Ministerial nominees: Why Buhari dumped Ogbeh, Dambazau, Kachikwu, Dalung, Anwukah, others
After 54 days of suspense, President Muhammadu Buhari last Tuesday released the names of 43 ministerial nominees that were forwarded to the National Assembly for clearance; as he tries to cobble his cabinet for his second and final term.
The list, which has elicited divergent reactions, has 14 ministers that were retained; while 19 were replaced. The list is also the highest since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999.
Those dropped included: Ex-minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau; Solomon Dalung (Sports); Adebayo Shittu (Communications); Suleiman Adamu (Water Resources); Ibe Kachikwu (Petroleum); Audu Ogbeh (Agriculture); Udo Udoma (Budget and National Planning); Ibrahim Usman Jibril (Environment); Khadija Bukar Ibrahim (ex-state minister, Foreign Affairs); Cladius Omoleye Daramola (ex-minister of state for Niger Delta); Prof Anthony Anwukah (ex-minister of state for Education); Aisha Alhassan (Women Affairs); Dan Ali (Defence); Okechukwu Enelamah (Trade, Investment and Industry); Aisha Abubakar (ex-minister of state, Trade and Investment); Heineken Lokpobiri (ex-minister of State for Agriculture); Isaac Adewole (Health); Abubakar Bawa Bwari (ex-minister of state for Solid Minerals); Usani Uguru; ex-minister of Niger Delta.
Kachikwu: Of all the 19 ministers that were dropped, the erstwhile Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu was the most anticipated because he had periodic squabbles with then Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Maikanti Baru, a matter that snowballed into a protracted crisis of confidence.
On October 3, 2017, a lengthy letter dated August 30, 2017 and written by Kachikwu to President Buhari leaked to the public.
In the four-page letter, the former Petroleum Minister accused the former NNPC GMD of awarding $25 billion contracts without consulting either his office or the NNPC board.
He further accused Baru of alleged insubordination, lack of adherence to due process and running a “bravado management style” that was capable of dwarfing the growth of the sector.
The matter, according to industry watchers, angered Baru’s backers believed to be influential politicians within the Presidency.
They considered Kachikwu’s letter an affront and swore not to see him return, despite the array of legendary projects he was supervising.
According to a top civil servant who craved anonymity, “since Kachikwu accused Baru of sidelining him, the power brokers ensured he remained sidelined till the end of the first tenure of President Buhari. They also ensured he never saw Buhari or succeeded in lobbying his way back a second time”.
Another ‘sin’ of Kachikwu was what was seen as his initial reluctance to aggressively resume oil exploration in the North as directed by Buhari in 2016.
Kachikwu was replaced with Festus Keyamo (Delta State), who was the Spokesman of the President Buhari Campaign Council for the 2019 election.
Usani: For the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani, his hopes of returning to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) were dashed because he was defeated in the intrigues of power play by Goddy Jeddy Agba who clinched the Cross Rivers State ministerial slot.
Sources at the presidency revealed that Usani’s first outing as a Minister was so tumultuous that three Permanent Secretaries served under him.
Sources confided in Sunday Sun that in his home state, Usani horribly divided and weakened the All Progressive Congress (APC) such that it was impossible to have a cohesive and formidable front. The development was linked to the loss of the party at the gubernatorial election.
He was also accused of causing some upsets at the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. But a source in the ministry who spoke anonymously said that there was nothing unusual about having three Permanent Secretaries working under Usani.
“It was just a normal routine thing. Even the one that retired yesterday (Tuesday) attained the age of 60. So, there was nothing weird about it,” the source said.
Anwukah: In the case of the former Minister of State, Education, Prof. Anthony Anwukah, his non-return did not come as a surprise to the staff of the Federal Ministry of Education.
They attributed it to his poor performance and abrasive human relations; even with his personal staff.
In addition, many said he did not have a cordial working relationship with his superior, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who, unlike Anwukah enjoyed presidential patronage.
Anwukah, it was further gathered found it uncomfortable working with Adamu Adamu, who he feels possesses lower academic qualifications than himself.
Many believe that mindset gave rise to the power tussle that occurred in 2015 when they assumed office.
Adamu, apparently enjoying robust support from the presidential villa, frustrated Anwukah to the point that he threatened to resign. There were claims that Adamu took over the supervision of agencies and parastatals hitherto supervised by the minister of state.
According to analysts, the action made Anwukah redundant with little or no influence on the activities of the ministry. It was also gathered that Adamu appointed heads of agencies without Anwukah’s knowledge nor contributions.
Adewole: With regards to Prof. Isaac Adewole, the former Minister of Health, many expressed shock that he was not reappointed by President Buhari because the permutation was that he championed great reforms that should have guaranteed him a reappointment.
With his name not on the list, industry pundits are of the opinion that his running battle with Joint Health Workers Union (JOHESU) over welfare, remuneration and condition of service may have blighted his chances.
Nonetheless, it is on record that he championed the implementation of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) policy with has great impact on basic health care services.
Some officials of the ministry who pleaded anonymity said his inability to work closely with his then Minister of State, Dr. Osagie Ehinire, was also partly responsible for the poor records he had in some other areas of the healthcare system.
Some close observers claim the decision of the President was to compensate the ex-governor for his support and loyalty to the party, and to also keep him politically relevant in the state and beyond.
Udoma: Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, the former Minister of Budget and National Planning, exhibited a rare trait of a Nigerian public servant by asking President Buhari not to reappoint him a second time.
Ministry workers hailed him for his patriotism and said he would have ordinarily made it for a second term as a minister as he was in the good books of Buhari.
Ogbeh and Lokpobiri: In the case of Mr Audu Ogbeh, the erstwhile Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and his Minister of State, Heineken Lokpobiri, many believe Buhari dumped them because of their woeful performance, especially Ogbeh’s.
Both Ogbeh and Lokpobiri were replaced with Senator George Akume and Timipre Silva from Benue and Bayelsa states, respectively.
Many insist that the shoes of Akinwumi Adesina, who was Ogbeh’s predecessor, were too big for him.
This was worsened by his inability to deliver his party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), in his polling unit at the last presidential polls.
The president’s henchmen thus felt it was better to retire aged Ogbeh since he has shown sufficient frailty both in politics and civil service.
Meanwhile, Lokpobiri, it was gathered, claimed to have told President Buhari not to reappoint him as he is running for the Bayelsa gubernatorial election slated for November 16.
The aforesaid notwithstanding, political pundits maintain that with or without Heineken’s gubernatorial ambition, his chances of returning as a minister were too slim because the APC was more disposed to compensating Silva who has failed on two occasions to become the governor of Bayelsa State.
Bwari: For Abubakar Bawa Bwari who served as Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development during President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term in office, his exclusion from the 2019 ministerial list was a surprise.
After the former Minister of Mines and Steel Development and current Executive Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, resigned and Abubakar Bwari took over the reins of leadership, making civil servants to have high hopes of his return.
He was preferred to a fresh appointee because as an insider, he is sufficiently experienced to man the ministry, rather than having a rookie that will spend months learning the ropes again.
Some members of staff of the ministry said: “Mining as a technical area, needs familiar faces rather than the traditional practice of reshuffling ministerial appointees and bringing in greenhorns. Stability is essential for the growth of the sector”.
Subsequent events and press conferences revealed Bwari’s interest to be among the ministerial nominees, but unfortunately he was excluded.
During an interaction with some civil servants in the ministry who did not want to be named, they said: “Whoever will come in, it will take him or her not less than six months depending on how smart the person learns to understand the workings of the ministry and the sector at large. This is what stunts the growth of the sector”.
Dambazau: As regards Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau, the immediate past Minister of Interior, his exclusion from the second term ministerial list was greeted with mixed feelings.
Under Dambazau, the headship of Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigeria Prison Services, Federal Fire Service and the Nigeria Police Force were all Muslims and from the northern part of the country.
If that did not vandalise his second term chances, then the January 16, 2016 video of Dambazau’s shoes being cleaned by his security detail, an official of the Department of State Security (DSS), did.
The 30-second viral video trended with the headline “Dambazau turns DSS officer into a shoe cleaner”.
The video showed the minister, dressed in white, sitting on a couch while the officer with a white handkerchief tried his best to ensure Dambazau’s shoes were shining.
Aside the aforesaid, many feel that the straw that broke the camel’s back and eventually consumed his second term ministerial ambition was the alleged rift between him and the governor of Kano State, Umar Ganduje.
Although his son was lucky to win House of Representatives ticket, his ‘sin’ according to sources, was not only declaring interest to contest the governorship ticket against Ganduje, but also allegedly joining forces with the faction that worked against the re-election of Ganduje as the Kano governor.
Obviously, yanking off his name from the ministerial list was a payback from the governor who personally endorsed the ministerial nominees from Kano State.
Dalung: In the case of Mr Solomon Dalung, the former Minister of Sports and Youth Development, his exclusion from the ministerial list did not certainly come as a shock to many sports-loving Nigerians. He is reputed to have plunged the ministry into a circus of crises such that many wished they could fast-track his exit.
Under Dalung’s watch, all the Sports Federations crumbled like a pack of cards due to one challenge or the other.
Since his assumption of office as the minister, the sports family never experienced any relative peace. From the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) to the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), it has been tales of woe. The fund scam at International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) has still not been unrivaled.
Under Dalung, the NFF and other sports federations were allegedly starved of the statutory monthly budgetary subvention for several months.
Apart from his multiple flaws in the sports circle, which earned him the derogatory description as the worst Sports Minister ever, his endless cold war with the governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, actually nailed his coffin.
Despite all the alleged atrocious acts as a minister, Dalung was quoted in the media to have bragged that nothing could rob him the chance of returning as Buhari’s minister a second time.
Again, based on his dressings, the alleged horrifying grammatical blunder of the funds ‘spended was properly spended’ among others, Darling was certainly the most maligned minister and as such only a handful of Nigerians expected his return.
Enelamah: At the Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment, many kicked against the reappointment of Dr Okechukwu Enelemah as minister.
According to industry watchers, Enelamah as an ex-Trade minister and the acting Managing Director of the Nigeria Export Processing of Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA), Mr Terhemba Nongo were directed by the Senate to return N14.3 billion to the Federal Government from alleged opaque deals.
The directive was contained in a letter written by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Trade and Investment, Mr Mohammed Sabo. According to the Senate, the money was allegedly diverted from the 2017 budget of NEPZA.
In the letter, Mr Sabo asked the minister and the NEPZA boss to either return the N14.3 billion of face dire consequences.
He also said the money was first lodged in NEPZA’s account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria, from 2017 budget allocations and thereafter moved into the private firm’s account.
Aisha Abubakar: Also, the Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar who was in charge of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in all the parastatals under the ministry did not make it back.
She was heavily criticised by industry operators for not making much impact in the ministry.
Though she was later drafted to oversee the Women Affairs Ministry, many were elated not to find her name on the ministerial list.
Alhassan: Aisha Alhassan popularly called Mama Taraba was the erstwhile Minister of Women Affairs.
While serving in Buhari’s administration, she openly showed loyalty to former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who was also the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 elections.
While many thought Buhari will fire her for the obvious insubordination, the Presidency rather ignored her until she finally resigned on September 29, 2018 ahead of the 2019 elections to pursue a gubernatorial ambition, which she lost.
She tweeted: “Today, the 29th of September 2018, I wish to transmit to the President my decision to resign as the Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and withdraw my membership of the All Progressive Congress (APC),”
Not done, Alhassan stormed the APC office in Jalingo and retrieved all property she hitherto bought for the office. She was replaced by Aisha Abubakar, Minister of State, Trade and Investment.
Daramola: Cladius Omoleye Daramola, the ex-minister of state, Niger Delta was largely under the radar with many not knowing who he was. Ministry staff described him as a silent boss, just as industry stakeholders lamented that his impact was not felt and they believe it was what denied him a second chance at FEC.
Dan-Ali: For Mansur Dan-Ali, the former Minister of Defence, his return would have been a miracle judging from his glaring abysmal four-year performance.
Security experts and the public expressed endless shock over his inability to tackle banditry and terrorism in his state, Zamfara.
The development got so bad that traditional rulers in his state indicted him for being complicit.
Rather than tackle the issues, he was reported to was giving one excuse after the other as insecurity ravaged the North.
As a liability in the Buhari administration, he had to be dropped.
Shittu: Adebayo Shittu, the ex-communications minister was enmeshed in complex web of controversies.
Aside battling the controversies surrounding his evasion of the mandatory National Youth Service Corps, he was constantly at loggerheads with the APC and his governor, Abiola Ajumobi, who, in collaboration with the party, totally nailed his chances of governing the state.
What also worked against Shittu apart from the disagreement with his party, was his poor grasp of ICT, being the bedrock of his ministry. Though he conceded that he did not understand the complexities, stakeholders said he was also frighteningly slow at learning.
Bukar Ibrahim: Khadija Bukar Ibrahim, ex-state minister, Foreign Affairs did not incur the wrath of the power brokers, neither was she in the news for the wrong reasons.
Having served as a minister, she left to contest for House of Representatives ticket on the APC platform and won. She was hitherto at the lower chamber before becoming a minister.
She is currently the Chairman Ad-hoc Committee on Media at the House of Representatives.
Jubril: For Ibrahim Usman Jubril, the ex-minister of Environment, he tendered his resignation to become the 12th Emir of Nasarawa, Nasarawa State.