President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday handed out jobs to his new cabinet, insisting the government was able to meet Nigeria’s challenges despite criticism that his lineup favoured ageing loyalists.
The former military ruler faces a raft of problems for his second term in office.
They range from curbing a grinding Islamist insurgency and spreading insecurity to fighting rampant corruption and bolstering a fragile economic recovery.
The 43-member cabinet was inaugurated at a ceremony in the presidential villa in Abuja almost three months after Buhari was sworn in for his final four years in power.
“Our nation continues to face tough challenges and we are prepared to meet them,” he told ministers at the televised swearing-in event.
Buhari maintained key ministers in departments including finance, foreign affairs, transport and education and opted to keep the crucial petroleum portfolio under his control.
Critics blasted him for packing his new cabinet with veterans from his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party instead of opting for more technocrats, youth or women.
There are only seven women in the new government, and the two youngest ministers are aged in their mid-40s.
Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed, who held onto her position, told AFP that bolstering much-needed income would be a key focus.
“The whole of government will be geared towards improving our revenue,” she said.
Among other key players to stay in place were former Lagos governor Babatunde Fashola on the works and housing briefs, Rotimi Amaechi at transport and Geoffrey Onyeama as foreign minister.
Timipre Sylva, former governor of oil-rich Bayelsa state, became the junior petroleum minister under the supervision of Buhari as the president followed his predecessors over the past two decades and kept control of the vital sector.
Rauf Aregbesola, a new appointee, was named interior minister and Bashir Magashi took over at defence.
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