Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration that it would be impossible to assign all the ministers portfolios because of paucity of funds, indications are that some ministers with huge moral burden may be tactfully denied ministerial portfolios.
Nigerian Pilot on Sunday learnt from some close sources that President Buhari is being troubled by the controversies which trailed the screening of nominees like Chibuike Amaechi, Babatunde Fashola, Kayode Fayemi, Pastor Usaha Usaha among others who were screened amidst morally challenging allegations and may opt to keep them as nominal ministers.
Though they will have seats in the FEC, be assigned other functions as may deemed necessary, according the president who adduced paucity of funds as the official reason he may be unable to assign them portfolios.
We recalled that some former governors and a few others nominees and whose names were forwarded to the senate for screening came under barrage of allegations including some with pending court cases and others administrative reports which indicted them.
However, the All Progressives Congress, APC, deplored its majority membership strength in the senate and state craft to force the screening and eventual clearance of the nominees even as members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in an instance staged a walkout in protest against the upper chamber’s failure to adhere to its rules.
President Buhari had in an interview in New Delhi, India said that these minister nominees though representing their states some will not have portfolios but will be part of his cabinet.
“We cannot work outside the constitution there must be a cabinet representative from each state. There use to be forty two ministers but I think we can barely keep half of that now because we cannot afford it.
‘Others may not be substantive ministers but they will sit in the cabinet because that is what the constitution said and we can’t operate outside the constitution’. We are reducing the number of ministries we can’t afford to pay.”
Accordingly the assumption is that the President in order to sustain the ‘change mantra’ as well as work in consonance with his anti-corruption programme may have reservation for those ministers with serious moral burden.
Some party officials yesterday interpreted Buhari’s ‘nominal ministers’ or ministers without portfolio as tactical way of excluding persons likely to give poor moral public image to his administration.
“It seems safe to say that he was taken aback by the series of controversies which trailed some nominees and may tactfully used them as members of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, but without making them visibly and thus avoid, to some extent, the moral burden which their nominations and eventual screening imposed on his anti-corruption campaign.”