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Same-Day Analysis

Nigeria's President Names New Cabinet After Weeks of Speculation

Published: 27 July 2007
Nigeria’s president has named his new, 39-member cabinet.

Global Insight Perspective



The cabinet line-up includes some opposition members, as well as seven female appointments. The ministers hail from each of Nigeria’s 36 states.


President Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua is keeping the energy ministerial portfolio, just as his predecessor did, which could result in more of a focus on the embattled Niger Delta region.


The cabinet is a blend of technocrats and politicians, with the real challenge being a commitment to eradicating corruption within government. A note of caution has been raised over the amount of political influence Obasanjo still has, given that some cabinet members hail from the former regime.

Nearly two months after his inauguration, Nigerian President Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua has finally announced the line-up of the cabinet. Amid much speculation and debate within Nigeria’s upper house, particularly with regards to who would become finance minister, the dye has been cast for Yar’Adua’s administration (see Nigeria: 25 July 2007: Senate Approves Nominations of 39 Cabinet Ministers in Nigeria). Yar’Adua will be hopeful that the new political machine at the helm of Africa’s most populous nation will set the disputed leader on a path to clawing back the legitimacy that he lost upon coming to power. At the swearing-in ceremony, which took place in Abuja yesterday (26 July), Yar’Adua spoke of the need for a ‘zero tolerance’ approach vis-à-vis corruption within the government. Indeed, Yar’Adua was emphatic—“We must never abuse public trust either through misappropriation, misapplication or outright stealing of public funds. Anyone who does so will have the full weight of the law to reckon with," Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports.

Upon coming to power, Yar’Adua vowed to produce an inclusive government, one of national unity, in a bid to appease opposition members who sought to challenge his accession to power in the courts and on the streets. A number of vocal oppositionists backed down, ostensibly at the promise of a national unity government, and now two members of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) have been given government appointments. However, the opposition Action Congress (AC), the party on whose platform formerly embattled vice-president Atiku Abubakar contested the polls, refused to join the unity government. A spokesman for the party, Lai Mohammed, said, "We … believe that joining the government of national unity will negate all that we've stood for throughout all the years, which is multi-party democracy," Voice of America reports. Similarly, Atiku Abubakar and Muhammadu Buhari are pushing ahead with their court battles against Yar’Adua’s election.

Out with the Old, In with the New?

The ministers to feature in Nigeria’s new government span both technocrats and bureaucrats, with some hailing from the former regime under Obasanjo, four of whom have obtained key government portfolios. In sum, there are 32 male appointments and 7 female, hailing from each of the country’s 36 states in conformity with the Nigerian constitution, which stipulates that there must be fair representation in government.

Attorney-General and Justice Minister

Micheal Kaase Aondoakaa, senior advocate of Nigeria from Benue State.

Agriculture and Water Resources Minister

Abba Sayyadi Ruma - Katsina State

Junior Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources

Adamu Maina Waziri - Yobe State. Formerly executive secretary of the controversial Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF). Spoke of a commitment to ensuring good governance in eradicating poverty.

Commerce and Industry Minister

Charles Ugwu - Imo State. Gubernatorial candidate in the April elections. Prominent Engineer. Former president of Manufacturer’s Association of Nigeria.

Junior Minister for Commerce and Industry

Ahmed Garba Bichi - Kano State. Gubernatorial candidate in April polls, lost to ANPP candidate.

Culture and Tourism Minister

Adetokunbo Kayode - Ondo State. Legal practitioner, became chairman of the Abuja branch of the NBA. Also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Junior Minister for Culture and Tourism

Aliyu Idi Hong - Adamawa State. Formerly state secretary of PDP in Adamawa state.

Defence Minister

Mahmud Yayale Ahmed - Bauchi State. Began his career with the civil service in 1977, but the major criticism is that he has no previous military experience.

Junior Minister of Defence

Fidelia Akuabata Njeze - Enugu State. A relatively unknown female minister.

Education Minister

Igwe Aja-Nwachukwu - Ebonyi State. He is the son of a minister from Nigeria’s first republic. Former gubernatorial candidate.

Junior Minister of Education

Agada Anthony Jerry- Benue State.

Junior Minister of Education

Aishatu Jibril Dukku - Gombe State.

Junior Minister of Energy(power)

Fatima Balaraba Ibrahim- Kebbi State. Former Executive Director of Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Junior Minister of Energy(petroleum)

Odein Ajumogobia -a senior lawyer from Rivers State (Niger Delta) and a former justice commissioner for the area in the Niger Delta.

Junior Minister of Energy(gas)

Odusina Olatunde Emmanuel- Ekiti State.

Environment and Housing Minister

Halima Tayo Alao - Kwara State. Formerly the minister of state for the Health Ministry under Obasanjo. Prior to that, she was the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works and Transport.

Minister of FederalCapitalTerritory

Aliyu Modibbo Umar,- Gombe State. Under Obasanjo’s tenure, he was Minister of State for Power and Steel and then became Minister of Commerce and Industry.

Junior Minister of FederalCapitalTerritory

John James Akpanudoedehe - Akwa Ibom. He served as a senator from 1999 until 2003, and is closely connected to the former Akwa Ibom state governor, Victor Attah.

Finance Minister

Shamsudeen Usman - Kano State. Technocrat, formerly the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Well-experienced in the banking sector, having been involved in the industry for over 20 years. Formerly managing director of the now obsolete NAL Merchant Bank.

Junior Finance Minister

Aderemi Babalola - Oyo State. Executive Director of First Bank of Nigeria in Lagos and the West. Prior to that, he was general manager of Zenith Bank Plc.

Foreign Affairs Minister

Ojo Maduekwe - Abia State. He was the National Secretary of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party up until his ministerial appointment. Has served as Minister of Tourism and Transport. He is quite a controversial choice because of the close rapport that Maduekwe has with Obasanjo and it is thought that he is being rewarded for the PDP’s home-run victory in the April polls.

Junior Foreign Minister

Tijani Yahaya Kaura - Zamfara State. Campaign co-ordinator for PDP primaries during previous elections.

Junior Foreign Minister

Ambassador Bagudu Hirse - Plateau State.

Health Minister

Adenike Grange - Lagos State.

Junior Health Minister

Gabriel Yakubu Aduku - Kogi State. architect from northern Nigeria and former chairman of the now obsolete National Republican Convention.

Information and Communication Minister

John Ogar Odey - Cross River State. National Publicity Secretary of PDP. He has been in this office since 2004.

Junior Information and Communication Minister

Ibrahim Dasuki Nakande - Plateau State.

Interior Minister

Major General Godwin Abbe (rtd) - Edo State. Former commanding officer and a military governor of Akwa Ibom and Rivers states.

Junior Minister of Interior

Hassan Haruna - Jigawa State

Labour Minister

Hassan Muhammad Lawa l- Nasarawa State. He retains the position he has held since 2004.

Mines and Steel Development Minister -

Sarafa Tunji Isola - Ogon State. Formerly the secretary to Ogun state government.

Junior Minister of Mines and Steel Development

Ahmed Mohammed Gusau - Sokoto State. Between 1992 and 1993 he was deputy governor of Sokoto State.

Transportation Minister

Diezani Alison-Madueke - Bayelsa State. External Affairs Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) and is the first woman to serve on the board of directors for SPDC.

Junior Transportation Minister

John Okechukwu Emeka - Anambra State..

Science and Technology Minister

Grace Ekpiwhre - Delta State. She served under the former governor of Delta state.

Youth Development Minister

Akinlabi Olasunkanmi – Osun State.

Women Affairs Minister

Saudatu Usman Bungudu – Zamfara State.

National Planning Commission Minister

Muhammed Sanusi Daggash. A former legislator for Borno North between 2003 and 2007.

National Sports Commission Minister

Abdulrahman Hassan Gimba - Niger State. A legal practitioner.

Outlook and Implications

It is clear that Yar’Adua’s focus will be on stamping out corruption within the government, continuing with the Obasanjo legacy. However, he must be mindful not to attract the same sort of negative press with regards to the way in which he uses the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), that his predecessor did, who was often times accused of using the EFCC as a tool for targeting his political opponents. If Yar’Adua is really committed to eradicating the blemished political canvass that he has started with, the focus must be on improving the electoral system to ensure that Nigerians are guaranteed a free and fair election process next time.

Furthermore, the energy sector requires robust reform, as the country suffers from power outages, forcing businesses to have to rely on generators—an expensive option. Yar’Adua has vowed to sort out the problem, but as Nigerians may recall, Obasanjo also made such grand overtures at the start of his incumbency and then the problems set in. Furthermore, the growing unrest in the southern Niger Delta, spanning across nine states, continues to be a thorn in Nigeria’s side, as sabotage attacks of oil and gas pipelines, kidnappings and recent shootings have made the operational environment considerably tenuous. Thus, Yar’Adua’s self-appointment as head of the energy sector could be viewed as a follow-through of his plan to prioritise the finding of a solution to the troubles there. At an inauguration ceremony, Yar’Adua said, "Nigerians legitimately expect a lot from us and we have an abiding obligation to live up to their expectations,” Reuters reports.

With a blend of technocrats and politicians—some with considerable government experience and others without—the Yar’Adua administration has a great deal to prove during its mandate. There is not a great deal of difference in the nature of the composition of the government from the Obasanjo regime, with the accent placed on both the energy and finance ministries, especially with the appointment of the competent Usman, credited with helping to shape up the banking sector under the former government. This spells good news for investors, as Usman has spoken of how the government should reduce spending in a bid to control inflation and that expenditure from the country’s continued oil windfall should be used gingerly. However, the criticism is that the maintaining of four portfolios from the Obasanjo regime could be an ominous sign that the erstwhile leader still manages to exert some political influence, at least from the wings.
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