Why some first term ministers did not make Buhari’s Cabinet
– Ufford Andrew
Two months after being sworn in for second term in office, President Mohammadu Buhari sends a list of 43 ministerial nominees to the Nigerian Senate for screening. Some prominent first term players’ name are missing in the list. Ministers who held big portfolios like the former minister of state for petroleum Ibe Kachikwu did not make the list. Kachikwu who was initially appointed as the Group Managing Director of NNPC was later appointed a substantive Minister of State for Petroleum. In between he was at one time holding both positions. In the hay days of Buhari’s administration Kachikwa was considered an influential poster child of the new government at the centre. How did he fall out of relevance to a point where he missed out in the second term agenda?.  Also missing is the name of another prominent technocrat Mr. Udoma Udo-Udoma who is considered a boardroom guru. He was the pace setting visioner behind the corporate affairs commission commission and has over the years been an excellent corporate lawyer who knows government business inside out. Udoma was hired in Buharis first coming to set the pace for economy and budget planning. When the finance ministry top job became vacant after Kemi Adeosun resigned he was surprisingly not considered as a replacement. That was for some analyst enough hint that he was not living up to the president’s expectations. He also lost out in the latest selection.

Other first term ministers who were dropped are the Okechukwu Enelamah,  Heineken Lokpobiri, Audu Ogbeh, Usani Uguru Usani, Anthony Anwuka, Stephen Ochani and Abdulrahaman Dambazau.

Others are Abubakar Bawa Bwari, Cladius Omoleye Daramola, Isaac Adewole, Adebayo Shittu, Solomon Dalong, Aisha Abubakar and Mansur  Dan Ali.

A casual look at the ministerial nominee list shows that the president rewarded loyalty to party and those that stake it all for his re-election. Even in the states where his party performed poorly, the president favoured his front-line apologists. Political big wigs in states like Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa who dumped their former platform in support of Buhari’s second term bid were rewarded. This explains why a less colourful Senator Udo-Udoma with exhausted political capital had to give way to a more flambouyant and vociferous Sen. Godswill Akpabio. For the Bayelsa state slot, Ex-Governor Timi Silva, who lost a second term bid for Bayelsa Governorship in the Johnathan days came in  as a replacement for Heineken Lokpobiri. Silva has been handed the initiative to revive his political relevance by relaunching as a minister of the federal republic. Heneiken Lokpobiri is currently contending for his party’s ticket for Governorship election in November. For the Cross River slot it could not be clearly said why Usani Uguru lost out. It could be that Mr. Usani Uguru’s divisive influence in the Cross River APC during the last elections is responsible for his losing out.  JD Agba a young Cross Riverian with rising political profile is seen as the beneficiary of the dirty fight betwee Usani Uguru and John Owan-Eno. The turn of event saw Senator Owan-Eno loss his relevance in the politics of Cross River for the first time since 1999. That the Oyo State slot was taken from Adebayo Shittu is not a surprise to many. Shittu’s inability to deliver his home state of Oyo and his perceived anti-party activities is widely believed to have shown him the way out. Oyo State APC is currently in disarray and in serious need of re-building. Shittu is ofcourse more of a liability and was discarded to make way for a fresh start. Former Minister Solomon Dalong from the plateau attracted a lot of negative publicity during his tenure as the sport minister and was always speculated to be one of the least favourite to retain his plum job. His inability to keep his place is therefore not surprising. The Delta State slot that was given to Festus Kayemo is arguably a reward for his work as the spin doctor of the Buhari’s campaign.

In all, the new ministerial list lacks the technocrat flare that was brought in by the professional experiences of the likes of Kachikwu and Udo-Udoma. The president seems to have been forced to reward the political hard-workers who helped him get re-elected against all odds. Time will tell how the new EXCO will deliver on their assignment.

Ufford Andrew is a public affairs analyst