UNTOLD STORY OF HOW AUDU OGBEH, 20 OTHERS MADE THE FIRST MINISTERIAL LIST

AUDU OGBE
AUDU OGB

Arguably the conscience of the party, Chief Audu Ogbeh’s nomination is acceptable to most party leaders. He does not suffer fool at all and his ability to call a spade a spade brought earned him the nomination on a platter of gold. A walking encyclopedia, Ogbeh has spent his political career  fighting for the oppressed and warning the political

TUNDE FASHOLA
TUNDE FASHOLA

class against the danger of unemployment even when he was in the conservative National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the Second Republic.

Buhari needs somebody in the mould of Ogbeh to drum the truth into his ears most of the times and the former Minister of Communication in the Second Republic has an overdose of wisdom.

His missionary journey into opposition politics began in 2004 when, as a sitting National Chairman of of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he wrote a stinking letter to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo to alert the former leader that Nigeria was drifting into abyss. Though arrested and detained by the Buhari-Idiagbon military junta in 1984, destiny has brought Ogbeh and Buhari together to re-fix the nation.

A man who lives by what he preaches, Ogbeh’s natural habitat is agriculture. It won’t be a surprise if he is asked to man this portfolio. He is returning to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) after 32 years.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed is the ebullient media face of the struggle for change that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power. A research-based media manager, Mohammed started as a lone ranger in leading the opposition’s campaign against the PDP before others joined the fray. He brought a new dictum that “a tree can make the difference.” A lawyer by training, but a born-journalist by nature, the history of the defeat of PDP is incomplete without mentioning the Mohammed’s name. He was a thorn in PDP’s flesh, especially when Jonathan was President. Besides keeping the ruling party on its toes, he constantly drew out the the PDP media team with his constructive criticisms. He was harassed, intimidated and detained by security agencies. A product of the famous Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, the inclusion of this Oro-born publicist of the APC in Buhari’s cabinet might just be the icing on the cake. His inclusion on the list is also a manifestation of Buhari’s readiness for business and a sign that hard work pays. There is no doubt that Mohammed will bring his experience to bear in a higher office and add value to the Buhari administration.

Notwithstanding the political mudslinging preempting his nomination, the inclusion of ex-Governor Babatunde Fashola brings a rare credibility to Buhari’s choice of ministers. Throughout the campaign by the All Progressives Congress (APC), Fashola’s sterling performance was a major selling point for the Buhari candidature against the inept PDP administration. Perceived political disagreements nothwithstanding, Fashola remains the choice of his political leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu any time. When intrigues were almost overshadowing Fashola’s nomination, Tinubu came out to clear the air to declare that the ex-governor is his son in whom he is well-pleased. Tinubu shocked Fashola’s predators in Lagos when he said: “Born of this motley stew is the recent gossip mongering that I have willfully instigated false and negative reports against former Governor Fashola to thwart him from being appointed to a major post in the Buhari administration.

“I want to declare clearly and categorically that these rancid attacks do not come from me nor do I endorse them. An attack against the performance of Governor Fashola is indirectly an attack against me and the edifice of achievements we have constructed in leading Lagos State.”

Tinubu’s voice drowned Fashola’s traducers and set the stage for Buhari’s final decision on Fashola. Either way, Tinubu takes credit for this good choice.

Mrs. Kemi Adeosun is the immediate past Finance Commissioner in Ogun State. The ministerial nominee from the Gateway State is twice lucky as her name is among the 16 nominees forwarded to the State House of Assembly for screening by Governor Ibikunle Amosun. She has the choice of choosing between returning to the Ogun State cabinet or moving up to join the FEC. Unknown to many, her ministerial appointment came after President Muhammadu Buhari rejected Chief Bode Mustapha, a former senator, who was the anointed choice of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. It was learnt that Chief Obasanjo met with Buhari twice to market his loyal candidate, who was sacked as national auditor of the PDP because of Obasanjo. But, the President simply told the former Head of State: “If you bring a younger element, I will prefer this.” A worried Obasanjo later left the issue to Governor Ibikunle Amosun to resolve after due consultations by both leaders. The one-time commissioner is a financial expert, who has helped in the reflation of the Ogun State economy.

Dr. Osagie Ehanire appears to be a favoured candidate of a former Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. T.Y. Danjuma. Despite the fact that he is a Bini, he is rated as a close relation of Danjuma’s jewel Senator Daisy Danjuma. The appointment of Ehanire, a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of Danjuma Foundation, will add value to Buhari’s cabinet. An outstanding consultant surgeon, Ehanire is a specialist in Anesthesiology, General Surgery and orthopedic Trauma Surgery. Being a major backer of Buhari against his abandoned candidate, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, the former Defence Minister has the ears of the President because of his vision, truthfulness, contentment, and heart of gold. Neither Danjuma nor his ministerial boy will be a liability to Buhari.

Save for his on-going probe by the PDP government in Rivers State and media assaults by Governor Nyesom Wike, the nomination of ex-Governor Rotimi Amaechi for a ministerial position was taken for granted. Amaechi bore a suicidal risk to dump the PDP to pitch tent with Buhari even before the APC stakeholders zeroed in on the General as their presidential standard bearer. He laid down his life to ensure that Buhari emerged the APC candidate. In the heat of the campaign, a former governor told Amaechi: “I would have died by now if I take this kind of risk you have heaped on yourself.” Beyond being a die-hard loyalist of Buhari, the qualities which earned Amaechi the ministerial nomination are his performance records, vision and energy to render untainted service and ability to speak truth to the throne. He, will no doubt, be one minister who can tell Buhari the truth whenever he errs. His greatest asset is his love for quality projects which can stand the test of time. He has no taste for wealth acquisition, a personage which makes him fit into Buhari’s agenda.

Another ministerial nomination foretold is that of Chief Ogbonnaya Onu because of his reserved nature, academic excellence and his cosmopolitan pedigree. Onu has a string of excellent records that cannot be wished away by any puritan like Buhari. He obtained distinction in Physics and Chemistry at the Higher School Certificate examination at the College of Immaculate Conception (CIC), Enugu, graduating as the best overall student. In 1976, he graduated with a First Class honours degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Lagos.

Besides, Onu’s moral credentials make him a natural choice for a cabinet position. As an Igbo leader, he has been a consistent lone voice in the southeastern regions’ political wilderness. When the Southeast rose against Buhari, Onu withstood insults and barrage of attacks on his person for supporting a northerner. He had been a faithful follower of Buhari right from their sojourn in the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).

One of the eggheads and a quintessential democrat on the nomination list is ex-Governor Kayode Fayemi. He earned Buhari’s respect with his speech on the day he “purportedly lost” the Ekiti State governorship election to Mr. Ayo Fayose. Fayemi set a template for the outcome of the 2015 general election and ex-President Goodluck Jonathan wasted no time in emulating Fayemi’s model in conceding defeat to Buhari.

The international profile of Fayemi and the ex-governor’s hitch-free conduct of the APC National Convention/ Presidential Primaries informed Buhari’s decision to nominate the academic. A hero of the struggle for the return of democracy in 1999, Fayemi has age, vision, honesty, integrity and selfless service to his advantage. For the Ekiti State ministerial slot, Buhari was confronted with four good choices namely: Fayemi, ex-Governor Segun Oni, Mr. Dele Alake (a one-tme Commissioner for Information & Strategy in Lagos State) and human rights activist Mr. Femi Falana, (SAN). A source in the presidency said: “To settle for Fayemi, a lot of horse-trading was involved because all the candidates from Ekiti State have impeccable characters. APC leaders were consulted at various levels and concessions were made.

“For instance, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo was interested in Oni who was humiliated from the PDP because of him. Some APC leaders were also interested in other candidates. “At a point, ex-Governor Oni untied the knotty knot when he said he was not interested in ministerial appointment. From the ministerial deal, Oni, who is increasingly becoming popular in Ekiti State because of the governance standard he set, might be APC’s likely governorship candidate in 2018.” The deal could not be independently confirmed on Thursday.

General Abdulrahman Dambazzau served as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) between 2008 and 2010 Dambazzau’s path crossed Buhari’s when he was aide-de-camp to a former COAS in 1979. Not minding the age and career differences, Dambazau and Buhari have bonded in the last 36 years. It was therefore not surprising that he coordinated security for the APC Presidential Campaign Council during the electioneering from January to March this year. He played a similar role as the Chairman of the Security Committee of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) when Buhari took a shot at the presidency in 2011. Armed with a Ph.D in Criminology from the University of Keele in 1989, the kernel of friendship between him and Buhari is “trust”. As a military police, Dambazau said his faith in Buhari was unshakeable.

He said: “My relationship with Mr. President is not hinged on political appointment. Whether he assigns me to a particular office or not, my resolve to ensure that he succeeds remains unshakeable.”

AN ardent follower of the President, Sen. Sirika Hadi’s nomination is based on his consistent advocacy for change in the country. He went through thick and thin with Buhari when no the President had been written off politically. The pilot-turned politician, he was elected a senator under the defunct CPC in 2011. He was one of the few who encouraged Buhari not to give up on the presidential race. In an interview on January 10, 2013, he made it clear that Buhari will run for the presidency in 2015.

The inclusion of Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), in the ministerial nominee list is a reward of integrity. He is one lawyer whose love for money is secondary. He handled much Buhari’s electoral litigation brief for free because of his belief in the President as a leader Nigeria needs. Born in Birnin Kebbi, he was a former National Legal Adviser for the CPC. He has an endless taste for sponsoring private citizen bills. He shares the same vision and belief with Buhari. In an interview in 2012, Malami said: “I think that we should continue to operate federalism as an institution but curtail the level of expenses associated with it. We do not need a full time National Assembly since it is a very costly institution.”

Born in Gombe State, Amina Mohammed, is a Special Advisor to the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Post-2015 Development Planning. Her nomination is based on merit having earned a global reputation. According to the UN, “in 2005, she was “charged with the coordination of the debt relief funds ($1billion per annum) towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Nigeria. Unknown to many, she co-founded the Afri-Projects Consortium in 1991, which handled many jobs when Buhari was in the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) established by the late Gen. Abacha to manage oil windfall. The search for Mohammed came in handy because the APC in Gombe is factionalised following disagreement over protest votes during the governorship poll which the party lost to the PDP. The President could not have picked a nominee from any of the warring groups without a compounding the problem. And the APC political leader in the state, ex-Governor Danjuma Goje’s opposition to party supremacy at the Senate has not helped the situation.

The inclusion of the indefatigable Aisha Alhassan while still awaiting the outcome of her petition at the Taraba State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal drew some curiosity.

Analysts said it is either the APC has lost hope in the petition after it won Taraba Central senatorial seat at the tribunal on Wednesday or a deal is in the offing. It was gathered that the presidency might not want Alhassan to pursue her petition further because Governor Darius Ishaku of the PDP is a godson of Gen. T.Y. Danjuma, whom Buhari respects a lot.

Another source said: “The nomination of Alhassan might have been in anticipation of a loss at the tribunal.” A veteran of many legal battles, Alhassan is a Mumuye and a lawyer by training but her courage in the face of intimidation was said to have endeared her to Buhari too. Said a source: “The President believes she is going to be a source of inspiration to many women in the country. In January 2011 during PDP primaries, she defeated former Ambassador Anthony Manzo to win a senatorial ticket. She treads courageously in the midst of men.

“Even when she was unjustly sacked as the Chief Registrar of the High Court of Justice of the Federal Capital Territory, she fought her way through and she was justifiably reinstated many years after.”

Another meritorious hand in the list is Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). A former Vice President of Exxon Mobil in Africa, Buhari appointed Kachikwu the NNPC chief because he was impressed by his glowing credentials as the most senior black African in any multi-national oil firm in the world with 30 years experience.

Apart from being a First Class graduate, Kachikwu also obtained a Ph.D in Law which enabled him to rise to the position of a Company Secretary in Exxon Mobil. But it was not easy for the President to convince Kachikwu to accept the job because he was afraid that he might be messed up like other Nigerians who had come home to serve.

In their negotiation, President Buhari repeatedly said: “I won’t interfere with your work. I will give you a free hand because I want to reform this oil sector once and for all”.

He is expected to be the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources. But there were concerns last night that Kachikwu might be eased out of NNPC in the next few months.

Senator Udo Udoma’s nomination came from three parameters – his rich heritage of integrity, his modesty and fair-mindedness in corporate politics. A PDP member and a Senator between 1999 and 2007, he was the immediate past Board Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). While in SEC, Udoma was said to always excuse himself from meetings where issues directly related to companies where he had stakes. His corporate attitude fetched him the nomination.

The Niger State’s nominee, Ahmed Musa Ibeto, was until May 29, 2015 the Deputy Governor of the state. At a point, he fell out of favour with ex-Governor Babangida Aliyu, who persecuted him for defecting to the APC. Ibeto’s sacrifice of his governorship ambition contributed to the victory of APC in the state. His heroic struggle earned him this slot.

A former member of the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2007, he won the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Meritorious Award as a Youth corps member.

Popularly called “Owan” (the moon), Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige, became a global citizen in 2003 when his political sponsors masterminded abduction as a sitting governor. He resisted political godfathers and left worthy legacies in Anambra State. His achievements have remained points of reference. He is averse to injustice in any form and at the point of death, he will say the truth. A 1979 medical graduate, Ngige retired as a deputy director in the Federal Ministry of Health. He is one of the few Igbo leaders who championed the election of President
Muhammadu Buhari. His virtues and loyalty and rich political resume as a senator, informed his nomination by the President. He will bring a torch of the “moon” to Buhari’s cabinet.

Born in 1964, Barrister Solomon Dalung was a former Personal Assistant to the late Chief Solomon Lar, when he served as governor of Plateau. A former chairman of Langtang South Local Government Area, Dalung is popularly known among his people as ‘Igbarman Otarok’ (meaning the ‘thunder of Tarok nation’). His knowledge of grassroots politics must have led to his appointment.

Adebayo Shittu was Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Oyo State. His preference for a Spartan life endeared him to the President. Imbued with integrity and uncommon commitment to anti-corruption crusade, he seems to be the poorest of the lot. A close associate of Buhari in the CPC, Shittu runs ascetic lifestyle. His commitment to Islam is inspiring. It was learnt that these qualities that made Buhari to identify and appreciate his leadership qualities for a ministerial slot. A former governorship candidate of the CPC in the state, Shittu is from Oke-Ogun part of the state where itinerant herdsmen often clash with local farmers.

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