By Yusuf Alli:

A crucial meeting was on last night at the Presidential Villa, Abuja over the allocation of portfolios to ministers.

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan was presiding at the meeting, which was still on at 11p.m.

The ministers-designate yesterday launched a battle for what they consider juicy portfolios.

Their godfathers are involved in the race.

It was not immediately clear last night when the ministers would take the oath of office.

A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is under intense pressure on portfolios and he has been consulting stakeholders.

“Most states want to retain their previous portfolios but their demand is unrealistic because some of the new nominees do not hold the same qualifications as their predecessors.

“For instance, the Health ministry cannot be managed by any of the new nominees from Ogun State because they are not medical doctors.

“So, a little bit of politics, ethnic balancing and geo-political consideration are going into the assignment of portfolios.

“I am quite sure that the consultations will go far into the night because of vested interests. Godfathers have been strolling in and out of the Presidential Villa.

“In fact, the performance of some nominees during the screening at the Senate appears to be changing the portfolio plans of the Acting President.

“But I know that before the inauguration, the consultations would have been concluded.”

A likely picture of who goes where emerged last night. But, it was clear nothing was sacrosant.

Chris Ogiemwonyi is favoured to get the Petroleum Resources. Prof. Dora Akunyili is tipped for Health. Godsday Orubebe may go to Niger Delta Affairs; Josephine Anenih is favoured to pick Women Affairs; Murtala Yar’Adua may get Agriculture and Water Resources and Olusegun Aganga is likely to get Finance.

Odein Ajumogobia may get Power; Remi Babalola is likely to go to Aviation; Dr. Shamsudeen Usman may return to National Planning; Bala Mohammed may be considered for Aviation; Navy Capt Caleb Olubolade is favoured for Works; Prof. Ruqaya Rubia Rufai is being considered for Education and Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke, may go to Transport.

Responding to a question, the source added: “Most of the stakeholders wanted Prince Adetokunbo Kayode(SAN) retained as Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice instead of Mohammed Bello Adoke(SAN) recommended by a former Chief Justice of Nigeria.

As at press time, it was learnt that Jonathan was still shopping for four ministerial materials.

Of the initially remaining nine cabinet slots, the Acting President filled five on Monday in a letter to the Senate.

The four vacancies yet to be filled are Ebonyi; Taraba; North-East and South-South.

A source said: “We still have four vacancies to be filled, including representatives of two geo-political regions.

“There are strong indications that a former Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Azazi Owoye, might be brought into the cabinet from the South-South to manage the Defence Ministry. But I think the man is not keen on being in the cabinet.”

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