Buhari Set To Reshufle Cabinet

Buhari Set To Reshufle Cabinet
  • As DSS completes screening of would be ministers

Mariam Sanni

President Mohammadu Buhari may have finally caved in to public pressure  regarding the need to let go of some of the ministers serving in his administration, whose performance have been adjudged below acceptable standard, as he is set to put  in motion another cabinet rejig anytime soon.

Recall that AljazirahNigeria had reported the President’s recently approved a reshuffle in the cabinet, which was formed on August 21, 2019.

Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, September 1, disclosed this in a statement to cabinet members during the weekly Federal Executive Council,(FEC) meeting Mr. Adesina announced that President Buhari has approved that Mohammed Sabo Nanono, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Engr. Sale Mamman, Minister of Power, was leaving the cabinet.

Consequently, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, Minister of Environment, was redeployed to assume office as the Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, while Engr. Abubakar D. Aliyu, Minister of State; Works & Housing was to take over as the Minister of Power.

The President said the changes were sequel to the “tradition of subjecting our projects and programmes implementation to independent and critical self-review” through sector reporting during Cabinet meetings and at retreats.

Mr. Buhari added that, “These significant review steps have helped to identify and strengthen weak areas, close gaps, build cohesion and synergy in governance, manage the economy and improve the delivery of public goods to Nigerians”.

Recall that the media have been replete with reports that there had been and still calls for a cabinet shakeup in the past but the President remained loyal to his team.

The real reason for this latest minor shake-up was not disclosed in the official statement.

It may be on the strength of public calls on assessing the score-card of the Buhari administration and his stand on not leaving office as a failure that another shake-up appears to be in the offing.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, are said to be colluding against Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed.

AljazirahNigeria can report authoritatively that zainab Ahmed had invoked the ire of Gambari and Abubakar for allegedly talking President Buhari into suspending the controversial payment of $418million to Paris Club consultants, earlier approved by the President.

The Minister of Finance action reportedly didn’t sit well with the CoS and the AGF who are now bent on making subterranean plans to get Buhari to sack her.

According to an anonymous source who is acquainted with the matter; “They were shocked that the President could suspend the payment; Gambari, Malami, Buhari’s son-in-law, Gambari’s son, were allegedly promised about 40% of the total payment. Unfortunately, these companies and individuals they want the Nigerian government to pay didn’t do any job for such an amount of money to be paid at their behest owing to their privileged positions of being closer to President Muhammadu Buhari, the source said.

Our source further said that the cabals got angry with Ahmed Zainab, claiming she advised the President against releasing the money. This is not the first time they would be having issues with her though; the cabals thought they could use her like they were using Kemi Adeosun. They have started cooking up different allegations against her which will be presented to the President soon; they call it “the Magu’s treatment”.

“They also want to remove Patience Oniha as the Director General of the DMO. Since they failed to use judges (fake court orders) to force her to release the promissory notes that they don’t deserve, they started threatening her to make sure that she is removed. They also want to use her workers at the DMO to embarrass her by embarking on strike”.

On the same matter, AljazirahNigeria had reported the growing tension between the states governors and a ring of powerful presidential aides over $418 million, about N159 billion said to be owed six individuals and entities who purportedly offered services to states and their local governments on the payment of Paris Club debts.

While the top presidential aides led by the Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, are scrambling to start the disbursement as quickly as possible, the governors, under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), led by Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, are making a last-ditch effort to stop it.

There are a number of documents which have been sighted by AljazirahNigeria, highlighting desperate moves to begin the disbursements through the issuance of promissory notes that will be funded through deductions from states and local governments’ monthly allocations.

From documents seen by AljazirahNigeria, the moves to begin the payments are against President Buhari’s directive issued in January this year, and in disregard for the red flag raised by the governors about the legitimacy of the indebtedness.

The Fayemi-led NGF is demanding that the payment be suspended until a forensic audit of the indebtedness is carried out.

But Mr. Gambari, who is spearheading the moves for the prompt payment of the money, is backed by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, both of whom argue that the court judgments which awarded the sums to the creditors must be hurriedly obeyed.

But between the duo Mr. Malami is the only figure that has been in the picture since 2016 when the conversations among the top echelons of the Buhari administration about payment of government’s judgment debts started.

Gambari only became a party to the matter following his appointment in May 2020 after the death of his predecessor, Abba Kyari, who died from COVID-19 complications in April 2020.

Mrs. Ahmed also became involved following her appointment as finance minister after her predecessor, Kemi Adeosun, resigned in September 2018 in the wake of an NYSC certificate forgery scandal.

In the same vein, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godswill Akpabio may also have been penciled down among the ministers to receive the president’s boot following his handling of issues bothering on financial impropriety in his ministry, especially the agency under its oversight, the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) which has reportedly received about N6 trillion between 2001 and 2019 as budgetary allocation and income from statutory and non-statutory sources.

AljazirahNigeria had reported the Federal Government’s worry over 13,777 projects being handled by the NDDC which have their executions substantially compromised resulting in a colossal loss, occasioned by uncompleted and unverified development projects in the Niger Delta region, in spite of the huge resources made available to uplift the living standards of the citizens.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, during the presentation of the forensic audit report by the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Sen. Godswill Akpabio in Abuja confirms this, saying the government would prosecute all individuals behind the mismanagement of funds meant for the development of the Niger Delta zone.

Akpabio, it was gathered, made attempts to submit the report directly to the president but failed.

Recall that the forensic audit of the NDDC got President Buhari nod on the heels of the huge gap between invested resources and corresponding infrastructural development in the zone.

Malami said the commission received N6 trillion in eight years and maintained 362 accounts without proper reconciliation.

However, there are indications that the President may have ordered another investigation into the N6 trillion expended on projects and sundry investments in the NDDC since 2001.

He further stated that the essence of the forensic audit was to ensure accountability in the use of public funds.

According to Akpabio, “It is on record that between 2001 and 2019, the Federal Government had approved N3, 375, 735,776,794.93 as budgetary allocation and N2,420,948,894,191.00 as Income from Statutory and Non Statutory Sources, which brings the total figure to the sum of approximately N6 trillion given to the Niger Delta Development Commission.

Consequently, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the engagement of a Lead Forensic Auditor as well as 16 reputable Audit Firms to conduct the audit exercise.

He assured that the report of the NDDC forensic and the recommendations would therefore be critically analysed for necessary actions and implementation.

“We owe it a duty to the people of the Niger Delta region to improve their standard of living through the provision of adequate infrastructural and socio-economic development.

“It is therefore important for the federal government and the public to be properly informed on what has been spent and how that has been spent”.

A source in the presidency told AljazirahNigeria that President Muhammadu Buhari who personally asked Akpabio to carry out the audit got an independent report that the audit report has been tampered with, and that infractions directly linking the Minister and his cronies have been altered.

According to the source, “The president refused to grant Akpabio access to submit the report having heard from credible sources that the report has lost its substance.

“The Minister had also approached the SGF to receive the report on behalf of the President, but he was told that only the president can receive the report because the letter authorising the probe didn’t originate from the office of the SGF.

“Akpabio alarmed by the rumours within the presidency about potential sack of ministers, began panicking and had to convince the Attorney-General, Malami to accept the report, having waited in vain to meet with the president”.

An insider source within the NDDC also confided in AljazirahNigeria that while the process leading to the selection of the audit team was fraudulent, the report itself is a load of fraud.

“How can you trust a report that emanates from a fraudulent process? The selection of the audit team was fraudulent. The report sent to the President is equally fraudulent. Those of us here as staff of NDDC know that whatever comes out of Akpabio, and his forensic report would be fraudulent. He is simply the worst thing to happen to NDDC”.

Lead Forensic Auditor, Alhaji Kabir Ahmed, in a brief overview of the allegedly doctored report submitted by Akpabio, said the team recommended managerial as well as structural changes, chief of which was the downsizing of the NDDC’s board.

He said to reduce cost; the team recommended that members of the team should henceforth be appointed on a part time basis.

Reportedly, another likely victim of the cabinet sack is Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, The Minister of Foreign Affairs. This is on the heels of a petition received by President Buhari from the former Ambassador of Nigeria to Namibia, Lillian Onoh, who accused the minister of “treason and Sabotage” She alleged that Mr. Onyeama had been involved in gross oppression and maltreatment of Nigerians living in Namibia during her official stay in the country. At the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic in China, Onoh also added that the foreign affairs minister encouraged China in the maltreatment of Nigerians as captured in a video which went viral at the time, which also resulted in some diplomatic impasse between the two countries.

Onoh, who is also an indigene of Enugu, further accused Onyeama of using his crony, a personal accountant, Miss Signorita to loot the embassy office at Namibia.

AljazirahNigeria scoop has thrown up some lead to the likelihood of the former governor of Enugu state, Mr. Sullivan Chime as a replacement to the foreign affairs minister in the federal cabinet, also as a matter of compensation to further strengthen the party.   

Gathering from our source within the presidency on the matter revealed that the Department of State Services, (DSS) have already concluded its own vetting of would be replacements for the imminent cabinet reshuffle as Nigerians expectedly await what the coming days holds regarding the injections of new life into the federal cabinet.

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