After months of suspense, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday unveiled his key cabinet officials.
The appointments came days ahead of his September pledge for the unveiling of identities of individuals that would form his government.
The appointees, six in number, are Engr. Babachir David Lawal, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff, Col Hameed Ibrahim Ali (rtd) Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, Kure Martin Abeshi, Comptroller General, Nigerian Immigration Service, Senator Ita Enag, Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate) and Hon. Suileman Kawu, Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly (House of Representatives).
As would be expected, the appointments have thrown up a deluge of reactions. Rightly, the reactions are varied and somewhat laced with emotions.
What cannot lend itself to polemic is that yesterday’s appointments threw many political watchers off guard. This is the reason: Most of the names were clearly outside the long list repeatedly speculated in public as waiting in the wing for some positions.
For instance, Engr. Lawal, until his appointment the National Vice Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) North East, was never mentioned as a likely choice for the SGF. Rather, many fixed their gaze on the former governor of Abia state and national leader of the ruling party, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.
Similarly, many would be jolted that the President named Col. Ali as the new helmsman of Customs. Albeit widely known as an acolyte of the President, Ali, a former military governor of Kaduna state between 1996 and 1998, was never in the Customs. It is arguably the first time somebody outside of the Service and a retired military officer would be handed the plum office.
Another thing that may likely be on the plate for debate in the next few days or weeks is the decision of President Buhari to choose his new appointees from one political bloc: The North. Apart from Enang, who is from the South, other officials are from the north of the country.
However, those who would raise eyebrows on the ethnic backgrounds of the appointees would not fault their qualifications for their new jobs. For example, David Lawal, who hails from Hong, Adamawa state, is an engineer of repute and has been playing at the top levels of the telecommunications sector. He had worked at the Delta Steel Services, Nigerian Telecommunications Ltd and Data Sciences.
His vast experience in diverse areas may have influenced his appointment. In addition, President Buhari may have settled for Lawal as a way of saying “thank you” to the North East for giving him the highest vote in the last election.
All in all, the appointments have given a deeper understanding of the focus and direction of the President. Some, for sure, will feel betrayed and disappointed, while others will clap and clink glasses.
(Iheanacho Nwosu, DAILY SUN)
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