The much-awaited list of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial nominees will be released on Wednesday, the last day of the month. Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, disclosed this yesterday in New York. Adesina described Buhari as a man of his word, saying Nigerians would not be disappointed as September, the date given for the announcement of members of his cabinet, remains sacrosanct.
With just three days to the end of September, the month Buhari promised to send the list of his ministerial nominees to the Senate for approval, his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Mr. Garuba Shehu, had earlier assured that the president will keep his promise. Shehu gave the assurance yesterday.
This was as Buhari’s party, All Progressives Congress, expressed its confidence that the president would not disappointment the citizens with regard to the appointment of ministers and governance, generally. APC National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun told THISDAY yesterday by telephone that Buhari meant well for the country and he will do everything humanly possible to ensure good governance.
THISDAY also learnt that the president was under intense pressure to relax his tough standards for qualifying persons for positions in his planned cabinet to avoid alienating many members of his party.
Shehu said, “The president had said it twice that he would submit his ministerial list to the National Assembly in September. As you can see, that position has not changed.”
The presidential aide, who spoke from New York where Buhari was attending the summit of the United Nations General Assembly, advised Nigerians to wait till the end of September.
Odigie-oyegun also urged Nigerians to continue to support the APC administration, saying the party would not shirk its responsibility to the people.
On APC’s position on the release of the ministerial nominees’ names this month, Odigie-Oyegun said, “There is no cause for alarm. We are confident the president will keep his promise. He will not disappoint Nigerians on his pledge to provide good governance for the enhancement of the nation.”
The national chairman also assured on the readiness of the party to galvanise support for the speedy approval of the ministerial list when it is presented to the National Assembly. He said the APC members in the National Assembly were already aware of the need to cooperate to ensure that nothing delayed the roll out of the administration.
The delay by the president in the release of the ministerial list has been attributed to a “suffocating pressure” from some powerful political forces requesting him to shift his ground, especially, in relation to the appointment of persons who, though accused of corruption, have not been convicted in court.
Buhari has consistently said he would not appoint people with questionable character as ministers.
But this well-intended stand of the president has been exploited by political opponents of whoever is believed to be on the cabinet list, as all sort of petitions sometimes containing spurious allegations have been written against likely nominees.
An insider told THISDAY yesterday that the president was still battling to resolve “this moral question.”
The source said, “President Muhammadu Buhari has consistently told us that he would not appoint corrupt and people with questionable characters as members of his cabinet. But in the last few weeks, he has come under suffocating pressure to shift his ground.
“The argument of many people is that the president would side-line his party, the All Progressives Congress, if he maintains his ground to appoint only clean people. This is what has caused the delay and this is the moral question he is currently battling to resolve.”
THISDAY exclusively reported yesterday that as preparation for the submission of the ministerial list to the Senate by Buhari heated up, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Buhari met on Friday at the United Nations Plaza in downtown Manhattan, New York City. Their meeting, which was held at the 37th floor of the plaza behind closed doors, came on the heels of speculations that the ministerial nominees would be announced soon. It was widely rumoured that the discussion of the two men centred on the appointment of ministers in the Buhari government.
A source familiar with the meeting said, “The leaders decided to hold the meeting to discuss key national issues, crucial also is the ministerial list.”
The meeting came amid allegations of infighting and differences between Obasanjo and APC national leader and former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, over the nomination of ministers.
At the UN General Assembly meeting, there were several lobbyists wanting to court Buhari’s attention ahead of the ministerial appointments.