As President Muhammadu Buhari is being expected back from medical vacation in the United Kingdom, there are some major issues he will deal with upon resumption of his duties. Here, we highlights five of them.
1. Cabinet reshuffle:
Talks about the possibility of President Muhammadu Buhari reshuffling his cabinet have been there even before he went on medical vacation. There were reports a cabinet reshuffle had been in the offing before May 29 when the administration marked its second anniversary. Those expecting a reshuffle believe that some members of the cabinet have abysmally performed below expectations, hence the need to ease them out. Indications that the cabinet would be reshuffled emerged a few days ago when Osinbajo swore in two new ministers, Professor Stephen Ocheni from Kogi State and Alhaji Suleiman Hassan from Gombe State, without assigning portfolios to them. They were sworn in more than two months after the confirmation of their nominations by the Senate.
Professor Osinbajo had, after inaugurating the new ministers, assured that their portfolios would be announced shortly. But almost two weeks after their inauguration, the portfolios are yet to be named, though they have been attending the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings.
It is believed that Osinbajo was only directed by President Buhari to inaugurate the new ministers and wait for him to assign them portfolios when a cabinet reshuffle is effected.
Since Ocheni and Hassan were sworn in, fears have gripped most cabinet members who are not sure of their fate in the event some changes are effected in FEC. There is a tendency that some of them will be shown the way out while others will have their portfolios swapped.
2. Babachir, Oke’s fate
The fate of the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Engr Babachir David Lawal and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayo Oke, is still hanging in the balance. The report of the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo-led three-man panel that investigated allegations of infractions again them has not been implemented.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on April 19 suspended Babachir and Oke and set up the committee to investigate alleged financial frauds against both officials within two weeks.
Babachir was investigated for allegedly awarding millions of naira contracts to a company in which he had interest, Global Vision Limited, under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE).
A Senate Committee on Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East, which had earlier specifically found the suspended SGF culpable of alleged complicity in a N200 million grass-cutting contract to clear “invasive plant species” in Yobe State, had demanded his resignation and prosecution.
Oke was probed for alleged $43.4m operations cash found by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission at apartment 7B in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos. He had reportedly claimed that the money belonged to the NIA and was approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan for some covert operations.
In accordance with Buhari’s directive, the most senior permanent secretary in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Dr Habibat Lawal and Oke’s senior deputy, Ambassador Arab Yadam, are currently acting as SGF and Director-General of the NIA respectively.
There are reports that the presidential panel recommended that Babachir and Oke be sacked and replaced.
3. Ibrahim Magu
President Muhammadu Buhari must have been told that the Senate has not shifted its ground on the appointment of the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu. The upper legislative chamber had drawn the battle line with the Presidency long before Buhari embarked on medical vacation. Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has demonstrated both in words and action that the Presidency would not budge an inch on the issue.
Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai on July 6 said both President Muhammadu Buhari and Acting President Yemi Osinbajo told him that Ibrahim Magu would not be removed.
The Senate had on July 4 passed a resolution suspending all issues relating to the confirmation of nominees and urged Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to respect the constitution and laws as they relate to nominees’ confirmation. But the executive argued that certain federal appointments should not require Senate’s confirmation.
That was the position of a legal advisory prepared by judicial and legal experts as a working document in the Presidency on the differences in the constitutional interpretations on matters of certain federal appointments. The Presidency is said to be considering approaching the Supreme Court over the refusal by the Senate to confirm the appointment of Magu, alleging that had more to do with politics than with the law.
But the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, had while featuring on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) forum in Abuja on Tuesday clarified that the Senate had no pre-meditated plan to reject Magu as chairman of the EFCC. The Senate president explained that Magu’s rejection was prompted by a report from the Department of State Services (DSS) among other issues, emphasising that the decision to reject Magu’s confirmation was in the interest of democracy.
4. Boko Haram resurgence:
President Muhammadu Buhari must be worried that Boko Haram militants who his administration was hitherto pleased to have degraded, have staged a comeback. The administration had last December announced that the Boko Haram stronghold in the Sambisa forest had been captured.
A fortnight ago, the governor of Borno State, Kassim Shettima, while speaking to State House reporters after a closed-door meeting with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and the service chiefs, cautioned that though the terrorists had been sufficiently decimated, their capacity for attacks should not be underrated.
The service chiefs have, in compliance with the directive handed down by Osinbajo, relocated to the command centre in Maiduguri.
In spite of the pockets of attacks in Borno State within the last one month, the Defence Headquarters denied a Boko Haram resurgence.
Nigerians would like to see how President Muhammadu Buhari will fast track the rescue of the officials of the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) and the staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) abducted recently by the sect while carrying out oil exploration research in the Lake Chad Basin Frontier Exploration.
Osinbajo had last weekend directed the military and all security agencies to intensify counter-terror efforts in Borno State in order to have a strong control and secure lives and property. He charged them to continue the search and rescue missions to locate and free all the remaining abducted persons as soon as possible, “using all available and expedient means in the circumstances.”
He was said to have assured that despite the resurgence of terrorist attacks in Borno, “the federal government is not only on top of the situation, but will define the end of these atrocities by both winning the war and winning the peace in the north-east.”
5. APC internal crisis
All is obviously not well with the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). The party seems to have been engulfed by internal wrangling which, if not properly and perhaps urgently handled, may spell doom for it in the coming elections.
Things seem to be falling apart at the various state chapters of the APC. In Bauchi State, Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, are apparently not on the same wavelength at the moment. In Kaduna State, Governor Nasir el-rufai and Senator Shehu Sani appear to have poised for ‘war’.
The battle of supremacy between Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and his predecessor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, is far from over. In Rivers State, the recent party “restructuring” which the former governor of the state and Minister of Transportation Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, reportedly did with his own political caucus is generating ripples at the state chapter of the party.
There are rumours that a former vice president and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Kwankwaso and other bigwigs of the ruling party may return to the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as they were reported to have been approached. Atiku, while speaking at the second Inter Party Advisory Council of Nigeria (IPAC) annual conference recently, flayed the failure by the All Progressives Congress to organise statutory meetings for its organs. He also observed that lack of internal democracy had made the APC and other political parties “undemocratic.”
Osinbajo had on Wednesday kick-started what appeared to be a peace deal process in the All Progressives Congress with a meeting with state chairmen of the party.