Barely nine days to President Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration for a second term on May 29, ministers have intensified lobby to retain their appointments in the federal cabinet, LEADERSHIP Sunday has learnt.
This comes as the president is expected to convene the last meeting of the current Federal Executive Council (FEC) and officially dissolve its membership this week.
A special FEC will hold on Monday for the ministers to attend to last- minute memos and projects, while the valedictory FEC meeting is slated for Wednesday.
LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that about 70 percent of the current ministers are desperately lobbying to serve in the next cabinet.
Some top government and party sources told our correspondents in confidence that some of the minister seeking to return to the cabinet have abandoned their tasks and are busy chasing after close associates of the president to help them into the anticipated federal council.
Another source in the All Progressives Congress (APC) revealed that President Buhari has weighed his options for a new cabinet that would help him deliver on his campaign promises, stressing that he had already compiled a list of such ministers.
The source said, “There is intense lobbying. This is because they have realised that unlike in 2015 when it took about six months for the president to show up with his list of ministers, he is determined to hit the ground running this time around. “From all indications, Mr. President is going to set the ball rolling. He is bent on sending his list of ministers to the Senate almost immediately it is convened in June.”
According to him, the president intends to do a clean sweep of the cabinet and gather a new team that would help him deliver the dividends of democracy to Nigerians. “They have held talks with the members of the National Working Committee of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and other close associates of Mr President.”
Another reliable source disclosed that APC members who lost their governorship and senatorial elections are also lobbying to make the cabinet. It was learnt that some of them would be compensated with ministerial and other federal appointments.
A source said President Buhari will have an extended cabinet this time around, disclosing that apart from the mandatory 36 ministers from each state of the federation, the president is likely pick six extra ministers, one from each geopolitical zone. He said: “Remember the president mooted the idea of an expanded cabinet in 2017 but had to shelve the idea because of various political interests. But, definitely, this time we are going to have an expanded cabinet.
“This time around the Power, Works and Housing Ministry will be unbundled into three different ministries for efficient service delivery. The Aviation ministry will be promoted to a full ministry and will no longer be under the ministry of transportation.
“The President is also likely to relinquish the petroleum ministry while the minister of state for petroleum portfolio will be abolished,” the source said. Another top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “No one knows the mindset of the President on how he will constitute the next Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The situation is so dicey that those rated as closer to the President in the cabinet cannot authoritatively say whether or not they will be retained.”