Two months into his fresh tenure, President Muhammadu Buhari released his list of 43 ministerial nominees that are expected to form his cabinet. Here is what you need to know about the list:
Demographic spread: Although Buhari fulfilled his constitutional requirement of having at least one Minister representing each state there are some demographic issues worth highlighting.
- 16% women representation: In his Next Level manifesto, the president made a bold promise to “achieve 35% in female appointments.” That would have signified a reformed Buhari, because in his first term, inclusion of women took a back seat. However the list shows more of the same as only 7 women made the list.
- Young people: There was no youth (per AU definition of under 35 years) in Buhari’s list. The youngest person on the list is Sadiya Umar Farouq, aged 44. (Oldest cabinet member is Sabo Nanono aged 73). In fact, with an average age of 60, the current list is worse than that of 2015 which had an average age of 56.
The return of the old timers: About a dozen former Ministers would return to the cabinet pending senate approval – a huge retention rate by all standards. Of note is that nine former Nigerian Governors made the list. They include Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), George Akume (Benue), Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo (Ekiti), Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Ogbonnaya Onu (Abia) and Chris Ngige (Anambra). The president is himself a former governor. There used to be talk in the past that the senate is the retirement home for former governors. Buhari is challenging that convention.
Tinubu is back: No other politician has a more notable influence on the list than former Lagos governor and APC national leader, Bola Tinubu. His loyalists who made the list include Rauf Aregbesola, Sunday Dare, Senator Mamora and Lai Mohammed. Tinubu’s influence can be seen all over the South West nomination with the exception of the Ogun state nominee, Olamilekan Adegbite, who is a loyalist of former Governor Ibikunle Amosun.
Aisha Buhari can smile for now: Two known loyalists of the first lady made the list of nominees. Former Plateau Governor Pauline Tallen and APC woman leader Ramatu Tijjani’s presence in the cabinet would at least mean the first lady won’t be tweeting against her husband’s government. For now.
The dark General: Major General Bashir Magashi has a dark past. The former military governor of Sokoto under the Babangida regime was the commander of the brigade of guards under Abacha. His involvement in controversial events of the day leaves much to be desired.
Bottomline: An uninspiring list populated by political old guards, seeming to imply that the president has weighted political paybacks and the politics of 2023 over the immediacy of Nigeria’s challenges.