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News analysis … Nominees: Factors that influenced Buhari’s choices

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In from Olumide Olaoluwa . . .
Political expediency, desire for immediate impact and intricate needs for balancing influenced President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial nominees, Ripples can confirm.
It was gathered that Buhari realised he needs political foot soldiers in some states, especially those governed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and chose some heavyweights who can give the opposition governors a run for their money.

This factor worked well for former Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, who is considered the only man with the structure and stature to be the eyes of the President in Rivers State.
Besides, it was learnt that Buhari conceded he must compensate Amaechi, who was not only the Director General of the Presidential campaign but also funded the change of government heavily.
A Presidential source confided: ‘Anywhere in the world, once you work as campaign director, you will certainly run the government if your candidate wins.
“Amaechi was an easy choice because he was the DG and did a fantastic job. Besides, the President does not want to give the impression that he is a use-and-dump politician.
“He has to prove his gratitude to those who helped him to be President because he still needs help to rule the country and does not want to be seen as someone who is ungrateful.”
The same consideration influenced the choice of Senator Aisha Alhassan. The governorship candidate of the APC in Taraba lost the keenly contested poll to Governor Ishiaku after a rerun.
Though the case is still in court with many APC chieftains confident the victory will be upturned, Buhari decided to be pragmatic by picking the former Senator.
Alhassan has huge following in Taraba and runs a well-oiled structure that the PDP found a hard nut to crack in the last general elections.
A foot soldier like her, it was learnt, is necessary for a slike Taraba. Besides it was gathered that Buhari’s nomination of Alhassan might have been a trade-off with former Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, who is backing Ishiaku.
Danjuma, said to be interested in choosing a ministerial nominee, was told to make do with the governorship slot to enable Buhari pick the nominee from the state.
With Alhassan as a minister, APC supporters in Taraba will know they have one of their own at the federal, meaning that they can enjoy some ‘stomach infrastructure’.
In Akwa Ibom, the choice of Senator Udo Udoma was also to fulfill political expediency. He is a strong, grassroots mobiliser from a prominent family that will appeal to APC sympathisers in a state where the party is very weak.
This is why former Anambra governor, Senator Chris Ngige, also made the list. Ngige is the face of the party in the entire South-east. To deny him of the slot would have sent a wrong signal that APC’s supporters cannot be rewarded for loyalty.
Besides, Ngige is an old war horse with the capacity to put Governor Willie Obiano on his feet constantly as a minister.
In Ebonyi, Ogbonaya Onu was an easy pick for his commitment to progressive politics and long-standing friendship with Buhari dating back to their days in the defunct All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP).
Oyo nominee, Barrister Adebayo Shittu, is also a beneficiary of the friendship slot. Like Onu, he was with Buhari in the ANPP and remains close to the President.
Though Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi, protested the nomination, it was gathered Buhari stood his grounds because Shittu is about the only man he can trust in the state.
In Katsina, the President’s home state, Senator Hadi Sirika, is also an old ally in the ANPP and a trusted confidant. With a man like him, the President has his state well looked after.
In Lagos, former governor Raji Fashola’s choice was never in contention contrary to media speculations. Fashola, it was learnt, was told to resolve whatever differences he had with party chieftains, especially APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
A source privy to the pact, said: ‘There was no way we won’t use Fashola. He was our poster boy in the South West and Nigeria.
“We’d validate reports that he had fallen out with his godfather and we didn’t want that impression. So, all we did was to tell him to eat the humble pie.”
But Buhari is mindful that too much of politics can hinder good governance hence his resolve to also pick some technocrats to rule critical sectors.
Those who made the list on this score include: Kemi Adeosun (Ogun); Ibe Kachikwu (Delta); Osagie Ehanire (Edo); Isaac Adewole (Osun); Abubakar Malami (Kebbi).
Others are: Prof Anthony Onwuka (Imo); Claudius Daramola (Ondo); Okechukwu Enelamah (Abia) and Geoffrey Onyema (Enugu).
Buhari, presidential aides confided, is bent on making immediate impact in key sectors such as education, health, finance, power and petroleum.
This desire made him choose technocrats who he believes will turn around the sectors and fight in-built political inhibitions working against transformation.
Source: RippleNigeria


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