The Presidency on Sunday clarified that President Muhammadu Buhari had not broken any laws by choosing to hold on to the Minister of Petroleum Resources portfolio.
The president had while granting interview last week during his visit to New York for the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, said he would head the ministry with a minister of state to assist him.
The decision, however, attracted criticisms from some people who have argued that the nation’s constitution forbids a sitting president from holding another public office.
Some industry experts also claim that the position of a minister will divert Buhari’s attention from his presidential duties and make him wield too much power.
But the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in an exclusive interview with the PUNCH yesterday, accused those he described as “briefcase-carrying crooks” as being behind the criticism trailing Buhari’s decision on the matter.
Shehu said because the said crooks were aware that Buhari would not “do deals” with them, they would not want to go down without putting up a fight, hence the criticism.
Shehu noted that those in that category were uncomfortable because President Buhari was bringing integrity into the oil sector which he described as the most rotten in the nation’s economy.
He added that Buhari would also be bringing knowledge to the sector because beside the military, “the oil industry is one other area where the President is very knowledgeable”.
The presidential spokesman said, “The President has a lot of experience to bring to the oil industry. Besides the military, the oil industry is another area where he is knowledgeable.
“Mr. President also has tremendous integrity which he is bringing to the sector which is the most rotten in the nation’s economy.
“The criticisms are coming from deal makers and briefcase-carrying cooks because they know that Buhari is not a deal maker.
“The deal makers are not ready to go down without shouting because they know that their days are over”.
On the claim that it is unconstitutional for a sitting president to hold another public office, Shehu said all the powers of the executive arm of government reside in the president.
However, he said Buhari could only be queried if he decided to encroach into the legislative or judiciary arms of government.
“The President personifies the Executive. The power of the Executive arm resides in him. He can only be queried if he goes beyond the Executive arm and ventures into the Legislature or Judiciary”, Shehu concluded.