From George Orji:

• Nominees to face Senate screening on Thursday

The federal cabinet may roar back to life this week as Acting President Goodluck Jonathan is set to retain 21 of the 42 ministers relieved of their jobs last week following the dissolution of the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF).

THISDAY learnt the list of the 21 nominees to be retained will be forwarded to the Senate anytime from now for confirmation.
The upper legislative chamber may screen the nominees by Thursday, it was further learnt.

Among those to return are former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Odein Ajumogobia; former Attorney-General of the Federation and Justice Minister Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN); Chief Ojo Maduekwe who took charge of Foreign Affairs in the dissolved cabinet; Prof. Dora Akunyili who earlier manned the Information Ministry; and Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke who was in the Ministry of Solid Minerals.

Others are former Minister of Finance Mansur Muhtar; and his former Minister of State Remi Babalola; former Minister of Sports and Chairman, National Sports Commission (NSC) Sani Ndanusa; Godsday Orubebe formerly Minister of State for Niger Delta; and Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin who was Minister of Health in the dissolved cabinet.
Allison-Madueke and Orubebe are said to be the only nominees of Jonathan in the dissolved cabinet of ailing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

Some of the retained ministers may retain their portfolios in the dissolved cabinet while others may take on new assignments.
The former ministers are facing fresh screening because the blanket dissolution of the EXCOF meant that all the nominees are to begin afresh.

THISDAY checks revealed that among those that may not return are Dr. Sayyadi Abba Ruma, who was Minister of Agriculture; former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Senator Adamu Aliero; former Minister of Power Lanre Babalola; and Hajiya Aishatu Dukku who was Minister of State for Education.

The ministerial nominees will be in batches with the first batch being that of the 21 nominees from the dissolved cabinet.
THISDAY learnt that the acting president is in consultation with political stakeholders and will soon forward the list of the remaining prospective ministers to the Senate.
Jonathan had surprisingly dissolved the entire cabinet last Wednesday in a bid to rejuvenate the EXCOF, which had been badly divided.

The newspaper had exclusively reported that at least five ministries which are key to the focus of the acting president might be manned by new persons.

Among ministers in the dissolved cabinet who may not return are those of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman; Works, Dr. Hassan Lawal; Chief Ufot Ekaette who was minister of Niger Delta and Ruma.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria First Forum (NFF), a pressure group in the House of Representatives, has dismissed the threats by some critics and interest groups to challenge the dissolution of EXCOF by the acting president, describing the criticisms as coming from the camp of retrogressive elements who want the country to remain at standstill.

A member of the Board of Trustees of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, had described the dissolution of the federal cabinet as an illegal action that has neither a bearing with the 1999 Constitution nor the backing of any subsisting pronouncement of a court of law.

Yakassai had in the wake of the dissolution of the cabinet last Wednesday said the action was arbitrary and unlawful, “taken on the basis of a pertinently illegal resolution passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly that conferred on him the title of acting president”.

But spokesman of the NFF, Hon. Dino Melaye, dismissed the argument of Yakassai as “the handiwork of a commercialised mind with ulterior motives”.

Melaye lamented that at this time in the nation’s history when all hands ought to be on deck to steer the ship of state out of troubled waters, some elements in the society still want to create unnecessary divisions in the polity.
He said Yakassai must be living in the past for him to describe the resolution of the Senate and House which brought to an end the power vacuum saga as illegal.

“It is obvious that he (Yakassai) is talking his age and living in the past era. For everyone that wishes Nigeria well, the resolution by both chambers of the National Assembly was a political solution that averted a national disaster and for him to describe that resolution in such a malicious manner is an indication that he harbours some ulterior motives which cannot be in the best interest of this country.

“We, as a group, declare our unparallel support for Acting President Goodluck Jonathan in his current efforts to stabilise the country through constitutional means and we will not relent in our support until the struggle to build a new Nigeria where justice, equity and egalitarianism becomes the order of the day. It is a battle of no retreat, no surrender,” he said.

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