by Stanley Azuakola
Everyone now knows the details in #TheList which President Muhammadu Buhari submitted to the senate comprising names of the Nigerians who will serve in his government as ministers. A further list is expected as there were only 21 names in this one. For now, the ball is in the court of the Bukola Saraki led senate which will screen the nominees before they can be sworn-in by the president.
We do not know which offices any of the nominees will be occupying. The president regrettably failed to make a break from the past by including portfolios so that senators can screen with intelligence. Anyway, below are 10 takeaways from the list:
1 Eight lawyers made it. That’s 31% – the highest by any profession unless you want to count “politician” as a profession. Two of the lawyers – Abubakar Malami and Babatunde Fashola – are SANs; two others – Adebayo Shittu and Aisha Alhassan – were both attorneys-general and commissioners of justice at some points in their respective states of Oyo and Taraba. The other lawyers are Solomon Dalong, Udo Udoma, Lai Mohammed and Ibe Kachikwu, who made a first class from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, was best graduating student at Harvard where he got his masters degree (LLM) and made news again in Harvard when he completed his PhD thesis in record time.
2 Buhari has a diversity problem. In his previous appointments, the criticism was that Buhari favoured a particular section of the country and did not try hard enough to get competent hands from other parts. With #TheList, Buhari had no choice as the constitution has prescribed that every state must have at least one minister. The issue with this list however is a failure to look at gender diversity. Only three out of the 21 nominees (14.3%) are women. That’s an atrocious figure. The South African cabinet, in comparison, has 41.7% female representation in the cabinet. In the first cabinet of former president Goodluck Jonathan, 33% of the members were women. Buhari has to do better.
3 Apart from an absence of gender diversity, there was also an absence of age diversity. The youngest person on the list is Abubakar Malami, and he is 48 years old. Kemi Adeosun is also 48, but she was born a month earlier than him in March 1967. At 68 years old, Audu Ogbeh, the Benue nominee is the oldest. The average age of the Buhari nominees is approximately 57 years old, which means the average person in #TheList was born before Nigeria gained independence. So much for leaders of tomorrow!
4 Seven of the Buhari nominees were members of his transition committee, headed by Ahmed Joda, which liaised with the transition committee set up by the outgoing government and came up with some recommendations. They are Hadi Sirika, Rotimi Amaechi, Malami, Ogbeh, Onu, and Mohammed.
5 A former dean of engineering in the University of Port Harcourt, the alma mater of former president Goodluck Jonathan, made the list. You know who that is? Ogbonnaya Onu, the 64-year-old former governor of old Abia state (Onu is now from Ebonyi state.) He graduated with a first class in chemical engineering from the University of Lagos, taught at UNIPORT,rising to become head of the chemical engineering department, dean of engineering, and later a member of the university’s governing council.
Onu was just one out of six current or former lecturers in the cabinet. The others are Malami, Ogbeh, Dalong, Kayode Fayemi and Abdulrahman Dambazau.
6 Five of the nominees are ex-governors viz Onu, Ngige, Fashola, amaechi and Fayemi. A former deputy governor, Ahmed Musa Ibeto, also made the list. Ibeto was the deputy chief servant of Niger state for eight years and only decamped to the APC in January after losing out on becoming the governorship flagbearer of the Peoples Democratic Party. He served with the self-proclaimed Niger chief servant, Babangida Aliyu, who lost in his bid to transit from governor to senator in the March election.
7 Buhari gave a nod to his days as founder of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) by including two men who were members of the convention committee within the CPC that saw to the dissolution of the CPC and merger with other parties to form the APC. The men are Adebayo Shittu, who faced serious opposition when his name was first rumoured to be on the list, and Osagie Ehanire, a renowned surgeon who headed Buhari’s campaign organisation in Edo.
Buhari also gave a positive nod to his days as head of the defunct PTF by selecting two people from the Afri-Projects consortium, the firm which managed, designed and consulted on most of the projects embarked upon by the PTF across the country. Amina Mohammed was the cofounder of the consortium, while Sulaiman Adamu was principal consultant and head of planning in the Directorate of Engineering Services.
8 There are eight ex-lawmakers in #TheList. Sirika, Udoma, Alhassan and Ngige are all former senators; Ahmed Ibeto is a former member of the House of Representatives; while Adebayo Shittu (Oyo), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), and Audu Ogbeh (Benue) are former state lawmakers.
9 The chairman of Buhari’s bank made the list. When the presidency released a statement giving some details about Buhari’s declared assets but failing to release the form as promised, it mentioned that Buhari had just one bank account with Union bank Plc. Well, the current chairman of the 13-member Union bank board is Udoma Udo Udoma, the respected lawyer and former senate chief whip. Maybe the president won’t have to pay up that Union bank loan he claimed to have collected to buy the APC presidential nomination form last year. Or has he paid already?
10 To round up this list, here’s a trivia question for you. Only one nominee on #TheList does not have the letter ‘a’ in either his first name or surname. Who’s that?
Answer: Chris Ngige. The medical doctor and former Anambra governor actually has an ‘a’ in his middle name ‘Nwabueze’, but not in his first or last names.
- Follow this writer on Twitter: @stanleyazuakola