After months of suspense, President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday sent the first list containing the names of the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Ibe Kachikwu; former Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola (SAN); former Rivers Governor, Chibuike Amaechi; former Ekiti Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; and a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau (rtd.), as the first batch of ministerial nominees to the Senate.
Kachikwu’s name on the list, confirmed information at THISDAY’s disposal that he may hold the double portfolio of Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and GMD of NNPC, while Buhari will retain the post of Minister of Petroleum Resources.
“I intend to remain the minister of petroleum resources,” Buhari said in an interview on the sidelines of the annual meeting of world leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. A minister of state would oversee the day-to-day running of the petroleum sector, he revealed.
The ministerial list said to contain only 21 names, was submitted to Senate President Bukola Saraki at 5 pm by the Chief of Staff to the president, Alhaji Abba Kyari, who was accompanied by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang.
THISDAY learnt that another list containing 16 additional names will be sent to the Senate soon.
Confirming receipt of the long-awaited list through a tweet posted at 5.20 pm, Saraki said: “I can now confirm that I just received the list of Ministerial nominees.”
Efforts made by journalists to access the list last night proved abortive as Saraki’s media aide, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, said the list was sealed and would not be opened till Tuesday when the Senate resumes plenary.
He said: “The President of the Senate did not even open the envelope. The list is sealed and will remain sealed till Tuesday when he will read it on the floor of the Senate.”
However, THISDAY authoritatively gathered that other names on the list submitted to the Senate included the former Governor of Anambra State, Senator Chris Ngige; a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Ogbonnaya Onu from Abia State; National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed from Kwara State; Senator Udo Udoma (SAN) from Akwa Ibom State; and Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Ms. Amina J. Mohammed.
Others include the APC governorship candidate in Taraba State, Senator Aisha Alhassan; former National Legal Adviser of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Alhaji Abubakar Malami (SAN) from Kebbi State; Senator Hadi Abubakar Sirika from Katsina State; a governorship candidate in Oyo State, Alhaji Adebayo Shittu; and the immediate past Commissioner for Finance in Ogun State, Ms. Kemi Adeosun.
Before the list was sent on Wednesday, the Senate had adjourned plenary to next Tuesday after waiting in vain for the names of ministerial nominees from the presidency.
The tension caused by the wait in the Senate resulted in some mild drama when the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus protested the failure of the president to submit the ministerial list as promised.
Leading the protest, Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, recalled that the APC-led government had promised to submit the list to the Senate before the end of the month.
But Deputy Senate Leader, Ibn Na’Allah, countered Akpabio, saying the Senate President’s office would be open till midnight and since midnight was still several hours away, it was too early to conclude that the president had failed to submit the list as promised. -Thisday