ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has submitted the names of two ministerial nominees to the Senate, the upper house said on Wednesday, moving to reassert his authority after returning from seven weeks of medical leave.
Buhari nominated Stephen Ocheni, of Kogi state and Suleiman Hassan from Gombe state, to fill the vacant labor and environment ministries, said the Senate on its official Twitter account.
They were the first major political appointments since the ailing president returned from Britain on March 10 following medical leave for an unspecified illness. Since then, he has worked only a handful of hours each day.
Nigerian law makes it mandatory for a minister to be appointed from each of the country’s 36 states.
The role of minister of environment was left open earlier this year after Amina Mohammed, from Gombe, became the United Nations’ deputy secretary-general.
The former minister of labor – James Ocholi, from Kogi – died in a car crash a year ago and the position has since remained vacant.
The nominees will be vetted by the Senate and, if confirmed, their names will be returned to Buhari for ministerial roles to be formally assigned to them.
(Reporting by Paul Carsten, Alexis Akwagyiram; Additional reporting by Camillus Eboh; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)