By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi:

* Jonathan, Senate Leaders In Crucial Meeting

Seven old Ministers are on the cusp of returning to the federal cabinet, but there is no show for famous names, such as Rilwan Lukman, Dora Akunyili, Michael Anodoakaa, Usman Muhtar, and Remi Babalola.

A source said Akunyili “is being considered for a higher job, either as Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, to replace Maurice Iwu, or as the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in place of Ernest Ndukwe who retires next month.

“If all that fails, she may represent Nigeria at the United Nations.”

What becomes of other old Ministers is not clear.

What is known, however, is that some of the returnees picked by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan were once sacked by President Umaru Yar’Adua.

Senate President, David Mark, on Tuesday received the list of 25 nominees Jonathan wants on the new Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF).

Jonathan requested that the EXCOF he dissolved on March 17 should be reconstituted with seven old hands: Fidelia Njeze (Enugu State), Akinlabi Olasunkanmi (Osun), Adetokunbo Kayode (Ondo),  Diezani Allison-Madueke (Bayelsa), Godsday Orubebe (Delta), Odein Ajumogobia (Rivers), and Nuhu Wya (Kaduna).

The 18 freshers include former Women Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Josephine Anenih (Anambra); Vice Chancellor of the Kebbi State University, M. K. Abubakar; and former Bayelsa State Military Administrator, N.S. Olubolade (Ekiti).

Former Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group Executive Director, Chris Ogeimwonyi (Edo); Josephine Tapgun (Plateau); Bello Adoke; Adamu Mina Waziri (Yobe); Chukwuemeka Wogu (Abia); and Suleiman Bello.

Labaran Maku (Nasarawa), Umaru Aliyu (Taraba), Ndanusa Alao (Kogi), Murtala Yar’Adua (Katsina), Nduese Essien (Akwa Ibom), Abubakar Sadiq Mohammed (Gombe), and Olusegun Olutoyin Aganga (Lagos).

Murtala Yar’Adua is the son of the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, the brother of the President.

Aganga, Managing Director of Goldman Sachs, is tipped as Finance Minister in place of Mansur Muhtar.

It is a straight fight between Ajumogobia and Ogiemwoyi for the Petroleum Ministry. Orubebe is penciled down as Niger Delta Minister.

National Interest Group (NIG) Chairman, Senator Bala Mohammed (Bauchi), is also on the list, as well as former Senator Sanusi Daggash (Borno), who was National Planning Minister until he was dropped by Yar’Adua in the first cabinet reshuffle in 2008.

Jonathan and the Senate leadership were on Tuesday locked in a crunch meeting over the potential new Ministers and the confirmation process in the Upper Chamber.

The cabal loyal to Yar’Adua had met last weekend with some Senators sympathetic to their cause to “stall the process.”

The Senate leadership was originally to meet with Jonathan by Tuesday night, but after receiving the Ministerial list in his office, Mark dashed off to the Villa for a private parely with him.

Then the expanded meeting was supposed to hold on Tuesday night.

National Assembly (NASS) sources said Jonathan would meet with the lawmakers in the Apo Mansion residence of Mark, instead of Aso Rock as initially planned.

A source privy to the talks said it “is possible that the Ministerial list will change.”

Although the Tuesday meeting was organised as a dinner, the source added, it was to hone the strategy the Senate leadership would deploy to checkmate any opposition to the screening and confirmation of the Ministers.

“Even though Jonathan has forwarded the list, intense lobbying is still on-going.  Some of the nominees would likely be dropped once the Senate commence the screening process.”

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