President Buhari’s Ministers Behind The Scene
President Muhammadu Buhari on August 21, 2019, swore in 43 ministers close to three months after his inauguration.
Most of the ministers played key roles in his re-election campaign and were expected to understand the enormity of the tasks before them in a country challenged by economic difficulties caused by dwindling oil revenues and reduced government income.
Daily Trust on Sunday takes a look at some of the ministers who though are working assiduously behind the scenes, are not always in the limelight, while being mindful of the fact that activities in some of the ministries may have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
George Akume is the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs.
The former Benue State governor and member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is hardly seen on camera or heard on radio speaking about his duties as a member of President Buhari’s cabinet.
Akume’s seeming silence and lack of visibility has fuelled the belief that he may not be making the necessary impact in the current administration despite being a political heavyweight who has equally represented his constituents in the National Assembly as a senator before the current assignment given to him by the President.
However, the Benue-born politician broke the silence on Wednesday, July 8 when he presented his score card at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
Akume spoke about his mandate and the feats his ministry had accomplished in less than one year in office.
He said: “My mandate is the coordination of presidential initiatives and projects, the coordination of inter-ministerial and agency functions as designated by Mr. President, as well as the certification of intervention projects.
“These are projects carried out by the National Assembly, interaction with private sector for the purpose of job creation for our youths, and putting in place the strategies to help the president realize his ambition to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
“These are what we are expected to do in the ministry.”
Akume, while speaking on the achievements of his ministry, said a lot of actions had been taken in conjunction with the private sector and other ministries.
The minister said his ministry in collaboration with various ministries, including Environment, Science and Technology; Industry, Trade, and Investment, was supporting Nigerians to turn wastes to wealth through plastic bottle initiative.
He said Nigerians had been taught how to use plastic bottles to build houses and make interlocking spots.
He added that an irrigation scheme to guarantee more planting times in a year in order to increase production and ensure food security had commenced after meeting with the Ministries of Labour; Industry, Trade, and Investment; Environment, Water Resources, and Agriculture.
“We are now looking at the possibility of creating 774 cottage industries in the local government areas. That means every local government will have one industry.
“In the area of transportation, we need decent vehicles to ply our roads. There are arrangements for procurement of Keke NAPEP and buses. Buses will be used for inter and intra-state purposes,” he added.
The spokesperson of the ministry, Mrs. Julie Osagie Jacobs, also told Daily Trust on Sunday that the ministry was expected to be more visible interfacing with states and local governments.
She however said the coronavirus pandemic had made this impossible as programs planned during the lockdown could not be carried out. She added that amid the challenge of the novel COVID-19, the ministry in April this year, flagged-off the donation of palliatives to the nation’s 774 local government councils to help cushion the effect of the virus.
She also listed interventions in sports and other sectors of the country where the ministry was actualising the present administration’s mandates. She also said the recent inauguration of an Inter-Ministerial Technical Expert Committee to work out the modalities of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty was a testimony of the works of the minister.
According to her, the ministry was established in August 2019 to initiate and implement policies and programmes in line with the economic recovery and growth plan of the present administration.
The ministry has its watch, the National Lotteries Regulatory Commission, National Lotteries Trust Fund and the Nigerian National Merit Award.
Sharon Ikeazor, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment, hails from Anambra State.
The 58-year-old lawyer, politician and management consultant is the former Executive Secretary of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD).
Her prominent, positive and impactful role in PTAD is believed to have catapulted her into the current position apart from being a loyal supporter of President Buhari right from the time of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), where she served as national women leader.
The once famous Ikeazor who championed the cause of pensioners is no longer seen in the public space. Pundits say the efforts of the current member of the APC Board of Trustees (BoT) may have been subsumed by the Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammed Abubakar Mahmoud, who seems to be the one speaking more frequently on the activities of the ministry.
However, Daily Trust on Sunday learnt that Ikeazor had not been subsumed by the senior minister as she has been very active directly supervising agencies under her care and on many occasions being present with the minister. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, she is a regular face at almost all the meetings taking place through Zoom.
Ikeazor, who has been active in interacting with international organisations on environmental issues, supervises NOSDRA and National Bio-safety Management Agency (NBMA).
Senator Omotayo Alasoadura is the Minister of State in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. Alasoadura is representing Ondo State in the federal cabinet. Since he swapped position in the Ministry of Labour and Employment with Festus Keyamo, the minister who represented Ondo-Central Senatorial District in the senate between 2015 and 2019 is working diligently behind the stamina-laden senior minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
Mohammed Maigari Dangyadi
Mohammed Maigari Dangyadi is currently manning the Ministry of Police Affairs which the president carved out of the Ministry of Interior. The Sokoto State-born minister is hardly seen in the public space addressing Nigerians on the activities of his ministry. But Dangyadi needs to talk more in order to change the perception of Nigerians on the Nigeria Police. Pundits believe that he and the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd), are not being seen frequently because security matters are not meant for public consumption.
However, Daily Trust on Sunday learnt that the two ministers are actually working to plan as retired Major General Magashi on June 9, 2020 received in audience, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Yusuf Tukur Buratai, after his return from the North-east where he led counter-insurgency operations for over two months in the trenches.
Cabinet members subsumed by senior ministers?
Some of the ministers are believed to be inconspicuous due to the perceived vibrancy of the senior ministers including the Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, under Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite; Minister of State, Science and Technology, Mohammed A. Abdullahi under Chief Ogbonnaya Onu; Minister of State, Power, Goddy Jedy-Agba, under Engr. Sale Mamman; as well as Minister of State, Industry, Trade, and Investment, Amb. Maryam Katagum, under Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo.
‘Katagum overseeing delegated responsibilities’
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Katagum, though has not been on the frontlines, is said to be carrying out responsibilities delegated to her by the senior minister, she is not directly in charge of any agency but carries out delegated responsibilities. Findings showed that Katagum has been busy carrying out several key functions in the ministry including for instance, last Thursday, when she oversaw the engagement of a consortium, Ernst and Young, for the concession of the Calabar and Kano Special Economic Zones (SEZs). She was also part of the inauguration of the Transactions Implementation Committee (TIC) for the reform of Calabar and Kano Special Economic Zones in Abuja. She was also inaugurated recently as the team leader of the Campaign Strategy for the election of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Director General of the World Trade Organisation. The minister of state has also been part of efforts to keep up the production of essential commodities during the COVID-19 lockdown. She also drove the market intelligence that informed the production and delivery of essential commodities to combat COVID-19 in Abuja, according to ministry sources.
The Media Assistant to Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Julius Toba-Jegede, told Daily Trust on Sunday that there was no line of demarcation between the functions of the senior minister and that of the minister of state. Toba-Jegede said the two ministers meet, review activities and jointly execute the functions of the Ministry.
Adegbite, Ogah in good working ties
The Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, while speaking with our reporter on his duties and relationship with the senior minister, said: “We operate the presidential system of government. So, the reporting line is through the senior minister. But the minister of state does so much work at the background. If you watched Mining This Week on Channels TV penultimate Wednesday, you would have seen that I was there working. If not because of the COVID-19, you would see me travelling across the states creating synergy and driving for increased revenue for the ministry. It’s team work between the senior minister and myself.
“Some investors come through me but I am not in the media talking. For me and the senior minister, it’s a wonderful team. Ask people in the ministry, they would tell you this is the first time they are having a wonderful team because both of us are private sector driven. We are bringing a different dimension to the sector. People are knowing about mining and there is synergy.”
Onu, Abdullahi moving along
Though the media aide to the Minister of State for Science and Technology, Maryam Zakari, neither answered calls made to her mobile line nor replied messages sent to her, a top official of the ministry told Daily Trust on Sunday that the senior minister, Dr Ogbonaya Onu, is enjoying a conducive working atmosphere with the minister of state, Abdullahi.
The top official who preferred anonymity said just penultimate week the minister of state along with Onu presided over a meeting of the agencies’ directors general.
“The minister has his duties clearly delineated and these don’t clash with Dr Onu’s and he doesn’t take over Barr. Abdullahi’s duties. Go through reports in newspapers, his activities are always there,” he said.
Jedy-Agba supervising agencies
The Minister of State for Power, Mr. Goddy Jedy-Agba, is believed to be supervising agencies in the power sector, including the Rural Electrification Agency, Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency, NEMSA and the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria, contrary to the view that he has been overshadowed by his senior minister.
Jedy-Agba also inspected the Calabar NIPP plant on Friday in Cross River State. The Minister of State was accompanied by the MD of NDPHC, Mr. Chiedu Ugbo and other officials of the company. He had also in July inspected facilities of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, where he assured of inspecting other DisCos to ensure they are performing optimally. (By Daily Trust Newspaper)