In response to a petition against the nomination of Aisha Abubakar as minister by President Muhammadu Buhari, a group of stakeholders has risen in the nominee’s defence, stating reasons why she deserves to be minister.
Last Thursday, Ibrahim Gobir, senator representing Sokoto east, had presented a petition against the nomination of Aisha at the senate, saying the “people of Sokoto” did not want her to represent them in Buhari’s cabinet because she was “incompetent”.
And on Sunday, the Sokoto state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) re-echoed Gobir’s statement, saying the state needed a more “competent” person to take its slot in the cabinet.
But the Concerned Stakeholders for Good Governance has faulted the reasons advanced for the rejection of the nominee on different levels.
It argued that Abubakar coming from the same local government as Aminu Tambuwal, Sokoto state governor, did not count as zoning of public offices was alien to the state, and not a principle in the corpus of the APC.
“Zoning formula was a concept primarily adopted by the former party in power and it is indeed alien to the ruling party; APC. The issue of zoning currently being used to deny a capable individual like Hajia Aisha Abubakar the ministerial slot from Sokoto state is simply mischievous. The good people of Sokoto state are Hausa/Fulani’s and zoning is alien and a non-issue in Sokoto state, when it comes to elections and political appointments. For example, the current Governor, His Excellency, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal and Senator Umar Dahiru are both from Tambuwal local government and they both were in the National Assembly at the same time when Hon. Tambuwal was speaker of the House of Reps,” the group said.
“Presently also, the Deputy Governor and the Secretary to the State Government are from the same ward. In addition, in Sokoto state, there are 23 commissioners and the state has 23 LGAs. Sokoto North LGA alone has four commissioners out of the 23, suggesting that there are 3 LGAs without representation in the state executive committee. Thus zoning has been a non-issue within the state, provided capable hands are at the helm of affairs.
“Additionally, viewing the issue of zoning from a national perspective, so many states of the federation have their governors and ministerial nominees coming from the same zone. In at least seven states, President Buhari inadvertently picked his ministerial nominees from the same senatorial districts of the current governors, supposedly upsetting local balancing game in order to promote merit above political patronage in the interest of national development. Prominent amongst such states is Kogi state.
“The governor, Idris Wada, is from Kogi-east LGA, while his deputy, Yomi Awoniyi, is from the west. However, Buhari picked his nominee from the east, leaving Kogi central with nothing of significance. Also, Idris Wada is from the Igala tribe, same with the ministerial nominee, James Ocholi. Ocholi also contested the governorship ticket of the APC for next month’s governorship election but lost it to Abubakar Audu, who is also from the Igala tribe. In Osun state, the governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, is from Ilesha in the Ijesha division of the state.
“Similarly, the ministerial nominee, Professor Isaac Adewole, is also from Ijesha. In Delta state, Ifeanyi Okowa, the governor, is from Delta north and that is where the ministerial nominee and current group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Ibe Kachikwu, hails from. In Kwara state, the ministerial nominee and spokesman of APC, Lai Mohammed, is from Kwara south. That is the zone where Abdulfatah Ahmed, the governor, comes from. In Rivers state, despite the fact that Nyesom Wike, the state governor, and Rotimi Amaechi, the immediate former governor of the state and ministerial nominee, don’t see eye to eye, the two of them are from same senatorial district; Rivers south-east. In Bayelsa state, albeit the governor Seriake Dickson and the ministerial nominee Heineken Lokpobiri are from different political parties, they are both from the same Bayelsa west senatorial district.”
The group also opined that Aisha should not be discriminated against based on her gender. If confirmed the nominee would be the first female minister from the state.
Making its argument on the competence of Aisha, the core reason for the petition, it said: “Hajia Aisha Abubakar has characterised herself in her field of endeavour and as a prudent Nigerian. Never once in more than two decades of public service has any issue of incompetence been brought against her. To the contrary, she has had a distinguished professional career.
“With regard to her qualifications, the Sokoto born Aisha has over 20 years of experience in banking and investment, rural enterprise development and microcredit administration, international development, policy analysis and business support. She specializes in micro, small and medium enterprise development, Islamic finance and microcredit administration, women development and family livelihood enhancement as well as public policy and administration. She is the director, corporate services department of the pension transitional arrangement directorate before her name was announced by the Senate, after the second list of ministerial nominees was sent by President Buhari.
Education and competence
“She was also the managing director/CEO, Abuja Enterprise Agency, between February 2014 and June 2015. She was also the acting managing director/CEO of the agency between February, 2013 and August 2014, after she had served as the executive director, finance and administration. Within the time under review, she spearheaded the aligning off the agency’s processes and programmes to be in line with global best practices. Before then, she was the principal manager II at the African International Bank (1998 – 1999); senior bilateral cooperation officer, African Development Bank, Abidjan, Ivory Coast (1993 – 1997), where she promoted, negotiated and administered cooperation agreements between the bank and external donors among others.
“Hajiya Aisha was educated at the University Of Leeds, Leeds, England, where she obtained a Master of Arts, Development Studies (1990 – 1991); University of Warwick, Warwickshire, England, where she bagged a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Politics and International Studies (1987 – 1990). She had her secondary school education at Queens College, Lagos, between 1978 and 1984. Now what is the basis for saying she is incompetent? Hajia Aisha over the years has demonstrated exemplary leadership quality uniquely positioning her to rise from positions in several commercial banks to the status of an executive director in the Abuja enterprise agency, eventually assuming the position of the MD and C.E.O in the organization.
“Nigerians have been yearning for new faces within the President’s cabinet, and Hajia Aisha is among the new faces primed in taking our beloved country to greater heights. Hajia Aisha is one of the surprises the President has unveiled for us and hers is a new name who is coming to change things under the “Change Mantra”. However, from all indications, some unscrupulous elements are scheming to deny her the opportunity to showcase her capabilities and patriotically serve her fatherland. Thus far, she has no baggage coming into office, no issue of corruption and she has never held political office. No one has written any petition against her for over 20 years… not only is she qualified but she is a poster person of the APCs manifesto on anti-corruption. Gladly also, she even fills the twin quota of gender and youth inclusion in President’s Buhari cabinet that teeming Nigerians has been yearning for. I hereby categorically stand for Hajiya Aisha Abubakar, and i dare say she has all that it takes to be a part of the change team of this current government.”
Regarding the nominee not being a member of the ruling party, and as such not “qualified” to hold a position in the government, the group posited: “It should be noted and we stand to be corrected that there is no legal requirement under any Nigerian law that a person must be a member of a political party before they can be appointed as minister of the federal Republic of Nigeria or any other appointable executive position. In this regard, the appointment of Hajiya Aisha Abubakar has in no way contravened any legal provision as far as party membership is concerned.”
“The moment a president is elected and he is inaugurated into the exalted office, he becomes the president of the federal republic of Nigeria and effectively ceases to represent any particular interest group or political party. Subsequently, party membership is no longer a basis for choosing Nigerians, who will participate in governance. In fact, pandering to the whims and caprices solely of party politics is, in effect, repugnant to the concept of change, unity and development that has been adopted by President Buhari and has been the cornerstone of which APC rode to success.
“The president has a clear objective to work with and for every Nigerian. It would be a contradiction for any Nigerian or any interest group to try and hold him captive to that, which is not in conformity with his objective or his mandate.”