Barring any last minute change in plans, President Muhammadu Buhari, is poised to effect some changes in the federal cabinet in the next couple of weeks.
The president is said to be under intense pressure from some ‘powerful’ forces, including his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), to “undertake a cleansing of the Federal Executive Council (FEC),” it was gathered.
As part of the impending changes, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and her foreign affairs counterpart, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, may be moved to other ministries.
Also, the tripod of the Works, Housing and Power Ministry under former Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, may be split into three. Besides, the Transportation Ministry under Mr. Rotimi Amaechi might also be split into Transport and Aviation Ministries.
Senator Hadi Sirika may fully man the Aviation Ministry if it is eventually severed from transportation.
For Fashola, whose volume of work is considered ‘unwieldy,’ he has already engaged the man who served as his Works Commissioner in Lagos State, Toyin Hamzat, as his Special Adviser on Works, while equally appointing Faud Oki as Adviser on Housing and Urban Development. Oki served Fashola’s government in Lagos.
Specifically, a source privy to the move hinted that the Finance Minister is seen as being ‘overwhelmed’ by her position and may give way for someone from the South-East considered more ‘grounded’ in economic and fiscal matters.
But it could not be confirmed if the plan to move the Finance Minister to another ministry has anything to do with the cold war between her and the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd).
Contrary to established practice where the CG of Customs reported to the Finance Minister, the former military administrator of Kaduna State reports directly to the Presidency.
The Finance Minister has had it rough with about three ministers whose suggestions on the possible solutions to stem the nose-diving economy, especially the weak naira, have been interpreted as undermining her job.
She was also said to have had an altercation with Transport Minister, Amaechi, while on a presidential delegation to China.
Adeosun, the immediate past Finance Commissioner in Ogun State, who rode on the back of Governor Ibikunle Amosun to get the ministerial position, is not alone in this category.
Onyeama, who mans the Foreign Affairs Ministry, is likely to be affected in the cabinet change.
Already, the president recently appointed a former member of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, as his Senior Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs.
“Truly, both finance and foreign affairs ministers are having issues. The expected changes may affect them,” a minister said.
The education minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu, has also come under heavy criticism that he lacks the requisite knowledge and experience to supervise the ministry compared to a renowned educationist and former vice chancellor, Prof. Anthony Anwuka, who is junior minister in the ministry. Adamu is a journalist by profession.
Though it could not be independently confirmed if some ministers will be dropped, feelers are strong that the number of ministers of state might be reduced in the event that the president bows to the pressure currently on him as some of them are likely to man the split ministries under the envisaged regime.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, could not be reached for comments as he did not pick calls made to his mobile line. He had yet to respond to a text message on the issue either.
Regardless, a source in the forefront of the president’s election on March 28, 2015, confided that a group of northern politicians had met Buhari before he travelled out to Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the need to ‘do an urgent thing’ about his cabinet.
On the delegation to the president, according to the source, were two former governors, now senators, a serving northern governor and two traditional rulers.