MEMBERS of President Muhammadu Buhari’s kitchen cabinet have had the security around them tightened over the last week in a bid to keep them away from lobbyists seeking to influence the nomination of new ministers.
President Buhari was sworn-in for a second term on May 29 and is yet to name his new cabinet but it is believed he will do so next month. Those close to the president like his nephew Mamman Daura and his chief of staff Mallam Abba Kyari, are considered to have a lot of influence in who gets selected, leading to a lot of lobbying around them.
There are fears that the two men and their families may even be targeted by kidnappers and other criminals hoping to use the process to extort money from them. Security agencies, who have begun screening nominees from the states, are said to be trailing the two men very closely.
President Buhari is currently finalising the consideration of ministerial nominees with three shortlisted per state. Preliminary background checks are being carried out on some of the nominees, although it is still unclear if President Buhari will go for a 36-man cabinet or a 42-man team.
Among other things, the presidency is said to have been disturbed about personal attacks on Alhaji Daura and Mallam Kyari. Besides the recent street protests against Mallam Kyari in Abuja, there was also the invasion of Alhaji Daura’s home in Kaduna earlier this week.
Protesters, who marched against Mallam Daura, who government officials believe were sponsored, had assumed that he, Alhaji Daura and other members of President Buhari’s kitchen cabinet could stop their candidates from being ministers. Apparently, the presidency was unhappy that the jostle for ministerial positions has now led to personal assaults.
One presidency source said: “The presidency has directed that security be strengthened for Daura, Kyari and other close associates of the president, who are being targeted. The challenge most lobbyists are having is that the president is keeping the list of his incoming cabinet to himself, with not even All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders or governors have access to it.
“Some may have dropped names but the president is always keeping quiet and it is difficult to read his mindset. So, attacking Daura and Kyari was unfortunate but they do not have any role to play in compiling the list of those who will be members of the Federal Executive Council.”