A report by Vanguard indicates that President Muhammadu Buhari appears to be in a dilemma on who to fill the ministerial slot meant for Akwa Ibom state in his new cabinet.
According to the report, President Buhari is favourably disposed to retaining the current minister of budget and national planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, but the prominent lawyer and bureaucrat is said to have pleaded to be allowed to quit public service after many years of outing.
Buhari is said to have been impressed by the minister’s level-headedness and for serving as a bridge-builder between the federal and Akwa Ibom state government since coming on board and helping to create stability and harmony among the two tiers of government.
A presidential source quoted in the report, however said despite Buhari’s admiration of Udoma’s leadership and administrative credentials, the minister has made it clear that he would serve only one term and retire from public service.
The decision by Udoma not to serve again in the new cabinet leaves Buhari with the option of choosing his cabinet member from Akwa Ibom state from the duo of former Governor Godswill Akpabio and Senator Ita Enang, who currently serves as senior special assistant to the president.
Although Akpabio would eminently fit the bill because of his position as a former governor and the strong support he mobilised for the All Progressives Congress (APC), which enabled the party to score over 40 per cent in the just concluded presidential election in the state.
Power brokers in the state are said to be frontally opposed to the candidature of the former governor and would not do so under any condition.
A power broker in the state said they would rather stay without a minister than recommending Akpabio to become one, a post that would automatically elevate him to the APC political leader in the state.
The choice of Ita Enang, which appears to be more appealing to some politicians in the state, however hangs in the balance since some of the political leaders feel that Enang has been in government since 1999, first, as member of the House of Representatives for 12 years and later as senator for four years before being appointed presidential aide in 2015 by Buhari.
Many of those who are opposed to Akpabio, argued that although Enang also defected to the APC in 2015, he did not do anything to cause disaffection between the state and the federal government on one hand and between his former party and the new one.
There were also indications that fresh names might be considered by the presidency. Meanwhile, President Buhari has been called upon to consider bringing on board people with adequate security expertise, like Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and others, as he plans to rejig his cabinet.
The call was made recently by a group under known as Buhari Integrity Group (BIG) against the backdrop of security challenges currently plaguing sections of the country.
The group in a statement made available to journalists on Saturday, April 20, argued that curbing the spate of bloodletting occasioned by the nefarious activities of bandits, herdsmen, and terrorists require men like Al-Mustapha who possess immense security intelligence and experience to tackle such menace.
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