Strong indications emerged at the weekend that the recent audience between President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) and former President Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) centred on national issues, especially the choice of would-be ministers.
It was gathered that Buhari opened up to the former Nigerian leader on the criteria for choosing his ministers.
It was also learnt that the president said he was thinking of trying “new hands” instead of recycling the same old ones.
The closed door meeting between both leaders came on the heels of findings by The Nation newspaper that President Buhari may send the list of ministers to the National Assembly in batches because of the likely merger of some Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
The first batch is likely to meet the September deadline set by the president.
According to the newspaper, the meeting between the two leaders focused on what Buhari had done in the last 100 days, the challenges at hand, and the composition of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
A highly-placed source said: “Apart from other national issues, the president took time to explain the criteria he will be using to appoint his ministers. He said he might try new hands instead of using the same set of people that had served Nigerians.
“He also said anyone with tainted records or with issues on corruption may not get a slot in his cabinet. I think he is on the same page with Obasanjo on the anti-corruption agenda.
“The president restated why he would need a team to fix basic things in the country”.
Responding to a question, the source said: “Buhari did not mention any name on the cabinet list to Obasanjo but he spoke on the benchmarks for would-be appointees and those he won’t accept”.
It would be recalled that after the meeting as he left the Presidential Villa, ex-President Obasanjo rebuffed attempts by State House correspondents to interview him.
Meanwhile, it was reliably gathered that the president’s plan to name his ministers in batches might not be unconnected with the recommendations of the Ahmed Joda Transition Committee.
However, key portfolios like Petroleum Resources, Finance, Works, Aviation, Health, and Justice will be among the first batch to be sent to the National Assembly by the president.
The source added: “The president is ready to keep to the September deadline but one of the options on the card is to name ministers in batches because of the likely merger of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
“For instance, the Ministry of Special Duties is likely to be scrapped because it is only being used for constituency projects and other questionable contracts.
“Rather than keeping the nation waiting, the list may go to the National Assembly in batches”.
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