Expectation of cabinet reshuffle is responsible for the delay in the swearing in of two ministers confirmed by the Senate since May 3, Daily Trust learnt.
Kogi had been without representation in the cabinet since James Ocholi, Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, died in a road accident on March 6, 2016.
Amina Mohammed resigned as Minister of Environment on February 24, to take up a UN appointment as Deputy Secretary- General.
Buhari nominated Stephen Ocheni and Suleiman Hassan from their respective states as replacements and forwarded their names to the Senate on March 28. They were confirmed on May 3.
There were speculations President Buhari would reshuffle the cabinet but this did not happen up to the time he departed for London on medical vacation about 50 days ago.
The general expectation has been that Acting President Yemi Osinbajo would swear in the ministers during any of the weekly cabinet meetings.
The Acting President has not acted on this and his office has declined comment on the matter.
A presidency source suggested Osinbajo may be waiting for the President to return to swear-in the two ministers and reshuffle the cabinet.
According to him, “I think there is a plan to reshuffle the cabinet to re-jig the government and make it function better. This may be the reason for the delay in the inauguration of the two ministers-designate.
“I don’t think there’s anything other than the absence of the president. I don’t know whether there is an arrangement between the president and the acting president on this. But if the two ministers are to occupy the position of their predecessors, the acting president would have sworn them in, “he said.
When confronted by State House correspondents yesterday on why Osinbajo had not exercised some presidential powers in swearing in the two new ministers-designate, the Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum, Chief Rochas Okorocha, said, “Like I said before, there is absolutely no vacuum. You have an acting president who assumes all the powers of Mr President. So I do not know if there are reasons Mr Acting President has not acted on that. But he has the full powers of the president.
“The Acting President can take any decision today and it will be binding on the nation because he is the acting president, he is not the vice president anymore. He sits in place of Mr. President and performs all the constitutional duties of Mr. President. But if he is taking his time for obvious reasons, that is understandable,” Okorocha said.
“As acting president, you want to make sure things are in their rightful places before you take any decision, but there is no vacuum. There is no approval by acting president that was rejected by anybody. He summons meetings, calls for meetings, gives directives; he has enough powers for him to execute governmental functions,” he added.
APC leadership worried
Sources at the national secretariat of the APC in Abuja yesterday said the party was not only worried that Kogi and Gombe states do not have representatives at FEC, but that many other important appointments have not been filled.
“The development did not speak well of our party, this is the truth,” one of the sources, who does not want to be named, said.
According to him, “the chapters of our party in the affected states have been murmuring; that after needless delay in nominating the ministers those who got the post are still idling at home.
“Ordinarily swearing-in of ministers should not be an issue but you know how things are done here, a lot of interests at play but we pray the Almighty to improve the health of President Buhari so that all these suspense will be over,” he said.
Another source at the APC secretariat said there was disquiet across the party hierarchy in all the states, saying they were being mocked by the opposition.
“Most of the state chapters are under pressure from their members who have not been carried along throughout the last two years.
“They have submitted names for appointments into boards and parastatals and all what is needed to be done, such as vetting have been concluded but the files are there lying at the presidency and the cabinet office. Hundreds of PDP members are still on the boards of government agencies, they are just laughing at us,” he said.
Kogi East fumes as lawyer moves to Appeal Court
The people of Kogi State especially those from the Eastern Senatorial district have expressed concerns over the failure of the government to swear in Prof Ocheni several weeks after the Senate had cleared him.
President of the Ujache Igala Association, Mr Goodman Akwu, described the development as “pathetic,” saying that the state had remained without a representative in the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for one year and three months for no just reason.
“It is pathetic… we are cut off from our own country. Igala in particular and Kogi State in general has been marginalised under this administration.
“It is a sad episode and I will still take to the streets again to lead a protest. We are not out to beg because it is our right. Who is the one blocking us? Is it from within or outside?
“They told us to vote for change and we are now being short-changed. I’m urging the president or whoever is in that capacity today to inaugurate our minister without further delay.
“We learnt they want to reshuffle the cabinet but that is not a tenable excuse because any where he (Ocheni) is, he can still be reshuffled. The vacancy is still there; Ocholi was a deputy minister in the ministry of Labour before his death, let them inaugurate him to occupy that portfolio pending when they are ready to do any reshuffle. Deputy Minister is better than not having any minister at all,” he said.
Meanwhile, a lawyer, Daniel Makolo who earlier challenged President Buhari at the Federal High Court over non appointment of minister from the Kogi State said he was still at the Appeal Court after the initial court failed to grant his prayers.
He said the Appeal Court had fixed a date for definite hearing, adding that whatever action taken by the federal government and the Senate over the issue of minister from the state amount to subjudice and an insult of the constitution.
We’re now orphans- Gombe APC
The Gombe state chapter of the APC said it is worried over the failure of those that matter to swear-in Alhaji Sulaiman Hassan, about two months after his confirmation by the Senate.
Speaking to Daily Trust, Mr Julius Ishaya, the Zonal Vice Chairman of the party in Gombe South, said the development had prolonged their status of being orphans in the scheme of things.
“We’re particularly worried because we don’t have a sitting APC government in the state and we believe the minister will serve as the rallying point of all members of APC in the state.
“The present regime is in office for 48 months, it has two years now to go, so any day that passed by without a representative from the state, is a loss to us.”
Mr Ishaya said the state chapter of the party was yet to get any information from the Presidency with regards to the non-swearing-in of the minister.
“There has been no communication from the Presidency, only insinuation that it was because of the absence of the president, but even with Buhari’s absence, the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo is running the country well, so the two leaders should talk and fill the vacuum,” he said.
SOURCE: Daily Trust Newspaper