After a mid-term performance review, President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday dismissed two ministers.
Out are Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Sabo Nanono and Minister of Power Saleh Mamman.
The President redeployed Minister of Environment Muhammed Mahmood Abubakar, who replaces Nanono in Agriculture Ministry and Minister of State (Works and Housing) Abubakar Aliyu to take over from Mamman in the Power Ministry.
Ministers were shocked when the announcement was made at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
Sources told The Nation that the ministers were fired for poor performance and unfavourable security report on their activities.
The erstwhile Power minister missed the power generation target.
He failed to take it beyond where it was when he took over,” a source explained.
Nanono, the former Agriculture Minister, was found to have reversed the gains made by the ministry between 2015 and 2019.
Unknown to other ministers, President had informed the ministers of their impending exit from the cabinet before yesterday’s FEC meeting and had wished them well in their future endavours.
The President also put other ministers on their toes by saying that “the few cabinet changes mark the beginning of a continuous process.”
Speaking further on the changes, Spokesman Femi Adesina quoted the President as saying: “On Wednesday 21st August, 2019 the Federal Executive Council was sworn-in after a rigorous retreat to bring returning and new members up to speed on the accomplishments, challenges and lessons drawn from my first term in Office and to emphasise the nine priority areas of government for the second term.
“Two years and some months into the second term, the tradition of subjecting our projects and programmes implementation to independent and critical self-review has taken firm roots through sector Reporting during Cabinet meetings and at Retreats.
“These significant review steps have helped to identify and strengthen weak areas, close gaps, build cohesion and synergy in governance, manage the economy and improve the delivery of public good to Nigerians.
“I must commend this cabinet for demonstrating unparalleled resilience that helped the government to navigate the disruption to global systems and governance occasioned by the emergence of COVID-19 shortly after inauguration. The weekly Federal Executive Council meetings was not spared because the traditional mode was altered.
“As we are all aware, change is the only factor that is constant in every human endeavour and as this administration approaches its critical phase in the second term, I have found it essential to reinvigorate this cabinet in a manner that will deepen its capacity to consolidate legacy achievements.
“In due course, substantive nominations will be made to fill the consequential vacancies in accordance with the requirements of the constitution.
“I have personally met with the departing members to thank them for their contributions to discussions in cabinet and the invaluable services rendered to the nation. Today, effectively marks their last participation in the Federal Executive Council deliberations and I wish them the best in all future endeavours.
“I wish to reiterate once more, that this process shall be continuous”.
It was learnt that the President’s decision was as a result of a comprehensive review of the performance of his ministers after two years.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said there was a reversal of gains made in the agriculture sector between 2015 and 2019.
The source said: “Ordinarily, one of the closest political strategists to the President is Nanono, who was part of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) merger talks with the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and other parties that led to the emergence of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He is an insider in government.
“With Nanono’s sack, the President has demonstrated that there is no sacred cow in his cabinet. It was a removal which shocked cabinet members.
“But the President looked at results in office than personal or political relationship, Reports available to the President indicated a reversal of some gains made between 2015 and 2019.
“Monday, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed confirmed that ‘growth in Q2 2021 would have been much stronger had it not been for Agriculture recording slower growth at 1.30% due to several bottlenecks currently negatively affecting the sector.’
“The rising food prices nationwide, most especially in the North, was a setback for the administration which the President was not happy about. At a stage, the food price crisis was becoming unbearable for the poor in the North and the backlash on Buhari administration has caused discomfort for the President.
The former Minister initiated many programmes but which ended up on his table rather than in actual action. He came up with some of these ideas: mechanization hubs in 650 local governments to support the farming communities; the approval of a loan facility of $1.2 billion by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to finance the mechanisation of agriculture in the country and the introduction of subsidy for farm inputs.
“From security reports on Nanono, age was a factor in slowing him down to do his job. And there was no synergy between him and his team. He was also alleged to be sliding towards politics more than his assignment.”
Also, findings indicated that President Buhari was unhappy that the nation’s power generation outlook was still between 4,000MW and 5,801.6MW contrary to the performance expectations from Sale.
A source said: “The sacked Minister of Power had assured the nation of 11,000MW by 2022 before moving up to 25,000MW. In spite of the fact that he said the power generation targets will be in phases, there was nothing to show that the nation will attain its goal.
“Mamman became a minister based on a strong recommendation that he could turn around the power sector. But the President reviewed his performance bond and discovered it was low.
“He was not even catching up with the July 2019 agreement between the Federal Government and Siemens for the implementation of a roadmap to resolve the challenges in the power sector and possible expansion. So, in line with the last lap goals of the President, he had to leave the cabinet.
Also, security reports on Mamman’s alleged “overbearing control” over agencies under his ministry accounted for his removal.
It was also alleged that his knowledge of the sector was poor such that he could not address some issues on Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project.
A top source added: “There was a case of interference by the former Minister in the internal affairs of the Rural Electrification Agency(REA) which led to the deployment of some directors, especially the then Director of Procurement, Bulus Maiyaki from the agency.
“Although REA is under the supervision of the Minister of State for Power, Goddy Jeddy Agba, he allegedly sidelined the junior minister to make the deployment.