- President still consulting on ministers – APC
After two weeks in office, President Muhammadu Buhari, has dropped the hint that his administration is probing the Federal Ministries of Finance and Petroleum Resources under the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The President, who described the exercise as the audit of the affected ministries, explained that it is after he has received the report of the probe that he will announce the members of his cabinet.
In an interview yesterday with Agence France Presse, AFP in South Africa, where he attended the African Union, AU Summit, President Buhari said that “audits were currently being carried out in various government departments – and the finance and petroleum ministries in particular – to try and establish what situation they were left in by the previous administration.”
The President expressed surprise that Nigerians are so concerned over his non-appointment of ministers and other key officers, two weeks after his inauguration on May 29.
He said: “I don’t know why people are so anxious to have ministers, but eventually we will have. I am not in a hurry to get ministers.
“I want to get ministers after I have at least seen these reports (audit of finance and petroleum ministries), so that I don’t have to appoint a minister today and sack him next week,” he said.
The President also hinted of his plan to visit Cameroun to cement ties with country’s President Paul Biya on the Joint Multinational Task Force, MNJTF, the regional force fighting against Boko Haram.
Buhari had on Sunday directed the release of N4.1billion ($21million) to the MNJTF, Commanded by a Nigerian.
The planned trip to Cameroun will be Buhari’s fifth since he came into power. So far, the President has visited Chad and Niger Republic in a roll, Germany, where he attended the G-7 Summit and South Africa where he participated in the African Union, AU Summit.
Buhari also met his counterparts from Niger, Chad and Benin Republic at a summit in Abuja last week but Cameroun’s Biya who was absent was represented by his defence minister.
Cameroun had earlier expressed shock over Buhari’s exclusion of the country from his visit to other neighbouring countries. It is believed that it is against this backdrop that President Buhari intends to visit Yaoundé.
Buhari visited Niger and Chad in his first week in office and said he would have gone to Cameroun’s capital, Yaoundé for talks with Biya, had he not been invited to attend the G-7 Summit in Germany.
“But on my return to Nigeria now, I will try to go to Cameroun,” he said on the sidelines of the AU summit in Johannesburg.
Last week’s Abuja summit endorsed an 8,700-strong regional force involving the five countries to replace an ad-hoc coalition of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroun.
President still consulting on ministers – APC
Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has said that the delay in assembling a cabinet by President Buhari was because of the need for wide consultations.
Odigie-Oyegun, who spoke at the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja on some party issues, stated that the list when ready, would be made up of both technocrats and politicians.
“This is an executive function and the President has the right to consult as widely as possible. This means he might pick people within the party; people outside the party. It is a prerogative of the President to exercise and we cannot question that. We are quite happy about the way he is going,” he said.
Odigie-Oyegun called on Nigerians to be patient with the administration on the ministerial list, as he stated that the important thing was to get capable and committed hands to work with the President.
“There is absolutely no dispute between the party and the President. We agreed that we shall use all manner of people: politicians, technocrats, all manner of people, even if not politicians, who can deliver and who subscribe passionately to the agenda of the President, to move this country forward, irrespective of where the people come from; irrespective of whether the person is a card-carrying member of the party. What is important is the qualification of the person and the ability of the person to deliver on the ideas of Mr. President.
“What we are interested is in the ability of the people to bring up the ideas that will help Mr. President achieve the set objectives and the ability to deliver on what the President wants,” he stated.
The chairman dismissed the concerns of Nigerians about slow pace of the President Buhari and the party, saying that the President is capable. “I don’t think that notion is correct. We have a very capable President. He is capable as ever. The President is a very careful man. He wants to be sure the kind of people he will appoint are people who are passionate about the country. What is really important is the speed of the delivery of his policies. You can see that things are already improving in spite of that fact. You can see in the electricity front, the supply of petroleum, etc. They are not connected. What the President is doing is to conduct a very thorough check on the background of the people he will appoint,” he added
On the National Assembly crisis and the way forward, Odigie-Oyegun said: “All the party has decided to do is to re-unify as quickly as possible our members in both chambers of the National Assembly under the existing realities. That is the first priority. Every other thing will follow. If for instance, the President says he wants to present his list of ministerial nominees to the Senate, we don’t want a situation whereby the Senate will be divided. So, we are trying to sort that out; it is our number one priority. We are happy that we are arriving at amicable settlement of the situation; this one cannot wait for too long. It has to be immediately.”
The APC chairman denied speculations that he was eyeing the position of Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, saying: “On this issue of SGF, I will respond to you because I don’t want to offend anybody; I will say this quite definitely. I have not in anyway, in capital letters and underlined, solicited for any position other than the national chairmanship of APC. I think I am clear enough, isn’t it? And nobody has approached me that he is considering me either for that position or another.”