Ahmed, a former Finance Commissioner in Ogun State, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and Chief Executive Officer, African Capital Alliance, Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah, are being considered by President Muhammadu Buhari to head the Finance Ministry.
The trio were among the 36 ministerial nominees screened and confirmed by the Senate. While Ahmed is a financial management expert with over 28 years experience in public finance management, Adeosun is a finance professional of over 23 years. Her experience includes her stint at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, London where she served as senior manager. Enelamah, a former Goldman Sachs banker, heads Nigeria’s biggest private equity firm.
Even though one of them will eventually head the finance ministry, the trio will be part of the government economic team.
Presidency source disclosed to THISDAY that a newly created Ministry of Planning and Budget, could be headed by Ms. Amina Mohammed, who was until her appointment special adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning to United Nations Secretary-General. She had previously served as special assistant to the then President Olusegun Obasanjo on Millennium Development Goals.
Former governor of Rivers State, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, is being considered to head an expanded Niger-Delta Ministry which will have under its purview the Presidential Amnesty Programme and an infrastructure department for the South-south and the North-east.
For the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, it was gathered that the five prominent lawyers on the ministerial list are in contention. They are defunct CPC lawyer, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), Mr. James Ocholi (SAN), Senator Udo Udoma (SAN), Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) and Mr. Adebayo Shittu.
Fashola, who is the immediate past governor of Lagos State is also being considered for the Transport, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Works or any infrastructure related portfolio.
The immediate past Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and former Vice Chancellor of Imo State University, Prof. Anthony Anwuka, are being considered for the Foreign Affairs portfolio. Fayemi, who holds a Doctorate in War Studies, has been part of the President’s entourage abroad, including the recently held United Nations General Assembly in New York.
It was also gathered that a surgeon, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, is being considered to head the Health Ministry. Ehanire has served in various medical boards within and outside Nigeria. Also, Senator Hadi Sirika, a former pilot and aviation expert, is said to have been penciled to man the Aviation ministry.
For the Information Ministry, it was gathered that Alhaji Lai Mohammed is being considered to hold the portfolio. Mohammed is All Progressives Congress (APC) spokesman and had previously served as the spokesman of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), one of the parties that merged to form APC.
Though 36 ministerial nominees were screened and confirmed by the Senate, President Buhari had last week, shortly before he departed New Delhi, India, declared that not all the ministers-designate would oversee ministries as some of them will end up sitting on the Federal Executive Council in order to fulfil the constitutional requirement of having at least one minister from each state of the federation. He also gave a hint that the number of federal ministries would be reduced.
The president is said to be intent on allocating portfolios to the ministers-designate based on their core competences and past records of performance in specific areas.
This is aimed at ensuring that the new federal cabinet hits the ground running after five months of absence of a federal executive council, a development that blurred the government’s policy direction.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the Senate has made moves to calm tempers in the aftermath of the ministerial screening exercise, which ended on a controversial note last week. Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu disclosed this in Lokoja yesterday. Ekweremadu said the tensions that arose between senators of the ruling All Progressives Congress and their colleagues from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party on the last day of the screening exercise on Thursday would not be allowed to create divisions in the senate’s ranks.
This was as some PDP senators said yesterday that their relationship with Senate President Bukola Saraki would not be affected by the disagreements following the confirmation of former Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s ministerial nomination despite a petition that was being pushed by the opposition. But they said they were still meeting to take a stand on.
PDP members of the upper chamber had on Thursday staged a walkout during plenary in protest at the APC-dominated senate’s insistence on confirming Amaechi as Minister of the Federal Republic. Their grouse was the refusal of the senate president to block the former governor’s ministerial confirmation based on an unfavourable report by the senate’s Committee on Public Petitions, Ethics and Privileges, which considered the petition against him.
The PDP senators had wanted the confirmation of Amaechi to be put off until the determination of the case in court. This was vehemently rejected by the APC lawmakers, who went ahead to confirm him after the exit of the opposition senators.
As the debate over the former governor’s approval went on in the senate on Thursday, tempers got very frayed, prompting insinuations that the issue may ruin relations between Saraki and the PDP senators on whose bloc vote he had depended to win the post of senate president in June.
But speaking in an interview, Ekweremadu said the leadership of the senate was not oblivious of the tense situation arising from the faceoff between the PDP and APC lawmakers during the ministerial screening. He said the leadership was making effort to calm frayed nerves.
“The parliament is a very dynamic place and I have been in the National Assembly for over 12 years. It is true that some people were angry and they have exercised their right to protest. I think we will now get back together to work for the benefit of Nigerians and in the interest of our country,” Ekweremadu said. “It is neither a PDP nor an APC affair; the interest of Nigerians is uppermost in our minds. We feel that what happened has happened and we will go back to reunite our members and then move on. The PDP walked out of the chambers based on principles which they believed in but having made their point, I think that they would put it aside now and let peace reign.”
Ekwerenmadu said, “The issue is not just about the APC or the PDP, the fact is that the leadership of the senate will try to reunite everyone so that things can move on.
“First, we will need to engage all the parties in the senate towards making progress. We do not intend to have the senate appear to be partisan in the affairs of the country.”
He added that on its part, the PDP would try to remain a strong contender in governance and be on the side of the people.
“We will continue to hold APC accountable to their promises and things they are expected to do for the ordinary people of the country,” the deputy senate president, who is also a PDP member, said.
Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP Delta North), Senator Olaka Nwogu (PDP Rivers South-east), and Senator Clifford Ordia (PDP Edo Central) acknowledged last Thursday’s development but doubted if it would affect the relationship with the PDP caucus.
They however said the caucus will still meet.
Some of the lawmakers who spoke on condition of anonymity said in spite of the controversial interlude on the last lap of the ministerial screening, the outcome of the exercise demonstrated Saraki’s loyalty to his party and popularity among his colleagues.
“We have to emphasise the fact that the senate president has shown that he is a loyal party man who enjoys the respect of his colleagues across party line and that he can be relied upon to rally the senate behind party positions,” He added, “The senate president has also proved that there is nothing the country’s president wants from the senate that he cannot help him to get. It is now incumbent on the president to reciprocate this new gesture and help to consolidate new cooperation between the executive and the legislature.” 2nd lead -Thisday