There were strong indications that the recent audience between President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo centred on national issues, especially the choice of ministers.
It was gathered that Buhari opened up to Obasanjo on the criteria for choosing his ministers.
It was learnt that the president said he was thinking of trying “new hands” instead of recycling the same old ones.
But findings confirmed that the president may send the list of ministers to the National Assembly in batches because of the likely merger of some ministries, departments and agencies.
The first batch is likely to meet the September deadline set by the president.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the meeting between the two leaders focused on what Buhari had done in the last 100 days, the challenges at hand, and the composition of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
A highly-placed source said: “Apart from other national issues, the president took time to explain the criteria he will be using to appoint his ministers. He said he might try new hands instead of using the same set of people that had served Nigerians.
“He also said anyone with tainted records or with issues on corruption may not get a slot in his cabinet. I think he is on the same page with Obasanjo on the anti-corruption agenda.
“The president restated why he would need a team to fix basic things in the country.”
Responding to a question, the source said: “Buhari did not mention any name on the cabinet list to Obasanjo but he spoke on the benchmarks for would-be appointees and those he won’t accept.”
After the closed door session, ex-President Obasanjo refused to speak with newsmen at the Presidential Villa.
When pressed to respond to reporters’ enquiry, Obasanjo said: “Comot joo” (go away).”
According to a reliable source, the president may name the cabinet in phases because of the likely merger of some ministries, departments and agencies in line with the recommendations of the Ahmed Joda Transition Committee.
It was learnt that the president might name ministers for key portfolios like Petroleum Resources, Finance, Works, Aviation, Health, and Justice.
The source added: “The president is ready to keep to the September deadline but one of the options on the card is to name ministers in batches because of the likely merger of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
“For instance, the Ministry of Special Duties is likely to be scrapped because it is only being used for constituency projects and other questionable contracts.
“Rather than keeping the nation waiting, the list may go to the National Assembly in batches.”
When contacted last night, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu, who was about boarding a flight to Paris, said: “Honestly, I do not have any latest information on the appointment of new ministers.”
The Nation had exclusively reported that the president is on the final lap of consultations on his cabinet.
It was still unclear if the president will reduce the size of the cabinet from 42 to 36 or a lower figure.
Section 147(1-3) directs the President to appoint at least 36 ministers unless the constitution is amended.
The section reads: “There shall be such offices of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as may be established by the President.
“Any appointment to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President.
“Any appointment under subsection (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of section 14(3) of this Constitution:
“Provided that in giving effect to the Provisions aforesaid the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each state, who shall be an indigene of such state.”