Nigeria: Buhari to National Assembly Leadership - I'm Under Pressure to Constitute Cabinet

Buhari's ministerial appointments (file photo).

Presidential Muhammadu Buhari yesterday hosted the leadership of the National Assembly led by Senate President, Ahmad Lawan to a dinner at the State House, Abuja.

The dinner which started around 8:30pm ended around 10:00pm, our correspondent reports. That was the first time that the president will be hosting the entire leadership of the parliament since the inauguration of the ninth assembly on June 11.

It was gathered that at the dinner held behind closed doors, the president told the lawmakers that only capable persons will be part of his next cabinet.

"Many at this dinner meeting are saying they want to see the list of the proposed cabinet so that they can go on leave peacefully.

"I'm very much aware about it, I'm under tremendous pressure on it. But the last cabinet which I headed, most of them, the majority of them I didn't know them. I had to accept the names and recommendations from the party and other individuals.

"I worked with them for three and half years at least meeting twice in a month. So I know them. But, this time around, I'm going to pick people I personally know," Buhari was quoted as saying by a source at the meeting.

"The president told us that only capable, credible and those with track records of service will make his cabinet," he added.

It took the president six months to constitute his cabinet in 2015, Daily Trust reports.

The president also appealed to the lawmakers to support him to succeed in his second and final term.

"He appealed to us to help him to leave behind legacies that would put the country on the right track," the source said.

Daily Trust reports that the Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila, the Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege and the Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase were also in attendance.

The dinner was attended by all the principal officers of the opposition party.

The principal officers in attendance were Abdullahi Yahaya (Senate leader), Senator Ajayi Borofice (deputy senate leader), Orji Uzor Kalu (Chief Whip) and Senator Sabi Abdullahi (deputy Chief whip).

Others are Sen Emmanuel Bwacha (deputy minority leader), Phillip Aduda (Minority Whip) and Sahabi Yau (Deputy Minority Whip). Our correspondent reports that the Senate minority leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, was absent.

For the House of Reps, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa (Majority Leader), Mohammed Monguno (Chief Whip) and Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (Deputy Whip) attended.

Our correspondent did not see Peter Akpatason (Deputy Majority Leader).

The opposition principal officers of the House namely Ndudi Godwin Elumelu (Minority Leader), Toby Okechukwu (Deputy Minority Leader) Gideon Gwani (Minority Whip) and Adesegun Adekoya (Deputy Minority Whip) were there.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, the two presidential aides on National Assembly - Ita Enang (Senate) and Umar Ibrahim El-Yakubu (House) - also attended.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan said he was misquoted on the transmission of ministerial list to the National Assembly this week.

Responding to a question that he announced that the list would be transmitted this week, he said "I never did."

"Let me take the opportunity to correct that. A senator raised a point of order under personal explanation. He said we should be sent the list of the ministers by the executive arm of government and in my response I said the executive is working so hard to ensure that the list of Nigerians that will help this administration work is going to be transmitted and we could even receive it this week.

"We could' is conditional and I will urge everybody here to report it as it is," he said.

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