One of the two persons President Muhammadu Buhari nominated for ministerial positions on Wednesday, Suleiman Hassan, is the same person the president chose in January from Gombe State as one of his 46 non-career ambassadorial nominees, PREMIUM TIMES can confirm after a background check.
Mr. Hassan, already ambassador-designate having been so confirmed by the Senate earlier in March, was nominated for ministerial position on Wednesday by Mr. Buhari via a letter to the Senate.
He is to represent Gombe State in the Federal Executive Council, following the exit of former Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, from Nigeria’s public service to take up responsibility as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.
When asked for comment on the seeming confusion, presidential spokesperson, Femi Adeshina, said: “I have no information on that”.
But a source close to the President, with relationship that dates back to the days of the defunct Congress of Progressives Change, one of the parties that formed the All Progressives Congress, said picking Mr. Hassan as a ministerial nominee despite the fact of his being an ambassador-designate was not a matter of confusion or lack of due diligence.
According to our source, since Mrs. Mohammed was made minister, representing Gombe State, the President’s long-standing allies who were with him in CPC had been aggrieved, complaining the UN top official was not involved in the efforts to help Mr. Buhari to power.
Then, there was agitation that any other appointment coming to Gombe State should be given to “one of those that worked for Buhari”, said the source.
So, the source continued, when it was time to pick non-career envoys, the president had to choose Mr. Hassan.
“He (Mr. Hassan) is Buhari’s boy; the relationship between them is like the one between Buhari and B.D. Lawal (Secretary General of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal),” said the source.
Mr. Hassan, now Registrar of the Surveyors Council of Nigeria, was the Gombe State Chairman of the CPC.
He had been nominated envoy since January before Mrs. Mohammed left at the beginning of February.
Our source said once the Senate confirms Mr. Hassan minister, the President would withdraw him as an envoy-designate.
“It is an elevation,” said the source.
Mr. Hassan was nominated minister alongside Stephen Ocheni from Kogi State, which has not had a minister in the FEC since the death of James Ochonu in an accident last year.
Unlike Mr. Hassan, Mr. Ocheni does not have a background in active partisan politics. He is a professor of Public Sector Accounting and Dean Faculty of Management Sciences at the Kogi State University.
Previously, he was Director, Finance and Accounts, in the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2010 – 2013), and Director, Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (2003 – 2010).