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Ministerial Slots: APC Leaders Fight Dirty

DESPITE the secrecy surrounding the compilation of the list of nominees for the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari, top notch of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are fighting dirty in the bid to make the list.

Major powerbrokers, in collaboration with their allies, are locked in a desperate battle to secure nomination, in spite of the position of governors elected on the APC platform that the president had the prerogative to determine who makes the list.

Reports indicated on Sunday that former governors, ministers and ex-members of the National Assembly as well as APC stalwarts are among those digging in at the state chapters of the party over who makes the expected list of the ministerial nominees of the president.

Ocheni, Adeyemi, Bawa, Akawu slugging it out in Kogi

In Kogi State, Nigerian Tribune learnt that the battle for the ministerial slot started immediately the APC was declared the winner of the presidential election by the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), as the APC leaders across the three senatorial districts commenced lobbying for the seat.

Among those that were said to have shown interest in becoming minister were the immediate past Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Professor Stephen Ocheni; national woman leader of the APC, Hajia Salamatu Bawa. Both Ocheni and Bawa are from the same senatorial district.

Others eyeing the appointment are Honourable Saliu Seidu Akawu from Kogi Local Government in Kogi West, a former senator that represented Kogi West senatorial district, Smart Adeyemi and Honourable Suleiman Baba Ali.

However, since the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, is from the central senatorial district, nobody from the area had shown interest in the ministerial position.

The immediate past minister was said to have intensified lobbying in order to retain his seat. The former minister, who was the Dean of Faculty of Management Science of the Kogi State University, Anyigba, before his foray into politics, was said to be banking on the connection and the relationship he had built in the presidency during his first stint as a minister.

However, his chances may be slim as other party members see him as an outsider that did not command much followership among the members.

The people, also complained about his record of service in the over two years that he served as a minister under President Buhari. According to them, many party members did not feel his impact.

Akawu, on his part, is a foundation member of the APC in the state.

He was appointed the commissioner for budget and economic planning between 2003 and 2005, and commissioner for water resources and rural development between 2005 and 2007. He was appointed chairman, Governing Board of Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria (RRIN) in 2018 to date.

The Koton Karfe-born politician is believed to be banking on his loyalty and commitment to APC in his quest to become the next minister from the state, but the major challenge facing Akawu, according to insiders, is the camp he belongs in the politics of the state

He is said to be in accord with one of the major challengers of Bello for the governorship ticket of the party, who is also a former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Jibril Usman.

Adeyemi’s ambition is said to be enjoying the blessing of the state government and Bello is reported to be favourably disposed to him becoming a minister after losing the senatorial election to the incumbent, Dino Melaye. The two-term senator is also said to have the backing of the presidency as he is believed to have the experience and the ability to hold the party together.

Another factor working in favour of Adeyemi is that he is from Kogi -West senatorial district, which is currently favoured by zoning in the state for political balancing.

The national woman leader of the APC was also said to have thrown her hat into the ring as far as the ministerial seat is concerned. Although she is not favoured by the party hierarchy in the state, Bawa wants to take advantage of her closeness to the First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari, to clinch the seat.

Slot splits Abdulrazaq, Mohammed camps in Kwara

Development in the APC in Kwara State showed that the ruling party was polarised into factions.

A faction of the party is said to be loyal to Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, while the immediate past minister of information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, holds another faction.

Political pundits gave evidence to the development with the absence of the immediate past minister at both the APC governor’s inauguration and Democracy Day celebration in Ilorin on May 29 and June 12, respectively.

While it was gathered that the immediate reason was over the control of the party, it was learnt that the party members loyal to the former minister included leadership of the party, just as elected party members are in the camp of the governor.

Investigations also revealed that the camp of the governor was not favourable to the return of the former minister into President Buhari’s cabinet, as many groups believed to be loyalists of the governor had come out against his reappointment.

Some party figures touted as next minister included former governorship aspirants in the last general election, Professor Abdulraheeem Oba, Moshood Mustapha, Yaman Abdulahi, Lukman Mustapha, Saliu Mustapha, among others.

Oshiomhole, Obaseki feud worsening situation in Edo

In Edo State, there were serious issues concerning nomination from the state due to the feud between the supporters of the national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and the state governor, Godwin Obaseki.

Three names: former deputy governor to Oshiomhole, Mr Pius Odubu; former member of the House of Representatives, Mr Patrick “Igodomigodo” Obahiagbon and ex-Edo Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Henry Idahagbon, were said to have been submitted by Oshiomhole to President Buhari for consideration.

Supporters of Obaseki were, however, said to be very angry with the list on the ground that he was left out in the choice of potential ministers by his predecessor.

They contended that in line with convention, it was the governor who ought to draw the list in league with the national chairman and other stakeholders.

Against the backdrop of the opposition, an APC source who would not want his name in print, said the names were yet to be forwarded to President Buhari for consideration.

APC elders back Bauchi ex-gov

In Bauchi State, a political pressure group, Bauchi South All Progressives Congress (APC) Elders Forum, called on President Buhari to disregard calls by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state against considering former Governor Mohammed Abubakar for a ministerial slot.

Chairman of the forum, Alhaji Bamanga Mohammed, flanked by his secretary, Alhaji Mohammed Sani, urged the president not to forget those who stood behind him and the party in the last general election.

He warned that “any attempt to cause chaos or trouble in the state by any person or group of persons of whatever status or capacity will not be tolerated or condoned by us as elders of the state.

“Abubakar is the leader of APC in Bauchi State and is most qualified to represent the state as minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Those who want to scuttle his emergence as a member of Buhari’s second term cabinet do not mean the state well,” he alleged.

In the same vein, the APC faulted the PDP and the chairman, Bauchi State Financial Crimes and Injustice, Alhaji Bibi Dogo for petitioning President Buhari not to consider Abubakar for any political appointment.

Onu, Ucha in supremacy contest in Ebonyi

In Ebonyi State, former Minister for Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu and 2015 governorship candidate of the APC, Senator Julius Ali Ucha, are at each other’s throat for the ministerial slot for the state.

Both leaders, who have been fighting dirty over supremacy, have taken to the media to X-ray their political profiles and relevance in politics.

According to some members of the party, though Onu could lay claim to being the leader of Ebonyi APC, he was being careful not to stain his name and integrity.

It would be recalled that there was much agitation in June 2015 for equity and fairness, which led to speculations that the position of the SGF had been conceded to the South-East zone with the media becoming awash that the former national chairman of the defunct All Nigerians Peoples Party (ANPP) was to get the appointment before it was ceded to the North.

A similar dummy was sold to the public last week by the rival camps, lobbying for the ministerial position, with the social media platforms claiming that President Buhari had named Onu as the next SGF.

However, Peter Elebe, one of his loyalists, described the rumour as a misrepresentation of fact, just as he tried to pooh-pooh the political profile of another ministerial hopeful, Senator Ucha, published in a national daily, which reported that Onu had never won any keenly contested election in his life.

Lalong, Dalung camp strategising in Plateau

The camp of the Plateau State governor, Solomon Lalong and the immediate past minister of sports, Solomon Dalung, are involved in a battle of wits over the slot for the state.

A source close to Dalung claimed he was independently making moves to be part of the next cabinet by exploring his connection with the president and other notable personalities in the North, while the list of the governor for the slot included the state chairman of the APC, Honnourable Latep Dabang; former member of House of Representatives, Honourable Lumumba Dah Adeh; immediate past member of the House, Honourable Suleiman Kwande; former Minister of State for Information, Honourable Dasuki Nakande and Mrs Pauline Tallen, a former deputy governor of Plateau State.

A source revealed that some groups, both within and outside Plateau State, are said to be lobbying that Mrs Tallen become the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, considering her influence in the corridor of power, coupled with her association with the First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari.

Five APC leaders on queue in Enugu

In Enugu, five APC leaders are reaching out to certain quarters they believe could put a word in on their behalf concerning their ambition.

“As I speak to you, notable names like Osita Okechukwu, the Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON); Mrs Juliet Ibekaku, former Special Aide to President Buhari; ex-Governor Sullivan Chime; the state chairman of APC, Dr Ben Nwoye, Senator Ayogu Eze, Chief Okey Ezea, are being peddled as those likely to be considered for the ministerial slot for the state,” a source, who preferred anonymity, said.

Fashola, Ambode, Obanikoro set to grab slot in Lagos

The touted names from Lagos State for ministerial appointment included the immediate past Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola; immediate past governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode; a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and a top shot of the party in the state, Chief Demola Seriki.

It was learnt that they were rallying party leaders and most especially the APC national leader, Bola Tinubu, to buy into their ambition, with ministerial hopeful shuttling between Lagos and Abuja.

“They’ve just concluded the National Assembly leadership elections wherein Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila became the Speaker, House of Representatives and Senator Ahmad Lawan emerged the Senate President. So, we are left with who becomes the next minister from Lagos State. That is the next assignment that needs his (Tinubu’s) attention now,” said a source.

The source pointed to some recent photographs taken in Abuja showing one or few of the interested parties positioning themselves for office posing with him, an indication that the battle for who picked the ministerial ticket had since shifted to the Federal Capital Territory.

Subtle maneuvers in Rivers

In Rivers State, there are subtle attempts by different interest groups in the APC over the ministerial slot for the state.

For example, supporters of the Magnus Abe group, whose legal battles against the primaries of the party led to the disqualification of the APC from the election, believedd that the president is better disposed to Abe and might make him minister instead of returning the erstwhile minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.

Also, Dason Nemieboka, a member of the Accord in Rivers State, who broke off with the Dumo Lulu-Briggs, said the president should make a clean sweep of his last cabinet and appoint fresh hands.

For the camp of Amaechi, his reappointment is a matter of time as they claimed the former minister performed excellently.

Besides, they believe that despite contrary claims from other quarters, the minister still enjoys a close relationship with the president and is, therefore, most likely to be reappointed.

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