President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday re-appointed Abba Kyari and Boss Mustapha as his chief of staff and secretary to the government of the federation, respectively.
While these appointments were not particularly surprising, they tell us a few things about Buhari’s next cabinet. We takes a look at a few signs from the very recent past, and the current situation of things.
THE MINISTERIAL TEAM AROUND THE CORNER
A few weeks ago, Femi Adesina, one of Buhari’s spokesperson, said Nigerians would not wait longer than necessary for Buhari’s cabinet. An eminent Nigerian replied by saying Nigerians have already waited longer than necessary.
This was relative to South Africa’s presidential cabinet, which was unveiled 96 hours after Cyril Ramaphosa’s inauguration as president. It has been one month and one week since President Buhari was inaugurated but his ministerial team remains a mirage.
However, by Buhari’s own standard, Nigeria may not have to wait for as long as the country did in his first coming; in his first term, Buhari appointed his Cos and SGF on August 27, 2015 — three months after his inauguration.
This time around the president made the same appointment on July 5, 2019 — a month after his inauguration. Going by this timeline, Buhari’s second coming appointments are two months earlier than his first. This means Nigerians may not have to wait till October before getting the full ministerial list. Give or take; August, 2019.
DON’T RE-INVENT THE WHEEL
Buhari rode to power the first time on a mandate of change. His first federal budget was dubbed the budget of change. His ministers were the ministers to deliver change. But the president likes things steady — change or not.
Yemi Kale. Godwin Emefiele. Uche Orji. Segun Awolowo. And now, Abba Kyari and Boss Mustapha. President Buhari does not like to fix whatever he believes is working, and these appointments have just proven that.
As long as the president believes an individual is working for him, and for the country — he believes you do not have to re-invent the wheel. This tells us to expect familiar faces in Buhari’s next cabinet.
QUICK FACT: Buhari is the first Nigerian president since 1999 not to have re-jigged his cabinet in a four-year tenure.
GARBA SHEHU REMAINS BUHARI’S MAN
Prior to the 2019 Presidential elections, there were talks in the presidential circles that Garba Shehu, a staunch Atiku Abubakar loyalist may be working for the former vice president.
Through the elections, Shehu stayed with President Buhari, and campaign vigorously against his former boss, who was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flagbearer. Buhari won.
Guess what, Shehu was the one who released a statement on Buhari’s latest appointment, signally that Shehu has continued to act in his capacity as special assistant on media and publicity to the president. Get used to Shehu, he is likely to be here for longer.
HAMMED ALI MAY REMAIN AT NCS
On August 27, 2015, when Buhari appointed CoS and SGF, he also appointed Hameed Ali as comptroller-general, Nigerian customs service and Ita Enang as SSA to the president on national assembly matters (senate).
This time around, both men were not listed on the appointment. But for both men, this is also not a problem, as both offices do not have stipulated terms of office in any Nigerian law. In fact, the senate committee on customs said in 2013 that a customs CG has no stipulated term of office.
Abdullahi Dikko, the former customs CG, was in office for six years. Ali is yet to stay four years, needless to speak of six. The customs boss as a Buhari ally may remain.
Ita Enang, on the other hand, has continued to act as SSA, up until July 2019 — his continued place as SSA is also at the discretion of the president.
MAY 29 REMAINS SACROSANCT
Did you notice that the latest appointments were made with the clause: “appointments take effect from May 29, 2019”. Nigeria may have moved on to June 12 as democracy day, but the transition will continue to be May 29.
New ministers will be ratified by the national assembly as the law stipulates. Fear not, the appointment of new ministers will not “take effect from May 29, 2019”.
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