Hopes of Nigerians for a glimpse into President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet was dashed Wednesday when the nominee list failed to arrive the Senate on schedule.
Buhari had promised at several fora that the ministerial list would be sent to the Senate on or before September 30.
On Wednesday, the last day of September, there was no ministerial list in the chamber, prompting Minority Leader Godswill Akpabio to raise a motion vide Order 14 of the Senate Standing Orders. He drew the attention of his colleagues to Buhari’s promise and asked Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, if the list was on hand.
Deputy Majority Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, quickly countered him. He said the office of the Senate President was still open till 12:00 am to receive correspondence from Aso Rock.
Daily Sun, however, gathered that the Buhari-approved list would be read in plenary on October 6.
Nigeria celebrates her independence anniversary on October 1 and next Tuesday is the next legislative day in the Senate.
Traditionally, the Senate President reads presidential communications in plenary, after which it would be referred to the relevant standing committee for consideration.
Addressing newsmen after the Senate adjourned plenary, Chairman of the Adhoc Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Dino Melaye, promised to inform Nigerians as soon as a formal notice was sent to the National Assembly.
He said the Senate waited patiently on Tuesday for the list, but to no avail.
“As I speak to you, the Senate is yet to receive any list of ministerial nominees from President Muhammadu Buhari. We have adjourned till next week. But in the event that we get the list before midnight today (Tuesday), we shall inform Nigerians about it,” Melaye said.
In a related development, Daily Sun gathered that the Presidency is fine-tuning the ministerial list here in Nigeria which is reportedly ready for submission.
A Presidency source said: “the first list contains 41 names,” adding that, “the President intends to really cut down on the number of ministers and the list right now contains more names than the required constitutional one-candidate-per-state.
“Some states like Lagos and Ekiti have three candidates each and only one of them can become minister.
“Former Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, Abike Dabiri-Erewa and one other female name are said to be on the list.”
Another source added that Buhari has come under intense pressure from the political elite for him to accommodate acolytes in the cabinet.
“The President has been under serious pressure to drop Fashola, as a topshot in the All Progressives Congress (APC) would not hear of the President appointing Fashola. But the President prefers him above others…”
The final decision, it was learnt, will be taken in the Presidential Villa. Also, in the case of Ekiti, two former governors of the state, Segun Oni, Kayode Fayemi and human rights lawyer, Femi Falana are also said to be on the list.
“As consolation those who don’t make it to be ministers will be compensated with other appointments,” the source said.
The source continued that the ministerial list was one of the reasons Buhari invited some of his National Assembly aides to New York, “in order to strategise on how to avoid any hitch after the list has been submitted, considering the crisis following the Senate President’s trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).