Buhari Considers Fashola, Oronsaye, Others for Villa Positions

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President Muhammadu Buhari

• Several jostle for cabinet posts

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja 


As the jostling for cabinet posts in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration intensifies, there are indications that the immediate past Governor of Lagos State, Babatude Fashola; former Head of Service, Mr. Steve Oronsaye; a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Abdulrahman Dambazzau; a former Managing Director of New Nigerian Newspapers, Adamu Adamu, and a former Military Administrator of Kaduna State, Col. Hammed Ali, may have been shortlisted for positions in the administration.

Specifically, Dambazzau is being considered for the post of National Security Adviser (NSA) while Fashola, Oronsaye and Ali are being considered for the position of Chief of Staff to the president.

Adamu, on the other hand, may be made the Principal Secretary to the president. Adamu is also being considered for the post of Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), but has expressed reservations about heading the anti-corruption agency.

A frontline contender for the post of Chief of Staff is Fashola, whom Buhari personally likes and has a lot of confidence in. The president has already shown his confidence in Fashola by asking him to chair a committee he empanelled to review the 800-page report submitted by the Ahmed Joda-led Transition Committee.

Oronsaye, however, was recommended to Buhari by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Obasanjo, according to presidency sources, is leaning towards Oronsaye because of his wealth of experience in the public sector and institutional memory, and is deemed a steady hand.

For the post of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Oronsaye, who is from the South-south zone is also a top contender, while former Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, are also up for consideration.

Amaechi, who is also from the South-south, said the presidency source, is viewed as a taskmaster but not a bureaucrat, while Onu from the South-east is well liked because of his calmness and loyalty. However, the emergence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu as the Deputy Senate President may have dimmed his chances.

The post of SGF was initially zoned to the South-east by the ruling party, but may now be rezoned to the South-south following the outcome of the leadership elections in the National Assembly.

Other than positions in the presidency, several other persons may have been identified as possible ministers in Buhari’s cabinet.
Names that have been mooted include Dr. Doyin Salami, Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru and Wale Edu for the post of Finance Minister, while Lai Mohammed, Sam Nda-Isaiah and Dele Alake are keen on being appointed Information Minister.

Other names being bandied include former Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, former Education Minister Oby Ezekwesili, and pastor of the Latter Rain Assembly, Mr. Tunde Bakare.

It was also revealed by APC sources on Monday that no fewer than seven members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party have been relentlessly lobbying the presidency to be appointed as ministers in the federal cabinet.

The NWC members who played major roles during the campaigns, especially the organisation of presidential rallies at the zonal levels, believe that their closeness to Buhari would be an added advantage to enable them secure the job.

According to party sources, some of these NWC members seeking ministerial positions include the National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Mohammed, who hails from Kwrara State; a former governor of Ekiti State and Deputy National Chairman (South) Segun Oni; National Vice-Chairman (North-east), Mr. David B. Lawal from Adamawa; National Youth Leader, Alhaji Dasuki Jalo from Gombe; National Women Leader, Alhaja Ramatu Tijjani from Kogi State; and Emmanuel Eneukwu from Enugu State.

Although the affected national officers have refused to speak openly about their ambitions, a source said the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Oyegun, was aware but has cautioned against the lobby for ministerial positions.

This paper gathered that part of the reason Buhari rejected ministerial nominees submitted by the state chapters of the APC was because the list was said to have been dominated by the names of the party’s national officers.

“When the NWC members met with Buhari on the issue of ministerial appointments, though the national chairman refused to tender the request of some of his colleagues who want to be made ministers, the favour he asked of him (Buhari) was for the NWC to be carried along in the nomination process.

“But it seems President Buhari knew what was on the card and he told the party leaders right there and then not to contemplate becoming part of his cabinet. He told them to stay where they are and build a strong party,” a party source volunteered.
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