President Muhammadu Buhari’s 21 would-be ministers whose names he gave the Senate on Wednesday were unaware of their nominations, The Nation learnt yesterday.
The President neither met nor hinted any of the nominees of their appointments, it was learnt.
After shortlisting those he needed, according to a source, Buhari directed security agencies to conduct discreet investigations into their records. Those closer to him were not exempted, the source said.
In 14 states yesterday, there was anxiety because no nominees were named.
Some of the states are Ondo, Kogi, Abia, Enugu and Imo.
A source, who spoke with our correspondent, said: “Most of the nominees announced on Wednesday were caught unawares because Buhari never sat any of them down or told them that they would be among his ministers.
“Even though some of them had been coming to the Presidential Villa, he did not confide in them.
“I can tell you that the President did not give assurance to ex-Governors Rotimi Amaechi, Kayode Fayemi, and Babatunde Fashola. Even as close as Lt.-Gen. Dambazzau and Sen. Hadi Sirika are to the President, they did not know that they would be in the cabinet. The President adopted suspense all through. That is his style.
The source spoke of how some of the nominees nursed the ambition of being ministers but got frustrated after they could not read the President’s mind.
“The President only directed security agencies to conduct discreet security checks on them for about one or two months.
“The security checks were jealously guarded to prevent leakage. This was the nature of the appointment.
“The President adopted intelligence approach in picking his team. A few others who were nominated by some highly-placed Nigerians, political leaders and governors could not scale through the discreet checks.”
It was gathered that most of the nominees were only contacted yesterday morning to submit their curricular vitae at the Presidential Villa.
Another source added: “You can see the transparency of the process adopted by the President. It was on Thursday morning that the Presidency started sending messages to most of the nominees to send their CVs.
“Some of them sent their CVs through e-mail and others sent emissaries to Abuja to submit their credentials ahead of compilation for the Senate’s consideration from next week.
“The President was sure of the pedigree of his cabinet members before asking them to bring their CVs.”
It was gathered that a former Head of State wanted a particular candidate but his request was politely turned down by the President on account of age.
Buhari asked the ex-leader to bring in a “younger person”.
Five factors determined the appointment of ministers by the President.
These are: strict adherence to principle of non-interference in choosing his cabinet, integrity or pedigree; selfless service; old acquaintances and less exposure to political influence.
A highly-placed source in the Presidency said: “Buhari was his own man in choosing his cabinet, although he took certain factors into consideration. Those who came to advise him assisted in providing direction or guiding his mind. At a point, the APC leadership could not give exact situation of things.
“He has done away with appointments based on favouritism, godafthers and egoism.
“Apart from merit, Buhari gave ministerial slots to those who have the ability, those who can deliver and those he has trusted over the years, including those who worked with him in the former Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) and those in the trenches with him in the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). He has rewarded selflessness, perseverance and loyalty.”
There was anxiety yesterday in 14 states whose ministerial nominees have not been announced.
‘’There had been enquiries from the states. Political leaders from the states are mounting pressure on top officials of the Presidency to know their stand,’’ a source said.