Panic in Aso Rock

Panic in Aso Rock

By Jonathan Ipaa, Abuja

Indications are rife that President Muhammadu Buhari would effect a major change reshuffle next month with the injection of fresh blood and ejection of ministers believed not to have performed well or who are unable to enhance his reelection bid.

The changes are also targeted at preparing the framework for the president’s reelection bid in 2019 as the new hands would help the president win the hearts of the populace and enhance his chances at the polls. The presidential elections have already been scheduled for February, 2019.

Mr. Buhari has not hidden his desire to re-contest for the top job again going by his recent statements and innuendos in the media and the recent nomination of the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi to head his campaign organisation.

Credible sources in the Presidency say that the president, who is not unaware of his dwindling influence in the polity due to the economic downturn and worsening security situation in the country has indicated that his subsequent actions, right from the cabinet reshuffling to expected policy thrusts would be aimed at enhancing his chances at retaining his seat.

Due to the president’s stance, palpable fears have seized the cabinet members as presidential aides and cabinet ministers await the next line of action of President Buhari who is expected to announce the changes next month.

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AljazirahNigeria learnt that the expected cabinet reshuffle is to bring in younger professionals, celebrated technocrats as well as loyal politicians to boost the 2019 presidential bid of Mr. Buhari.


Presidential tinkering

Some of the new ministerial nominees have already been notified that their names are on the list before security agencies for screening, a source said.

These include two ex-governors of Edo and Kebbi: Comrade Adams Oshiomole and Alhaji Saidu Dakingari, and a younger brother to late Agagu, former Governor of Ondo State.

The president is particularly looking at enhancing his chances by bringing in seasoned persons to help turn around the economy within the limited time.

The technocrats invited to boost President Buhari economic team, according to a source include board member of the central bank of Nigeria and former vice chancellor of University of Uyo, Professor Akpan Ekpo, radical Lagos human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), and a professor of economics, Prof. Pat Utomi.

Others include an in-law to President Buhari from Gombe simply identified as Gimba Ya’u Kumo, a former managing director of Federal Mortgage Bank

The source also said that in a bid to appease the protesting Tiv community of Benue state, who have been terrorised by marauding Fulani herdsmen in the past few weeks, the president has reportedly nominated a political godson of Sen. George Akume.

Landmarks of the proposed rejigged ministerial list indicated that politicians whose loyalty is traced to the defected ex-vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar like the Minister of Women Affairs,  Sen. Aisha Alhassan, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, Minister of State for Environment, Alhaji Jubril Ibrahim and Labour, and Justice ministers,  Messrs. Osagie Ehanire, Chris Ngige and Abubakar Malami  (SAN) may be leaving the cabinet for good.

While Comrade Oshiomole is to replace Dr. Ehanire in the federal cabinet from Edo State, the former governor will take charge from Dr. Ngige at the labour ministry, while Prof. Onwumere Josaphat Uchechukwu vice chancellor UNN, Enugu State who may be replacing Dr. Ngige from Anambra will take charge from Mrs Adeosun as minister of finance.

Prof. Utomi, it was gathered may take charge from Sen. Udoma Udoma at the national planning and budget ministry even as Mr. Udoma is expected to take a bow.

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‘’The cabinet reshuffle by the president, who is under pressure from his party, the All Progressive Congress, APC is to sack disloyal ministers from his government and inject professionals as well as performing party members and hands. He is relieving Barr. Malami to please ex-leaders who are not happy with the manner the Attorney General handled high profile corrupt cases and the reinstatement of the sacked chairman of the presidential task force on pensions, Alhaji Abdulrashed Maina back into the federal civil service last October,’’ a source confided in this newspaper.


More fireworks

From Plateau and Nasarawa states, the zonal vice chairman of the ruling APC,  Alhaji Zakeri Idde is expected to replace the minister of state for environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Jubril while an ex-permanent secretary under the former president Olusegun Obasanjo,  Mr. John Alkali is to replace sports minister,  Barr. Solomon Dalung in the federal cabinet.

Others who might be shown the exit door next month are the agriculture minister, Chief Audu Ogbe and minister of state for environment, Alhaji Jubril Ibrahim amongst others.

Though the nominee of Lagos state, Barr. Babatunde Fashola is expected to retain his seat, Kano, Benue and Kaduna states will have slots in the new cabinet.

The move by the president to expand his cabinet was announced when he attended an all-caucus meeting of his party last month in Abuja.

A recent list of board appointments released by the presidency kicked up controversy when the names of at least eight deceased persons, duplication of names and the inclusion of non-party members were noticed. An embarrassed government has quickly owned up and vowed to vet the list while the ruling APC distanced itself from the anomaly.

The current list of the new cabinet ministers, it was gathered was also fine-tuned by the former Lagos governor and the national leader of the APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, who is being courted by the president ahead of the 2019 polls.


A presidential source revealed that the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari, who had openly criticised her husband in the past, is also insisting on the sack of ‘’hyenas and jackals’’ (saboteurs)in her husband’s government. The source added that there is anxiety among top cabinet members as they do not know where the axe will fall.

The source said one major act the president will follow through is the sack of Mr. Malami who will be likely be replaced by Mr. Falana who is believed to control a bulk of the civil societies and human right groups that may help enhance the president’s chances at the polls. This idea was reportedly sold to Mr. Buhari in his recent trip to Abidjan for the AU/EU Summit alongside Asiwaju Tinubu.

Investigations further revealed that Prof. Utomi and former Abia governor, Orji Uzor Kalu may be finding their way into the cabinet ostensibly on the advice of former president Olusegun Obasanjo. The Ota farmer reportedly advised president Buhari to appease the Igbos by bringing in their best hands to groom them for 2023.

Meanwhile, Mr. Amaechi who has been reassigned to head the president’s re-election bid has already commenced work on the project to return the 75-year-old Mr. Buhari.

The former Rivers governor was in Aso Rock Villa,  Abuja last Tuesday to brief the president on the modalities for the campaign.


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