Olusola Fabiyi and Olalekan Adetayo
President Muhammadu Buhari will formally inaugurate the much-awaited Federal Executive Council on Wednesday, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.
Buhari will administer oath of office on the 36 ministers-designate that have been confirmed by the Senate at an event scheduled to hold inside the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He is also expected to announce their portfolios.
Before inaugurating the FEC, on Monday, the President is also to swear in the new National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, and the five national commissioners recently appointed.
The inauguration of Buhari’s cabinet is coming over five months after the President was inaugurated.
Multiple sources in the presidency told our correspondent on Saturday that the dates of the two inaugurations had already been communicated to those concerned by the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President.
The President had said although the constitution stipulates that all the 36 states should have representatives in the cabinet, the law does not say he must have 36 ministries.
He had said that due to the economic situation, the nation cannot have up to 36 ministries, giving an indication that some existing ministries might be scrapped while others merged.
It was however not clear on Saturday the number of ministries the President had settled for.
When contacted on the telephone, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, confirmed that the inauguration of ministers was on the President’s schedule for Wednesday.
“Yes, it is on the President’s schedule. He will swear in the ministers on Wednesday. He will swear in the INEC chairman and his national commissioners on Monday,” Shehu said.
When asked about the number of ministries the President has settled for, Shehu said he had no information on it.
“Everything will be clear latest by Wednesday when the ministers will be sworn in,” he added.
The Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation had on Thursday and Friday organised a presidential retreat for the ministers-designate during which they were exposed to the focus of the present administration and expectations from them.
They were also shown the current economic and security situation of the country.
Other areas touched during the retreat were the relationship between the ministers and their colleagues as well as their permanent secretaries and aides.
The 36 ministers to be inaugurated on Wednesday are Udoma Udo Udoma (Akwa Ibom); Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Audu Ogbeh (Benue); Ogbonnaya Onu (Ebonyi); Osagie Ehanire (Edo); Abdulrahman Dambazau (Kano); Lai Mohammed (Kwara); Amina Mohammed (Gombe); Suleiman Adamu (Jigawa); and Ibrahim Jibril (Nasarawa).
Others are Babatunde Fashola (Lagos); Ibe Kachikwu (Delta); Abubakar Malami (Kebbi); Chris Ngige (Anambra); Aisha Jummai Alhassan (Taraba); Solomon Dalong (Plateau); Kemi Adeosun (Ogun); Hadi Sirika (Katsina); Adebayo Shittu (Oyo); Khadija Bukar Ibrahim (Yobe); Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); James Ocholi (Kogi); Baba Mustapha (Borno); Claudius Daramola (Ondo); Heineken Lokpobiri (Bayelsa); and Usani Uguru (Cross River).
The remaining ministers-designate are Munsur Dan Ali (Zamfara); Zainab Shamshuna Ahmed (Kaduna); Geoffrey Onyeama (Enugu); Abubakar Buari (Niger); Isaac Adewole (Osun); Aisha Abubakar (Sokoto); Mohammed Bello (Adamawa); Adamu Adamu (Bauchi); Anthony Anwuka (Imo); and Okechukwu Enelamah (Abia).
As of Saturday, Dambazau, a retired soldier, was being speculated to handle the defence ministry, while Amaechi, an ex-Governor of Rivers State, was tipped to be in charge of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, according to speculations, might be headed by Ogbeh, a one-time National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party; while Ocholi might oversee the Ministry of Justice.
For the education and foreign affairs ministries, Adewole, an outgoing Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan; and Fayemi, an ex-governor of Ekiti, were being tipped respectively.
The National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Lai Mohammed, is seen as a natural candidate for the Ministry of Information while the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Ibe Kachikwu, is rumoured to be the junior minister in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. Already, Buhari had said he would personally head the ministry.
Buhari had on October 21 named Yakubu as the National Chairman of INEC.
The appointment was consequently approved at the first meeting of the Council of State presided over by Buhari on the same day.
The five new national commissioners named for the commission on the same day were Mrs. Amina Zakari (North-West); Dr. Anthonia Okoosi-Simbine (North- Central); Mr. Baba Shettima Arfo (North-East); Dr. Mohammed Mustafa Lecky (South- South) and Mr. Soyebi Adedeji Solomon (South-West).
Their appointments had since been confirmed by the Senate as required by the law.
The South-East is said to have a sitting national commissioner.