THE Minister of information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday, said only President Muhammadu Buhari can decide the fate of ministers that had indicated interest to contest elective positions in 2023, but later withdrew after valedictory session on Friday last week.
Mohammed spoke while fielding question following concern expressed in some quarters on the status of some of the ministers who earlier exited the cabinet to pursue the 2023 elections, but later made a U-turn halfway.
Two ministers, who had backtracked from their earlier interest to vie for gubernatorial and senatorial positions respectively, attended the weekly Council meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
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Specifically, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, physically attended the meeting which held at the council chambers.
Also, the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Paulline Tallen, who earlier indicated interest for the senatorial seat in Plateau State, joined the FEC meeting, but virtually.
President Buhari had during the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting he presided over on May 11 at the Council Chambers, Presidential Villa, Abuja, given ministers vying for any election up to May 16 to resign from the cabinet.
The President on May 13, held a valedictory session which was attended by nine ministers where he commended them for their service to their fatherland and wished them well.
The Ministers that attended the session were, Rotimi Amaechi (Transportation), Chris Ngige (Labour and Employment), Godswill Akpabio (Niger Delta Affairs), Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu (Science and Technological Innovation), Timipre Sylva State for Petroleum Resources), Tayo Alasoadura (State for Niger Delta Affairs).
Others were Dame Tallen Paulen (Women Affairs), Uche Ogar (State for Mines and Steel Development), Abubakar Malami (Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice) and Emeka Nwajuba (State for Education), who was absent but with a permission.
The Minister of Labour and Employment Senator Chris Ngige and the Attorney-General the Federation, AGF and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami later announced their withdrawal from contesting any position.
However, Mohammed who shed light on the development while briefing newsmen after the Council meeting, said: “The question about ministers returning or not going; I think you need to give me more time so that I can tell you exactly what the situation is.
“Right now, I need to cross check. I need to confirm again from Mr President what the situation is.
“I think, you see, the final decision on who is going, who’s coming back, who’s not going lies with the president.”
However, Malami have reportedly shelved his ambition of vying for the governorship seat of Kebbi State and remains in the cabinet until 2023.
But, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who also made a detour on his presidential ambition, was not part of the meeting during the opening session where members of the media were permitted to witness.
Senator Ngige as Nigeria’s Labour Minister, co-chairs panel discussions on Wednesday to outline Nigeria’s challenges in the fight against child labour at the ILO 5th Global Conference on the elimination of child labour in Durban, Kwazulu-natal, South Africa.
Prior to the commencement of the meeting, Council observed a minute silence in honour of former Minister of communications under Gen. Ibrahim Babangida regime, Olawole Adeniji Ige, who died at 83.
Those physically attending are the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; Head of the Service of the Federation (HOCSF), Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Munguno (retd).
Other Ministers who also attended the closed door session include the Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Power, Abubakar Aliyu, Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, Aviation, Hedi Sirika, Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, and Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.
The others are Minister of State for Health, Olorunimbe Mamora, Agric, Mustapha Shehuri and Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba.