Of Buhari’s New Cabinet, Equity and Strengthening APC

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Muhammadu Buhari

By Adebiyi Adedapo

When President Muhammadu Buhari penultimate Wednesday assured National Working Committee of the APC that he would be more conscious of the interests of the party in taking key decisions, it appeared to me that the President understand that fate of the ruling party could be hanging in the balance ahead of the 2023 general election.

Permit me to re-emphasise that every politics is local, and if the APC must continue to hold on to power, the party must ensure its prominence in every part of Nigeria and earn trust of the people, irrespective of their ethnic or religious affiliations.

Analyses from the Presidential election results from 2015, clearly suggested that the personality of President Buhari particularly in the northern part of Nigeria, and collaborative efforts of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s team, more than anything else delivered victory for the APC. However, the situation will not be the same by 2023, when the APC will not be constitutionally eligible to field the ‘mai gaskiya’ President as its candidate.

Meanwhile, the raging debate as to whether President Buhari has justified the confidence reposed in him by the overwhelming majority of voting population in Nigeria is gathering momentum. Although this debate cannot be adjudged to be on the negative, yet, between 2015 and now, the party must have lost more apolitical loyalists more than it has gained. This, however, should be expected, as no government ends its tenure as popular as it started. None that I am aware of in the history of Nigeria. This is why the President and his party must do more to convince Nigerians on the need to return the APC government to consolidate on the change and next level agenda.

I feel the compelling need to remind President Muhammadu Buhari that his actions and inactions between now and the year 2022 will largely determine the fate of APC the coming general election.

Let me also remind the President that the APC government is not as popular in the South-South and the South East geo political zones, compared to other zones. Let me as well note that some acclaimed progressives are teeming-up across the 19 Northern states, and public opinion about the government in the South West is now sharply divided. The stories of insecurity, poverty and general economic downturn has not helped the credibility of the government and only unity, equity, Justice and fairness can help Nigeria to surmount its common problem, and keep the mind of electorates from changing the political party in government.

For instance, the Northwest zone which produced the incumbent President has seven states as against six in other zones and five in the South East. Yet, the President appointed nine ministers from the zone as against seven from other zones, six from the South East and none from the FCT. This clearly has put the North West at a political advantage over others, it really doesn’t matter if other presidents were guilty of this same biases, the APC government which promised to do things differently should ensure balance. President Buhari can still achieve the balance in his consideration for other appointments, particularly as he prepares to allocate portfolios to new ministers in his cabinet.

While it is important for ministers to be posted according to their area of expertise, the President can through harmless political considerations strengthen the APC in some states where the party in weak. He can as well achieve a balance if he ensures that each geopolitical zone has four ‘senior’ ministers and two ministers of state. The President should also consider ex-governors who are now ministers, returning ministers and ministers from opposition states as ‘senior’ ministers, this definitely will strengthen the party’s support base across the states.

In the South West for instance, Babatunde Raji Fashola, who enjoys a dual status of an ex-governor and a returning minister, former governors Adeniyi Adebayo and Engr. Rauf Aregbesola will logically be considered first, while Sunday Dare who is the only minister from an opposition state in the zone should be considered as the fourth senior minister.

In the South South zone, Osagie Enanire who is a returning minister should join former governors: Rotimi Amaechi, Godswill Akpabio, Timipre Sylva, while others can be deployed as minister of states in their areas of relevance. In the South East, Chris Ngige, Ogbonnaya Onu, Geoffrey Onyema and either of Ikechukwu Ogar or Emeka Uwajuba can be considered.

In the north central zone, former governor of Benue state, Senator George Akume, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Dame Pauline Tallen who is also a former minister should be joined with either of Mohammed Abdullahi, Zubairu Dada.

In the North East, returning ministers, Muhammadu Musa Bello and Adamu Adamu, Mustapha Baba Shehuri can be joined with Engr. Saleh Maman from Taraba who is the only new minister from PDP state in the zone. The zone already produced the SGF, Chief of Staff to the President and even the NSA, therefore has good sense of belonging in the government.

Meanwhile, almighty North West zone which is already fortified with nine ministers designate may defy the fair arrangement as its parades four returning ministers; Abubakar Malami, Zainab Ahmed, Hadi Sirika and Suleiman Adamu. Also, Mohammed Maigeri Dingyadi is from the sole PDP state in the zone and of course, Maj. Gen Bashir Saleh (retired) who is the only general among the new ministers may be favored to head the Ministry of Defense. However the President chooses to balance this equation, the zone is already a stronghold of the APC and Sokoto state may soon fall in line.

Although, the President may have to split the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, to accommodate another minister and ensure better effectiveness. Should this semblance of fair and balance be achieved in our national polity, Nigerians who are apprehensive of seeming nepotism or marginalisation will be forced to turn their attention to more healthy areas of national discourse.

*Adebiyi is a staff of LEADERSHIP newspaper