THREE ministers in the government of President Muhammadu Buhari have already declared their preparedness to succeed the president when he leaves power on May 29, 2023.
They are Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige, Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi, and Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba.
Amaechi and Ngige have maintained their portfolios since the president constituted his first cabinet, months after he took over power in 2015, while Nwajiuba got his ministerial appointment in July 2019, after Buhari’s re-election.
Ngige, who represents Anambra State in the Buhari’s cabinet, declared for the presidency on April 19.
He hails from Alor, Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
A trained medical doctor who retired from the Federal Ministry of Health as a Deputy Director in 1998, Ngige served his state as a governor between May 1999 and March 2006. He was elected senator representing Anambra Central in 2011. He was in the Senate before losing his re-election bid to Mrs Uche Ekwunife in 2015.
Buhari later picked him to serve as his Minister of Labour and Employment in November of that year.
He was among the 44 ministers the president picked six months after assuming office.
He will be 70 in August.
Emeka Uwajiuba hails from Ehime-Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State.
He holds a PhD in Law. He had served as a member of the House of Representatives before his appointment.
He is one of the few politicians in the South-East who had pursued their political dreams in the same political party with Buhari for nearly a decade.
Nwajiuba will be 55 in August.
He declared for the exalted seat on April 27. He has also paid the N100 million charged by the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) for its presidential nomination and expression of interest forms.
Fifty-four-year-old Rotimi Amaechi was born in Ubima, Ikwerre Local Area of Rivers State. He served the state as a governor between 2007 and 2015 before Buhari appointed him a Minister of Transportation – a portfolio he has kept since then.
He had been a Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly between 1999 and 2007.
He declared for the presidency on April 9.
How the ministers failed Nigerians
Ngige’s professional colleagues have severally accused him of failing in his roles in recent years.
Workers in the nation’s health sector (at the national level), comprising doctors, nurses, and medical laboratory scientists, among others, have embarked on strike for at least a cumulative 125 days since Ngige became a minister.
They have down tools because of the government’s refusal to meet their demands.
The ICIR reported in December 2021 how the country lost nearly 300 working days in its hospitals to workers’ strikes.
Ngige had variously threatened to sack the striking workers while ordering them back to work.
Similarly, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has cumulatively been on strike under the minister’s leadership for over a year, out of the nearly seven years he has spent in the office.
In 2016, the union embarked on a seven-day warning strike.
In 2017, the group was on strike for 35 days over the government’s failure to implement its agreement with the workers.
On November 4, 2019, the association directed its members to down tools indefinitely. The action lasted for 96 days. The group called off the strike on February 7, 2020.
The year 2020 witnessed the longest strike by ASUU under the Buhari government. The action lasted for 290 days.
ASUU began the strike on March 9 that year and called it off on December 23.
Meanwhile, students of the nation’s public universities have been at home because of another strike by the lecturers.
The current action started on February 14, and it clocked 80 days as of the time of publishing this report.
While Nwajiuba supervises the nation’s education sector, Ngige is responsible for ensuring a smooth relationship between the employees and the government.
Amaechi’s major successes are the nation’s rail projects, for which the Buhari government took billions of dollars in loans.
For instance, the government approved a $15 billion loan for the completion of the Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri rail project.
The Kano-Maradi rail was to gulp a $4.9 billion loan.
Nigeria’s rail transport system has seen significant improvement under his leadership. But the infrastructures easily break down.
Multiple reports revealed how criminals stole the rail track clips across the country.
The most scandalous incident involving the nation’s trains was the attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train by terrorists on March 28.
While dozens of the train’s passengers remain in the terrorists’ den, Amaechi declared his intention to vie for the presidency 12 days after the attack.
The Federal Government has since suspended train services between the two cities.
Ministers to contend with other aspirants
On Tuesday, The ICIR reported how eight of the nation’s 36 state governors had expressed interest in the presidency.
The governors are aspirants from the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).
They will also be facing the former Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu – a chieftain of the APC, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former Senate President Bukola Saraki, and former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, all stalwarts of the PDP.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had, on April 11, declared for the presidency.
Multiple reports have also indicated that Senate President Ahmed Lawan will declare for the country’s highest political seat this week.
Eighteen political parties will be fielding candidates for elective posts in the next year’s polls, coming up between February and March.
Kidnapping spree in sector supervised by Adamu, Nwajiuba
There have been kidnapping of thousands of students in schools across the nation under the Buhari administration.
Adamu Adamu and Nwajiuba are ministers supervising the sector.
As of the end of August 2021, Save the Children, a humanitarian aid organization for children, claimed no fewer than 1,000 children were kidnapped from schools in the country between January and August of that year alone.
Both private and public educational facilities, mainly in the North-West and North-East facing terrorism, have witnessed attacks, killings and kidnappings under the Buhari government.
In January, The ICIR reported how parents withdrew their children from Kaduna and Niger schools because of deteriorating insecurity.
In June 2021, Nwajiuba said the nation had the highest number of out-of-school children in Sub-saharan Africa, though the United Nations said the country had the world’s highest out-of-school children.