As the ministers take the oath of office today, the priority focus of the Federal Government will be on the economy and security.
Top Presidency sources informed this newspaper on Sunday that appointees would be guided by the eight-point agenda of the President as stated in his election manifesto.
It was further learnt that the President might set targets and performance index for the cabinet members in order to create an immediate impact on the economy, security, and other key areas.
Our correspondent gathered that Tinubu was determined to build on the achievements of his predecessor in the areas of blue economy, security, job creation, and anti-corruption.
“The President will likely set goals for them (ministers) in terms of the key objectives his administration seeks to achieve. He will speak generally to his expectations from the ministers and also challenge them on how they can work together in synergy to actualize his programs and policy as contained in his manifesto for the economic development of the country,’’ a presidential source noted.
Tinubu had last Wednesday unveiled the portfolios of 45 ministers nine days after they were confirmed by the Senate.
Like his predecessor, the President will head the petroleum ministry while a former Senator, Heineken Lokpobiri, is the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources.
The list indicated that the President appointed 13 of the nominees as ministers of state and also created new ministries and renamed a few others.
In his 80-page manifesto containing multi-sectoral policy options tagged, ‘Renewed Hope 2023 – Action Plan for a Better Nigeria,’ Tinubu listed an eight-point agenda that his administration would vigorously pursue.
Top on his priority lists of action plans were national security, economy, agriculture, power, oil and gas, transportation and education.
He also outlined policy options for healthcare, digital economy, women empowerment, judicial reform, federalism, decentralisation of power and foreign policy.
The document also included programmes on decent wages for workers, manufacturing, naira stability and total transformation of the country.
In a statement that accompanied the release of the manifesto on October 20, 2022, Tinubu said, “When I was governor of Lagos, my team and I developed institutions and policies that changed the face of the state. It became a safe place for its residents and an engine of prosperity for all those willing to work in pursuit of their economic dreams.
“What my team and I achieved in Lagos, together we all can achieve for Nigeria. Our objective is to foster a new society based on shared prosperity, tolerance, compassion, and the unwavering commitment to treating each citizen with equal respect and due regard.”
On Sunday, four top officials in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Chief of Staff to the President told our correspondent that to create immediate impacts, the ministers would tackle economic and security challenges facing the country.
The source stated, “Although the manifesto will be our guide, emphasis will be on the economy and security. This administration inherited a battered economy with many Nigerians facing a cash crunch. The cabinet will have the mandate of tackling security and economic challenges.’’
But less than 15 hours before the inauguration, the President has renamed the Federal Ministry of Environment and Ecological Management as the Federal Ministry of Environment.
He also appointed Abubakar Momoh as Niger Delta minister and re-assigned Adegboyegba Oyetola to the Ministry of Marine and Blue Technology. Momoh was initially appointed as the Minister for Youth.
The Federal Ministry of Youth is to be reassigned to a minister-designate soon.
A statement by the spokesman to the President Nugi Ngelari read, ‘’The ministers-designate allocated to the Federal Ministries of Transportation, Interior, and Marine & Blue Economy have been reshuffled as follows: Adegboyega Oyetola is redeployed as the Minister of Marine & Blue Economy; Bunmi Tunji-Ojo is redeployed as the Honourable Minister of Interior; Sa’idu Alkali is redeployed as the Honourable Minister of Transportation.’’
Furthermore, both Ministers of State in the Oil & Gas sector are now domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources with Heineken Lokpobiri as the Minister of State (Oil), Petroleum Resources and Ekperipe Ekpo as the Hon. Minister of State (Gas), Petroleum Resources.”
“All aforementioned changes take immediate effect by these directives of the President,” the statement added.
Ahead of the inauguration, the ministers-designate have completed their documentation which was held at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in Abuja.
The Director of Information, OSGF, Willie Bassey, in a statement on Sunday, said the exercise was seamless.
The exercise involved biometric verification and submission of the curriculum vitae, birth certificates or court declaration of age, passport photographs and citations of the ministers-designate.
The statement read, “The Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation has successfully completed the documentation process for all Ministers-Designate this evening.
“The documentation commenced on Saturday at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. The exercise witnessed a large turn-out of most ministers-designate who completed the process yesterday. Today, the remaining ministers-designate concluded the exercise.
“In all, the 45 ministers-designate successfully completed the documentation process and also picked up three invitation cards for their guests.
“Adequate transportation arrangements have been concluded to convey ministers-designate and their three guests to the venue of the ceremony at the State House Conference Centre, Aso Villa, Abuja.”
He urged Permanent Secretaries to meet their respective ministers after the swearing-in ceremony at the Office of the Secretary to the Government for further interaction with them.
Meanwhile, security has been beefed up at the inauguration venue with the deployment of security operatives, ahead of the swearing-in.
A source said, “The security there has been beefed up and according to the arrangement on the ground, no car either from the ministers-designate, their guests, or any other person would be allowed into the venue.’’
Meanwhile, the Minister-designate of State for Housing and Urban Development, Abdullahi Gwarzo said the ministers were ready to hit the ground running after their inauguration.
The former Kano State deputy governor explained that received a directive from the presidency to report to their various ministries for the handing-over ceremony.
Speaking, the Deputy-President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gabriel Idahosa, cited power, infrastructure, raw materials access, port logistics and price stability as the focal areas the new ministers, particularly those whose mandate cuts across the business community, must focus on.
He said, “The two big ones are power infrastructure. For the Minister of Trade and Investment, work needs to be done to see how to help manufacturers break down the units of their current products to lower packages that people can afford. You can’t do anything for the manufacturers when basic things like power and infrastructure are not in place.
Idahosa further advised that the minister of power and rade collaborate to devise means that will help manufacturers generate alternative energy.
He added, “For example, MAN has a power company. So, that company, with the empowerment of the government on federal and state levels can actually be empowered to do more. If that company wants to import equipment, Customs duty can be waved because it is a matter of national priority.”
In a related development, there are fresh indications that the National Working Committee of All Progressives Congress under the leadership of Dr Abdullahi Ganduje may decide the date for inauguration of new officers that will replace the outgoing National Deputy Chairman for North, Senator Abubakar Kyari and National Women Leader, Dr Betta Edu Wednesday.
The duo is among the 45 ministers-designate of President Bola Tinubu who will officially take their oath of office at the presidential villa on Monday.
The development is coming two weeks after Ganduje and Spokesperson for the ninth Senate, Senator Ajibola Basiru, were elected by the National Executive Committee as the new national chairman and secretary of the APC at Transcorp Hilton in Abuja.
“We heard Ganduje and the NWC members is set to deliberate on the new officers to fill up the vacant offices in their meeting for Wednesday,” a source at the secretariat said.
The move to begin preparation for the swearing in of new officers became necessary after the ruling party received list of nominations from State party chapters in line with the mandate given to the NWC at the last NEC meeting.
Aside from the slots of Kyari and Edu who will be departing for Tinubu’s cabinet, the positions of former National Vice Chairman for North-West, Mallam Salihu Lukman and National Legal Adviser, Ahmad El-Marzuq who recently quit the party are up for grabs.
Other vacant positions include Deputy National Publicity Secretary, formerly occupied by Murtala Ajaka, who is running for the office of Kogi governor on the platform of Social Democratic Party and National Welfare Officer, which was previously occupied by the late Friday Nwosu.
The new officers recommended by the State APC chapters awaiting NEC ratifications are former Cross River State Commissioner for Local Government, Dr. Stella Odey-Ekpo (Women Leader); Borno party chairman, Ali Dalori (Deputy National Chairman for North); ex-Nasarawa State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Abdulkarim Kana (Legal Adviser), former Abia State House of Assembly Speaker Martins Azubuike (Welfare Officer) and ex-Special Adviser on Water Resources to Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Ismail (Deputy National Publicity Secretary).
But the source noted that, “Although the name of the replacement for Lukman has not been officially sent, we were told Kaduna APC Chairman, Commodore Emmanual Jekada (retd), is their choice to emerge as the next National Vice Chairman for North-West.
“I can also tell you for free that these are proposed names. But nothing is cast in stone. For now, the names are yet to get the nod of the NWC. We have not yet discussed them nor submit it to NEC as a body”.
In a related event, the battle to fill the vacant slots in the NWC assumed another dimension following reports that the Abia APC chapter may have submitted multiple nominees for the position of the national welfare officer.
Multiple sources confirmed that the State Executive Committee had earlier on March 28, 2023 nominated a seasoned technocrat and party chieftain, Rev. Dan Imo, which obviously didn’t go down with the constituents.
Some of the aggrieved state party members claimed Imo was a neophyte who has no political clout. They also accused the Abia SEC of failing to organize a state Congress and secure the consent of the zonal executive committee before forwarding his name to the NWC.
Although there are claims the Abia party leadership proposed Deacon Obinna Atuonwu without consulting state congress and stakeholders, grassroots party leader have vowed to oppose it by forwarding the name of former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Martins Azubuike to the NWC.
Azubuike served as the fifth Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly and was also a Deputy gubernatorial candidate in the 2019 general election.
Efforts to reach the National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, proved abortive.
But the National Deputy Organising Secretary, Nze Chidi Duru, confirmed that the date for the inauguration of the new officers did not come up for deliberation at the last meeting.
“Perhaps, it might be discussed when the next meeting comes up next week,” he said.