Opinion leaders and socio-political associations in the South- East believe that Igbo were deliberately denied ‘juicy’ ministries by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Leaders of the foremost Igbo socio-political body, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and Njiko Igbo, another prominent pan-Igbo association, described the portfolios assigned to Igbo ministers as ‘disappointing.’
Speaking with PUNCH on the telephone, President of Ohanaeze Youth Wing, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, who spoke on behalf of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said Ogbonnaya Onu and Chris Ngige deserved ‘more influential’ ministries than Science and Technology, and Labour and Productivity, respectively.
Isiguzoro said, “We are disappointed that somebody of the calibre of Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu was assigned to Science and Technology ministry, even Dr. Chris Ngige should have been appointed as the Health Minister instead of Labour and Productivity.
“Okechukwu Enalama should have been appointed Minister of Finance.
“Igbo ministers did not get juicy portfolios, except perhaps Ibe Kachikwu and Rotimi Amaechi, who are our brothers from the South-South.
“We are not happy that we did not get the juicy portfolios, although we are happy that our brothers from the Niger Delta got.
“Nevertheless, the era of impunity has gone and we expect all the Igbo ministers to perform excellently.
“We expect them to close ranks and work towards developing Igboland.”
Also, President of Njiko Igbo, Reverend Okechukwu Obioha, said Buhari relegated Igbo ministers to the background in his cabinet.
But he admitted that the association was not surprised.
He said, “They are adding more salt to the injury, we expected that. We can see that we (Igbo) are not wanted in this country. At the moment, the sharing of the national cake is between the North and the South-West.
“What will Ngige be doing as Labour and Productivity minister when the Federal Government is not employing anyone, or creating jobs?
“Even the Foreign Affairs portfolio that was given to an Igboman (Geoffrey Onyeama) is of no consequence because already Buhari has travelled to most of the countries and he will continue to do so.
“He has travelled in six months more than the immediate past president travelled in six years.
“So the Foreign Affairs minister will just be a rubber stamp.
“Buhari has taken the Ministry of Petroleum Resources for himself, making an Igboman the Minister of State.
“So, he (Buhari) has virtually given the Igbo nothing.
“But the problem is this will lead to more agitation for Biafra,” Obioha said.
Too early to assess ministers – Nwabueze group
However, the Igbo Leaders of Thought, an association of prominent Igbo personalities, led by foremost constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, said it was too early to praise, or condemn the new cabinet.
The Secretary General of the ILT, Evang. Eliot Uko, said it was a welcome relief that a cabinet had been put in place after several months.
Speaking with one of our correspondents on the telephone, he said, “It would be wrong to praise the cabinet, or to condemn it, hurriedly. We are happy that the cabinet has taken off but it is necessary for the cabinet to realise that expectations are very high.
“They should also understand the implications of crashing this high expectation.”
Asked to state the views of the ILT concerning the ministries assigned to Igbo ministers, Uko said, “The Igbo Leaders of Thought are not that petty-minded to judge which ministries are juicy, and the ones that are not.
“Juicy or non-juicy portfolios, we want a cabinet that can take Nigeria to a higher level, bearing in mind that there is need to restructure this country.”
CHRD faults education minister appointment
But the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders faulted President Muhammadu Buhari appointment of Adamu Adamu appointment as Education minister and a professor as Minister of State for Education.
The convener of the body in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Inibehe Effiong, said in Uyo on Thursday that a reverse of the appointment would be adequate.
According to him, Buhari with the appointment of ministers and the portfolios that had been assigned to them was on the right track.
“Buhari seems to be on the right track with the appointment of ministers and the portfolios that have been assigned to them. It is encouraging because it shows a departure from the past.
“Though I have reservation on some of the portfolios especially that of Education ministry, where Adamu Adamu is the minister, while the professor is made a Minister of State. I felt the reverse should have been the case,” he said.
On the corruption charges levelled against some of the ministers, Effiong stated that there was nothing so serious as some of the allegations emanated from those who had political grudges with some of the ministers.
He stated that the development was the carry-over of acrimony and hatred by the Peoples Democratic Party senators against some of the ministers.