Buhari to Sack FEC Ministers and Enlarge Cabinet

President Muhammadu Buhari has hinted of his plans to drop some ministers and expand the cabinet to bring in fresh hands, as well as accommodate more members of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

He made the disclosure to members of the APC Nation­al Executive Committee (NEC), which met at the party’s National Secretariat in Abuja on Tuesday.

Addressing the party leaders, Buhari said that he would soon shake up the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and promised to bring in more party supporters into his administration.

The President has been un­der attack over the composi­tion of FEC members with APC stakeholders accusing him of

neglecting them in his appoint­ments.

The most recent attack came last week from the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd), who alleged that the oppo­sition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) members hold 50 percent of the President’s appointments.

Buhari’s speech at the NEC meeting was however not read before the media as journalists were asked to leave the hall by the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

The President in the speech later made available to newsmen, said: “On the other hand, I am keenly aware that our support­ers are very eager for these ap­pointments to be announced. By the grace of God these appoint­ments will be announced soon, especially now that the economy is improving, we will have the re­sources to cater for the appoin­tees.

“By the same token, the com­pressed Federal Executive Coun­cil will be expanded to bring in more supporters at the federal level, with fresh ideas to be inject­ed into the government,” he said.

The APC NEC meeting was attended by 21 governors, mem­bers of National Assembly led by the Senate President, Sen. Buko­la Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, state party chair­men and members of the NEC.

However, former Vice Presi­dent Atiku Abubakar was absent, but sources close to him said the he was out of the country.

Among the governors pre­sent at the gathering were Ya­haya Bello (Kogi), Jibrilla Bindo (Adamawa), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Ab­dullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara) and Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna).

Others were Atiku Ba­gudu (Kebbi), Rochas Okoro­cha (Imo), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger), Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi), Samuel Or­tom (Benue), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Aminu Waziri Tambu­wal (Sokoto), Aminu Bello Masa­ri (Katsina), and Abiola Ajimo­bi (Oyo).

The senators included the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, Senate Minority Whip, Francis Alimikhena, Senators Abdullahi Adamu, Binta Gar­ba, Andy Uba, Magnus Abbe, Dino Melaye, Ahmed Sani Yer­ima, Gbenga Ashafa and Barn­abas Gemade.

From the Lower House were the Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun, House Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Majority Whip, and Hon. Ado Dogowa.

There were also the pioneer APC National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, the Minister of Ag­riculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello, and Special Adviser to the Vice Pres­ident on Political Matter, Babafe­mi Ojodu.

The President also regret­ted the delay in reconstituting boards of federal parastatals, pointing out that it was due to efforts to get the balance right and ensure that all parts of the country were represented.

Buhari said: “Let me on a personal note thank you all for your prayers and good wishes, which the Almighty Allah an­swered in the restoration of my health. I wish to thank all par­ty leaders for helping to keep the government running smoothly during my prolonged absence.

“I would like to start by commending our party leader­ship chaired by Chief John Odi­gie-Oyegun. The chairman and I worked harmoniously during 1984-85 in a previous govern­ment. Happily, circumstances have brought us again to posi­tions of leadership in the coun­try.

“I must also commend the leadership of the National As­sembly led by Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Hon. Speaker Yakubu Dogara. I must place on record the coop­eration and understanding of the National Assembly, including some non-APC members who rose above petty party interests and acted in the national interest.

“My deep thanks also go to our state governors who faced stiff challenges, especially their determination to maintain unity and tolerance among our com­munities. This is in the face of unnecessary politically-moti­vated strife and violence. Cred­it should go to APC governors for extending their hand of fel­lowship to their colleagues from other parties,” he said.

According to him: “Nigeria’s prestige has gone up, Nigeria is now credit worthy, a clear tes­timony of which was the over-subscription of the Euro-Bond by four times. Nevertheless, we are not resting on our achieve­ments. I am quite aware of the challenges before us.”

Before the meeting, a mild drama played out at the en­trance to the APC Secretari­at as the presidential guards in­sisted that the governors will be dropped at the gate, while they walk into the office.

Security aides attached to Governor Yahaya Bello who was the first to arrive in the secretar­iat engaged in a shouting match which almost resulted into fisti­cuffs with the guards.

The Chairman of the Nige­ria Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari, was furious that his col­leagues were asked to walk into the secretariat, insisting that they be allowed to be driven in, while the cars are taken out later, but the head of the security team told him that “it will not work that way.”

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