Likely cabinet reshuffle unsettles ministers, exerts pressure on Buhari

FEC

There were strong indications on Monday that President Muhammadu Buhari is planning to reshuffle his cabinet soon.

A top Presidency source however said that the president is toying with the idea of either dropping some of the ministers adjudged to have performed and appoint new ones or look at the areas of strength of the underperforming ministers like their background to determine which portfolio to assign them.

It was also reliably learnt that the plan might have partly contributed to the cancellation of the weekly Federal Executive Meeting last week.

It is not clear whether Buhari will take step on the issue tomorrow but a reliable source said the matter is on the priority list of Mr President.

Although a number of individuals and corporate persons had suggested to President Buhari to rejig his cabinet for efficiency and further delivery of the dividends of democracy, it is an open secret that the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo attempted to do the reshufflement while his boss was away but that he was asked to exercise patience.

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Indeed, a newspaper (ThisDay) had earlier reported that when Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo visited the president last month in the United Kingdom, he had sought Buhari’s permission to reshuffle the cabinet.

He had also presented Buhari with a draft list for the reshuffling of the cabinet for his consideration and approval.

The president, it was gathered, however, asked his deputy to tarry a while until he returned to the country, informing Osinbajo that since the administration was midway into its tenure, it would be the only opportunity for him (Buhari) to reshuffle the cabinet.

It was on the basis of Buhari’s position that Osinbajo, upon his return to the country, swore-in Prof. Stephen Ocheni from Kogi State and Alhaji Suleiman Hassan from Gombe State, who had been confirmed by the Senate as ministerial nominees, without assigning any portfolios to them.

They were eventually assigned portfolios three days before Buhari’s return from the UK.

With Buhari’s return since August 19, the president has been preoccupied with reshuffling his cabinet as soon as possible.

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However, a presidency source disclosed that the ministers, who are all aware of the likely changes to take place, have been lobbying Buhari through their governors or close allies of the president, to either retain their ministries or be moved to other ministries that they deem more “important”.

Buhari, it was gathered, has also been holding on to the list drafted by the vice-president and has not made up his mind on whether to reshuffle the cabinet on the basis of the list, or make some alterations to the list before doing so.

The presidency source further revealed that Buhari has been counselled by those close to him to jettison the list given to him by Osinbajo completely and dissolve the cabinet so that he can bring in new hands that will be loyal to the president and his agenda.

According to the source, the situation has caused an air of uncertainty among his ministers who do not know if they are staying on or may be replaced.

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This has not been helped by the fact that Buhari, has also decided to keep the final decision close to his chest, given the growing interplay of interests.

“The cabinet would definitely be reshuffled very soon and all the ministers know that. It is for this reason they have been lobbying their governors and allies close to Mr. President since he returned from London.

“The problem is that some of these same allies have advised Mr. President to discountenance the list that was presented by Vice-President Osinbajo when he met with him last month in London.“His allies would rather he dissolves the cabinet completely and brings in a new team that would be completely loyal to the president.

“Right now the cabinet is in a state of flux due to the uncertainty over what direction the president would go,” the source volunteered.