•Agitation for inclusive governance persists
•Board, ambassadorial appointments still contentious
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and some of the party’s leaders in the National Assembly are billed to meet thursday again at the State House, Abuja, three days after their first meeting, which did not achieve much.
As a follow-up to the Monday meeting, today’s meeting, THISDAY checks at the Presidency suggest, is meant to revisit the pending appointments into boards of parastatals as well as the list of the non-career ambassadors earlier thrown out by the Senate.
The governors and the National Assembly leadership from the APC are said to be insistent on the need for President Muhammadu Buhari to open up his government and hold wider consultations with stakeholders in the party before making appointments, particularly to political positions.
Besides, they argue, such consultations with critical stakeholders in the party, a source said, would ensure that only people with capacity that can deliver on the promises of the party are put into positions.
Contrary to speculations in the media about the Monday meeting, THISDAY checks revealed the sole issue tabled was the need for a more inclusive government at the federal level. Today’s meeting will also be solely on this, a highly placed source told THISDAY.
“I can tell you categorically that the meeting has nothing to do with the loan being sought by the federal government or any other matter at that. It is basically about the appointments into the boards and parastatals and the governors are not taking chances this time,” he said.
According to the source, it is clear to the federal government that those handling these assignments on its behalf before had created more problems than solution and so, the idea of bringing everyone together to decide the fate of the party has become imperative in the light of the ugly challenges that stare the party and government in the face.
Osinbajo, on Monday, had met with Senate President Bukola Saraki, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and five governors of the APC behind closed doors at the State House, Abuja, to resolve the rising discontent among APC governors and other stakeholders over the failure of the president to consult critical stakeholders, including governors and the party leadership in the appointments he had made so far.
Governors in attendance were Senator Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, Sanni Bello of Niger State, and Jibril Bindow of Adamawa. Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola arrived after the meeting had been concluded.
Also in attendance were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David, and the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
Although there was no official statement from the presidency on the almost two-hour meeting, THISDAY gathered that Buhari, who departed the country for Morocco the night before, had mandated Osinbajo to meet with the National Assembly leadership and the governors to allay concerns and hold talks with them, after mounting complaints that they had not been carried along on several of the federal appointments previously made by the president.
Feelers from the meeting heightened the suspicion that all may not be well among the front line leaders of the ruling party, as the meeting was said to have been very heated. This development is believed to have necessitated today’s follow-up.
Sources hinted that the meeting essentially involved the governors representing the five geopolitical zones in the country and that Osinbajo had been mandated by Buhari to broaden the scope of consultations by bringing in the governors and National Assembly leaders, who had been feeling disenchanted since the outset of the administration.
However, since the APC has no governor in the South-south zone, there was no governor to represent the zone at the meeting. But today’s meeting might be attended by the new Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who assumed office on Saturday to represent the South-south.
During the meeting, presidency sources said the issue of board appointments to federal parastatals and ambassadorial nominees was discussed, and the governors made their feelings clear that they were not happy that they had been shut out in past appointments made by the Buhari administration.
Also, the sources said party unity and the state of the party was emphasised by the vice-president against the backdrop of deepening cracks in the APC.
After airing their grievances, it was agreed that a committee headed by the SGF, which had recently drawn up a list of nominees to the boards of federal parastatals, would be reviewed by the governors. This, sources said, is expected to give the governors the opportunity to hold consultations at the state level and decide on whether to retain the nominees on the list or otherwise.
In reviewing the list, the governors were informed that 60 per cent of the slots must be allocated on political considerations as a way of rewarding those who had helped the party to victory in the 2015 general election, while 40 per cent of the slots will be left to technocrats.
With respect to the ambassadorial nominees, the National Assembly as agreed at the meeting, separated the names of career diplomats, whose names had been sent to the Senate for screening and confirmation, while the list of non-career ambassadorial nominees was withdrawn for review by the governors
The source explained that with the withdrawal of the list of non-career ambassadorial nominees, the governors, after consultations, would submit new names to fill the slots for their respective states.
“The president asked Osinbajo to broaden consultations with the state governors and National Assembly leaders on board appointments to federal parastatals and the list of ambassadorial nominees. This stemmed from previous complaints that the president was locking them out on several federal appointments, sometimes leading to embarrassing rejections by the nominees. See what happened with the ambassadorial nominees which caused considerable embarrassment, because the presidency failed to consult with the state governors.
“So, the president mandated the vice-president to reach out to the governors and National Assembly to get their input for the outstanding appointments to the boards of various parastatals. As you know, the disenchantment in the party is rising, so the purpose of the meeting was to forge party unity,” the source stated.