More than two months since the Senate confirmed the nominations of Stephen Ocheni (Kogi) and Suleiman Hassan (Gombe) as ministers, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday finally inaugurated them but failed to assign them portfolios.
The acting president told the new ministers during the event that took place before the commencement of the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) that their portfolios would be announced “shortly”.
The new ministers were subsequently asked to join their colleagues for their first FEC meeting, just as Osinbajo described the FEC as one committed to the reform programmes of the Federal Government as stated in its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
“We have focused our attention on key areas of that economic recovery plan and we believe those key areas are things that need to be done to make a difference in the Nigerian economy and in the lives of Nigerians.
“Time and time again we have continued to emphasaise the need for ministers to pay particular attention to all the areas that we have highlighted in the economic plan.
“President Muhammadu Buhari decided to task ministers with specific functions and so we expect our new ministers to be part of this Herculean task in turning around the Nigerian economy and making life better for the citizens.
“Of course you know that aside from the economy we have two key areas highlighted by the President during the course of the campaigns and have become centre pieces of our administration programme – security and the anti-corruption fight,” Osinbajo said.
He continued, “We have of course made tremendous progress in security. We have issues and challenges here and there but they can’t be compared to where we are coming from; very minor indeed and we are tackling them on a day-by-day basis.
“On the anti corruption fight, we are focused and we believe that the primary thing is for those of us who have the privilege of serving to ensure that by our own point and actions we support the anti corruption fight and also that our conducts will be exemplary so that we will show by practice not just by words that we are determined to ensure that this country is run by a good government. And where there is honesty and integrity service will be delivered.”
The inauguration is coming after the House of Representatives had on July 11 issued Osinbajo a seven-day ultimatum to have the ministers, whose names were forwarded to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari, inaugurated.
Since the death of the Minister of State for Labour, Mr. James Ocholi (SAN), who died in a road accident on March 6, 2016, there has been no minister from Kogi State. For Gombe, the appointment of former Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, necessitated the appointment of another minister from the state.