After weeks of speculation in the mainstream media and myriads of rumours in the social media space, President Bola Tinubu finally submitted a list of his ministerial nominees to the Senate on Thursday. The lawmakers will screen the nominees and confirm those they deem fit for appointment to the Federal Executive Council. The list contained only 28 names picked from 24 states, indicating that more nominations will be made to accommodate the other 12 states.
Perhaps President Tinubu might have taken a longer time to assemble his cabinet but for the constitutional provision that mandates him to submit his nominees to the Senate within 60 days of his swearing-in. Mr Tinubu would have fluffed this constitutional requirement had he tarried a day longer than 27 July to submit the list.
It took his predecessor, former President Muhammadu Buhari, six months to appoint ministers for his first cabinet in 2015. The hiatus, according to some public policy experts, affected Mr Buhari’s first term negatively as critical decisions were left to civil servants to make without direct supervision, monitoring and control by the political leadership.
In any case, while there were a few surprises per the nominees – 28 of them for now, as more is being expected according to the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, who read the names during plenary – most of the nominees are old faces who have been in and around the political space, serving in one capacity or the other since the country returned to civil rule in 1999.
The remaining nominees, according to Femi Gbajabiamila, the chief of staff to the president who submitted the list to the Senate, will be sent to the leadership of the Red Chambers in the coming days. Of the 28 nominees now awaiting screening by the Senate in the next coming days, eight are either old or current federal lawmakers.
By the way, the nomination of the serving lawmakers means that bye-elections will be held in their respective districts and constituencies to elect their replacements once the National Assembly notifies the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of their exit from parliament.
For the nominees, when screened and confirmed, they will be transitioning from lawmaking to implementing laws, policies and programmes in the executive arm of government.
Unlike other ministerial nominees, in the tradition of the Senate, during screening and confirmation, nominees with legislative background will be asked to take a ‘bow and go’ rather than go through the rigours of defending their resumes and answering a barrage of questions from lawmakers. Many analysts have called for the abandonment of that tradition, but it does seem to be one tradition that will wither easily, as Mr Akpabio alluded to it while reeling out the names of the ministerial nominees on Thursday.
Here’s a quick rundown of the profiles of the lawmakers who may take a bow and go:
David Umahi, 60, is the senator representing Ebonyi South on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
He is the immediate past governor of Ebonyi State, where he served two terms from 2015 to 2023. He also served as deputy governor between 2011 and 2015 before succeeding his boss, Martin Elechi. He was in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before defecting to the APC on 19 November 2020. His defection took the solidly PDP state of Ebonyi into the APC column in the 2023 general elections.
Before returning home to pick the APC senatorial ticket for the 2023 election, he had participated in the APC presidential primaries, where he polled 38 votes to come a distant sixth behind the winner, Mr Tinubu.
After a prolonged battle in various courts, INEC recognised Mr Umahi as the APC candidate for the district, from where he was subsequently elected as a first-timer at the 10th Senate.
He is a key ally of Mr Akpabio. He played a pivotal role in June in the election of the former Akwa Ibom governor as the President of the Senate. For his efforts and other party considerations, Mr Umahi is the Senate Deputy Majority Leader, making him one of the principal officers of the Red Chambers.
Mr Umahi, a civil engineer, is the only serving senator among the eight ministerial nominees with a background in the legislature.
Abubakar Kyari from Borno State is the acting national chairperson of the APC. He was the deputy national chairman (North) of the party until July, when the exit of the chair, Abdullahi Adamu, threw him up to the top chair on a temporary basis.
By the party’s constitution, when the chairperson resigns, the deputy from the chairman’s zone automatically steps in as acting chairman, pending the election of a new chair. The party has two deputy national chairpersons for North and South,
Mr Adamu, from Nasarawa State, alongside the party’s national secretary, Iyiola Omisore, recently resigned over allegations of financial misconduct and high-handedness. The duo’s exit was principally facilitated by most of the governors of the party led by Hope Uzodimma of Imo State.
Mr Kyari, 60, represented Borno North in the Senate from 2015 until he resigned in April 2022 after taking the party position at the national convention of the APC.
His father was the late Abba Kyari, an army brigadier who was military governor of the defunct North Central from 1967 to 1975 under the military regime of General Yakubu Gowon.
He was educated in Nigeria and the United States of America. He attended Kaduna Capital School in 1974 before proceeding to Barewa College Zaria, where he obtained his WASSCE In 1979.
He after that proceeded to the University of Tennessee Martin in the USA, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in 1986. He e attended Webster University in St.Louis, Missouri, USA, for his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in 1989.
John Enoh is one of the two ministerial nominees from Cross River State; the other nominee is Betta Edu, the current national women leader of the APC.
Mr Enoh served in the 8th Senate between 2015 and 2011, representing Cross River Central Senatorial District on the platform of the PDP. He took over the seat from Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN.
Mr Enoh defected to the APC in 2017 and ran for governor as its candidate but lost to former governor Ben Ayade, who was then of the PDP in the 2019 election.
Coincidentally, Messrs Ayade and Enoh are now in the APC together, though they seem to belong to different caucuses of the party at the state level.
Sani Abubakar Danladi
Sani Abubakar Danladi is a former acting governor and deputy governor of Taraba State.
He ran as running mate to the late Dan Baba Suntai in the PDP ticket in 2011. He was later impeached by the State House of Assembly on the ground of ‘gross misconduct’ on 4 September 2012 and replaced with Umar Garba. However, he regained his seat via the Supreme Court in November 2014.
He was elected to the Senate from Taraba North Zone on the platform of the PDP in 2015 but was removed from the seat on 23 June 2017 by the Supreme Court, which declared Shuaibu Isa Lau the legitimate owner of the mandate. He defected to the APC in 2018 and contested for the governorship seat in 2019 but lost to Darius Ishaku of the PDP.
A graduate of the Federal University of Technology, Yola, Mr Danladi, was born on 20 May 1967 in Bachama, Karim Lamido Local Government Area of Taraba State.
Mr Momoh’s emergence as a ministerial nominee is believed to have been facilitated by Adams Oshiomhole, the senator representing Edo North and former Governor of Edo State.
Mr Momoh, a civil engineer, hails from Etsako East LGA of the state and was a two-term member of the House of Representatives.
He dumped the APC to run for the Senate as the PDP candidate in 2019 for the Edo North district but lost the election to Francis Alimikhena, who was believed to have been backed by Mr Oshiomhole, the godfather of APC in the state.
After the disastrous outing in the 2019 senatorial election, Mr Momoh returned to the APC, apparently regained the confidence of Mr Oshiomhole and is now to be a minister.
Mr Ekpo, reputed to be a renowned grassroots politician, is a former Council Chairperson in Akwa Ibom State.
He was in the House of Representatives between 2007 and 2011 on the platform of the PDP, where he represented the Abak Federal Constituency. He also attempted to represent Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District in the ongoing Senate but could not get the ticket of the party.
Mr Ekpo is believed to have the strong backing of the Senate President, Mr Akpabio, who’s being accused of ethnic politics in pushing the nomination of Mr Ekpo by President Tinubu.
Messrs Akpabio and Ekpo are of the Annang ethnic group in Akwa Ibom. Some thought leaders in the state believe that the largest ethnic group in the state, Ibibio, should have produced the minister since the Senate President is Annang. Those who are opposed to this reasoning countered that Governor Umo Eno is Ibibio and that the group cannot produce the minister as well. Anyway, Mr Tinubu has exercised his prerogative.
One of the six female ministerial nominees so far, Nkeiruka Chidubem Onyejeocha, born on the 23rd of November 1969, was a ranking member of the House of Representatives from Isuikwuato/Umunneochi Federal Constituency of Abia State until the February election when she lost her reelection to the candidate of the Labour Party, Amobi Ogah.
Mrs Onyejeocha, who spent 16 years in the Green Chambers, contested on the platform of the APC in the 2023 general elections. She defected to the APC in 2018 when there was pressure on her not to vie for the seat in the 2019 elections.
Ms Onyejeocha, a fiery ex-lawmaker passionate about women, has master’s degrees in International Affairs and Diplomacy and Shipping. She was previously the Executive Transition Chair of Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia State in 2002 when Orji Uzor Kalu was the governor.
Mr Kalu appointed her into his cabinet in 2003 as the commissioner for resource management and manpower development until 2007, when she was first elected as a federal lawmaker on the platform of the PDP.
She was awarded the most vibrant female legislator in Nigeria by the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASSAN) in the 7th House of Representatives.
Olubunmi Tunji Ojo
Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, 41, is one of the youngest among the ministerial nominees. Femi Gbajabiamila, President Tinubu’s chief of staff, is believed to be instrumental in his nomination, which came as a shock to the political class of Ondo State.
He is the current lawmaker representing Akoko North East/Akoko North-West Federal Constituency of Ondo State. He was first elected to the House in 2019 on the platform of the APC and served as the chairperson of the NDDC.
He leveraged the vast opportunities associated with the commission to attract visible infrastructural development to his constituency and also empowered some of his constituents, especially the youths and women, thereby endearing himself to them.
Per his education, in 1999, he gained admission into Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, to study Electrical and Electronics Engineering but proceeded in 2002 while at 300 level at OAU to the University of North London (now London Metropolitan University), where he studied Electronics and Communication Engineering and graduated in 2005.
He subsequently obtained a Master’s degree in Digital Communication and Networking from the same institution in 2006, in addition to holding different certifications in eighteen professional qualifications in ICT, including the prestigious title of being one of the first set of certified ethical hackers from Royal Britannia IT Training Academy in the United Kingdom before he turned 24 years.
From the projections so far, he may be the new Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, given his background in ICT, but he may also be deployed to the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development on account of his relatively youthful age and close affinity with the Nigerian youths.
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