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Appointments: Buhari keeps Nigerians guessing 48 hours after


Mr. Babatunde

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In what appears to be a clear departure from the
past, President Muhammadu Buhari has kept
Nigerians guessing with respect to the appointment
of key positions like the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the media and his publicity team.

Unlike his predecessors and most state governors,
Buhari had yet to announce the names and
designations of those he has picked to perform these
and other functions on Saturday.

The various statements issued from the Office of the
President at the Presidential Villa on Saturday were
signed by Mr. Garba Shehu, the erstwhile Director of
Media and Publicity of the now defunct All
Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign
Council.

Shehu told one of our correspondents on Saturday
that the presidential campaign media team had
continued to work for Buhari pending the official
appointment of his spokespersons. “It is the same
campaign team,” he said.

When probed on whether Buhari would be
addressing the country soon to declare his next
course of action, he said the President had said all he
had to say in his inaugural ceremony and gala
speeches.
Buhari, who succeeded Goodluck Jonathan, was
sworn in as President on Friday.

Buhari had in a recent interview with a national daily
revealed that he would depart from the norm in his
approach to putting together his team.

Specifically, he said, “I am going to quote myself
because I heard in one of the interviews that I said
the type of people I am supposed to appoint like the
cabinet and the Secretary to the Government of the
Federation and Service Chiefs, will be different.

“Definitely my approach is going to be different from
what we had under the PDP where governors
nominated ministers.

“I have been around long enough to know the people
that I can approach for things like that. Deliberately,
we will look for competent people, dedicated and
experienced to head ministries.”

While reacting to a list of ministers and advisers
being circulated on the Internet, Buhari said at the
time he had not written anything on paper for
anybody to see.

However, there were news reports that governors
submitted lists of their nominees for appointment
into Buhari’s cabinet.

Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha who is also
the Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum
was reported to have confirmed to journalists that he
submitted a list of three persons.

There have also been reports listing former Lagos
State governor, Babatunde Fashola, his former Ekiti
State counterpart, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and former
Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi as some of
those to be appointed as ministers.

Another report had named the President of the
Nigerian Guild of Editors, Femi Adesina as the
possible choice as Special Adviser on Media.

Leaders of the party, the All Progressives Congress,
were also not willing to comment on the President’s
actions, noting that Buhari had transited from being
the President-elect to President.

An APC leader who spoke on the condition of
anonymity said, “You will agree with me that things
have changed. Buhari is now the President and what
you are asking me to comment on is not a party
matter any longer. It is his prerogative as President
to make an announcement when he chooses.”

A member of the Buhari campaign team, Mr. Osita
Okechukwu, also said, “Muhammadu Buhari is not a
man you can push. I am sure he will make an
announcement soon. He is a man who is prepared to hit the ground running, just exercise a little bit of
patience.”

Also speaking on the issue, another member of the
team, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin said, “What I think we
need to do is to allow the new President – it is not
that his mind is not made up on who he wants.
“It is a big decision to pick a person out of the whole
pack to speak for him and present him for who he is
and what he is.

“To be able to make an announcement of who is
going to be Chief of Staff, National Security Adviser
and so on, I think it will not be long. Allow him a few
hours, may be a day or two, we will all have a clearer
idea.”

In his inaugural speech, the President warned
political forces or anyone who thought he would be
answerable to him in the next four years, saying he
belonged to nobody. “Having just a few minutes ago
sworn on the Holy Book, I intend to keep my oath and
serve as President to all Nigerians. I belong to
everybody and I belong to nobody,” he said.

He allayed the fears by some suspected past corrupt
leaders who might view Buhari’s presidency as
coming to victimise them.

The President reassured such persons that their
fears were unfounded, adding that he had opted to
put the past behind him.

He said, “A few people have privately voiced their
fears that on coming back to office, I shall go after
them. These fears are groundless. There will be no
paying off old scores. The past is prologue.”

Meanwhile, most of the newly elected and re-elected
state governors who were sworn in on Friday have
yet to begin work, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.
While some of them have appointed few aides to
work with, others have yet to do so. It was also learnt
that lobbyists have begun moves for cabinet
appointments.

In Kwara State, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, who is
now in his second term, had shortly after his
inauguration, appointed three new officials and
reappointed three former government appointees.

The new appointees are Head of Service, Zarah
Umar; Chief of Staff, Babatunde Abdulwahab; Senior
Special Assistant, Government House, Ibrahim
Adeyemi; and Special Assistant Domestic, Segun
Abifari.

The reappointed officials are Isiaka Gold, who was
reappointed as Secretary to the State Government;
Dr. Muyideen Akorede as Senior Special Assistant,
Media and Publicity; and Abdulwahab Oba, Chief
Press Secretary.

The governor, who listed several capital projects to
be executed during his second term, urged residents
of the state to tighten their belts as the government
would embark on more Internally Generated
Revenue-driven and cost-saving measures.

The new governor of Cross River State, Senator Ben
Ayade, who succeeded Liyel Imoke, was still ruling
the state from his private residence within the State
Housing Estate in Calabar as of Saturday.
It was, however, observed that there was a flurry of
activities at the official residence of the governor.

Imoke did not return to the lodge after the 2012
rerun of the governorship election in the state.
But Ayade is expected to move into his official
residence on Monday, a Government House source
told one of our correspondents.

Although there was no change or renewal of
government in Osun State on Friday, We observed that most of the commissioners and special advisers of the dissolved Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s former cabinet were still found around the Government House.

The ministries in the state are being managed by
permanent secretaries since the governor’s second
inauguration on November 27, 2014. Our
correspondents observed that contractors working
on several projects in the state are no longer on site.

Moreover, expectations have heightened in Plateau
State, barely 48 hours after Governor Simon Lalong
assumed office. As of Saturday, the new governor
had yet to make appointments into key offices,
especially his principal aides.

A leader of the APC in Plateau, who spoke on the
condition of anonymity, disclosed to us  that some party members were unsettled due to
disagreement over key appointments.

Former Director of Press and Publicity, Lalong/
Tyoden Campaign Organisation, Mr. Festus Fuanter,
however, said there was no cause for worry as the
governor wanted to consult widely and ensure that
all interests were taken care of.
He noted that things would begin to take shape, “in
the next few days.”

In Oyo State, where Governor Abiola Ajimobi was re-elected to become the first two-term governor in the state, intense lobbying has started since the governor announced that his new cabinet would be smaller and based on performance.

Ajimobi had dissolved his cabinet on the eve of his
inauguration.

A source said some of the commissioners and aides,
who failed to canvass enough votes for Ajimobi in
their wards and Local Government Areas, had been
calling the Chairman of the APC in Oyo State, Mr.
Akin Oke, to speak to the governor on their behalf.
Ajimobi had vacated the State House for his Oluyole
home in Ibadan before the election and he is
expected to move back to his official residence soon.

Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State has moved
to the Government House, it was learnt. The official
residence is now wearing a now look, while offices
within the premises now have the official portrait of
the governor.

It was also observed that the governor’s lodge,
presidential lodge, as well as the offices of the
governor and his deputy where the flags of the
Peoples Democratic Party were hoisted had been
replaced with that of the APC.

In Imo State, re-elected Governor Rochas Okorocha
has launched a new pattern to reap in IGR for the
state.

The governor, who had abolished any form of levy in
his first term in office, had instructed the
Environment Transformation Committee to enforce
collection of levies.

Okorocha, in his maiden press briefing on the second
lap of his administration, urged the people of Imo to
prepare for sacrifices, noting that it was not going to
be business as usual.

As of the time of filing this report on Saturday
evening, the governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi
Ugwuanyi, has yet to announce any appointment into
his new government.

Our correspondent gathered that the new governor
is still consulting, and will name his appointees soon.

Feelers in the state chapter of the PDP indicated that
former Governor Sullivan Chime and the Deputy
Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, are likely
to make key inputs in the composition of the
incoming state executive council, as well as other
appointments.

A source in the PDP said a picture of the new
administration would emerge within the week.

The new Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode,
upon his assumption of office, has said he would
streamline government operations in the state to
reduce the cost of governance.

The governor, who met with the body of permanent
secretaries in the state public service on Saturday,
said although new offices would be created, efforts
would also be made to attract more investments to
the state.

The governor said he would be residing at the Lagos
House, Alausa, Ikeja, adding that he would be
available at his desk from 8am daily.
Ambode said he expected all public servants to also
be at their desks by 8am.

“The state civil service will drive the change and the
continuity which we intend to put in place in the next
four years,” he said.





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