Finally, the long awaited list of ministerial nominee is out. President Muhammadu Buhari forwarded the list on the last day of September after a four-month wait. Majority say it was a needless wait given the political class that dominated the list of 37 persons nominated by the president for his ministerial cabinet. Moshood Isah and Ogochukwu Lynda Paul, both graduates of Mass communication department at the famous Bayero Univerisy Kano, took time out to analyse the nominees and which portfolio fits each.
This write up is not necessarily concerned with the argument that the list would have been filled up with technocrats and “saints” based on expectations that were raised by the president owing to the long wait. As the senate moved forward and began the ministerial screening and confirmation of the nominees of which 18 persons have been confirmed and as 19 more await to be screened and confirmed, we too decided to move forward by writing on which portfolio would best fit which nominee based on their academic and professional background and judging from their performance during the screening .We tried to give our humble opinion though not for any asking but that it may stir our thinking, generate discussions and diversify views.
Senator Udoma Udo Udoma was the first to be questioned and was not grilled that much owing to his recognition as a former colleague. Udoma is a lawyer by profession and have curved a riche as an accomplished one, it won’t be a surprise if becomes the minister of justice and attorney general of the federation.
Next is former Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode John Fayemi. His “mindlessly rich and hopelessly poor” statement during the screening mirrors him as one who certainly know that Nigeria’s image perception index is highly on the low. Fayemi’s wealth of experience in public service, pedigree as a foremost fighter against military rule and huge international contacts would enrich us as a Nigeria minister of foreign affairs.
Audu ogbeh, a former minister of communication under the Shagari administration and former chairman of the now opposition party PDP though seemed to suggest to us during the screening that his nomination as a minister was not his maneuvering given the onslaught from Nigerians that he is of the old block. Well, Ogbeh proved that old block of are still needed judging from his deep knowledge and bank of experience. He will be fit to revitalize the Agricultural sector as a minister especially now that our oil revenue is dwindling and Nigeria is seeking to diversity her economy.
Former Governor of old Abia state and soft spoken Ogbanoye Onu is hardly negligible judging from his antecedent of staying put in the opposition against all odds and a strong voice in his APC ruling party. A chemical engineer by academic training and based on his technical experience, Ogbonnaya as minister of mines, steel and industry can bring huge reforms to provide jobs for unemployed Nigerians.
Dr Osagie Ehanire is a relatively unknown person but assuredly a technocrat who parades a cv of a successful medical practice in Germany. In these our climes where you see medical doctors fail to administer simple diagnosis and perform minor operations, a Dr Ehanire with his rich medical experience and expertise will bring about the much needed training and professional expertise in our medical and health care system if given the minister of health.
One man who seems adequately fit for the ministry of defense is former chief of Army staff, lieutenant general Abdurahman Dambazau. As senators grilled him on issues bothering on Boko haram, (He called them a conflict group that are looking for something we don’t want), peace missions, Barracks, Defense industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) and on our defense policy, he proved to have sufficient knowledge on security measures.
Take or leave it, Alhaji Lai muhammed cuts across as a game charger. From being in the opposition party as its spokesperson consistently for years and have continued to do so for his ruling party until his nomination, Lai is certainly not mincemeat. The senators would not hide their admiration for him [or is it for fear of dropping one or two propagandas) as he was not asked any question. He sure knows what right words to say and how to say it. Holding the portfolio of the minister for Information and communication would prove to be suitable for him.
Amina Ibrahim has held key positions of governance in the past and has proved to be brilliant, competent and practical. Let’s see an Amina led the team at the ministry of national planning and coordination.
As a technocrat who has cut his academic and professional experience in land administration and reforms, Mallam Ibrahim Usman Jibril would sanitize and structure the FCT according to her original plan having held several positions in committees on land use, allocation and physical planning development in the FCT.
Engr Suleiman Adamu’s scope of experience and professional expertise cuts across many frontiers such as co-founder of Integrated Engineering Association, planning and implementation of several PTF projects in health, agric, transport and energy,he fits to handle the ministry of power.
As the ministerial screening and confirmation continue the following day, social media and other political hubs were awashed with the display of former governor of Lagos state Babatunde Raji Fashola and Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr Ibe Kachikwu. Fashola was showered with encomiums for his stellar response to numerous questions from the senators. Fashola’s suggestions on state police, review of the Abuja Master plan and apology to the Igbo over the deportation of some Igbo residents of Lagos during his second term marked one of the major highlights of yesterday’s screening of the nominees. This is gradually pointing towards the idea that Babatunde Raji Fashola will be given the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) minister portfolio.
Although Fashola’s background in the law profession and his level as Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) may divert attention towards minister of justice and attorney general of the federation, the ministerial list has been invaded by lawyers. As a matter of fact, out of every three ministers, there is at least one who is a lawyer. Almost five of them are Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs). The youngest Ministerial nominee Abubakar Malami from Kebbi state has been touted as the next minister of youths due to his age.
Talking of technocrats amongst the ministers, Abubakar Malami may be tagged as one of such. Another person whose ministerial portfolio is not in doubt is no one but the man that is tryng to bring sanity to the petroleum industry, Dr Ibe Kachikwu. It is on record that he set major policy planks on, government relationship, investment policy and corporate governance for ExxonMobil in Africa and member of many highly influential policy and investment teams for ExxonMobil Corporation.
He served as a lead negotiator on diverse issues for ExxonMobil in Africa including conclusion of Lease Renewal Negotiations for Mobil Producing and facilitated solid contacts in Global Energy Sphere with contacts to most Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of multinational petroleum corporations and secretaries of energy for key national country players for more than 25 years
For Kemi Adeosun, who also shone like a million stars during the screening; this is the time to replicate her feat as a commissioner of finance in Ogun state, at the national level. Via her response about the Treasury Single Account and unemployment in the country, it shows Mrs Kemi understands the President’s mantra of developing the economy via feasible means possible. She said unemployment can be reduced by creating jobs and also focusing on entrepreneurship. Adeosun said government needs to look at other ways of sourcing for funds in order to reduce interest rates. She said She advocated for a zero based budgeting. She called for a review of the waivers and concession of granted to businessmen.
Although, Senator Chris Ngige was not subjected to any major questioning by his former colleagues, it is believed that his antecedents in the health sector may just place him heads and shoulders above other nominees to be the health Minister. There are various reasons why Chris Ngige is expected to be given the health ministry portfolio. Apart from graduating as a medical student in the famous university of Nigeria, Nssuka(UNN), Ngige Ngige worked at the federal Ministry of Health for years before leaving voluntarily in 1998 when he was the deputy director of hospital services, federal medical centres, and teaching hospitals. While in the ministry, he was said to have been instrumental to the establishment of permanent sites for most of the federal medical centres and teaching hospitals, especially in the South East zone, meaning he has a track record of performance. There is no gainsaying that he sponsored bills and contributed to debates relating to the development of the health sector.
Another nominee that can also lay claim to the ministry of justice portfolio is Barrister Solomon Dalong. The barrister spoke strongly against corruption and the need to practice what our religion preaches. He also spoke about laws guiding the social media and need to build a nation that will be united in diversity. Although Barrister Dalong is a lawyer by profession, his experience with the Nigerian Prison service may just qualify him as the minister of interior. This is due to the fact that, he also delved into areas relating to the Nigerian prisons while responding to questions from senators.
Another nominee with a legal background is Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan christened mama Taraba during the governorship elections earlier this year. Jummai became Taraba State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice. She was also the first woman to be appointed as Secretary FCT judicial council and later appointed the Chief Registrar of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory. Jummai’s close shave defeat at the polls is a big sign that women can attain great heights. In this vein we may just be looking at the next minister of women affairs in Nigeria.
Meanwhile the ministry of aviation seem not have had the best hand over the years with incessant plane crashes in the country, but Hadi Sirika from Katsina state may just be the man e are waiting for in that ministry. As a former pilot, Sirika is a member of the Senate Committee on Aviation. He bares his mind, undisguised, about how not to own a private aircraft through corrupt means. He also spoke about other issues bordering on piloting and the Aviation sector.
The assessment of nominees into various portfolios is surely open to debate as we may surely have different perspectives to the same issue. More so, President Muhammadu Buhari is surely in the right position to assign portfolios as we await the confirmation of the remaining eighteen nominees.