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With Senate confirmation last week of seven new Ministers, President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to administer oath of office on the appointees for them to commence work in earnest. Deji Elumoye reports
The need to participate as candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forthcoming 2023 general elections in the country led to the resignation of some Ministers in May, 2022 to pursue their individual political ambition.
While some serving Ministers had signified their intention to vie for elective office as early as April this year, they remained in office till May when President Muhammadu Buhari told the ambitious political office holders to vacate office within one week.
It took the issuance of a circular by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, for the affected public office holders including Ministers to vacate office.
In the circular dated May 11, 2022, Mustapha said President Muhammadu Buhari had observed and noted the expression of interest and intention by some members of the Federal Executive Council, Heads of Extra-Ministerial departments, agencies, parastatals of government, ambassadors and other political office holders to contest the upcoming Presidential, Gubernatorial, National and State Assemblies’ elections.
He said the President had directed that the affected office holders aspiring to run for various offices in the 2023 General Elections, should tender their resignation on or before Monday, May 16, 2022.
The SGF said for smooth running of the machinery of government and the country’s foreign missions, the affected ministers are to hand over to the Ministers of State where they exist or to the Permanent Secretary, where there is no Minister of State.
Eventually, the Ministers that resigned include that of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio; Science, Technology and Innovation, Ogbonnaya Onu; the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba; Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Uche Ogah; and Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Tayo Alasoadura.
The Ministers’ resignation was in accordance with the provisions of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act which states that “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”
Although President Buhari did promise to immediately replace the exiting Ministers at a valedictory session he held for the ex-Ministers at the State House, Abuja, it, however, took the President over one month to forward the new ministerial nominees to the Senate for confirmation in line with provisions of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended)
Last Tuesday, the Senate eventually received the list of seven nominees from President Muhammadu Buhari for consideration and confirmation as Ministers.
Their nomination was contained in a letter addressed to Senate President Ahmad Lawan and read at plenary.
In the letter, President Buhari listed the ministerial nominees to include Henry Ikechukwu (Abia), Umana Okon-Umana (Akwa-Ibom), and Ekuma Joseph (Ebonyi), Goodluck Obia (Imo), Umar Ibrahim(Kano), Ademola Adewole (Ondo), and Udum Odi (Rivers).
Ikechukwu, was a former commissioner for Industry, Science and Technology in Abia state until 2020 when he left the PDP for the APC.
Ikechukwu said he left the PDP because he had “always been sidelined in my ward, local government area and state party decisions”.
In the build-up to the APC national convention, he was nominated by the Abia chapter of the party for the role of national vice-chairman in the south-east. However, he was beaten to the position by Ijeomah Arodiogbu, who was elected based on consensus.
Umana, a renowned economist and politician was in 2020 re-appointed by President Buhari as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA).
Ekuma, a former special adviser to Ebonyi Governor also served the state as Commissioner for Investment between 2019 and 2021
el-Yakub was appointed by the President as his Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives) in 2019.
He is an APC stalwart from Kano State and was a member of the House of Representatives from 2003 to 2007 representing Kano Municipal Federal Constituency.
Adewole, a native of Akure in Ondo state lost the APC primary election for Akure North/South federal constituency and his nomination was said to be a way of compensating him for being a committed member of the ruling party.
Within 24 hours, the Red Chamber confirmed all the seven nominees after their screening exercise which lasted for about five hours during plenary last Wednesday.
By this week, President Buhari will swear in the new Ministers and assign them portfolio. The swearing-in ceremony may hold on Wednesday at the Council chambers of the State House in Abuja before the commencement of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
The new Ministers, who are joining the Buhari administration which has less than one year left in office, will be expected to bring their wealth of experience to bear on any ministry they are assigned to oversee. They should also key into the mantra of the Buhari administration and be team players like their colleagues in the Federal Executive Council. At all times, the thinking of the new Ministers should be how to impact positively on the nation by working hard to make necessary difference in their new political appointment.
They should build on the foundation laid by their predecessors so that by the time the Buhari administration will be winding down by May, 2023, there will be cause to thank the President for the confidence reposed in them.