By Sola Adebayo:
Our correspondent learnt of this shortly after the Leader of the Niger Delta Leaders, Elders and Stakeholders Forum, Chief Edwin Clark advised Acting President Goodluck Jonathan not to be stampeded by the Nigerian Governors Forum and political godfathers in the appointment of new ministers.
Five former ministers, who supervised the five committees raised by the Federal Government to ensure the success of the post-amnesty initiatives were affected by the sacking of FEC by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday.
The five former ministers are Maj.-Gen. Godwin Abbe (rtd.); Chief Ufot Ekaette; Dr. Rilwan Lukman; Mr. Odein Ajumogobia; and Mr. John Odey.
Abbe, a former Minister of Defence, led the Presidential Sub-Committee on Disarmament, Rehabilitation and Re-integration of the Repentant Militants; while the Presidential Sub-Committee on Environmental Remediation was headed by Odey; the Presidential Sub-Committee on Infrastructural Development, by Ekaette; Presidential Sub-Committee on Oil and Gas Assets headed by Lukman; and Presidential Sub-Committee on Community Participation in Oil and Gas Sectors led by Ajumogobia.
A source in Presidency said on Sunday that the absence of ministers had created a vacuum in the committees and in the implementation of the programmes.
He said the postponement of the training of the 20,192 ex-militants at three rehabilitation centres in Delta and Rivers State, hitherto scheduled for March 28, was an instance that the implementation of the post-amnesty programmes had begun to suffer a setback.
Abbe, in a telephone interview with our correspondent on March 14 had said that the Acting President had made N8bn available to the committee as part of the funds for the training.
Our source in the Presidency also confirmed on Sunday that the Federal Government would soon dissolve the committees to pave the way for the transfer of their functions to the Presidency.
The source said Jonathan had made up his mind to allow the Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta, Mr. Timi Alaibe, to handle the entire post-amnesty processes in the troubled region.
The source said, “The post-amnesty programmes of the Federal Government in the Niger Delta had been stood down following the dissolution of FEC on Wednesday.
“As you are aware, ministers were appointed to drive the post-amnesty activities and their sacking had created leadership vacuum in the various committees.
“Already, the March 28 projected by Maj.-Gen. Abbe for the commencement of the training of ex-militants had been called-off following the dissolution of FEC.
“The committees will be formally dissolved by the Acting President, who will also ask Mr. Alaibe to take over the entire post-amnesty processes in the region.
“Pending when the Acting President would act in that regard, all the activities of the post-amnesty committees have been suspended. The Presidential Adviser on Niger Delta (Alaibe) will workout the new masterplan and come up with the programmes that can be implemented as fast as he can as soon as he settles down for business.”
A member of the hitherto Abbe-led committee, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, said on Sunday that the dissolution of FEC was a setback to the post-amnesty programmes.
Kuku, in a telephone said that March 28 date for the commencement of the training of the former militants was no longer realistic.
He said, “It is obvious that the March 28 date for the call up of our fighters to the camps is not visible and realisable. The Acting President has his plans to drive the post-amnesty programmes and everybody is waiting for directives from him on the way forward.”
Meanwhile, the leader of the NDLESF, Chief Clark has urged the Acting President to shun narrow partisan interests in the re-constitution of FEC.
Specifically, he said that Jonathan should spurn the inputs of governors, political godfathers and other interest groups because they could be at variance with his vision to move the country forward.
Clark said, “The Acting President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, should appoint the best people to work with him. Nobody should interfere in his judgement and those to serve as ministers should be qualified, credible and upright Nigerians.
“He (Jonathan) should appoint technocrats, who can effectively perform as ministers and not mainly politicians. He should move away from unnecessary party patronage. Narrow partisan interest should not be a decisive factor. Godfatherism should be disregarded.
“There is no harm in people consulting with him but their inputs should not be mandatory. He can consult with everybody, including the Governors’ Forum and everybody has the right to advise him but it is left for the Acting President to do the right thing. The Acting President should take only the advice that is good for the country.”
Apparently referring to the recent posture of the NGF, Clark added, “No group should arrogate special power or influence to itself and no group should wield any unconstitutional power.
“The question we should ask is whether the role being played today by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum was the same when the body was under the leadership of former Governor Adamu (Abdulahi) of Nassarawa State, former Governor Obong Attah of Akwa Ibom State and former Governor Lucky Igbinedion of Edo State?
“With that background, we should be able to assess the interest and the activities of the NGF under its present leadership.”
“The Acting President should be allowed to use his intelligence in the discharge of his duties and FEC should not be dominated by a particular interest group, the positions should go round. Key positions should not be held by a particular group.”
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