President Buhari’s Cabinet


At home and abroad, criticism has been mounting over President Muhammadu Buhari’s lack of cabinet appointments. He promised to appoint a cabinet by September 30. On that date, he submitted a list of twenty-one names to Senate President Bukola Saraki in a sealed envelope. He will submit additional cabinet nominations “in due course.”

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari addresses a plenary meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York, September 25, 2015. (Reuters/ Andrew Kelly)Sen. Saraki confirmed that he received the envelope, but said that, following Senate procedures, he would not open it until the next Senate plenary session on October 6. So, while there is speculation, Nigerians will not know definitively until then who is on the list. Nor will they know who will be assigned to which ministry. The international financial community, especially, has been impatient to know the composition of President Buhari’s economic team. It will have to wait a bit longer.

As in the United States, Nigerian cabinet appointments require Senate confirmation.

Today, October 1, is Nigeria’s independence day. The Nigerian media is noting that for the first time since independence from Britain in 1960, there is no cabinet in place on the country’s national day.

In his national day broadcast to the nation, President Buhari defended the slow and deliberate pace of his cabinet appointments, saying ”Our government set out to do things methodically and properly.” Most of his broadcast recalled his achievements since coming into office: building a coalition of five countries against Boko Haran; initiatives to increase the power supply; first steps “taken to sanitize” the national petroleum company; auditing of the central bank and other revenue agencies; and, addressing arrears in government salaries.

However, the broadcast is no sugar-coating exercise. It notes that fifty-five years after independence, “Countries far less endowed have made greater economic progress by greater coherence and unity of purpose.” His broadcast closed with an exhortation: “We must change our unruly behavior in schools, hospitals, market places, motor parks, on the roads, in homes, and offices. To bring about change, we must change ourselves by being law-abiding citizens.”

That exhortation will remind some Nigerians of his “war against indiscipline” when he was military chief of state from 1983 to 1985.