By Babatunde Ayedoju
The President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration on Thursday, July 27, forwarded a list of 28 ministerial nominees to the National Assembly, bringing to an end a period of suspense and unverified news about who the cabinet members of the new president would be.
The nominees, comprising four former governors, seven women, serving and former lawmakers and technocrats, were picked from 25 out of Nigeria’s 36 states. Meanwhile, the constitution requires that the president should pick at least a minister from every state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). That meant, Mr President needed to submit at least 11 more names to the Senate which would cover other states, such as Adamawa, Bayelsa, Gombe, Kano, Kebbi, Kogi, Plateau, Lagos, Osun, Yobe, and Zamfara.
Chief of Staff to the president, Femi Gbajabiamila, who presented the list to the Senate, revealed that the nominees were chosen after undergoing strict personal screening by the President. While stating that a second batch comprising 13 names would be sent to the Senate later, the former speaker of House of Representatives hinted that this administration might create new ministries from the existing ones.
In response to suggestions that the president should have included the proposed portfolio for each nominee, the presidential Chief of Staff said that the president decided to toe the line of tradition by not attaching portfolios of the nominees in the letter to the Senate in order to give room for reviews. He explained that there could be a need to change the portfolio of some of the nominees later. Therefore, it was advisable to leave the aspect of portfolio open at that time.
On Wednesday August 2, the presidency submitted another list of 19 nominees to the Senate.
In the course of screening the nominees, President Tinubu dropped Dr Maryam Shetty from Kano State for Dr Mariya Mahmoud Bunkure and added Festus Keyamo (SAN) from Delta State to the list of nominees. Former Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai, also reportedly pulled out after failing to obtain the approval of the Senate.
Finally, on Wednesday, after the Senate had approved the names of 46 nominees, the presidency published their portfolios: Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy – Bosun Tijani; Minister of State, Environment and Ecological Management – Ishak Salako; Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy – Wale Edun; Minister of Marine and Blue Economy – Bunmi Tunji; Minister of Power – Adedayo Adelabu; Minister of State, Health and Social Welfare – Tunji Alausa; Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dele Alake; Minister of Tourism, Lola Ade-John; Minister of Transportation, Adegboyega Oyetola; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Anite; Minister of Innovation Science and Technology, Uche Nnaji; Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Nkiruka Onyejeocha; Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy; Minister of Works, David Umahi; Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo; Minister of Youth, Abubakar Momoh; Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu; Minister of State, Gas Resources, Ekperikpe Ekpo; Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri; Minister of Sports Development, John Enoh.
Others were Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike; Minister of Art, Culture and the Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa; Minister of Defence, Mohammed Badaru; Minister of State Defence, Bello Matawalle; Minister of State Education, Yusuf T. Sunumu; Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Ahmed M. Dangiwa; Minister of State, Housing and Urban Development, Abdullah T. Gwarzo; Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu; Minister of Environment and Ecological Management, (Kaduna); Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory, Mairiga Mahmud; Minister of State, Water Resources and Sanitation, Bello M. Goronyo; Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari; Minister of Education, Tahir Maman; Minister of Interior, Sa’Idu A. Alkali; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf M. Tuggar; Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Ali Pate; Minister of Police Affairs, Ibrahim Geidam; Minister of State, Steel Development, U. Maigari Ahmadu; Minister of Steel Development, Shuaibu A. Audu; Minister of Information and National Orientation, Muhammed Idris; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi; Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon B. Lalong; Minister of State, Police Affairs, Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim; Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Govermental Affairs, Zephaniah Jisalo; Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Joseph Utsev; Minister of State, Agriculture and Food Security, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.
Having emerged after a period of suspense in the hearts of Nigerians, the emergence of these ministers is not without some attendant expectations from several people who constitute a portion of the populace that they are going to serve hopefully, for the next four years.
Professor Simon Ehiabhi from the Department of History and International Studies, Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba-Akoko, who noted that the ministers were appointed based on several factors, including patronage, said that though it is imperative for them to discharge their responsibilities, his expectation of them would depend on the vision of their principal.
He said, “If the president is willing to allow them do their work, I believe they will perform well. If the president is not interested in performance, they will not do well. Generally speaking, the performance of every minister is dependent on encouragement from the presidency.”
He added that Nigerians should give the new ministers a period of six months and assess them thereafter, to see how well they have performed so far.
Dr Bayo Fasunwon from the Department of Political Science, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, opined that each minister should ensure that his ministry contributes to the development of the country by raising the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and providing employment, among others.
His words: “How they will do it depends on several factors. For instance, are there outstanding projects left by their predecessors? Such need to be completed. What are the resources available? What are the targets given to them by the president? What are the personal goals they want to achieve and the resources available?”
The political economist said that basically, in the first three months, they should be involved in information gathering and linkages with the civil servants around them, so that they can forge ahead.
Dr Adedayo Afe from the Department of History and International Studies, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, who observed that the president make good choices in some of the ministries, expressed confidence that they would perform up to the expectation of Nigerians.
He, however, advised that the new ministers to go to work immediately because the situation of things with Nigerians is precarious.
Dr Chris Ofonyelu from the Department of Economics, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, described most of the new ministers as former politicians that we have known, adding that there is nothing new or spectacular about their appointments.
Speaking from a broad perspective, he said that one can only be optimistic but nothing spectacular should expected from them.
Dr Harrison Idowu from the Department of Political Science, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, who likened the appointments to political rewards or settlement, stated that the president appointed technocrats in some ministries. He, therefore, suggested that Nigerians should give them the be benefit of doubt and see how they will perform in the coming days.