July 23, 2019 / 10:28 AM / a month ago

Nigeria's President Buhari submits list of cabinet nominees to Senate

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari submitted his list of cabinet nominees to the upper house of parliament, the Senate, on Tuesday, giving lawmakers a chance to vote on them just days before they leave for a two-month break.

FILE PHOTO: Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari waves at the crowd during a celebration ceremony marking Democracy Day in Abuja, Nigeria June 12, 2019. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo

The submission comes almost two months after Buhari began his second term, and some five months after he was re-elected, a delay that caused jitters amongst investors and threatened growth prospects for Africa’s largest economy.

Parliament’s break is due to begin at the end of the week, although it could delay this to confirm the nominees.

The list contains 43 names, though it did not specify which positions they would hold in cabinet.

A number of senior figures from Buhari’s first term will return, including Zainab Ahmed, Babatunde Fashola, Geoffrey Onyeama, Rotimi Amaechi and Lai Mohammed, who held the finance, works and power, foreign, transport and information portfolios.

One figure who will not return is Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, a former junior oil minister who played a key role in building a tentative peace with militants in the oil-rich Delta.

Buhari himself was oil minister during his first term, though he took a largely hands-off approach, leaving much of the ministry’s running to Kachikwu.

“In the last administration there were tensions between the Ministry and NNPC (state oil firm Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation), between key officials, and these tensions were not always constructive,” said Anthony Goldman, head of Africa-focused PM Consulting.

“A new team offers new opportunities, but the challenges are significant - well-oiled vested interests have an excellent track record of delaying, diluting and distorting real change,” he said.

Returning ministers will not necessarily hold the same positions if confirmed by the senate. Screening will start on Wednesday, and then lawmakers will vote to approve each candidate.

Buhari, a 76-year-old former military leader, faces a long list of challenges including tepid economic growth, high unemployment and widespread insecurity.

Buhari took six months to swear in a cabinet after the 2015 election - a delay critics contend contributed to the slow response to low oil prices that pushed Nigeria into a recession in 2016.

Reporting by Camillus Eboh and Paul Carsten in Abuja and Libby George in Lagos; Additional reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos; Editing by Peter Graff

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