In a move to keep to his promise to the chieftains and loyalists of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to appoint more ministers to his cabinet, President Muhammadu Buhari is considering a tentative proposal to restructure some of the ministries, appoint eight new ministers to his cabinet and reshuffle the cabinet, THISDAY has learnt.
Presidency sources privy to the proposal informed THISDAY monday that the plan is to appoint eight new ministers who will all be politicians, to accommodate the yearnings of his party members including its national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and at the same time position APC for the 2019 general elections.
In order to accommodate the eight new appointees to the cabinet, the plan is to get the president to split the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing into three ministries that will be manned by full ministers, and hived off the aviation and marine transport units from the Ministry of Transportation.
One minister will man Aviation and another may lead Marine Transportation.
A presidency source who spoke on the issue said the proposal that has been sent to the president provides for the appointment of eight new ministers, one representing each of the six geopolitical zones in the country and one from Lagos (who may be a nominee of Tinubu) and Kano State (who may be a nominee of Rabiu Kwankwaso).
Fashola is expected to retain Works and Road Transport, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau who is from Kano is expected to retain Ministry of Interior.
However, Police Affairs may be hived off from the Ministry of Interior.
The appointment of two more ministers from the two most populous states in the country is strategic and is aimed at ensuring that the appointees from Lagos and Kano play crucial roles in delivering both states to the APC in 2019.
The source also revealed that with the split of the power and transportation ministries, Fashola would most likely be made responsible for the newly created Ministry of Works and Roads Infrastructure, an appointee from the North-east geopolitical zone will be appointed to man the Ministry of Housing while an appointee from either the North-central zone or the South-east will be handed the Ministry of Power.
In the case of the Ministry of Transportation, once it is split, the current minister, Rotimi Amaechi, will be appointed to man the Ministry of Rail Transportation while Hadi Sirika who is currently a Minister of State in the transportation ministry (aviation) will most likely be made a full Minister of Aviation.
Another appointee will be given the Ministry of Marine Transport after it is hived off from the transportation ministry.
All the new appointments, said the source, will be done with the consultation of state governors.
“The proposal has been put together and sent to Mr. President for his final approval. It remains tentative for now, but if it meets the approval of the president, the announcement will be made public before the end of the month and the names of the nominees will be sent to the Senate for confirmation,” the source volunteered.
He also disclosed that the proposal includes a cabinet reshuffle which could see the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu redeployed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a new minister appointed to replace him as minister of state while Buhari continues to hold on to the petroleum ministry portfolio as the full minister.
At the last meeting of the National Executive Committee of the APC held last month in Abuja, Buhari had promised to appoint more ministers and members to the boards of federal parastatals.
The pledge was made to appease aggrieved members who had felt that they had been ditched after helping the party to win the 2015 elections.
He had said that the new appointees will be fit for purpose and will breathe new life into the administration.
Although Buhari has not yet publicly declared that he will run for a second term, the move is also targeted at empowering strong politicians who can deliver critical states during the 2019 elections.