Buhari’s New Cabinet: Recycling Old Apparatus?

Following a two-day (August 19-20, 2019) retreat organized for ministerial appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari at the Federal Executive Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, Nigeria’s new cabinet was Wednesday, August 21, inaugurated, with 43 ministers sworn in, having been confirmed earlier by the Senate.

The induction retreat which was packaged to acquaint the appointees with the roadmap for the delivery of government policies, among others, was presided over by His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

However, widespread criticisms have continued to trail the appointment and screening process of the sworn-in ministers, ministers of state and other appointees.

Chief among the issues that sparked a recent controversy was the appointment of Mr. Rauf Aregbesola as Minister of Internal Affairs. Aregbesola, ex-governor of Osun State, has soon after inauguration and assignment of portfolio lamented his stark inexperience in matters of national security which is a critical component of his ministry.

Currently, there is no gainsaying that the issue of security has formed a major cause for concern among the comity of nations across the world, and Nigeria is not left out in this grave predicament, owing to the activities of various dangerously armed and criminal groups in the country.

Though the Buhari Administration seems to score a plus here in the appointment of core South-South sons: Sen. Godswill Akpabio, Barr. Festus Keyamo, and Sen. Ita Enang as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Minister of State, Niger Delta Affairs, and SSA on Niger Delta Affairs respectively, keen watchers of the regime are, however, pessimistic over what they describe as the presence of the bulk of old appointees in the new cabinet.

They express fear that the crop of former ministers and other appointees who have found themselves back in the fresh cabinet is likely to engender a recurrence of socio-economic failure palpably felt by the Nigerian populace in the first tenure of the Buhari Administration.

Meanwhile, the seven women on the ministerial list include Zainab Ahmed (Kaduna), Sharon Ikeazor (Anambra), Sadiya Farouq (Zamfara), Ambassador Maryam Katagum (Bauchi), Gbemi Saraki (Kwara), Ramatu Tijani (Kogi) and Pauline Tallen (Plateau).

The president has retained himself as Petroleum Minister, while former Governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva is to serve as Minister of State.

Also appointed is Godswill Akpabio as Niger Delta Minister, Adamu Adamu as Education Minister; Isa Pantami, Communication; and Rotimi Ameachi, Transportation.

The President has also created new ministries such as Ministry of Police Affairs and ministries for humanitarian services.

The full list of ministers and their ministries is below

  1. President Muhammadu Buhari – Minister of Petroleum
  2. Mohammed Musa Bello – Adamawa State – Minister of Federal Capital Territory, FCT
  3. Godswill Akpabio – Akwa Ibom State – Minister of Niger Delta
  4. Chris Ngige – Anambra State – Minister Labour and Employment
  5. Sharon Ikeazor – Anambra State – Minister of Environment
  6. Adamu Adamu — Bauchi State – Minister of Education
  7. Ambassador Maryam Katagum – Bauchi State – Minister of State Industry
  8. Timipre Sylva – Bayelsa State – Minister of State for Petroleum
  9. George Akume – Benue State – Minister of Special Duties
  10. Mustapha Baba Shehuri – Borno State – Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
  11. Goddy Jedy Agba – Cross River State – Minister of State, Power
  12. Festus Keyamo – Delta State – Minister of State, for Niger Delta
  13. Ogbonnaya Onu – Ebonyi State – Minister of Science and Technology
  14. Osagie Ehanire — Edo State – Minister of Health
  15. Clement Ike – Edo State — Minister of State for Budget
  16. Richard Adeniyi Adebayo – Ekiti State – Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment
  17. Geoffrey Onyeama – Enugu State – Minister of Foreign Affairs
  18. Ali Isa Pantami – Gombe State – Minister of Communication
  19. Emeka Nwajiuba – Imo State – Minister of State for Education
  20. Suleiman Adamu – Jigawa State – Minister of Water Resources
  21. Zainab Ahmed – Kaduna State – Minister of Finance
  22. Muhammad Mahmood – Kaduna State – State Environment
  23. Sabo Nanono – Kano State – Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
  24. Bashir Salihi Magashi – Kano State – Minister of Defence
  25. Hadi Sirika – Katsina State – Minister of Aviation
  26. Abubakar Malami – Kebbi State – Minister of Justice/Attorney General of the Federation
  27. Ramatu Tijjani – Kogi State – Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory (FCT)
  28. Lai Mohammed – Kwara State – Minister of Information and Culture
  29. Gbemisola Saraki – Kwara State – Minister of State, Transportation
  30. Babatunde Fashola – Lagos State – Minister of Works and Housing
  31. Adeleke Mamora – Lagos State – Minister of State for Health
  32. Mohammed H. Abdullahi – Nasarawa State – Minister of State, Science and Technology
  33. Zubair Dada – Niger State – Minister of State, Foreign Affairs
  34. Olamilekan Adegbite – Ogun State – Minister of Mines and Steel Development
  35. Tayo Alasoadura – Ondo State – Minister of State, Labour and Employment
  36. Rauf Aregbesola – Osun State – Minister Interior
  37. Sunday Dare – Oyo State – Minister of Youth and Sports
  38. Paulen Tallen – Plateau State – Minister of Women Affairs
  39. Rotimi Amaechi – Rivers State – Minister of Transportation
  40. Maigari Dingyadi – Sokoto State – Minister of Police Affairs
  41. Sale Mamman – Taraba State – Minister of Power
  42. Abubakar D. Aliyu – Yobe State – Minister of State, Works and Housing
  43. Sadiya Umar Faruk – Zamfara State – Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management
  44. Dr. Ikechukwu Ogah – Abia State – Minister of State Mines and Steel

Recall that belatedly and quite against popular expectations, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari had dissolved his cabinet only a day prior to his second term inauguration of May 29, 2019 after he bade his federal ministers to continue functioning in their respective portfolios.

While presiding over a valedictory session of the Federal Executive Council, PMB had asked his ministers to continue to work till May 28, when he had directed that they should submit their handover reports to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha.

He had said, “Although today is our last council meeting, I expect all of you to continue working until Tuesday, 28 May 2019 when you will officially hand over your schedules to your respective permanent secretaries.

“Your handover letters should be submitted to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.”

Mr. President had said that the decision not to dissolve his cabinet since 2015 had been because each of the ministers had their unique skills and strength.

Buhari had said, “Over the past three and a half years, we worked together to deliver our campaign promises. I strongly believe that it is this teamwork that led to the successes recorded during our first term.

“Although we all have a common vision, we frequently had heated debates in this room on the best way to achieve our goals. These differing views are what made the decisions we took all the more rational.

“It is this quality that made me retain my cabinet for the full term. Each of you in this room has a unique skill and strength. We are a reflection of the Nigeria we aspire to achieve. A diverse but tolerant nation, where no one is silenced and where every opinion should be heard and considered.”

He had said the country faced enormous challenges when his administration came on board in 2015, saying the ministers worked hard and scored many achievements.

Buhari had added, “We inherited a broken economy which eventually went into recession in the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2016. The situation was further compounded by insecurity and massive corruption.

“Many would have given up. Indeed, many outside commentators said our situation was well-nigh hopeless. However, we all came together and pushed forward to deliver our campaign promise to rescue our country from its parlous state.”