For state governors, the times have changed with respect to the influence they once wielded in the constitution of the federal cabinet.
As the nation awaits the list of the members of President Muhammadu Buhari’s new cabinet, the governors are left guessing just like other Nigerians.
Checks conducted by our correspondent revealed that so far, the state governors have had no say and have made no input to the expected list because they are not being involved by the President in any way.
A governor admitted last night that the President is coordinating the shortlist of the members of his new team all alone.
“As I talk to you, the President has not asked for any recommendation or a list of nominees from APC governors.
“Some of us have tried to suggest some names to him but he never said yes or no.
“I can say playing any role in assembling the cabinet is beyond us this time around.
“We are awaiting the ministerial list like all Nigerians,” he said.
President Buhari is also keeping his ex-ministers in suspense over their chances of returning to the cabinet.
Most of the former ministers are, however, hanging around Abuja to lobby for their return to the new cabinet or simply await their fate.
A few others have been appearing at official events involving the President without specific roles.
There are indications that about 70 per cent of the ex-ministers may not be reappointed by the President.
Investigation conducted by our correspondent revealed that none of the ex-ministers has received assurance from the President of likely reappointment.
Although the President has been sending some of these ex-ministers on errands as emissaries, it has been difficult for them to know their reappointment status with the President.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Most of the ex-ministers are still in Abuja for intense lobbying, but Buhari is keeping them in suspense.
“In spite of the fact that about 15 of them are interested in coming back, the President is yet to make any commitment to any of them or those lobbying for them.
“The situation is so dicey that no one can confidently say that he or she is sure of a return ticket to the cabinet.
“Even those rated as anointed among the ex-ministers cannot guarantee their second term in office.
“A few former ministers have wielded contacts from abroad but Buhari has kept his game plan to his chest.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “So far, I think about 70 to 80 per cent of the former cabinet members may not return. His body language suggests a major overhaul of the cabinet.
“The President, in an address to mark Democracy Day on June 12, said he would ‘assemble a strong team of Nigerians and allies to implement our transformative plans and proposals.’ This declaration was ominous for former cabinet members.”
Notwithstanding, Buhari has been consulting and sending some of these ex-ministers on errands as emissaries.
These include strategic ex-ministers like Adamu Adamu (a close confidant); Rotimi Amaechi (a key strategist); Ibe Kachikwu (who was with him in Saudi Arabia); Abubakar Malami (still giving legal advice); Geoffrey Onyeama (who was seen with some visiting Heads of Government); Hadi Sirika; Suleiman Adamu (more of a son); Lai Mohammed (rated as resourceful); and Dr. Chris Ngige (who will serve as Buhari’s emissary to the ILO Convention), among others.
A former Minister said: “I think so far, we are all just hanging around Abuja pending when the President will announce his new cabinet.
“We have not been able to travel out of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) because of the ministerial politics.
“If he needs a few of us, he used to invite us to clarify a few things. But it does not translate to reappointment.”
Section 147(1-3) directs the President to appoint at least 36 ministers unless the constitution is amended.
The section reads: “There shall be such offices of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as may be established by the President.
“Any appointment to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President.
“Any appointment under subsection (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of section 14(3) of this Constitution:
“Provided that in giving effect to the Provisions aforesaid the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each state, who shall be an indigene of such state.”