Three All Progressives Congress (APC) chiefs and a seasoned bureaucrat are in the race for Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).
President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to make up his mind on who gets the job. Besides, he is battling to stave off pressure.
Those either interested or being strongly recommended for the SGF are ex-Governor Rotimi Amaechi (South-South), ex-Governor Ogbonnaya Onu (South-East), APC National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun (Edo) and a former occupant of the office, Amb. Babagana Kingibe.
There is a bureaucrat from the North-East whose name was not immediately known yesterday.
There are three issues Buhari is trying to resolve:
•should the SGF go to the Northeast or the Southeouth/Southeast?
•should he be a cosmopolitan young element or an experienced bureaucrat? and
•how to avoid the “way and manner in which a former SGF turned the office into an ethnic enclave and destroyed the ethos of the civil service”.
The former SGF reportedly politicised appointments, resulting in a situation whereby two people were given letters for an office.
The President is said to be concerned about geopolitical balance in appointments.
The power sharing in the Executive and the Legislature so far has shown that only the South-South is yet to be accommodated.
The breakdown is as follows: President (North-West); Vice-President (South-West); President of the Senate (North-Central); Deputy President of the Senate (South-East); the Speaker of the House of Representatives (North-East); the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives (South-West).
But it was gathered that Buhari does not want to subject the appointment of the SGF to Federal Character Principle because of what a source described as “the sensitive nature of the office”.
A highly-placed source in the Presidency said: “The delay in appointing the SGF is borne out of the fact that the President has left it open for the consideration of many eligible Nigerians irrespective of geopolitical zones.
“Those recommended for SGF are ex-Governor Rotimi Amaechi(South-South), ex-Governor Ogbonnaya Onu(South-East), the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun(Edo); and a former occupant of the office, Amb. Babagana Kingibe, who is a long-time personal friend of Buhari.
“Apart from playing a crucial role as the engine room of Buhari’s campaign, some forces in the Presidency believe Amaechi combines youthful age advantage and political experience to occupy the office.
“The only fear of Buhari in Amaechi is youthful exuberance, temperament and a down-to-heart attitude which may not be ideal for a technical and diplomatic assignment.
“But pro-Amaechi forces in the presidency pointed to Amaechi’s calmness, composure and successful coordination of the Presidential Campaign as signs of his readiness for the job.
“They also said having staked his integrity and life on the line for Buhari, only the SGF is befitting for Amaechi than a ministerial job.
“Amaechi’s dimension is a major challenge for Buhari. I think the same forces against Asiwaju Bola Tinubu are working hard to sideline the ex-governor of Rivers State because of his closeness to Buhari.”
It was learnt that Onu appears the man to beat because of his reserved nature, academic excellence, especially having bagged First Class from the University of Lagos, and his cosmopolitan outlook.
A former governor said: “You cannot see Onu’s credentials without being intimidated. In all the schools he attended, he came tops.
“The challenge however is that with the South-East occupying the Office of the Deputy President of the Senate, the zone might not get the SGF again. You can see the danger of being slow in taking decision.”
Although Oyegun is highly experienced as a former Federal Permanent Secretary, the popular thinking is that he is incompetent as shown in the way in which he handled the crisis in the National Assembly. “This has created a setback for him,” a source said.
“As a matter of fact, Buhari wants Oyegun to remain in the party. I think they had issues when they were in ANPP and Buhari is favourably disposed to retaining Oyegun in the APC secretariat.
“There is also anger in the party on how the NWC failed to be decisive on the sharing of positions in the National Assembly. It was a litmus test which will work against him in becoming the SGF.”
It was gathered that if Buhari has his way, he would not waste time in appointing Amb. Babagana Kingibe, whom he had courted since their days in the former seat of power, Dodan Barracks in Lagos.
It was learnt that when anti-Kingibe forces came to Buhari recently to de-market the former SGF, the President said: “Kingibe contributed immensely to my campaign. contrary to what you think.”
“I think age and geopolitical balance are working against Kingibe. But he will certainly play a role in Buhari’s administration.
“This is why another bureaucrat from the North-East is being considered too.”