The lobbying for various political positions into the Federal Executive Council, FEC, in the country began before the February 23 general elections. Canvassers for appointable positions went for merchandising. They had donated money to political parties and the political office seekers; some had donated their houses as campaign offices and spent time to woo electorate for the electoral success of their principals.
Though most lobbyists used their countable votes from their polling units, financial and intrinsic contributions as scorecard to press home for positions, a few depended on their social and otherwise connections/networks to secure political appointments.
To this class belongs Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, the immediate past Minister of Budget and National Planning. Of recent, the social and mainstream mass media were awash with persons tipped for ministerial appointment. Yet, the name of Udoma Udoma was conspicuously missing in the list flown as a kite.
However, a close source to the minister told Straightnews that “He is still interested in the office. He did not lobby for the first appointment, yet he was found fit. He was not a member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, but President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as a member of the dissolved FEC.”
Last week, Udoma was reported to have organized a get-together party for his friends and associates across Nigeria. Nsima Ekere, the APC governorship candidate for Akwa Ibom, was among the personalities during the party.
This party was seen as a thank-you one and also a circuitous solicitation from the people to rally support for him in event of his re-appointment into the ministerial position.
Another person confided in the online newspaper that “Udoma can spring a surprise. He is a favourite for the position as along as Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to President Buhari, remains his bosom friend, business associate and classmate.
“Udoma and Kyari are alumni of prestigious British institutions. They attended Oxford and Cambridge University respectively graduating with degrees in Law.Their mutually beneficial relationships in Corporate Nigeria spanning Oil & Gas, Insurance, Banking, Securities and Investment continue to blossom the relationship.
“Senator Udoma in 2010 while serving as Chairman of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was accused of conflict of interest for maintaining his position on the Board of UAC Big PLC and Linkage Assurance PLC, both publicly quoted companies on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) for which SEC has oversight as regulator. His response was to excuse himself whenever matters pertaining to those companies were to be discussed.
Abba Kyari has also served on the board of Unilever Nigeria Plc, a grade A UK affiliated company. Both have had great stake in the United Bank for Africa PLC, especially before the takeover of the bank by the Standard Trust Bank group. While Abba Kyari served UBA as Managing Director, the Legal works were under the general counsel of Udoma & Bello Osagie Legal Practitioners,” the insider recounted.
A political pundit reasoned “With this kind of background, it is fool hardy for many Akwa Ibom gladiators seeking for ministerial position to believe their smear campaign against one another will profit any of them.
“Rather, they should be advocating and praying that the President increases the size of his cabinet to include one zonal representative thereby having a 42-member FEC. Since Udoma is known not to be profitable to the local politics of APC Akwa Ibom, the appointment of the party’s standard bearer in the last governorship election may assuage the feelings of party’s loyalists,” the pundit added.
Another analyst argued “Since both Sen. Udoma and His Excellency, Obong Nsima Ekere hail from the same local government area, it may be expedient to look elsewhere in the state, may be Senator John James Akpan Udoedehe or Senator Godswill Akpabio.”