Not one who is comfortable with mediocrity, it is an indisputable fact that Nigeria’s president-elect, Bola Tinubu, will not condone incompetence and mediocrity in his incoming cabinet. Going by his antecedents, those who knew his style of governance when he was governor of Lagos State have described him as a leader with a knack for headhunting the best of brains and those with the requisite competence and capacity to pilot the affairs of key government establishments.
Hinting recently about the appointments he is set to make, the president-elect stated categorically that he was out to constitute a government of national competence, which he said would form the basis for his appointments.
With ethnic and religious sentiments being weaved into the lobby for appointments into his cabinet, Tinubu said religion, ethnicity and other similar considerations would not determine appointments in his government.
“In selecting my government, I shall not be weighed down by considerations extraneous to ability and performance. The day for political gamesmanship is long gone. I shall assemble competent men and women and young people from across Nigeria to build a safer, more prosperous and just Nigeria. To secure our nation and to make it prosperous must be our top priorities. We cannot sacrifice these goals to political expediency. The whims of politics must take a backseat to the imperatives of governance,” he said in a statement he personally signed.
Sources close to the incoming president of Nigeria told LEADERSHIP that even though he does not spare thought in rewarding loyalty and hard work, Tinubu has also penciled some Nigerians who are not members of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) but are also talented, experienced and capable for appointment into his cabinet.
According to the sources that should know, the following persons have been shortlisted and considered to make his cabinet:
It was learnt that a powerful lobby pushes for the return of the 14th Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Sanusi whose forte is risk management in banking, enjoys the blessing of Governor Nasiru El Rufai of Kaduna State who has the ears of the president-elect.
As CBN governor between 2009 and 2014, Sanusi’s strong, independent leadership of the apex bank ensured relative stability of the financial market, especially after the turbulence of the global financial crisis of 2008/2009. Naira’s value stabilised around N155 to $1 for four years.
Tinubu, a seasoned accountant, is said to be predisposed to a new monetary management template synergised with sound fiscal policy to immediately revitalise the national economy on assumption of office May 29.
It is almost certain Godwin Emefiele will exit the government with President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29. Insiders at CBN hinted that he may even take a convenient “sick leave” abroad any time soon before Buhari’s scheduled hand over to avoid “embarrassment”.
Sanusi, according to our source, is considered as a credible technocrat with strong character to sanitise the banking/financial sector now left limping following Emefiele’s bungled Naira swap policy. Tinubu camp, believed to be fiercely opposed to Emefiele not only because of the Naira redesign policy alleged to be targeted against the APC in the February 25 presidential poll, hold strongly that the nation’s economy is worse off after Emefiele’s policy as indicators suggest.
According to the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, a think tank, the Nigerian economy is estimated to have lost N20 trillion between January and March 2023 due to Emefiele’s bungled Naira redesign policy.
Current speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, is strongly being touted as the chief of staff to the president elect.
LEADERSHIP had exclusively reported that the Speaker had declined to collect his certificate of return after the recent election because he was poised to emerge Tinubu’s chief of staff.
Amid speculations that the Speaker has already begun to function in the capacity he is being projected for, Gbajabiamila was among few Tinubu loyalists who broke fast with the president elect in France last Saturday.
The governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, is one APC stalwart that has endeared himself to Tinubu. The president-elect himself told the former director-general of the Bureau for Public Enterprises and FCT minister last year that he was not go out of the country after his tenure but stay to serve the country with him.
It was gathered that El-Rufai has been penciled to serve in Tinubu’s cabinet as secretary to government of the federation (SGF).
“You know that the office of the SGF is more or less the coordinating point for ministers in any federal cabinet. Tinubu believes that the Kaduna governor who once served as minister has the capacity to galvanise ministers to effectively implement government policies. This, coupled with his unalloyed loyalty to Tinubu, is the credentials giving him the qualities to become the next SGF. Don’t forget the confrontational manner in which he engaged the Aso Rock cabal at the peak of the cash crunch occasioned by the Naira swap policy,” one of the sources told this paper.
Dele Alake, commissioner for information and strategy to the then governor of Lagos, Tinubu, between 1999 and 2007, has remained with him as media aide. Alake who is the special adviser on media and communication of the APC presidential campaign council has been shortlisted as the next minister of Information and Culture. The ace journalist has again earned the trust and confidence of his boss considering the way and manner the media directorate of the campaign team took on the opposition with the ferocity of a wounded lion in defence of Tinubu and the governing party.
“For Alake, it is the parliamentary ‘take a bow’ and go, as the president-elect believes that there can’t be a better choice than to replicate the feat of the campaign media team in his cabinet as government’s mouthpiece,” an impeccable source to LEADERSHIP.
Besides, it was gathered that Alake’s loyalty is not in doubt, as he has been steadfast in working with Tinubu even after leaving office almost two decades ago.
Former governor of Benue State and current minister of special duties and intergovernmental affairs, George Akume, has been tipped to take over from Sen Abdullahi Adamu as national chairman of the APC. It is quite obvious that Adamu is on his way out as helmsman of the governing party following the post-election crisis that is gradually consuming him and putting the party on the precipice.
It was gathered that Akume who has been a political ally of Tinubu since 2011 when he joined the defunct Action Congress, one of the legacies that formed the APC, is seen as the man fit to take over from Adamu due to his vast knowledge of party politics.
Besides, Akume delivered for Tinubu and the APC in Benue State where the party displaced the governing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), stopping the incumbent governor, Samuel Ortom, from retiring to the Senate
Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola, is also on the list, though he is merely being considered because of his role during the 2023 campaigns. Like Gbajabiamila, the former Lagos governor is also being considered for the office of the Chief of Staff to the president due to his vast experience, age and strength of character.
As a former commissioner and chief of staff to Tinubu who was Lagos state governor from 1999 to 2007, it is believed that Fashola would do well if he is allowed to wear the same old chain. After his tenure as governor, Fashola was appointed first as minister of power, works and housing during the first term of President Muhammadu Buhari and then as minister of works and housing in 2019.
Fashola was the director, election planning and monitoring of the presidential campaign council of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
“They see him as a key part of Tinubu’s success story in Lagos and it is believed that his wealth of experience at the federal level as minister will be of immense benefit to the incoming Tinubu administration.
Indications have emerged that immediate past Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi is likely going to be picked as foreign affairs minister.
Fayemi who has served as minister of Solid Minerals Development during President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term, might secure the foreign affairs ministerial portfolio because of his extensive network with non governmental organisations and his robust rapport with foreign organisations.
He was a key member of Tinubu’s interface with the international community during the campaign for the recent elections. He was also said to have played a strategic role when former African heads of state paid a visit to Tinubu shortly after the presidential election.
However he would have to slug it out with some other key figures from Ekiti state who are also being considered for ministerial position.
The former minister of state for Works and former journalists is also being considered for a ministerial position in Tinubu’s cabinet.
It is gathered that he might be penned for the minister of information and culture portfolio because of his journalism background and having served as spokesman of a political party in the past.
But he is also from Ekiti State like Fayemi, which makes the possibility of his emergence as a minister dicey.