least, not so much, as he selected his cabinet members. It was actually the first time, party leader/members were not consulted in the selection of the president’s cabinet. Political god-fathers, ex-Presidents/Heads of State, ex-governors, ex-National Assembly members, including the current ones had very little contribution to the eventual list. It is an open secret that there were recommendations from the usual “high quarters” but despite the pressure, PMB made sure his cabinet was carefully chosen by him.
Because of the delays and the notion of trying to select the best, Nigerians are eager to know the parameters deployed in picking the names on the list (even though many claim there was no need for the wait as those on the list are those they expected to be there). From the names we have, we can deduce that President was looking out for those who have a track record of integrity, selfless service and who have not really been influenced by politics.
“He has done away with appointments based on favoritism, god-fatherism and egoism. Apart from merit, Buhari gave ministerial slots to those who have the ability, those who can deliver and those he had trusted over the years including those who worked with him when he held the forte as chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) and those in the trenches with him in the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) and the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC). He has rewarded selflessness, perseverance and loyalty,” a source very close to the Presidency said.
But it is not over yet. The 1999 Constitution, Section 147 (1-3) stipulates that
“There shall be such offices of ministers of the government of the federation as may be established by the President. Any appointment to the office of minister of the government of the federation shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President. Any appointment under subsection (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of section 14(3) of this Constitution. Provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid, the President shall appoint at least one minister from each state, who shall be an indigene of such state.”
Going by the names we already have, the President is yet to make nominations from fifteen more states including, Abia, Adamawa, Cross River, Enugu, Osun, Zamfara, etc. Come October 6, Nigerians will be waiting to see whether it will be fifteen other names or or more. But they will surely not be patient for another four months for that to materialize. Until then, fingers are crossed!