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After a long wait, President Miuhammadu Buhari two weeks ago presented the first batch of the list of 21 ministerial nominees to the senate for confirmation.
This was followed by the second list of 16 ministerial nominees, thus signalling an end for others who were hopeful of clinching a ministerial slot.
While many of those on the list were speculated from day one, some other persons who were thought to be in consideration were left out.
Here are six candidates that were widely speculated but did not eventually make the list.
PAT UTOMI Utomi, from Delta state, had been prominently mentioned in the media as one of the technocrats who would be appointed minister by Buhari.
Utomi is highly regarded in business and politics as a man of high intellect and honesty. He is an advocate of a more ethical politics. He is the founder of Centre for Value in Leadership (CVL) and was the presidential candidate of the lesser-known African Democratic Congress Party in the 2003 and 2007 presidential elections.
He joined the APC in 2014. Utomi campaigned vigorously for the APC in the last general election.
“I think Nigerians don’t have any alternative to the person of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. I refer to him from my writings as the Buhari ascendancy,” he said of Buhari during the presidential election.
His name had featured on several lists of possible ministerial nominees especially as Buhari insisted that the ministers would be chosen based on merit instead of political considerations.
This had probably led many Nigerians to consider the appointment of Utomi a fait accompli.
However, Ibe Kachikwu, the GMD of NNPC, got the slot of Delta state.
FEMI FALANA Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria, is a lawyer-activist who made name for himself over the years fighting noble causes.
Especially in the days of military dictatorships, he was one of the notable Lagos lawyers who suffered imprisonments and other hardships while agitating for democratic rights.
Although he was not a public supporter of APC, Falana was speculated as one of the would-be ministers. It was even reported that he had undergone security screening and was pencilled in for attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice.
Falana’s nomination was being pushed by Bola Tinunu, the former governor of Lagos State and leader of the APC in the Southwest.
Falana lost the Ekiti slot to Kayode Fayemi, former Governor of the state, who played prominent role in the APC presidential campaign as its Director of Policy and Strategy, who has been nominated and cleared as minister.
OBY EZEKWESILI She is an activist who has led the #BringBackOurGirls campaign which seeks return of the Chibok school girls who were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents in April 2014 in Borno state.
Ezekwesili is a policy expert who had served meritoriously in the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) as DG and as minister of solid minerals and later education under President Olusgeun Obasanjo.
She served as vice-president of the World Bank from May 2007 to May 2012.
Ezekwesili has a solid reputation as an incorruptible and efficient administrator as well as an ardent critic of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
She effectively led the #BringBackOurGirls campaign to global fame and many believed the actions of the group caused irreparable damage to Jonathan, which contributed greatly to his defeat at the polls.
She was also touted as a would-be minister in the new government. Her closeness to Obasanjo was thought to be an additional advantage, coupled with the fact that she was considered a technocrat, a criteria Buhari said he would consider paramount in choosing ministers.
Although she did not openly identify with the APC during the general election, most of her associates did and her comments throughout the campaign suggested she would prefer Buhari to win the election.
Chris Ngige, the former governor of Anambra, Ezekwesili’s state, was nominated into the cabinet. This suggests that Oby, as she is fondly called, has lost out, unless Buhari adopts the previous administration’s approach of appointing 42 ministers, one from each geo-political zone in addition to the mandatory one from each state.
ABIKE DABIRI She played very huge role in the APC’s presidential campaign, serving as compere of most of the events and provided the feminine voice on several issues.
An APC member from Lagos, Dabiri, a former broadcast journalist, is a two-term house of representatives member from Ikorodu who reportedly initially toyed with the idea of running for governor in Lagos. She, however, threw herself into the presidential campaign and it is no exaggeration to say that no woman campaigned more vigorously for the APC than she did.
It was generally expected that she would be compensated with a ministerial slot. But she is from Lagos where there are many APC bigwigs and where Bola Tinubu calls the shot.
Many names alongside hers were mentioned, including that of former governor, Babatunde Fashola, and former commissioner of finance, Wale Edun, for a possible ministerial position.
Fashola eventually got Buhari’s nod, foreclosing the chances of Dabiri and Edun.
Kwankwaso is a politician’s politician who served as governor of Kano state for two terms. He was one of the key PDP leaders who left the party in 2013 to found the New PDP (nPDP) and later moved into the APC and became a critical bloc of the then opposition party.
Like Buhari, he contested for the APC’s presidential ticket but emerged second ahead of other heavyweights like former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and Imo state governor Rochas Okorocha.
Although a serving senator, Kwakwanso was speculated as a likely nominee from Kano state. Many had said that if he was nominated it would not be unusual for a senator to forfeit his seat for a position in the executive arm of government.
The last two ministers of the FCT Bala Mohammed and Mohammed Adamu Aliero were recruited from the senate. In fact, the lobby to name Kwakwanso minister of the FCT was intense. A lobby group Abuja Professionals led this campaign.
Buhari named former army chief, Abdulrahman Dambazzau, from Kano state, to the cabinet.
For Bolaji Abdullahi, former minister of sports, lightning has struck twice in his political career as his name is prominently missing from the list of ministerial nominees sent by President Muhammadu Buhari to the senate.
Favoured by the stalwarts of the Kwara state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to be the ministerial nominee from the state, Abdullahi was overlooked by Buhari in favour of Lai Mohammed, the party’s national publicity secretary.
Lightning first struck in March 2014 when Abdullahi was removed as minister by President Goodluck Jonathan months after Bukola Saraki, who nominated him, defected to APC as crisis rocked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with the formation of the new PDP.
The second lightning has struck — again on the account of Saraki’s estrangement from Buhari following his decision to contest for senate president against the preference of the president and many senior APC figures.
Abdullahi was the deputy director of the policy and research direction of the APC presidential campaign, working closely with Kayode Fayemi who headed the directorate.
Although Buhari was said to have been impressed with Abdullahi’s contributions, including speech writing and inputs into campaign strategy, insiders in the know of the intrigues that went into the compilation of the ministerial list said Abdullahi’s fate was sealed when Saraki decided to defy the party’s position on senate presidency.
“In a sense, you can say Abdullahi’s political strength has turned out to be his waterloo. It was Saraki that brought him into politics, made his a special assistant and later commissioner for education. He was also the one that nominated him as minister from Kwara in 2011,” a party insider said.
“But it is also indisputable that whatever happens to Saraki will affect him either positively or negatively. So Abdullahi took the bullet from Jonathan because of Saraki and has taken a second bullet from Buhari also because of Saraki.
Nobody is questioning his competence and record, but I don’t believe he ever stood a chance of being made minister after the fall-out from the senate leadership elections.”
Culled from TheCable with additional report by Abusidiqu