Outgoing ministers and state governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are intensifying their battle of wits to make their way into the next cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari’s first tenure ends at midnight on Tuesday, May 28, the same day all ministers are required to leave office.
But many of them are keen to return as are some of the outgoing governors who want to move to the federal level.
Many of the returning governors are equally playing high wire politics to make their input into the constitution of the next federal cabinet. They want to nominate candidates from their states to enable them have a firmer grip on the party at the grassroots.
Multiple sources told The Nation that the President is determined to hit the ground running this time around by forming his cabinet within weeks of his swearing in.
The situation has sparked intense lobbying by party chieftains including governors and ministers for ministerial slots .
Some outgoing governors, it was gathered, are allegedly working round the clock to replace the current ministers from their various states in the FEC.
The affected governors have reportedly contacted some prominent party leaders to indicate interest in their states’ ministerial slot and possibly make a case for them at the highest level possible.
The President is keeping his plan close to his chest but some party leaders say the situation unfolding in the state will make it difficult for the President to personally nominate all members of his next cabinet.
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The party leaders spoke of massive political intrigues in “some of our states, especially states where the outgoing governors want to serve as ministers.”
“Many of the ministers feel they have done well enough to be given a second chance. Currently, both parties are making moves to corner the ministerial slots of their various states,” a source said.
Continuing, the source said: “The body language of the president is such that nobody can predict where the pendulum will swing. I can tell you of a Southwest state where many people will vow that President Buhari will give the outgoing governor a place in his next cabinet and others will strongly argue that the current minister from the state will retain his place in the next cabinet. And both of them are openly scheming for the state’s slot by lobbying party leaders and other stakeholders.
“In another state in the north, the outgoing governor and the minister are both holding meetings with party chieftains to explain why they should be given the state’s ministerial slot to occupy.
“Their ambitions have divided the party as their supporters are now lining up behind their preferred candidates.
“Party leaders in the state recently came out to call for caution over the matter. Both the governor and the minister have also been coming here to lobby party leaders.”
The Nation also learnt that many of the ministers have been celebrating the President’s directive that they should continue in office till May 28.
“They see it as a subtle vote of confidence in them. They are more optimistic now that they may have actually earned the President’s trust,” another source said.
“And if you listened to what the President said about why he didn’t overhaul his team, you may want to agree with those interpreting his directive as an endorsement.”
But many of the governors eyeing their state’s slot are also relying on their relationship with the President to clinch the job.
While some are certain that with the efforts they put into ensuring Buhari’s re-election in their states and the words of commendation they got from him before, during and after the elections, others are banking on the interaction they had with Buhari when he came to their states to commission projects.
The Nation also gathered that the governors and ministers may have also taken their lobbying to the presidency in their bid to outwit one another.
According to reliable sources, unsure of how the President will constitute his next team, many of those seeking places in the cabinet have been talking to close aides and associates of the President, urging them to put in words for them if the need arises.
“It is normal to have ministerial hopefuls reach out to close aides and associates of the President for help. Don’t forget that President Buhari is one man you cannot predict easily.
“He is keeping the issue of his next cabinet close to his chest for now. But one thing we can deduce from indications is that he may have plans to announce the next cabinet early. Whether he will call for inputs from party leaders and other stakeholders or he will handle the selection of the team alone is left to be seen,” another source said.
The Nation also gathered that there is palpable uncertainty over how the President will choose his team this time around as party leaders and other stakeholders await the mode the exercise will take.
“We are still uncertain about who will be consulted for input into the next team. There was a time the President dropped the hint that the party will contribute to the selection of his next team. We are waiting to see how that will play out,” a source said.
But a senior party chieftains from the north-central insisted that the President is already consulting party leaders on the next cabinet. According to him, those involved in the struggle for the slots know those involved in the ongoing consultation and are reaching out to them as much as necessary.
“It is those who don’t know that will say the President is not consulting leaders on the matter. Ask the outgoing governors and the ministers and they will tell you the various party leaders in their states or regions that they have gone to see on the matter,” he added.
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