Ministerial List: The issues with Buhari’s women

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All six of the women nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari as ministerial nominees are stoking passion and pushing political permutations to the edges

IT was a sort of technical victory for President Muhammadu Buhari last Monday when the Senate technically knocked out the first open intra-party rebellion instigated against him by the Sokoto State chapter of his party.

The Senate Committee on Ethics meeting that day dismissed on technical grounds the petition framed against Buhari’s ministerial nominee for Sokoto State, Ms Aisha Abubakar, mainly because it was wrongly addressed.

But the fact that chieftains of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Sokoto State, took the president head on, on his choice for a ministerial nominee was indeed noteworthy.

Indeed, it was not unexpected that issues would flow from the contentious struggle for ministerial appointment in the new government. However, it is remarkable that the contentions are especially loud among the six women chosen by the president to sit around him in the executive council. Remarkably, the six women form 17% of all nominees, a figure well below that of the immediate past Federal Executive Council.

Of the six proposed ministers, five are from the North and only one is from the south, a development that has also shocked Buhari’s female activists in the south.

Aisha Abubakar — Sokoto

Aisha, daughter of the famed super bureaucrat, Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji, when she appeared before the Senate Committee on Ethics and Public Petitions, did not make any pretence about her political naivety. It was even shocking that presidential handlers did not coach her appropriately, as she naively told the committee that she does not belong to any political party, and as such undermining constitutional provisions that stipulate that membership of a political party as a qualification for appointment as a minister.

However, what she lacks in political sophistication, Aisha more than made up for in her impressive curriculum vitae encapsulating more than 20 years of banking, development projects and administration.

Her qualifications notwithstanding, the Sokoto State chapter of the APC was quick to disown her both on being alien to the party in the state and on zonal permutations, given that she is from the same senatorial zone as Governor Aminu Tambuwal.

The state chairman of the party, Alhaji Usman Danmadamin-Isa, who spoke following a stakeholders’ meeting, presided over by Governor Tambuwal had said:

“ The meeting had discussed the nomination of one lady called A’isha as the nominee from Sokoto state and we have rejected her nomination.

“ We have out rightly rejected her nomination because she is not a card-carrying member of the party in the state and nobody knows her while she knows nobody in the state.

“We have also resolved to, respectfully, write to President Muhammadu Buhari to replace her with another more competent person.”

While the party did not come out to petition her, a women’s group led by Balaraba Abdullahi filed a petition. The petition which was addressed to President Buhari apparently in line with the decision of the stakeholders’ was copied to the Senate. The Senate, however, on the basis of its rules that petitions to be treated by it should be addressed to the president of the Senate used that technicality to deflate the angst of the Sokoto APC stakeholders and screen Aisha.

Zainab Ahmed

Until Governor Nassir El-Rufai reportedly asked those opposed to the perceived imbalance in appointments made by him to go and die, the issue with Zainab Ahmed few knew that the nominee was a foster sister of the governor.

Geopolitical tensions

Zainab’s nomination had stoked geopolitical tensions in the highly ethnically and religious fractious state given the fact that Kaduna South had always produced a minister whenever the governor came from the north.

Governor El-Rufai’s intervention last week may have further stretched issues with the revelation that Zainab whose technical expertise is not in doubt is also his sister.

Amina Mohammed

Amina Mohammed’s decision to accept the ministerial nomination may have come as a surprise to many given claims that she had in the past withdrawn herself from consideration as a minister.

Unarguably one of the most experienced bureaucrats with experience and known as the mother of the MDG programme in Nigeria, her working experience has stretched from Nigeria’s rural communities to the United Nations where she served as an aide to the Secretary General.

The first issue to emerge with Amina’s recent ministerial nomination was the question of her birth place given that presidency had earlier marked her to be from Kaduna State, which is, in fact, her husband’s state of origin.

However, leaders of Kaduna South led by Senator Danjuma La’ah believing that they were being robbed of their opportunity forcefully raised their opposition. In the end, she was not dropped but positioned as the nominee from Gombe State but the Southern Kaduna activists were humbled with the emergence of El-Rufai’s sister!

Hajia Khadijah Bukar Abba-Ibrahim

Khadijah is the daughter of the famed apostle of politics without bitterness, the late Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim and also, wife of former governor of Yobe State, Senator Bukar Abba-Ibrahim.

The former first lady of Yobe State also served as a commissioner in her husband’s cabinet between 2004 and 2007 following which she came with him to the National Assembly. While she was elected to the House of Representatives, her husband took one of the Senate seats in the state.

Both wife and husband have retained their seats in all successive elections and it is to the chagrin of some in the state that the ministerial slot has gone to Khadijah.

Supporters of her nomination, however, affirm her sterling record in public service and her educational attainments in Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

Senator Jumai Alhassan – Taraba

Until she mentioned it on the Senate floor, only a few had heard of the then whisper among political stakeholders in Taraba State that Senator Jumai Alhassan’s nomination was a ploy to get her to withdraw her case from the Taraba State Governorship Election Tribunal. Widely hailed as Mama Taraba, Alhassan was the APC’s candidate in the April 2015 governorship election and had made a good showing and claimed to have been cheated out.

Political solution

The rumour was that the governor had gotten President Buhari to nominate her as a minister so as a political solution to the election dispute which is still under consideration by the tribunal.

On the Senate floor, Alhassan rubbished such assertions saying:

“My nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari has nothing to do with my ongoing election petition. President Buhari will not prevent me from going ahead with the case”.

Kemi Adeosun

Mrs. Kemi Adeosun is the only southern female nominated by the president to the cabinet. Her distinction among the nominees is the fact that she also has been nominated by Governor Ibikunle Amosun to the Ogun State House of Assembly as a commissioner. She had served as commissioner for finance in the first term of the Amosun cabinet. Given her confirmation by the Senate last week, that nomination has obviously lapsed.

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