The assignment of portfolios to 36 ministers on Wednesday by President Muhammadu Buhari seems not have gone down well with opinion leaders and socio-political associations in the South- East, who have accused the president of deliberately denying the Igbo of “juicy” ministries.
They described the portfolios assigned to Igbo ministers as “disappointing”.
Of the 36 ministers sworn-in on Wednesday, the South-East got four cabinet positions and one non-cabinet position. They are Chris Ngige (Minister of Labour and Employment), Okechukwu Enelamah (Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment), Ogbonnaya Onu (Minister of Science and Technology), Geoffrey Onyeama (Minister of Foreign Affairs) and Anthony Onwuka (Minister of State, Education).
According to leaders of the foremost Igbo socio-political body, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and Njiko Igbo, another prominent pan-Igbo association, Igbo sons such as Ngige and Onu deserved “more influential” ministries than the portfolios they were assigned by President Buhari.
President of Ohanaeze Youth Wing, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, who did not mince words while reacting to the portfolios, said “We are disappointed that somebody of the calibre of Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu was assigned to Science and Technology ministry, even Dr. Chris Ngige should have been appointed as the Health Minister instead of Labour and Productivity.
“Okechukwu Enalama should have been appointed Minister of Finance.
“Igbo ministers did not get juicy portfolios, except perhaps Ibe Kachikwu and Rotimi Amaechi, who are our brothers from the South-South.
“We are not happy that we did not get the juicy portfolios, although we are happy that our brothers from the Niger Delta got.
“Nevertheless, the era of impunity has gone and we expect all the Igbo ministers to perform excellently.
“We expect them to close ranks and work towards developing Igboland”.
Speaking in the same vein, President of Njiko Igbo, Reverend Okechukwu Obioha, said President Buhari relegated Igbo ministers to the background in his cabinet even as he admitted that the association was not surprised.
He said, “They are adding more salt to the injury, we expected that. We can see that we (Igbo) are not wanted in this country. At the moment, the sharing of the national cake is between the North and the South-West.
“What will Ngige be doing as Labour and Productivity minister when the Federal Government is not employing anyone, or creating jobs?”
According to Obioha, the appointment of an Igbo son as Foreign Affairs Minister is meaningless because the president has traveled to most of the countries since assuming office in May and will continue to do so.
“He has travelled in six months more than the immediate past president travelled in six years.
“So the Foreign Affairs minister will just be a rubber stamp”, he said.
The Njiko Igbo leader was even less than charitable when he pointed out that “Buhari has taken the Ministry of Petroleum Resources for himself, making an Igboman the Minister of State.
“So, he (Buhari) has virtually given the Igbo nothing”.
Rev. Obioha maintained that it is this type of brazen marginalization of the Igbos under the present administration that will lead to more agitation for Biafra.