There are people rejoicing over Buhari’s ministerial list and there are people kicking themselves.
The wait for this announcement sometimes appeared to take a whole lifetime, stretching the president’s “Baba Go Slow” tag to serious limits despite his history of sluggish decision-making.
While Nigerians continue to debate if the wait was worth it, some have praised the president’s picks, while the list has left others asking in wonder, “Wetin be this?”
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To put some of the issues in their proper boxes, here’s a list of winners and losers from Buhari’s list.
When Godswill Akpabio, as a senator, made the dramatic high-profile move from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the 2019 elections, he made quite the wave.
Even though many tipped him to be a strong contender for the Senate Presidency, Akpabio shockingly failed to even win re-election to return to the Senate.
His inclusion in the ministerial list has been determined by many to be a compensation for his loss and fierce loyalty to the president.
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George Akume, a former Benue governor, and Tayo Alasoadura, who both lost re-election bids to the Senate in the February 23 elections, also made Buhari’s list.
Uchechukwu Ogah, who lost in the APC’s primary election for the Abia State governorship election, was also included.
When Festus Keyamo (SAN) was appointed as the spokesperson for Buhari’s re-election campaign in 2018, not many would have expected that it would culminate in a ministerial appointment, but that’s exactly what has happened.
Keyamo was very combative during the elections and put out a lot of fires for Buhari and started quite a few for him to ensure that the 76-year-old returned for a second term. The president appears to have rewarded him for his service.
The same appears to fit for Rotimi Amaechi, who was the director-general of the president’s campaign council; Adeleke Mamora, who was deputy director-general (operations); Akume, who was the council’s vice chairman (north); Akpabio, who was south south zonal director, and a few others who made the president’s list.
While trying to explain the delay of his list earlier this month, Buhari said he wanted to make sure to pick people he personally knows, as against simply taking recommendations about people he didn’t know in 2015.
For the total of 13 ministers who served in Buhari’s first term cabinet and have been nominated again, being recalled by the president must tell them that he really knows and trusts them enough to want to see their faces at Federal Executive Committee (FEC) meetings for the next four years.
It’s hard to explain if it’s because they laughed at all of his funny jokes, or because they did their jobs.
The returning ministers are Chris Ngige, Adamu Adamu, Ogbonnaya Onu, Geoffery Onyeama, Zainab Ahmed, Hadi Sirika, Abubakar Malami, Lai Mohammed, Osagie Enahire, Suleiman Adamu, Mohammed Bello, Babatunde Fashola, and Amaechi.
Dalung, Shittu and other non-returning ministers
It’s quite impossible to expect the president to have recalled all the ministers that served during his first term. So, many of them predictably lobbied for a return to work on the president’s Next Level agenda.
During an interview two weeks after he left office, Dalung said “nobody born of a woman” could stop his re-appointment, unless it was God’s wish.
God must not wish for his return because he failed to make Buhari’s list even though the former minister already outlined a list of things he hoped to do upon his return.
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As the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, in responding to the brain drain in the health sector, said all doctors cannot become specialists and should try their hands at other things like farming. Many will not feel sorry for him for missing out on a second term ticket.
Abdulrahman Dambazau might also feel hard done by that he won’t get to announce all those public holidays anymore as the Minister of Interior, while Mansur Dan Ali, the former Minister of Defence, will miss being clueless about addressing Nigeria’s insecurity mess.
While campaigning for a second term, Buhari promised that he was going to run a more inclusive government with a focus on women and youths.
His ministerial list might not be the best reflection of that campaign promise as only seven women made the list of 43.
While many would argue that it’s an improvement on his first term cabinet that had only six women, it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
In 2015, the president appointed 37 ministers, including himself. However, he added six more appointments to his new list to make 43 this time around.
This means that while six women in 2015 represented a 19% of the total, seven in 2019 represents only 16%. That’s definitely not an improvement and not the Next Level that was promised.
Zainab Ahmed is the only woman to have made a return after serving in Buhari’s first term cabinet [Sahara Reporters]
It might be an exaggeration to say Akinwunmi Ambode was the yin to Buhari’s yang during campaign season, but the former Lagos State governor was essentially the president’s shadow on the campaign trail.
He followed the president to almost all of his campaign rallies across the country; and even though he hardly addressed the crowds, he was just always there for the president like a good friend.
Ambode had at the time fallen out with the leadership of the APC in Lagos, and many saw his close bumming with Buhari as a last-ditch attempt to save his floundering political career after a devastating loss in his second term bid.
His omission from Buhari’s list is especially remarkable considering Lagos State snagged two appointments with Fashola, another former governor, returning and Mamora taking the other spot.
This means Ambode misses out on being compensated for his embarrassing loss in the APC primary election last year despite also being Buhari’s BFF, making him the subject of widespread ridicule on social media.