Buhari’s Silence On Key Appointments Unsettles APC Leaders
Buhari’s silence on executive appointments seen as key to the full take-off of his administration has upset many chieftains of his party, All Progressives Congress. It has also provoked considerable anxiety about the roadmap he is reading after his swearing in as president on May 29.
Many Nigerians had thought from past experience that Buhari would announce major appointments, such as Chief of Staff, media spokesperson NSA, and SGF, at least within 48 hours of his inauguration. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had sacked all the service chiefs, the director-general of State Security Services, and the NSA on his assumption of office.
But his refusal to say anything on the appointments has fuelled speculation that he and key stakeholders of APC may not be on the same page with regard to the choice of persons for the positions.
However, sources said that the APC leaders insisted they must be carried along by the president in the making of strategic appointments in line with the principle of party supremacy. He had in his inaugural speech on Friday announced the relocation of the Defence Headquarters to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, the hotbed of the nearly six-year-old Boko Haram insurgency. This was in apparent demonstration of his determination to tackle the terrorist threat head-on. Against this backdrop, Buhari is believed to have prioritised the appointment of his security team.
The president was said to have initially decided to make Dambazau the Minister of Defence, but other APC leaders who got wind of it objected to the appointment of northerners into the two strategic positions of NSA and defence minister.
The president of Nigerian Guild of Editors and managing director of Sun Newspapers, Femi Adesina, is said to be pencilled in as Buhari’s senior special adviser on media and publicity, and former military administrator of Kaduna State, Col. Abdul Hamid Ali, is being considered for Chief of Staff. Ali had served as Buhari’s Chief of Staff before.
Those eyeing the post of SGF include immediate past governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi; former governor of Abia State, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu; and the latest entrant, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe.
Sources in APC said Buhari may have settled for Amaechi with the backing of prominent southerners in the party, who are keen on having someone from the region in the position.
Leaders of the party from the south were said to have confronted Buhari over Kingibe’s alleged aspiration, insisting he didn’t work for the party. But Buhari was said to have informed them that they might not have been aware that the former SGF actually worked for his victory behind the scene.
However, Kingibe has become visible since Buhari’s victory, prompting leaders of the party from the south to unite behind Amaechi so that the region does not miss the opportunity of producing the SGF.
It was gathered that the delay in the announcement of key appointments by the new government was caused by the president’s decision to refrain from any pronouncement in that regard until major political interests in his party had been catered for.