Jul 27, 2023, 1:47pm EDT

Nigeria president nominates top opposition ally and loyalists for his cabinet

Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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The News

LAGOS — Nigeria’s president Bola Tinubu has submitted a list of 28 proposed ministers to the country’s Senate, nominating a number of former state governors and long-time advisers for his first cabinet.

Among the former governors on the list submitted on Thursday are Nasir El Rufai from the northern state of Kaduna, and David Umahi from Ebonyi in the southeast. But the most notable figure is Nyesom Wike of the oil rich Rivers state who is a member of the opposition People’s Democratic Party. Wike notably broke with his party to support Tinubu during the February general elections.

Tinubu also nominated three allies he recently made special advisers, namely Wale Edun, Dele Alake, and Hannatu Musa Musawa. Edun, an economist and former finance commissioner when Tinubu was governor of Lagos state in the early 2000s, had been widely tipped for a high profile ministerial role in the period after the presidential election.

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Tinubu had 60 days after his inauguration on May 29 to send the list of nominees to parliament, in line with a new constitutional requirement. Until now, he had appointed dozens of special advisers, sacked the central bank’s chief, and replaced heads of the country’s military agencies and police force.

He has shaken up Nigeria’s economy with a raft of policy changes in eight weeks as president. The removal of fuel subsidies and unification of exchange rates have triggered a significant shock across the country felt in the form of rising food and transportation prices.

None of the nominees were announced with their expected offices, continuing a tradition that some have questioned. According to a letter read in the Senate, Tinubu could add more nominees to the proposed list of ministers at a later date. The Nigerian constitution mandates that each of the country’s 36 states must have one minister.

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The View From Abuja

Waziri Adio, a former head of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative who now leads the Agora Policy think tank in Abuja, said Tinubu’s nominees reflected an inclination to “reward people who worked for his victory and long-term loyalists, with a sprinkling of technocrats.”