There are strong indications that the immediate past governors of Lagos, Adamawa and Bauchi states, Akinwunmi Ambode, Mohammed Bindow and Mohammed Abubakar, may be part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s next cabinet.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress had resolved that all the APC governors who lost their re-election bids would “automatically’ become the ministerial nominees for their states.
Ambode, Bindow and Abubakar failed in their re-election bids in the last general elections.
The APC Organising Secretary, Adamawa State chapter, Ahmed Lawan, confirmed the development.
Lawan, who said the leadership of the party had yet to call for any list from the state chapter, however, said Bindow might be “automatically” nominated for the state, following the directive from the national leadership of the party.
Bindow lost his second-term bid to Ahmadu Fintiri of the Peoples Democratic Party in a rerun.
Lawan, who is also aspiring for the office of the National Secretary of the APC, said, “That is the directive from the national leadership and there’s no nomination outside of Bindow. They never asked us to make any nomination. That is the arrangement; any state where the governor lost, the governor will be given a ministerial slot.”
Following the development, Ambode who lost in a controversial primary election to Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu may represent Lagos State in the ministerial list while Abubakar who lost to Bala Mohammed of the Peoples Democratic Party is expected to clinch the Bauchi State slot.
Presidency sources said Ambode enjoyed the favour of Buhari and his men and that there were strong indications he would make the list.
Tinubu men begin moves to stop Ambode’s nomination, may petition EFCC
It has, however, been gathered that party men loyal to the National Leader of the ruling party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, may have begun moves to scuttle plan to appoint Ambode as a minister.
Top party chiefs in the Mandate Group alleged that the immediate past governor of Lagos State frustrated many party members in Lagos State during his tenure and there was therefore the need “to teach him a lesson.”
Consequently, the aggrieved party men were said to be making moves to petition the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over Ambode’s alleged financial misappropriation and corruption.
Ambode, who has been out of the country since he left office in May, returned from France a few days ago. He was said to be favoured by Buhari’s kitchen cabinet.
Sources within the Lagos APC told Saturday PUNCH that Ambode was not a loyal party man as he offended some party members and any move to reward him would be opposed vehemently by the party.
One of the sources said, “Ambode tried to destroy the party in his first term. Apart from not being accessible, he revoked contracts belonging to party members and brought in his own companies. He tried to destroy our chances by trying to undermine Sanwo-Olu at every turn.
“He did not campaign for us. Rather, he was following Buhari all over the place. He should not expect to represent Lagos in any capacity. We will not allow him have any appointment.”
Another source alleged that Ambode was not an indigene of Lagos State.
The source said, “Ambode is from Ondo State and he cannot deny it. Yes, he was governor in Lagos State but the constitution allows that. However, the constitution states clearly that only an indigene of a state can represent that state as far as ministerial appointments are concerned.
“We will ensure that the three senators from Lagos State block his nomination in the event that he is nominated by the President. There must be party discipline.”
The source said a probe of Ambode’s administration would soon commence where the cases of alleged fraud and abuse of office would be exposed.
A source close to Ambode, however, said the former governor was prepared for the battle ahead.
He said Ambode’s gentle mien should not be mistaken for weakness.
The former aide said, “Ambode is already prepared for the worst since they have already humiliated him. Buhari even appealed to them to let Ambode return as governor but they refused. They then tried to impeach him but they failed.
“They should remember that Ambode was a permanent secretary and accountant-general of the state before becoming a governor.
“He knows the secrets of all those making threats. Anybody who is on a mission of revenge could be digging his own grave in the process. I won’t say more than that.”
Attempts to speak with Tinubu’s aide, Tunde Rahman, proved abortive as he neither picked calls nor responded to a text message on Friday.
President in charge, not APC, says Issa-Onilu
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Lanre Issa-Onilu, however, said on Friday that the President was the one to determine the method of selection of ministerial nominees.
He said it was not for the party to choose for the President even if he called for inputs.
Issa-Onilu was reacting to Saturday PUNCH’s enquiries over the directive by the national leadership of the party to state chapters that governors who lost re-election would be considered for ministerial slots.
“I’m not aware of any such instruction from the President. The President will determine his method of selection,” he said.
Similarly, the Enugu State Chairman, Dr Ben Nwoye, said there was no rigid selection method of ministerial nominees
“There is no method to it, it is about people lobbying by making various claims; there is no real method.”
When asked the role of states in the process, he said, “The state has no specific role in determining who becomes the minister, it is within the prerogative of the President.”
Anxiety mounts in states
Meanwhile, anxiety has heightened among APC members in the 36 states of the federation.
Findings by Saturday PUNCH indicate that although the President and the APC leadership have yet to request any list of nominees from the state chapters of the party, there has been scrambling among chieftains of the party in the states.
Ogun: Osoba, Amosun lock horns
In Ogun State, there seems to be a contest between the camps of two former governors of the state who are chieftains of the APC, Ibikunle Amosun and Segun Osoba.
Unconfirmed sources said while Amosun had positioned the former Secretary to the State Government during his administration, Taiwo Adeoluwa, for the ticket, hoping to take advantage of his cordial relationship with the Presidency, Osoba was said to be banking on his grip on the party structure in the state.
It was further gathered that the party might consider two former deputy governors and a former senator in Ogun-Central for the position.
The party in the state is under the leadership of a three-man caretaker committee loyal to Osoba while the other faction loyal to Amosun seems to have been overwhelmed by the emergence of Dapo Abiodun as the governor of the state.
Osun: Adewale, Aregbesola, Omisore in contention
In Osun State, findings showed that four camps within the party were working for the emergence of their various principals as the minister to represent the state.
A camp is said to be working for the return of a former minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, while another camp that has many bigwigs of the party in its fold wants ex-governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, to be appointed.
Another camp is said to be lobbying for the ex-Senate Chief Whip, Prof. Sola Adeyeye.
Also said to be in the race is a former deputy governor of the state, Otunba Iyiola Omisore, who was said to be relying on the role he played during the September 27 governorship election to ensure victory for the APC in the poll, to negotiate for a ministerial slot.
The immediate past lawmaker representing Osun East Senatorial zone in the Senate, Senator Babajide Omoworare, is also said to be in the race.
When contacted, the spokesperson for the APC in the state, Barrister Kunle Oyatomi, said the party had not received any directive from the national secretariat to draw up a list.
Ondo: Akeredolu’s aides in close contest
In Ondo State, it was learnt that four members of the party in the state were top contenders. These are the Special Adviser to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on Public Utilities, Mr Tunji Ariyomo; Special Adviser to the governor on Public and Inter-Governmental Relations, Mrs Bunmi Ademosu; Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Development and Investment, Mr Boye Oyewumi; and the Executive Director of Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited, Mr Ife Oyedele.
Asked for his comment, the Chairman of the APC in the state, Mr Ade Adetimehin, said, “The issue of the list of ministerial nominees from Ondo State is an internal affair of our party, we can’t discuss with the press for now; when the list is out, the whole world will be informed.”
Ekiti: Aluko, Adelabu others show interest
In Ekiti State, the Deputy state Chairman of the APC, Mr Sola Elesin, said, “The President will not rush to nominate candidates, he will ask us to present candidates. We have yet to decide but that will be very soon because the Federal Executive Council will take off very soon.”
But feelers from some quarters in the APC have shown that a former senator, Gbenga Aluko; a former deputy governor, Prof Modupe Adelabu; a former governorship aspirant, Kayode Ojo; and a former vice-chancellor of Federal University, Oye Ekiti, Prof. Bolaji Aluko, are likely to be considered.
In Taraba State, the President of the Trade Union Congress, Bobboi Kaigama; a former acting governor of Taraba State, Sani Danladi, and other chieftains of the APC were said to be in the race for the state’s ministerial slots.
A chieftain of the party in the state, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said other candidates were Ambassador Hassan Ardo and Prof. Sani Yahaya, a governorship aspirant in the last general elections in the state.
But the spokesperson for the party in the state, Mr Aaron Arthimas, said, “The national chairman of our great party has directed state chairmen to send names and other party chieftains too have submitted their CVs and are lobbying for appointment, but the good thing is that the President knows the people he wants to work with and he will choose whoever he wants.”
Benue: Between Akume and Ogbe
In Benue State, there are indications that a former governor of the state, Senator George Akume, or the immediate past minister of agriculture, Audu Ogbe, will make the list.
The state Chairman of the party, Abba Yaro, said the party in the state had not been contacted on ministerial list but confirmed that the appointment hovered around Akume and Ogbe.
Katsina: Ex-senator tipped
Credible sources in the state chapter of the APC said the immediate past senator representing Funtua zone (Katsina South), Senator Abu Ibrahim, might emerge one of the ministers or given a federal appointment.
Sokoto: Between two ex-ministers
In Sokoto State, the likely nominees have been narrowed down to two, Yusuf Suleiman, who is a former minister of Sports and Transportation, and Hajiya Aisha Abubakar, the immediate past minister of state for Trade and Investment.
The state Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Sambo Danchadi, however, said, “The issue of ministerial appointment is an issue to be decided by Mr President and the leadership of the party at the federal level.
In Zamfara State, there are indications that the former minister of defence, Alhaji Mansur Dan Ali, might retain his position, while others pointed at the immediate past governor, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, as a strong contender.
Bayelsa: Sylva may be favoured
In Bayelsa State, indications are rife that a former governor of the state, Chief Timi Sylva, may clinch the ministerial slot from the state.
Though none of the officials of the state chapter of the party was ready to talk on the issue, sources said Sylva might have shelved his plan to re-contest the governorship poll.