Muhammadu Buhari has unveiled a cabinet dominated by politically connected loyalists, in a sign that Nigeria’s president intends to push harder on a series of reforms that are widely regarded as overdue.
Mr Buhari was easily re-elected in February despite what critics regarded as a lacklustre first term in which his cabinet, his office and the legislature often seemed out of step.The Senate confirmed all 43 ministerial nominees last month, including many of the former governors, ministers and legislators who helped the president secure his second four-year term. But it has taken until now for the ministers to be sworn in and assigned portfolios.Mr Buhari has earned the nickname “Baba Go Slow” for his deliberative approach to governing. He took six months to name his first cabinet in 2015, and some of his ministers privately complained that they had limited access to the president, whose inner circle of advisers is widely regarded as far more influential than the cabinet.He was criticised for telling his incoming ministers at a recent high-level government retreat that they should communicate with him through his powerful chief of staff or the government secretary, who is responsible for co-ordination. His advisers said he was simply asking ministers to follow regular protocols.He seems to have selected individuals he trusts to carry out his agendaMr Buhari will continue as petroleum minister as well as president, but Timipre Sylva, former governor of oil-rich Bayelsa State, will run the ministry day-to-day as the junior minister of petroleum. Among the ministers reappointed was finance minister Zainab Ahmed, who will also take charge of budget and planning.Amaka Anku, Africa head at Eurasia Group, the political consultancy, said the cabinet appointments signalled that Mr Buhari would be willing to engage in politicking, having often been outsmarted at times by political rivals within his own party in his first four years.“Buhari did not do that as much in his first term and his government suffered for it. We saw one big problem was there was a lot of infighting . . . Now we will see if he can actually translate it into real policy changes.”Amy Jadesimi, managing director of Ladol, a Lagos-based logistics and engineering facility, said that filling the cabinet with trusted allies could make Mr Buhari’s job easier. “He seems to have selected individuals he trusts to carry out his agenda.”A more cohesive cabinet will allow Mr Buhari to pursue one of his top economic priorities, state-driven incentives and schemes to encourage small business growth.A senior official said that the recent government retreat in part focused on how the administration could boost growth and create a middle class. This would be done through both market-driven reforms to the agriculture industry and encouraging consumer lending, from mortgages to other forms of financing.Another priority will be the Petroleum Industry Bill, a set of proposed reforms that have been planned for years and which are seen by the oil industry as essential to spurring investment in Nigeria’s moribund energy sector. “That is going to happen,” the official said of the bill.However, critics have argued that Mr Buhari’s statist approach has crippled the economy, whose growth has remained sluggish since the recession brought on by the oil price crash that hit when he was first elected.Ms Ahmed is likely to pursue the administration’s goals of diversifying the economy beyond oil and raising government revenues through tax reform. Africa’s largest economy has one of the world’s lowest tax-to-GDP ratios, at just 6 per cent of gross domestic product.At this week’s ministerial retreat, Mr Buhari also noted the immense population growth Nigeria is expected to experience, from 200m today to 411m by 2050, according to the UN. “This is a frightening prospect, but only if we sit idly by and expect handouts from so-called development partners. The solution to our problems lies within us,” he said, adding that the administration would continue to focus on national security, the fight against corruption and bolstering the economy.
1 Uchechukwu Samson Ogah (Abia) – Minister of State Mines And Steel.
2. Muhammadu Bello (Adamawa) – Minister of FCT.
3. God’swill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom) – Minister of Niger delta.
4. Dr Chris Ngige (Anambra ) – Minister of Labour and Employment.
5. Sharon Ikeazu (Anambra) – Minister of State Environment.
6. Adamu Adamu – (Bauchi) – Minister of Education.
7. Amb Maryam Katagum – (Bauchi) – Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment.
8. Timipre Silva (Bayelsa) – Minister of State for Petroleum.
9. Sen. George Akume (Benue) – Minister for Special Duties
10. Mustapha Baba Shehuri (Borno) – Minister of State for Agriculture.
11. Godwin Jedi-Agba (Cross River) – Minister of State for Power.
12. Festus Keyamo (Delta) – Minister of State for Niger Delta.
13. Ogbonnaya Onu (Ebonyi) – Minister of Science and Technology
14. Dr. Osagie Ehanire (Edo) – Minister of Health
15. Clement Ikanade Agba (Edo) – Minister of State for Budget and National Planning.
16. Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo (Ekiti) – Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment.
17. Geoffrey Onyeama (Enugu) Minister for Foreign Affairs.
18. Dr. Ali Isa Pantami (Gombe) – Minister for Communication.
19. Emeka Nwajuba (Imo) – Minister of State for Education.
20. Suleiman Adamu (Jigawa) Minister for Water Resources
21. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed (Kaduna) – Minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning.
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22. Dr. Mohammad Mahmoud (Kaduna) – Minister for Environment
23. Mohammed Sabo Nanono (Kano) – Minister for Agriculture
24. Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd) – (Kano) – Minister of Defence
25. Hadi Sirika (Katsina) – Minister for Aviation
26. Abubakar Malami (Kebbi), Honorable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
27. Ramatu Tijani Aliyu (Kogi) – Minister of State for FCT.
28. Lai Mohammed (Kwara) Minister of Information and Culture.
29. Gbemisola Saraki (Kwara) Minister of State for Transportation.
30. Babatunde Raji Fashola (Lagos) – Minister for Works and Housing
31. Adeleke Mamora (Lagos) – Minister of State for Health
32. Mohammed A. Abdullahi (Nasarawa) – Minister of State for Science & Tech.
33. Amb. Zubairu Dada (Niger) – Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
34. Olamilekan Adegbite (Ogun) – Minister For Mines & Steel Development.
35. Sen. Omotayo Alasuadura (Ondo) – Minister of State for Labour.
36. Rauf Aregbesola (Osun) – Minister for Interior.
37. Sunday Dare (Oyo) – Minister Youth and Sports.
38. Dame Pauline Tallen (Plateau) – Women Affairs.
39. Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers) – Minister for Transportation.
40. Mohammed Maigari Dangyadi (Sokoto) – Minister for Police Affairs.
41. Engr. Sale Mamman (Taraba) – Minister for Power.
42. Abubakar D. Aliyu (Yobe) Minister of State for Works and Housing.
43. Sadiya Umar Faruk (Zamfara) – Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.