Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jonathan dissolves cabinet

President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday dissolved the Federal Executive Council, sacking all the minsters, special advisers and other aides.

The Presidency, in a statement by its Director of Information, Mr. Musa Uduwak, said the tenure of office of the affected officers ended on May 29.

Uduwak added that the dissolution of FEC and other bodies was in accordance with the appointment letters of the affected public officers.

He said Jonathan, while thanking all of them for their patriotism and dedication to duty, wished them well in their future endeavours.

The statement read in part, “In accordance with the appointment letters of members of the Federal Executive Council, Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants, Special Assistants, and other political appointees, their appointments ended on May 29th, 2011.
“This brings to a close the former administration, and marks the beginning of the new one.

“The President thanked all the outgoing ministers, advisers and assistants and other political appointees for their service to the nation.

“He particularly lauded their patriotism and dedication, and wished them God’s blessings in their future endeavours.

”The President called on them to always see themselves as partners in progress with the new administration, stating that the Federal Government would from time to time draw from their repository of knowledge in steering the ship of state.”

Jonathna had after last Wednesday’s FEC meeting directed the ministers to continue in their ministries until new minsters were appointed.

Meanwhile, Jonathan may not appoint ministerial nominees that are associates of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, ex-Delta State Governor James Ibori and a former Finance Minister, Mallam Adamu Ciroma to is his new cabinet.

Investigations on Monday showed that the President had yielded to pressure from the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party and his political associates to distance his government from Abubakar and others who worked against him during the party’s presidential primaries and the April 16 election.

The party, it was learnt, had protested the inclusion of nominees suspected to be loyalists of the three men in the list submitted by some state chapters of the party.

The party based its objection on the alleged frosty relationships between the president, Abubakar, Ibori and Ciroma.

Besides the pressure, it was also learnt that security agencies had expressed concern over the matter and had informed the President accordingly.

In justifying their advice to Jonathan, anti-Atiku elements in the PDP reminded Jonathan of how the former vice-president used his close contacts in the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to obtain sensitive government information.

A minister, who spoke to our correspondent on Monday, on the condition of anonymity, said the President was already considering the matter and might be swayed by the argument against these men’s inclusion.

But he did not give the names of the pro-Abubakar, Ibori and Ciroma acolytes who are among the 270 names compiled by the national secretariat of the PDP.

“The President has been advised to drop any nominee that has close relationship with these people. I think he is favourably disposed to the idea,” he said.

It was learnt that nominees are not on the list submitted by state in the North-East, North-West, South-South, South-West and South-East.

Among the names on the list, said the minister, were those that joined the Abubakar faction of the PDP, when he had a problem with Obasanjo in 2006.

At the peak of the disagreement, Abubakar and some of his loyalists had opened a factional national secretariat of the party at Jabi, Abuja.

However, when security agents descended on the faction, Abubakar and his faction later pitched their tent with the Action Congress, where he contested the Presidency against the candidate of the PDP, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua.

“You know that Atiku and these men are very smart and it will be difficult to take him for granted. This could be the reason why the President is being advised to steer clear of anyone that is very close to him,” the minister added.

Apart from this, some bigwigs in the PDP argue that since these men stayed away from the presidential campaign and even negotiated with opposition political parties, there was no need to offer them appointments.

The minister added, “It will be wrong for them to reap where they did not sow.”

Both Abubakar and former military dictator, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, had negotiated a deal with the leadership of the Action Congress of Nigeria and the Congress for Political Change on how the two parties could foster relationship that would lead to the defeat of Jonathan at the poll.

Though Jonathan later won the election, both men had said they did not regret their actions and were ready to do the same if the opportunity presented itself again.

The source argued that it would be difficult to guarantee the loyalty of people associated with these set of people.

Those suspected to be close to these people include a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, a spouse of a prominent leader of the Northern Peoples Leader Forum, a former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, some nominees from Delta, Yobe and Borno states.

“The advice from the security circles is that people from them could be disloyal, sabotage the regime and even leak sensitive information of government,” the minister added.

Apparently influenced by media and public criticism of the quality of many of the nominees submitted by many state chapters of the PDP, Jonathan had last week scoffed at those lobbying for ministerial appointments.

He said that about 90 per cent of them were not fit to be ministers.

According to the president, they are lobbying for such positions for the interest of their children, inlaws and friends.

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