President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday gave an insight into a possible shake-up of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), which will be expanded with the appointment of more ministers.
More supporters of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are also to be brought into the government with the constitution of the boards of government agencies, he added.
The President gave this insight in his speech at the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the APC. He did not read the speech before reporters were asked to leave the hall after the opening formalities.
The President lamented the delay in reconstituting boards of federal parastatals despite his promise to do so, pointing out that it was as a result of attempts to get the balance right and ensure that all parts of the country are equitably represented.
The President said he was aware that APC supporters were very eager for these appointments to be announced, and promised that by “the Grace of God these appointments will be announced soon”.
“Let me on a personal note thank you all for your prayers and good wishes, which the Almighty Allah answered in the restoration of my health. I wish to thank you all Party leaders for helping to keep the government running smoothly during my prolonged absence.
“I would like to start by commending our Party Leadership chaired by His Excellency, Chief John Oyegun. The Chairman and I worked harmoniously during 1984-85 in a previous government. Happily, circumstances have brought us again to positions of leadership in the country.
“I want to thank Chief Oyegun and his staff for steering the party in the last two and a half years. Sometimes it is easier to manage failure than to manage success – and a big success such as that we have achieved.
“I must also commend the leadership of the National Assembly, led by Senate President His Excellency, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Rt. Hon. Speaker Mr. Yakubu Dogara. I must place on record the cooperation and understanding of the National Assembly, including some non-APC members who rose above petty party interests and acted in the national interest.
“My deep thanks also go to our state governors who faced stiff challenges, especially their determination to maintain unity and tolerance among our communities. This is in the face of unnecessary politically motivated strife and violence. Credit should go to APC governors for extending their hand of fellowship to their colleagues from other parties.
Before the meeting, a mild drama played out at the entrance to the APC secretariat as the presidential guard on duty insisted that the governors will be dropped at the gate, while they walk into the secretariat.
Security aides attached to Governor Yahaya Bello, who was the first to arrive at the secretariat for the meeting, engaged in a noisy row, which almost resulted in fisticuffs.
Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) Chairman Abdulaziz Yari was furious that his colleagues were asked to walk into the secretariat, insisting that they be allowed to be driven in, while the cars are taken out later, but the head of the security team told him that “it will not work that way”.
About 21 governors, members of the National Assembly led by Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, state chairmen and members of the National Working Committee attended the meeting, the third since the party came into power in 2015.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar was absent. He was said to be out of the country.
Present were Governors Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Jibrilla Bindo (Adamawa), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Tanko Almakura (Nasarawa), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara) and Nasir elRufai (Kaduna).
Others are: Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger), Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto), Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina), and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo).
The senators present at the meeting include Saraki, Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, Senate Minority Whip, Francis Alimikhena, Abdullahi Adamu, Binta Garba, Andy Ubah, Magnus Abe, Dino Melaye, Ahmed Sani Yerima, Gbenga Ashafa and Barnabas Gemade.
From the House of Representatives came Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun, House Leader Femi Gbajabiamila and Majority Whip Ado Dogowa among others.
The former Interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, Minister of Agriculture Audu Ogbe, FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello and Special Adviser to the Vice President on Political Matter Babafemi Ojodu were there.