Why Buhari Dropped Musa Ibeto As Ministerial Nominee

President Muhammadu Buhari may have dropped a ministerial nominee, Musa Ibeto, to avert a political crisis in Niger State. Ibeto is the state’s immediate past deputy governor.
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President Muhammadu Buhari may have dropped a ministerial nominee, Musa Ibeto, to avert a political crisis in Niger State. Ibeto is the state’s immediate past deputy governor.

Buhari’s nomination of Ibeto was said to have altered the state’s power zoning formula.

Although Ibeto had undergone security checks, his nomination was said to have unsettled Governor Abubakar Bello.

A highly-placed source, who spoke with newsmen, said the President dropped him after much pressure. Ibeto defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressives Congress (APC) on the eve of last elections.

The president has replaced him with Abubakar Bwari Bawa.

The source said: “The dropping of Ibeto had nothing to do with fraud. His nomination distorted the mutual power rotation formula in Niger State and it was causing political tension.

“The President was faced with the options of either putting the state in perpetual crisis or sacrificing Ibeto who contributed much to his victory. Ibeto did not only shelve his governorship ambition, he made sure he delivered the state to APC. Buhari recognised his personal hard work and sacrifice.

“The elders of Niger State, including top military elites, mounted pressure on Buhari to avert threats to the peaceful coexistence of the people of the state.”

Giving insights into the power rotation formula, the source added: “We have three zones (A, B, C) in the state and since 1999, all these zones have been mutually sharing power. This agreement made the people to consent to power shift to Zone C which led to the emergence of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello and his deputy from Zone A.

“Unaware of the zoning principle, President Buhari nominated Ibeto as a minister from Zone C where the governor hails from.

“The expectation of the people of the state was that the ministerial nominee will come from Zone B which has not got any high-level political appointment.

“Following pressure from political leaders, especially the military elite, Buhari was persuaded to ensure equity and fairness. The President bowed to pressure and appointed a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Bwari, from Zone B.”

Another source said it was the second time the state was confronted with a similar challenge.

“Before Buhari’s difficult decision, Governor Bello had been attacked by many for not keeping faith with the power formula.

“This made his father-in-law, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, his father, Col. Sani Bello (who is a close friend of Buhari) and others to intervene. Eventually, Hon. Bwari, a godson of ex-President Ibrahim Babangida, got the slot to replace Ibeto.”

The source said: “When ex-Governor Babangida Aliyu (Zone B) was in power, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan had attempted to appoint ex-Deputy Governor Nuhu Zagbayi (Zone B) as the minister from Niger State but the elders in the state resisted it because any alteration of the power rotation formula can cause crisis.

The source said between 1999 and 2007, the governor (Abdulkadir Kure) came from Zone A, Deputy Governor, Nuhu Zagbayi (Zone B) and the Minister, Mustafa Bello (Zone C).

He said between 2007 and 2015, the power sharing was: Governor Babangida Aliyu (Zone B), Deputy Governor Musa Ibeto(Zone C) and Ministers (Sani Ndanusa, Zainab Kuchi, Asabe Ahmed) from Zone A.

The source said: “Definitely, Ibeto will bounce back for sacrificing his ministerial slot for the peace and unity of the state.”

Another source added: “The governor became a subject of blackmail. Critics had pointed out that, although he is from Niger North, he has picked his SSG from Niger North. If the minister is also from Niger North, it means that the zone has monopolised key state and federal appointments. Therefore, it was with pain that the governor accepted to complain to the President about Ibeto’s nomination on behalf of stakeholders.

“One fact that emerged when people started the protest was that the President did not carry anybody along during the nomination. It is his prerogative and it was clear that Ibeto was not imposed on him too. He picked him because of his experience, role and contributions to the success of the APC during the general elections.”

According to the source, the stakeholders believe that Ibeto should have disqualified himself, following the nomination, because he is very conversant with the formula for the distribution of appointments in the state.

He went on: “ The unwritten arrangement is sacrosanct. It is not a tradition that cannot be violated as people will always protest. We heard that the withdrawal of his name from the list was politely convened to him as a faithful party chieftain and eminent Nigerian. The President, we also learnt, did it with reluctance. In fact, some of our leaders said that, immediately, Ibeto was penciled down for a ambassadorial appointment, but he immediately declined it, saying that he is not disposed to leaving the country. But, we also know that, if any big appointment is coming to the state again, apart from the ministerial appointment, Ibeto will be a candidate.”

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