Appointments of key Aides: How Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan fared


The dithering procrastination by the Muhammadu Buhari administration in making key appointments is an issue among some Nigerians. Should it?

By Dapo Akinrefon, Charles Kumolu & Gbenga Oke

In the estimation of many, the inability of President Muhammadu Buhari to make key appointments three weeks after its inauguration is a cause for concern.

The administration which was inaugurated on May 29, 2015, had been expected to hit the ground running given the about two-month waiting time it had to prepare itself.

However, to the consternation of many stakeholders, including strong partisans of the new ruling party, All Progressives Congress, APC, the administration has continued to drag its feet on the appointment of key officers of state.

The only three appointments that have been made by Buhari are those of the two media spokesmen, Mr. Femi Adesina as Special Adviser on Media and Publicity and Mallam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity.

The third appointment was that of Mallam Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure as the State Chief of Protocol (SCOP).

Jonathan and Obasanjo

Kazaure was a handover from the Goodluck Jonathan administration and had served the former president as a Special Assistant (Presidential Matters).

When the president wrote the 7th Senate on Tuesday, June 2 – two days before the end of its session- to ask for the approval of 15 Special Advisers, it sparked belief in some quarters that Buhari was all geared for action.

That request was approved the following day, June 3. However, more than two weeks after the approval was given, the president as at press time yesterday was yet to name the men and women to fill the positions approved for him.

It is a development that has gotten senior associates of the president all worried. Many of them who expect to work with him in the administration are all tensed up, and many of them looking askance as the president has carried on without the key appointments.

Defending himself, the president had blamed the delay in passing on handover notes from the former administration to his Transition Committee.

The head of the Buhari Transition Committee, Alhaji Ahmed Joda, while passing on the 800 page report of the committee to the president last weekend, came to the defence of the president saying that the transition that has just occurred was unique in the sense that it was the first time that a different political party was taking power from another political party.

“For about five weeks, we went through memorandum, listening to presentations from all over this country. We submitted about 800 pages of the report to Mr President. It’s now his property, and I believe in due course, he’ll begin to act on it,” Joda said.

“We received the handover note on the 25th of May and that report was about 18,000 pages and it took time to even sort them out and to make sense from them, read them, analyse them and come up with recommendations,” he added.

“I think he (Buhari) deserves a little bit more time. This is not an ordinary transfer of government from one president to the other. In this country, we’ve never witnessed this kind of transition from one political party to another; the political party in opposition won the election,” Joda stated.


“Previous transitions from one president to the other did not require long process like this. I think this is part of the evolution of democracy. The country has to be a little bit more patient, and it cannot be with immediate effect,” he said.

President Olusegun Obasanjo, who took over power from the military regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar, settled in pretty quickly.

On the day he was sworn in on May 29, 1999, Obasanjo appointed Chief Ufot Ekaete as the Secretary to the Federal Government, SGF, and Major General Abdullahi Muhammed, (retd) as Chief of Staff.

The media team, service chiefs were also appointed within the first two days of the Obasanjo administration.

Instructively, the two key staff of the Obasanjo administration, Ekaette who ran the government bureaucracy and Gen. Mohammed who ran the presidential villa and the government, were identified and positioned well before the inauguration by Obasanjo.

Both men served Obasanjo for the eight years he was in power.

Gen. Aliyu Mohammed was also appointed about the same time as the National Security Adviser while Mr. Kayode Are was appointed the Director General of the Department of State Services, DSS. Are served Obasanjo for the two terms while Mohammed, left office to vie for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in 2006.

President Umaru Yar‘Adua, following his inauguration on May 29, 2007 within 24 hours made key appointments including the appointment of Mr. Segun Adeniyi as Special Adviser, Media and Publicity; Ambassador Babagana Kingibe as Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF and Alhaji Salihu Alhassan as the Executive Secretary of the Federal Capital Territory Authority, FCTA.

The new president also announced that he would retain Maj-Gen Abdullahi Mohammed (retd) as Chief of Staff and Maj-Gen Sarki Muktar (retd) as National Security Adviser. Both men were carryovers from the preceding Obasanjo administration.

Jonathan: Cabinet not formed in a hurry 

Upon becoming the acting President on February 9, 2010, then President Goodluck Jonathan in an assertive move redeployed then Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aondoaka to the Special Duties Ministry.

He did not tinker with the security apparatus and domestic line up framed by the ailing President Yar‘Adua until he was fully sworn in as President on May 5, 2010.

Jonathan, who was inaugurated as president on May 29, 2011, the following day named Senator Anyim Pius Anyim as SGF.

However, other key appointments took the president another five weeks. His special adviser on Media, Dr. Rueben Abati, Chief of Staff, Chief Mike Oghiadhome and other principal staff were named on July 6, 2011.

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