Tinubu toes familiar path as ministers may not resume till Sept

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Senate split over plan to suspend annual recess for ministerial nominees’ screening
• Akpabio makes last minute move to postpone recess
• Recall option for senators, another drain on treasury

After a blistering start to the Bola Tinubu presidency, marked by some boldfaced policy drive and reordering of the economy, the President may have driven himself into a false start, requiring a serious rebooting as he clocks 60 days in office today.


Indications emerged, yesterday, that President Tinubu might be without a constituted Federal Executive Council (FEC) till September, if the Senate embarks on its 2023 end of session recess today as scheduled, leaving a nearly four-month hiatus in the new administration.

Arising from this, President Tinubu may not only be escaping the constitutional liability of presenting his ministerial list to the Senate for screening and confirmation on deadline day, but by leaving this critical decision-making to the last day and thereby stalling governance, he is against, all expectations, infamously toeing the path of his predecessor, former President Muhammadu Buhari, who didn’t constitute his cabinet during his first term until after six months.


Former President Goodluck Jonathan sent the list of ministerial nominees to the Senate on June 28, 2011, a month after being sworn in, while Muhammadu Buhari submitted his list on September 30, 2015 for his first term and July 23, 2019 for the second term in office.

However, unlike Buhari, President Tinubu has appointed some Special Advisers (SAs) to man strategic areas of governance.


But should President Tinubu fail to submit his ministerial list today, he could face impeachment by the 10th National Assembly as the Constitution will have been breached.

Buhari had on March 17, 2023, assented to the bill mandating the incoming President and governors to submit their nominees within 60 days of taking oath of office in a bill sponsored by Ben Rollands Igbakpa, who represented Ethiope Federal Constituency in the Ninth House of Representatives.


The lawmakers had on Tuesday, stepped down important items on the Order Paper and adjourned plenary as senators, including the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, left the National Assembly to attend the 60th birthday anniversary lecture and book presentation in honour of Bamidele.

On Wednesday, with 24 hours to the constitutional deadline, the Senate adjourned without the list. The lawmakers, who resumed for plenary a little late, took on a couple of motions and other legislative businesses as listed in the Order Paper without any mention of communication with respect to the list. All eyes will therefore be on the Senate chamber today for the unveiling of the much-guarded cabinet nominees.


Yesterday, some Senators were said to be considering the options of suspending their yearly recess to screen and confirm ministerial nominees should President Tinubu transmit the list to the chamber today. Tinubu is faced with the constitutional deadline of July 27, to transmit the list of ministerial nominees to the Senate for screening and confirmation.

Section 42 of the Constitution as amended, states that “(a) the nomination of any person to the office of a Minister for confirmation by the Senate shall be done within sixty days after the date the President has taken the oath of office; (b) not less than ten per cent of persons appointed as Ministers shall be women: Provided that the President may appoint a Minister at any other time during his tenure and such appointment shall be subject to confirmation by the Senate.”

As at yesterday, some states including Lagos, Enugu, and Cross River have also not constituted their cabinets.

But following his delay in sending the list, Senators have begun consultations on how to assist the administration in early formation of the cabinet to facilitate good governance.

However, sources at the Senate hinted that opinions are divided on whether or not the Senate should proceed on the recess even if the list of ministerial nominees is read out today (Thursday).

This category of senators, it was learnt, preferred that a formal request for re-convening the Senate for the purpose of screening of the nominees should be sent to individual senators, which will be at an extra cost to the treasury if senators are recalled from recess.

The other category, which is getting the support of the leadership of the Senate, wants the recess to be suspended so that the screening can begin immediately after tomorrow.

Expectations are high in the National Assembly that the list will be sent to the Senate before sitting today. The expectation arose from public disclosure by the Senate Majority Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele, on Tuesday that Tinubu would submit the list today.

By Senate’s procedure and tradition, screening of nominees for ministerial appointments is done in the Committee of the Whole. This means that the screening cannot be referred to any of its standing committees, a development that is compelling the Senate to ask all its members to be present at the screening.

Bamidele, had at a book launch, in Abuja, disclosed that Tinubu will make available the much-expected list of ministerial nominees within the next 48 hours, adding that the President had gone into seclusion to avoid undue influence.

Meanwhile, a Professor of Public Administration and World Bank consultant, Oladipo Adamolekun, has advised President Tinubu to attach a portfolio to the ministerial list to be sent to the Senate for proper screening.

He also urged him to consider reducing the cost of governance by reducing the number of political appointees to reflect the hardship Nigerians are going through in the country. The university don said it is important for the Senate to screen the ministerial nominees based on the proposed ministry to ascertain their competence.

Tinubu assumed office amid high expectations from Nigerians and the international community that governance would no longer be as usual.

Sixty days into the administration, there have been mixed reactions with many observers — not all — submitting their assessment that the ruling APC government has, so far, failed to live up to expectations and other attendant hype.

Many Nigerians also, are inclined to conclude that it is this development that may have conspired to put a clog in Tinubu’s drive even as he strives to keep pace with the rigours and the attendant challenges of governance.

Having spent 60 days in office, some Nigerians have juxtaposed the difference between Tinubu and former President Buhari’s styles of leadership in their first 60 days in office.

Paradoxically, others seem to agree that the immediate past President, Muhammadu Buhari and the incumbent share similarities in many ways especially in the first few months of their assumption of office.

Buhari took over six months before he constituted his cabinet-level appointments and almost seven years of his eight years to set up an economic advisory team and he got lots of criticisms.

While Tinubu may have learnt a lesson from the criticisms regarding the economic team’s formation, which took the former President many years to constitute, he may not have learnt the lesson from the general displeasure of millions of Nigerians over the lethargic approach to solving basic and fundamental economic problems that may have conspired to afflict the nation.

For example, President Tinubu is said to have started by making what many described as staccato appointments of a few of his friends and associates into what he calls Presidential committee on taxation.

Just like his predecessor, Tinubu is taking longer to select those that will form his cabinet even when there is a constitutional prescription of 60 days. So, the striking similarity between the two is that they find it a bit difficult to take decisions on very key items such as the formation of a cabinet to help pilot the affairs of state.

Weighing in on the matter in a no-holds-barred opinion, Emmanuel Onwubiko, head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, last week, said President Tinubu has so far made over five foreign trips in less than two months of coming into power.

“This frightening record of foreign trips within such a short time is already causing discomfort to millions of Nigerians who are asking whether this current President wouldn’t replicate the tendencies of his predecessor in the area of globetrotting.

According to Onwubiko, President Tinubu has also created what he described as “massive economic dislocation by removing subsidy on petrol without thinking through what remedial measures he ought to have implemented before effecting whatever subsidy withdrawal he intends to do and he is groping in the dark literally searching frantically for what palliative measures to implement. Already more Nigerians are becoming poorer in the 60 days of his administration.

“But in the case of Buhari, in less than two years he made Nigeria the poverty capital of the World in 2018 and overtook India which has over two billion population and just before he left in 2023 May, about 130 million Nigerians became multidimensionally poor.”

Shortly after President Tinubu announced the removal of fuel subsidy on the day of his inauguration, the prices of essential commodity skyrocketed with the speed of light, compelling urgent measures to alleviate the sufferings of the masses, majority of whom were reportedly basking in the euphoria of the dawn of a new era.

Despite the hardship Nigerians are passing through since he took over the reins of administration, occasioned by his removal of petrol subsidy, President Tinubu’s loyalists are optimistic that he has come to salvage the battered economy and restore hope to the beleaguered citizens.

Whether there will be light at the end of the tunnel is left to the president and his lieutenants to decide. But for now, it is not yet uhuru as things have already begun to fall apart for the poor masses in the country.


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