Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why I will maintain large cabinet – Jonathan

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, gave reasons why he can not reduce the size of the next Federal cabinet below 36 ministers, saying that he was under legal obligation to appoint a minister from each state of the federation.

The President told the Presidential Advisory Council, PAC, led by Gen. TY Danjuma, that though the cabinet has 43 ministers currently, he lacks the legal powers to prune it beyond 36 ministers.
Speaking while winding down the existence of the Danjuma 26-man advisory group which he constituted in March last year, President Jonathan said the federal cabinet was large due to the constitutional provision which stipulates that each state of the country must produce a minister.

He said: “Your suggestion for a smaller cabinet is excellent and I agree with you, but this cannot be achieved without constitutional amendment.”

Earlier, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, Chairman of the PAC, said they were privileged to have been selected to proffer advise to the new administration of President Jonathan, adding that all members had contributed immensely to the Committee’s work.

He advised the President to apply the same diligence he applied in selecting the PAC to the appointment of his new cabinet from among the abundant qualified Nigerians willing to serve the country, and expressed the Committee’s appreciation for the opportunity to serve Nigeria.

Meanwhile, as the scramble by various political interest groups for ministerial slots into President Goodluck Jonathan’s new cabinet peaked, the President-elect, yesterday, vowed that only those with the required competence would make his new cabinet.

This  came on the heels of expectation that President Jonathan will, next Wednesday, dissolve the Federal Executive Council, FEC, ahead of the May 29, 2011 inauguration of the new government even as he explained why he would maintain large cabinet.

Jonathan appointed the present 43-member council in April 2010, following his dissolution of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s cabinet.

A minister who is confident of a return to the cabinet, confided in Vanguard that “ministers who had outstanding memos were advised to bring them to FEC today (yesterday) to enable the Council approve urgent projects before its dissolution.

“It is customary that the cabinet is dissolved before the end of every administration and I can confidently tell you that the valedictory session for this council will be next Wednesday.”

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