President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to reshuffle the federal cabinet any time from now, following the Senate’s screening and confirmation, on Wednesday, of the seven ministerial nominees whose names he sent last week for confirmation as Ministers-designate.
The confirmed Ministers-designate will have to be assigned portfolios and it is not automatic that they will be assigned the portfolios of the former ministers from their states that they are replacing in the cabinet.
Those screened and confirmed include Henry Ikechukwu Ikoh (Abia), Umana Okon Umana (Akwa-Ibom), and Ekumankama Joseph Nkama (Ebonyi).
Others are Goodluck Nana Opiah (Imo), Umar Ibrahim El-Yakub (Kano), Ademola Adewole Adegoroye (Ondo), and Udi Odum (Rivers).
They are replacing such ex-ministers as Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers State) – Transportation, Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom) Niger Delta Affairs, Ogbonnaya Onu (Ebonyi) Science, Technology and Innovation, Uche Ogah (Abia) Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development and Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba (Imo) Minister of State, Education, all of who resigned their positions to seek elective positions in the primaries of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The President will be expected to rejig the cabinet to ensure that round pegs are placed in round holes for optimum performance, especially given that a lot is still expected of the government in its last lap.
President Buhari is currently away in Lisbon, Portugal on a state visit as well as to attend the UN Ocean Conference and the cabinet shake-up is expected to happen any time after his return from the trip on Saturday, July 2, 2022.
There had been speculations that he may recall the ministers who resigned their positions, to ensure continuity, but he had instead sent in the names of the seven who have now been screened and cleared for deployment.
The screening exercise by the Senate, which started at about 12 noon lasted till 4:37 p.m.
While fielding questions from lawmakers, the first nominee, Ikechukwu Ikoh, said in tackling the issue of job creation, efforts must be made to grant operational licenses to operators of modular refineries in the country.
Another nominee, from Akwa-Ibom State, Umana Okon Umana, who is the Managing Director of the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, underscored the need for Nigeria to step-up its production capacity so as to boost foreign exchange earnings and reduce the country’s reliance on importation.
Ekumankama Joseph Nkama, on his part, admonished young Nigerians to tap into new areas of investment, so as to foster self-reliance and productivity, particularly in the country’s trade sector.
On the lingering strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Nkama called on the federal government and ASUU to reach a compromise.
He also asked the National Assembly to provide additional funding for the education sector, so as to meet some of the needs of the union.
He said, “there will be the need for compromise. For a very long time ASUU has been sticking to their guns that all the agreements reached earlier must be implemented.
“And we know that from the same source – the same national purse – there are several contending interests seeking for attention.
“My advise will be that federal government and ASUU will have to come to a compromise, and through this, we would be able to solve the issue of ASUU strike once and for all.
“I know the importance of budgetary provision. I want to appeal to the Senate that when the budget is being made for the coming year, there will be adequate provision for the education sector, so that some of these needs that the ASUU members are asking for as a union will be met.”
Lending his voice on the need for an end to the ASUU strike, Ademola Adewole Adegoroye, said the action by the union is against the interest of Nigerian students, adding that more effort must be made by government to find a lasting solution to same.
Goodluck Nana Opiah, a former member of the House of Representatives, was asked by the chamber to take a bow, in accordance with its tradition of extending such privilege to past members of the National Assembly.
Umar Ibrahim El-Yakub, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), said when sworn-in as a member of the Federal Executive Council, he would sustain and consolidate on the harmonious working relationship between the Executive and the National Assembly.