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Nigeria's new government to be announced

Wednesday November 11 2015

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria. FILE |

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Nigeria will finally get a new government on Wednesday after more than five months of waiting, when President Muhammadu Buhari assigns formal roles to 36 ministerial nominees approved by parliament.

Buhari is scheduled to make the announcement from 10:00 am (0900 GMT), bringing to an end 166 days in which he has effectively been in sole charge of Africa's leading economy and most populous nation.

The inauguration was scheduled to take place at his official residence, Aso Rock, in the capital, Abuja.

Buhari's primary focus since coming to office on May 29 has been the fight against Boko Haram Islamists and launching an anti-corruption drive.
But the lack of ministers has given a sense of political limbo and created uncertainty in the business world.

"Nigeria's nature as a political economy has been emphasised in the absence of a cabinet," Michael Famoroti, editor-in-chief of Nigeria business, economy and finance analysts Stears, told AFP.


"Political stasis has bred economic stasis, through cargoes stranded at ports, an uncertain investment climate and delayed spending decisions.

"Too many parts of the economy have stalled as economic agents await government clarity," he said in an email.

But with the new ministerial line-up announced, it is hoped a clearer picture should emerge.

"The APC (All Progressives Congress) made a lot of promises and it needs to deliver on some of the more concrete elements. So it is high time the ministers come on board; they are the ones to translate most of those promises into tangible policies and lead on their implementation," said Dawn Dimowo, of political consultancy the Africa Practice.


Buhari himself has said he will be oil minister, overseeing reforms to the notoriously murky sector at a time of low global crude prices that have hurt government revenues badly.

In a sign of the effect the slump has had, the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) posted losses in August and September.

The new general-manager of the NNPC, Ibe Kachikwu, tasked with overhauling the company and boosting transparency and accountability, is almost certain to be junior oil minister.

Close attention will also be paid to who Buhari appoints finance minister, with GDP growth at just 2.35 per cent, inflation creeping towards 10 per cent and the naira currency weak.

One name mentioned has been Kemi Adeosun, a former investment banker and accountant who recently served as finance commissioner in the southwestern state of Ogun.

But Dimowo said having several ministers in charge of different aspects of economic policy was a possibility.

Policies will need to be outlined to address Nigeria's economic slump, as well as implement Buhari's desire to diversify the economy away from a dependence on oil.

Buhari has been running the country with just permanent secretaries (senior civil servants) at government ministries, opening the former military ruler up to opposition charges of autocracy.

In other departments, former army chief Abdulrahman Dambazau is in line for the defence portfolio, which has been dominated for the last six years by the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast.

Buhari has given his military commanders until the end of the year to crush the rebellion, which has left at least 17,000 dead and made more than 2.5 million homeless since 2009.

The new government is made up of technocrats and political appointees from each of Nigeria's 36 states.

At the weekend, one of the few women in the ministerial list, lawyer Aisha Alhassan, won a challenge at an election tribunal to her defeat at governorship polls in April.

She has indicated she will take up the post in eastern Taraba state, becoming Nigeria's first female state governor in the country's 55-year independent history.