Slightly a hundred days after Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, was sworn into office, he released the long-awaited list of ministerial nominees to the Department of State Security (DSS) for screening. While this is not the final ministerial list, it is proof that the President is making good in his claim to appoint members of his cabinet before the end of September.
President Buhari reportedly submitted a list of 36 names to the DSS and by Wednesday September 9, at least 20 of the nominees have been screened. The screening procedure has been a “behind-the-scenes matter”, which mainly involved a career background check and the examination of records with anti-corruption and security bodies. A few of the nominees reportedly failed the anti-corruption screening, including past governors Rotimi Amaechi, Kayode Fayemi and Babatunde Fashola.
Interestingly, the names listed by Buhari were mostly former PDP men who had defected to the APC. Here are the most notable people on the list:
- Festus Odimegwu
Festus Odimegwu was the former Managing Director of the Nigerian Breweries. A first class graduate of Chemistry from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Odumegwu progressed from Trainee Brewer to CEO over the course of 26 years. He attended Stanford University’s Graduate School and Unilever Four Acres Training Centre. Apart from his background in Chemistry and the Natural Sciences, he has acquired certification and experience in various fields such as business strategy and planning, strategic planning and leadership.
After leaving the Nigerian Breweries in 2006, Odimegwu refused an appointment with the Heineken Company in Germany to pursue personal business interests. He is the founder of the Royal Lifestyle Services Group of Companies Ltd and other strategic business units. He has served as the Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC) under former President Goodluck Jonathan. Odimegwu has distinguished himself among Nigerian corporate heads, and has served on the boards of other companies such as Dangote Cement PLC, Union Bank of Nigeria as well as Transnational Corporation of Nigeria.
He is known for being a man of excellence, diligence, and integrity, which influenced his appointment by the past administration.
- Pat Utomi
Although born in Kaduna State, Patrick Utomi is a descent of Delta State. Like Odumegwu, Patrick Utomi studied at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He later attended Indiana University, USA for his masters and doctorate degrees. Utomi is a professor of political economy and a management expert. Currently a teacher at the Lagos Business School and now a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of Nigeria, he was a scholar-in-residence at two universities in the United States.
He is the founder of Centre for Value Leadership and the African Democratic Congress party under which he made a failed bid for Presidency in 2011. Utomi has served in senior positions in the private sector as Chief Operating Officer for Volkswagen Nigeria as well as in government as a consultant on some public policy papers, and Special Assistant to former President Shehu Shagari.
Earlier in August, he spoke out against critics of President Buhari’s cabinet appointments stating that the President was free to appoint whoever he wanted as long as they were competent. He coordinated the establishment of several civil society groups on good governance and accountability and has been described as a man with a passion for dignity.
- Olagunsoye Oyinlola
Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola was a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) under which he was governor of Osun State for about seven years before defecting to the All Progressive Congress in 2014. Oyinlola was in the military for 30 years before he retired with the rank of Brigadier-General. He served in various capacities within the military and participated in the United Nations Peacekeeping exercises in Chad and Somalia.
He is a firm believer in preserving his culture and made sure the Osun-Osogbo festival became a tourist destination. He also established Osun State University during his tenure and put facilities in place that made the school into the top-notch educational institution it is now.
- Wale Edun
Wale Edun was a former finance commissioner in Lagos State and served for an unprecedented two terms. Edun served as the Head of Treasury and Deputy Head of Corporate Finance at Chase Merchant Bank. He has gained international experience in merchant banking, corporate finance, economics and international finance through affiliations with various multinational companies and some Wall Street firms. He has worked at the World Bank and is Chairman of the Chapel Hill Denham Group. He was also the co-founder and Executive Director of Stanbic IBTC. He also sits on the Board of a number of other companies and NGOs.
Mr. Edun holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of London and a Masters Degree in Economics from the University of Sussex, England. He has been touted as being instrumental in increasing Lagos State’s IGR when former President Obasanjo withheld revenue from the government. His nomination is said to be based on the quality of work he has done for the government so far.
- Femi Falana
Femi Falana is a lawyer who has become a household name in Nigeria for his strong opinions on government activities and human rights advocacy. He studied law at the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University and was called to the Nigerian bar. After his youth service, he joined the Chambers of Alao Aka-Bashorun, a renowned legal activist. In 1991, Falana started his own Chambers, Femi Falana, which later became Falana and Falana Chambers.
Mr Falana, who is also the father of popular Nigerian musician Falz, was the former president of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers and he is also a former chairman of the West African Bar Association, WABA. He contested and lost the governorship election of Ekiti State in 2007 on the ticket of the National Conscience Party.
Apparently, Falana’s nomination was made at the insistance of Vice President Osinbajo and APC leader Bola Tinubu. Buhari jailed Falana about 30 years ago and this appointment is being viewed as a way for Buhari to “boost his image as a converted democrat”.
Also on the list are Dele Momodu, the publisher of Ovation; a former Chief of Army, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazu (retd.); an ex-chief executive of the Federal Inland Revenue, Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okaru; and a former National Legal Adviser to the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
Others are Rotimi Akeredolu, a former gubernatorial candidate in Ondo state; Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers state; Engineer Funsho Kupolokun, a former group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation; Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwanso of Kano state; and Bisola Adegbenro, a senator-elect from Ogun state; Isaiah Danjuma, the son of General TY Danjuma from Taraba state; Kehinde Lawanson, a former Executive Director of First Bank; and Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN), former Minister of Justice.
While these nominees appear to be more than capable for the job, they are not without faults. Odimegwu’s appointment with the NPC was terminated because he made “statements which brought credibility problems to the commission”. Prince Oyinlola was accused in 2009 of being “the chief conspirator” in the alleged murder of Chief Mrs Kudirat Abiola, wife of Nigerian politician MKO Abiola. Also in 2009, Next Magazine reported that Prince Oyinlola had been caught on tape telling local PDP politicians he would supply army uniforms, arms and ammunition so they could rig the runoff elections in Ekiti State.
President Buhari contested and won the elections on the basis of his mantra for change. However, a lot of the people he could be bringing into his cabinet are from an era he vowed to eradicate. Can President Buhari really guarantee change in Nigeria with a new system if he is still working with the old staff?
Upon completion of the screening exercise, the final list will be made available to the public. Hopefully, the list reflects the President’s desire to wipe out corruption in all its forms.