President Muhammadu Buhari is poised to effect some changes in the federal cabinet in the next couple of weeks. The president is said to be under intense pressure from some ‘powerful’ forces, including his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), to “undertake a cleansing of the Federal Executive Council (FEC),”
As part of the impending changes, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and her foreign affairs counterpart, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, may be moved to other ministries while Lai Mohammed will likely be replaced as Information minister
Also, the tripod of the Works, Housing and Power Ministry under former Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, may be split into three. Besides, the Transportation Ministry under Mr. Rotimi Amaechi might also be split into Transport and Aviation Ministries.
Senator Hadi Sirika may fully man the Aviation Ministry if it is eventually severed from transportation. For Fashola, whose volume of work is considered ‘unwieldy,’ he has already engaged the man who served as his Works Commissioner in Lagos State, Toyin Hamzat, as his Special Adviser on Works, while equally appointing Faud Oki as Adviser on Housing and Urban Development.
Oki served Fashola’s government in Lagos. Specifically, a source privy to the move hinted that the Finance Minister is seen as being ‘overwhelmed’ by her position and may give way for someone from the South- East considered more ‘grounded’ in economic and fiscal matters.
But it could not be confirmed if the plan to move the Finance Minister to another ministry has anything to do with the cold war between her and the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd). Contrary to established practice where the CG of Customs reported to the Finance Minister, the former military administrator of Kaduna State reports directly to the Presidency.
The Finance Minister has had it rough with about three ministers whose suggestions on the possible solutions to stem the nose-diving economy, especially the weak naira, have been interpreted as undermining her job. She was also said to have had an altercation with Transport Minister, Amaechi, while on a presidential delegation to China.
Adeosun, the immediate past Finance Commissioner in Ogun State, who rode on the back of Governor Ibikunle Amosun to get the ministerial position, is not alone in this category. Onyeama, who mans the Foreign Affairs Ministry, is likely to be affected in the cabinet change.
Already, the president recently appointed a former member of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, as his Senior Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs. “Truly, both finance and foreign affairs ministers are having issues. The expected changes may affect them,” a minister told New Telegraph.
The education minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu, has also come under heavy criticism that he lacks the requisite knowledge and experience to supervise the ministry compared to a renowned educationist and former vice chancellor, Prof. Anthony Anwuka, who is junior minister in the ministry. Adamu is a journalist by profession.
Though it could not be independently confirmed if some ministers will be dropped, feelers are strong that the number of ministers of state might be reduced in the event that the president bows to the pressure currently on him as some of them are likely to man the split ministries under the envisaged regime.
On the delegation to the president, according to the source, were two former governors, now senators, a serving northern governor and two traditional rulers. The source said: “We cannot pretend that all is well, especially when there are brazen acts that can bring disrepute to the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“From what we have discovered, the need for the president to reorganise his cabinet is becoming increasingly necessary by the day, particularly when there are signs that some incompetent persons have found their ways to the cabinet.
“This is not to disparage or denigrate persons, but the truth need to be told this time that there are some round pegs in square holes and the need to arrest or stem this tide is now because, from all indications, if nothing is done now, more issues that will ridicule the president and government are likely to emerge in the next few months.
“For God’s sake, what is a journalist doing as education minister and supervising a professor of education? Is that thinkable at all? And you think people should not talk to the president? “So, the need to urgently do something came up and a few concerned persons had to approach the president to sound him out that something urgent must be done as far as his cabinet is concerned, those found to be incompetent must pave the way for those who can make things happen.
“In fairness to the last administration, aside the plundering of the nation’s finances, it had one of the best economic management team with sound ministers of finance at different times. “We are in an era that only ideas can make things work and, from our assessment of some of the ministers, they are just filling slots without inputs from them and we think such era is gone.
“It is our duty to let him know and it is his responsibility to do the needful because the whole world is watching us as a nation as we are battling with our economy and the security challenges.” It was learnt that Adamu may be moved to man the Information Ministry while Lai Mohammed moves to a new ministry.