What has played out in the sharing of portfolios today is a game of political musical chairs, with some chairs more comfortable, rewarding and instrumental towards the 2023 calculations than others. For example: the ‘finance chair’ comes with power and control, while ‘youth and sports’ gets you box seats at football matches.


Today’s swearing-in of ministers and the allocation of portfolios to them have been met predictably with indifference by a hard-pressed audience of Nigerians. This is understandable, as in the local pathos, “which one concern agbero with the overload of vehicle?”

For those of us students of politics, we care about the health of the bus and its destination. In the political musical chairs of 2023 politics, we read the political tea leaves to see who is winning, who is losing, and what it means for the country, going forward. Ministers are big cheeses; its just that some cheeses are sweeter and more prized than others. In an ideal world, ministers are supposed to have relevant experience and must be good administrators, but patronage is more important than sense in politics. In the game of politics, a ministerial position is the goal of many politicians with high ambitions. It is a way for a president to reward his team and stamp their mark on the political landscape.

Why can’t Buhari separate the conjoined offices of attorney general and minister of justice? For a country of almost 200 million people, what is the sense in doing the same thing, while expecting a different result? Why are our leaders manipulating our destinies with this endemic and profound lack of thought? Given all the turmoil on ground, it would have been better to have the attorney general responsible for providing legal advice to the executive branch of government and representing the government in all legal proceedings. The attorney general should be able to act in a completely independently manner in the public interest, and without being partisan. The attorney general ought to be the “defender of the Rule of Law”. We need a justice minister who is put in charge of constitutional reforms, prisons reforms and the extension of civil rights and social justice. Festus Keyamo would have been good for such a role. Must Nigeria always copy America verbatim? America has already settled the key issues of nationhood. It only needs amendments and supreme court clarifications. Nigeria has not resolved the issues of its nationalities. Nigeria still remains a dysfunctional and uncompetitive state.

On a dreary day, Buhari never ceases to (inadvertently?) pull a rabbit out of the magicians hat. Give it to the Ol’ boy, Mr. President actually has a whacky sense of the ridiculous. Political nuggets indicate sops in the political calculations towards the magical year 2023.


Few things can be more amusing and reinforcing than the bizarre creation of a minister of special duties, while the president has confirmed Abba Kyari as the de facto prime minister. Ignore the irony at your peril. This is a clever throwback to the colonial era of ministers without portfolios. It brings back the words of Karl Marx in his book, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, “And so it is that we must look at history, men and women are placed within contexts and in situations they will neither have asked for nor wanted, and they have only a limited amount of time upon which to impart their own exigencies. In the meantime, the traditions, the mores of the generations dead, they weigh like a nightmare upon the souls of the living “. In the same vein, the absurdity of the president as minister of petroleum takes us back. How can he supervise a strategic ministry? Obasanjo started this vainglorious nonsense, isn’t it time to discard it?

On a dreary day, Buhari never ceases to (inadvertently?) pull a rabbit out of the magicians hat. Give it to the Ol’ boy, Mr. President actually has a whacky sense of the ridiculous. Political nuggets indicate sops in the political calculations towards the magical year 2023. Key for the Tinubu presidential ambition and its calculus, is Aregbesola being the minister of a weakened Internal Affairs, rather than of a strategic, capital votes laden Ministry of Works, or getting crowned as an infrastructure Czar. This third of a loaf saves the former governor of the State of Oṣun from going into the political cooler but it isn’t half a bread for Tinubu. Kindly make of this what you will.

Buhari, with his characteristic insolence, has retained an ill-suited attorney general and an out-of-depth finance minister. For the precarious situation that Nigeria is in, a developmental orientation laced with managerial savvy is what is needed to pull the fiscal levers.


If Buhari had any intent of running a serious process, the much needed Clinton/Blair Public Sector Targets would have been attached to the musical chairs portfolios. Buhari, with his characteristic insolence, has retained an ill-suited attorney general and an out-of-depth finance minister. For the precarious situation that Nigeria is in, a developmental orientation laced with managerial savvy is what is needed to pull the fiscal levers. A look at the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank headed by a duplicitous opportunist, signals more of the same – economic rudderlessness. In view of the turbulence in the world’s economy, with countries like Brazil slipping into or attempting to avoid recession, the characteristic “I don’t give a Damn” attitude is writ large. A pathetic reminder of his underachievement. Nigerians should fasten their seatbelts.

What has played out in the sharing of portfolios today is a game of political musical chairs, with some chairs more comfortable, rewarding and instrumental towards the 2023 calculations than others. For example: the ‘finance chair’ comes with power and control, while ‘youth and sports’ gets you box seats at football matches. Buhari is playing the piper, while politicians are running around, jostling for seats, elbowing each other and with their ears stretched whilst waiting for the music to stop. In this game, who sits where matters. I love this game!

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo

Picture credit: State House, Abuja.