The battle for slots – and the speculations – in the 43-man cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari intensified on Thursday, August 1, 2019, with ministers-designate trying to outwit one another.
The president is said to have raised a kitchen cabinet advisory committee on how to put a round peg in a round hole.
The advisory committee is said to have concentrated on the 29 new members who are joining the Federal Executive Council, FEC.
Most of the 14 old ministers will return to their portfolios, according to sources close to the committee.
But there is a pall of uncertainty over Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, even as Monday is tentatively slated for the inauguration of the ministers.
Ministers-designate have been meeting some power brokers to intercede on their behalf for portfolios where they will be able to influence decisions, The Nation learnt.
Some ministers-designate are said to be lobbying for ministries where they can impact on the lives of Nigerians with much visibility.
Some of the ministers-designate have, however, been suspected of lobbying for some portfolios, which they believe can help to oil their political machines ahead of the 2023 general elections.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Most of the ministers-designate have stayed put in Abuja to outplay each other in the lobbying for portfolios. Since they have no direct access to the President, they have been mounting pressure on some power brokers and members of the President’s Kitchen cabinet.
“The President has however raised a small team of Kitchen cabinet members to review the Curriculum Vitae of the new ministers and present an advisory on how to fix them in ministries which will make them efficient.
“The real goal is optimal performance by the ministers-designate, especially those 29 who are just coming on board.
“The advisory team has been working quietly around the clock without the knowledge of the ministers designate.”
A source, however, confided in our correspondent that three ideas have come out of the consultations between the President and the advisory team on portfolios for the new would-be ministers. These are:
- immediate split of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing into three;
- a return of all former ministers to their portfolios for continuity because it takes a minister an average of six to nine months to adjust to a new ministry; and
- speedy completion of all ongoing projects for impact on Nigerians
Another highly placed source gave insights into the cabinet politics in the last 72 hours.
The source gave some portfolio scenarios being tinkered with by the President and his inner caucus associates.
It was learnt that the President will likely announce the split of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing during the inauguration of the new ministers.
The source added: “In fairness, the President had agreed to split the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing before the last Federal Executive closed for business. We did not know why he delayed it.
“We expect the President to announce the split when he is inaugurating the new ministers.”
But there was a pall of uncertainty on whether or not there will be a Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and who should occupy the seat.
A government source added: “Certainly, the President will remain the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources. What is uncertain is whether or not there will be a Minister of State. Buhari is keeping his game plan to his chest.
“Three Ministers-designate have been penciled down for the position of Minister of State but fresh security reports on them will determine Buhari’s final decision on this portfolio.
“We also expect that ex-Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu may emerge as a Special Adviser on Energy with more powers.”
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