Cabinet: Why Buhari withdrew Ibeto
Senate confirms 18 nominees, delays Amaechi’s screening
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday replaced one of his ministerial nominees, the former deputy governor of Niger State, Ahmed Musa Ibeto, with a former House of Representatives whip, Abubakar Bwari Bawa.
Senate President Bukola Saraki read a letter from the President announcing the withdrawal of the nomination of Musa Ibeto.
The substitution came on the day that the Senate confirmed 18 out of the 37 ministerial nominees.
A source familiar with the horse trading that led to the substitution of Ibeto told Daily Trust that the Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, met President Buhari at the
Presidential Villa on Tuesday to lobby for the substitution with someone from another zones of the state.
The request was hinged on the fact that the governor himself, the speaker of the state house of assembly and other key political office holders are all from the same zone; Zone C of the state.
The nomination of Ibeto, who is also from the same zone, was creating political tension in the two other zones (A and B) owing to what many say was lopsidedness in the sharing of top offices in the state.
It is not clear if the nomination of the onetime whip of the House of Representatives, Abubakar Bawa Bwari, will assuage the anger of the Nupe people who were also keen to see one of their own appointed.
Opposition had mounted against Ibeto’s nomination not only form Niger East Senatorial District which felt shortchanged in appointments made so far by the incumbent Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, but also key stakeholders from political divides irrespective of party affiliations.
“There is an existing political understanding of the rotation of the three key positions of governor, deputy governor and minister amongst the three senatorial districts in the state,” source told Daily Trust yesterday.
“It was on this strength that in 1999, during the Obasanjo administration, when Professor Jerry Gana from Niger South Senatorial District was nominated for ministerial appointment, former Governor Abdulkadir Kure objected to his nomination. Therefore, Engr. Mustapha Bello from the Niger North Senatorial District was eventually nominated.
“It was based on this agreed principle of fair representation that in 2007 when Dr Shem Nuhu Zagbayi of Niger East Senatorial District was nominated for Ministerial position that Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu who came from the same senatorial district with the nominee objected to it. This led to the appointment of Barr Hassan Gimba from Niger South Senatorial District as Minister of Sport.
“This was done to maintain the needed political balance and sense of belonging for all, for peaceful coexistence, good governance and rapid economic growth and development,” the stakeholders had argued.
Former governor of the state, Alhaji Abdulkadir Kure, was the first to have drawn attention to what many believed was an ‘anomaly’, pointing out that existing arrangement was hinged on the need for sense of belonging by all components of the state.
He said the gesture has so far helped in bringing harmony among diverse groups in the state and urged appropriate authorities to intervene in dousing the tension.
Daily Trust learnt that key stakeholders from the two zones met over the weekend to draw up a road map for the future. At the said meeting which stretched for hours, party affiliations gave way to zonal considerations.
A flag off by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state ahead of the November local government election in the state showed a popularity shift towards the opposition party. The mammoth crowd defied political affiliations. “They can have their minister and other appointments now but we will see if the APC will return in the next election,” someone shouted into the microphone at the occasion last Friday.
The governor had kept up the pressure on the presidency until the president was said to have yielded at the last minute to replace Ibeto with Bwari.
Bwari’s emergence has doused the tension that had built up overtime in the state. A protest earlier planned by youth in the senatorial districts crying marginalisation was shelved when Bwari was named as Ibeto’s replacement.
Ministerial nominees Dr Chris Ngige, Aisha Jummai Alhassan and Hadi Sirika during their screening yesterday
NNPC Group Managing Director, Ibe Kachikwu, during his screening as a minister at the National Assembly in Abuja yesterday.