29 Aug 2017

Tension Among Ministers Over Buhari's Plan To Dissolve His Cabinet

A reported plan by President Muhammadu Buhari to reshuffle or dissolve his cabinet has caused anxiety among his ministers. This Day, citing presidency sources, reports that President Buhari has been considering a mid-term cabinet reshuffle since his return from the United Kingdom (UK).
The newspaper states that the proposed cabinet reshuffle likely influenced the president’s decision to defer the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday, August 23. It was learnt that the planned cabinet reshuffle was put in motion after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo visited the president in the United Kingdom during his medical vacation and sought Buhari’s permission to reshuffle the cabinet. The vice president was said to have presented Buhari with a draft list for the reshuffling of the cabinet for his consideration and approval.

Following the outcome of their meeting in London, the president, it was gathered, asked Osinbajo to delay plans of a cabinet shakeup until he returned to the country. Buhari reportedly told Osinbajo that since the administration was midway into its tenure, it would be a good opportunity to reshuffle the cabinet.

That meeting prompted Osinbajo to swear-in Stephen Ocheni from Kogi state and Alhaji Suleiman Hassan from Gombe state, who had been confirmed by the Senate as ministerial nominees, without assigning any portfolios to them.

According to presidency sources, Buhari has been preoccupied with reshuffling his cabinet since he returned to the country. One of the sources said the ministers who are aware of the likely changes in the cabinet have been lobbying Buhari through their governors or close allies of the president, to either retain their ministries or be moved to other ministries that they deem more “important”.

The president is also reported to be holding on to the list drafted by the vice-president and has not made up his mind on whether to reshuffle the cabinet on the basis of the list or make some alterations to the list before doing so. But the presidency source revealed that those close to Buhari are urging him to drop the list given to him by Osinbajo and dissolve the cabinet to introduce new hands.

The source stated that an air of uncertainty has clouded the cabinet as Buhari has decided to keep the final decision to himself. The cabinet would definitely be reshuffled very soon and all the ministers know that. It is for this reason they have been lobbying their governors and allies close to Mr. President since he returned from London.

The problem is that some of these same allies have advised Mr. President to discountenance the list that was presented by Vice-President Osinbajo when he met with him last month in London. “His allies would rather he dissolves the cabinet completely and brings in a new team that would be completely loyal to the president," the source stated.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has received a briefing from members of his economic team in Abuja. Those who briefed the president on Monday, August 28, included the minister of budget and national planning, Udoma Udo Udoma; the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele; and the minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun.

According to a statement by Femi Adesina, the president’s special adviser on media and publicity, the ministers and CBN governor updated the president on the state of the economy, implementation of the 2017 budget, preparation for the 2018 budget, revenue strategies, combined cost reduction and debt management. Adesina stated that also discussed at the meeting which lasted for almost two hours were monetary policy strategies and their economic impact, among others.



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