President Muhammadu Buhari 54 days after he was sworn in for a second term in office sent a list of ministerial nominees to the Nigerian Senate for screening. The list had 43 nominees, comprising seven (7) women and thirty-six (36) men, drawn from all the 36 states of the federation to fulfil constitutional stipulation.
The Nigerian Constitutional stipulates—to ensure equal representation— the country’s 36 states must be represented in the cabinet.
Prior to the announcement of the ministerial nominees, on July 19, to be precise, Buhari had said that most of the members of his cabinet in his first term in office were foisted on him.
He promised something different in his second term. In fact, while addressing the leadership of the legislature, the president promised he would appoint only those he knew.
However, when the announcement was eventually made there was a difference, but not a radical one, from the composition of his first-time list.
Names of 19 ministers who served in Buhari’s first time in office were dropped and replaced with new nominees. The names transmitted to the senate were not assigned with portfolios which made speculations so rife in the polity concerning who will have what portfolio.
After a series of orientations for the ministers, the portfolios of the ministers will be announced today.
Here are likely portfolios for 10 ministers-designate; five returning ministers and five ‘new faces’ made the cut of those considered.
Also factored into the analysis are their strengths and flaws, in short, their antecedents, which may likely inform the president’s decision.
Babatunde Raji Fashola: A lawyer and veteran politician in his own right. He served as chief of staff during Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s tenure as governor of Lagos State. He eventually succeeded Tinubu and became the governor of Lagos State in 2007. PresidentMuhammadu Buhari appointed him as Minister of Power, Works, and Housing in his first term in office.
He is reputed to be a workaholic and conscientious reformist. His
track record of achievements during his time as governor of Lagos State earned him ‘super minister’ portfolio where three ministries (Power, Works, and Housing) were literally subsumed into one and placed under his watch.
Flaw: From the evidence of what happened during his four years as a minister it is now clear that Fashola doesn’t have the otherworldly competence required to handle three ministries. He seems to be high on ideas but low on implementation. Buhari will definitely strip him of the ‘super minister’ status.
Proposed Portfolio: POWER
Lai Mohammed: Former National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress and is from Oro in Kwara State and a lawyer.
Strength: He has a keen and incisive mind which makes him capable of thinking right on his feet. He can defend the seemingly indefensible. This quality became evident during his time as the megaphone of his party when the party was the main opposition party. He was a thorn in the flesh of the ruling People’s Democratic Party(PDP) and a niggling pain in the necks of the party’s political apparatchiks. While his time lasted in the office he was a paradox of sort, he could confuse and convince at the same time. This quality must have endeared him to Buhari who made him his ‘Minister of Information’ in his first time
Flaw: He performed below par during Buhari’s first tenure. Even his facility for propaganda seems to have deserted him. It’s like Lai has run out of steam and may not be suitable for Ministry again. Lai, it can be said, is just one of the beneficiaries of political patronage this time round. Buhari may find a replacement in someone who is more adept at ‘polishing’ the image of his administration as he begins his second term in office.
Proposed Portfolio: Minister of Environment
Chris Ngige: Former governor of Anambra State and one of President Muhammadu Buhari's loyalists from the South-East. Ngige served as Buhari’s Minister of Labour and Productivity in Buhari’s first tenure.
Strength: He is a denizen in Nigeria’s political space. In fact, he is one of the few politicians that have been jostling for political space ever since the beginning of the fourth republic.
Flaw: He loses his cool easily. He is also given to making tactless statements when diplomacy and tact are required of him. Despite the deepening crisis in public health, Ngige remarked that talent-strapped Nigeria had medical doctors in surfeit and that medical professionals should feel free to seek opportunities abroad. Though he later ate his words; many believed the statement was unbecoming of a man who is a doctor by training too.
Proposed Portfolio: Labour/ Education
Ogbonnaya Onu: The immediate past Minister of Science Technology and the first civilian governor of Abia State.
Strength: He is a politician and engineer.
Flaw: During his time as Minister of Science Technology he made a comical outburst by saying by talking about local manufacturing of pencils in this time and age.
Proposed Portfolio: Minister of Solid Minerals
Note: Buhari is very likely to replace Onu with Ali Isa Ibrahim
Pantami from Gombe State as Minister of Science and Technology.
Pantami is a world-class technology expert who has led the National Information Technology Development since 2016.