They are the game changers in the midst of a flagging national economy and mounting national woes. Some of them went to Ivy League Institutions. Some of them belong to the right professional networks. Imbued with rich intellect, vast knowledge and enormous wealth of experience, they seem to command pride of place whenever their names crop up here and there. Together with President Muhammadu Buhari, they appear to symbolize the wind of change cannonballing through the nation’s critical sectors. Out of the 36 men and women whom President Buhari has assembled as Ministers, The New Diplomat’s Editorial Board has tipped a few who can really make a change in a bid to help Buhari reposition Nigeria. It is a task that is really daunting and most challenging. The national economy is bleeding. There is a growing army of restless and jobless youths who are getting clearly impatient. Our educational institutions are in decay. Healthcare is in state of disrepair. There are still glaring, gaping and leaking holes or leakages in key institutions that ought to drive reforms. The net result is a devastating national crisis. As Buhari himself admitted publicly, Nigeria is broke! Now, these Game-Changers must reinvent Nigeria and put the country on the path of true greatness once again. We believe these men and women have the capacity given their background and track-record; the capacity to do things differently. They are the Game Changers. As Winston Churchil, the war-time British prime minister noted, these are challenging times that requires only the best and brightest.
Udoma Udo Udoma. SAN:
A notable corporate citizen and eminent practicing lawyer who belongs to the esteemed club of Senior Advocates (SAN) of Nigeria, Udoma apart from being a scion of the revered family of the late Justice Udo Udoma, has over the years distinguished himself one of Nigeria’s most outstanding Private Sector captains and most erudite corporate lawyers. On several counts, he has earned first in several areas of human endeavours and in all he has always emerged with impeccable integrity . For example, he was pioneer Chairman of Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) of Nigeria in 1991.
Born in 1954, Udoma attended Kings College Lagos before proceeding to Oxford University, Oxford, UK where he bagged degrees in Law, specializing in Corporate Law, amongst others.
Senator Udoma, has been an active player in key public and private Sector reformist policies in sectors such as energy, Investment and Trade, amongst others. The immediate ,past chairman of the Governing Board of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Senator Udoma has also served as Chairman of UACN, Chairman of Union Bank Plc, Director of Unilever and Vice Chairman of the Board of Linkage Assurance, amongst others.
He is equally a former two-term Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where he functioned as a diligent and key member of the Senate committees on Public Accounts, Judiciary, Banking & Currency, Science & technology, Privatization and Drug & Narcotics.
His voice would indeed be weighty in matters of business and the economy. There is no doubt that Senator Udoma would be one of the Game-Changers in the Buhari administration. His presence in Cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari is clear indication that the President is interested in the very best brains that Nigeria can harness at this material time in the task of repositioning the Country for true greatness.
Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN
BRF as this minister-designate is fondly called by close associates is not a stranger to the Nigerian political and governance scenario, having served as Chief of Staff to former Governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and rising to succeed the APC chieftain as Governor at the expiration of Tinubu’s two-terms in office.
Significantly described even then by Tinubu as ‘the actualizer,’ Fashola went on to run a most exemplary first term in office, an achievement that even made it impossible for Tinubu himself to thwart his second term bid in 2011.
Now the boy has grown into his own and Nigerians expect President Buhari to give Fashola some of the toughest tasks in the now-forming cabinet. A lawyer who has made it good in his chosen career (rising to the exalted peak of Senior Advocate of Nigeria), Fashola may be handed the Works or Power ministries, where he would be expected to fully deploy his massive and most prodigious intellectual, technocratic and organisational capabilities.
He is an alumnus of the University of Benin.
The current Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC is set to be one of the stars in the current administration.
Imbued with a prodigious intellect, the accomplished professional who not only bagged a distinction grade from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and went on to clinch seven of nine prizes on offer as the best graduating student of his class at the Nigerian Law School, was to repeat the same feat at the prestigious Harvard University Law School where he equally graduated with distinctions.
Already, Kachikwu who has since his assuming the helms of office at NNPC begun to carry out the administration’s Change agenda in the nation’s oil sector is widely believed as the new Minister of state in the Petroleum Resources ministry as a key game changer.
Indications of how seriously the administration takes the oil sector and reforming it had earlier come from the Presidency when it restated that the oil ministry would be personally supervised by President Buhari himself.
With over 30 years’ experience in the global petrochemical complex, Kachikwu, who hails from Delta State, is a Visiting Professor at several leading institutions worldwide and was also publisher of the romance magazine, Hints.
Some of his notable oil sector engagements include General Counsel and Legal Adviser, Texaco Nigeria and Texaco Overseas Petroleum Company, General Counsel and Secretary, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, Executive Director, Exxon-Mobil Companies in Nigeria and Oversight Counsel, Exxon-Mobil Companies in Africa and Vice Chairman and Counsel, Exxon-Mobil.
John Kayode Fayemi
A most mercurial personality, John Kayode Fayemi, the immediate past governor of Ekiti State is a scholar, administrator and politician.
He holds degrees in History, Politics and International Relations from the Universities of Lagos and Ife in Nigeria and a doctorate in War Studies from King’s College, University of London, England, where he specialized in civil-military relations.
A former Director of the civil society champion, Centre for Democracy & Development,he has also worked as a lecturer, journalist, researcher and Strategy Development adviser.
During the heydays of the pro-democracy movement, he shone as one of its leaders and was responsible for the founding and management of the opposition radios – Radio Freedom, Radio Democracy International & Radio Kudirat; amidst other responsibilities
He is a Fellow of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Ibadan and an Adjunct Professor of Security Studies at the African Centre for Strategic Studies, National Defense University, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C., USA.
He also serves on the boards of the Open Society Justice Institute, Baobab for Women’s Human Rights, African Security Sector Network, and on the Advisory Board of the Global Facilitation Network on Security Sector Reform, as well as the Management Culture Board of the ECOWAS Secretariat.
Lai Mohammed studied French and Law at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and later law again at the University of Lagos. A businessman and politician, he is the immediate past Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
A trained public relations practitioner, Mohammed had also served as Public Relations Officer at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN.
His voice has resonated in the Nigerian political arena for the better part of the last decade as a strident and acerbic champion of opposition and change.
Currently the minister heading the Information portfolio, Nigerians and some observers say, we should expect an equally robust promotion of the programmes of the administration.
Before his current appointment as minister in Muhammadu Buhari’s APC government, he had tried to be a governor in his home state, Kwara in 2002 on the platform of the Alliance for |Democracy, AD
A consummate gender and MDG rights advocate, Amina Mohammed comes to the job with a veritable suitcases full of experience and global exposure.
While many bet that this very well-heeled academic and technocrat could readily have got the Women’s Affairs and Social Welfare portfolio in the cabinet, others were looking northward towards Foreign Affairs.
But wherever she was placed in Environment,. But almost no one is in any doubt about her integrity and competence.
Indeed, were the job of President of Nigeria –of female extraction – to be available at the moment, it is the likes of Amina Mohammed and her erstwhile colleague in the Obasanjo Presidency, that would definitely come up for prime mention. She would definitely be an asset to the Buhari administration and Nigeria.
Before her latest call to serve, she had been a Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on post-2015 development planning.
She had also functioned as Founder and CEO of the Center for Development Policy Solutions, Adjunct Professor for the Master’s in Development Practice program at Columbia University, Founder and Executive Director of Afri-Projects Consortium, and the board of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Captain Hadi Irika
For those who know President Buhari very well, he leaves very little to hide. He placed this captain as Minister of Aviation(State)
A trained pilot and experienced aviation professional, Sirika would be coming to his brief following his recent confirmation by the senate, from an earlier stint as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria representing the Katsina North senatorial zone.
A close associate of President Buhari, he was one of a handful of political activists that trace their connections to the Congress of Progressive Change, CPC, wing of the current leadership pendulum.
This and his Katsina ancestry make him a strong player in the present equation.
He is sure to need all of this once the fireworks over the administration’s desire to either revive the Nigeria Airways or float another national career begins, with a battery of well-heeled critics already massed against the plan. And our prayer and hope is that Nigeria would win even here.
For Sirika himself, there is little more to add to his suitability for the job. His training and involvement with the industry as well as his having served as member of the Aviation Committee in the last senate will however be assets that he would readily draw upon.