by Niyi Odebode and Fidelis Soriwei
Fears have gripped ministers over President Goodluck Jonathan’s plan to reshuffle his cabinet and drop three members of the Federal Executive Council.
SUNDAY PUNCH’s investigations in Abuja showed that the ministers and some chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party have been pressurising the president since they got the information about the planned cabinet reshuffle.
It was gathered that ministers, who are afraid of losing their positions, have been appealing to Jonathan to shelve his plan until May 29 when his administration would clock one year.
A source in the presidency told our correspondent that the ministers, who were imploring Jonathan to shelve his plan, said they should be given more time because they had not spent a year in office.
Although Jonathan was sworn in as president on May 29, 2011, he did not send his ministerial list to the Senate until June 27, 2011.
“Since the ministers got the information that the president would reshuffle the cabinet, many of them have become jittery.
“They want him to shelve the plan for now because most of them are just getting used to their ministries. They are saying that the 2012 budget, which has not been passed by the National Assembly, should form the basis for measuring their performance,” the source who craved anonymity said.
Our correspondents learnt that Jonathan was eager to fire some ministers because he was not comfortable with criticisms that some of them had been receiving.
The United action for Democracy had on March 8 called for the immediate resignation or removal of the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala; the Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke; and the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, for their roles in January’s fuel subsidy debacle.
Also, during the House of Representatives ad hoc committee’s probe of fuel subsidy, 10 civil society groups had called for the sacking of the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
It was gathered that those who were pushing for Alison-Madueke’s removal cited findings by the House committee, which probed fuel subsidy.
“Although the committee has not submitted its report, corruption in the petroleum ministry and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has been brought to light.
“For instance, fuel importers increased from 49 in 2010 to 140 in 2011. Although the country consumed 35 million barrels of oil per day, the country imported 59 million barrels. 24 million barrels were diverted out of the country after importers had collected subsidies on them,” the source said.
The source added that those pressurising the president to remove the minister, also urged him to get rid of the present management teams of the NNPC and other agencies in the petroleum ministry as part of efforts to restore people’s confidence in his government.
But investigations showed that pro-Allison-Madueke elements argued that the minister should be given more time, adding that the president should allow the House committee to submit its report before taking any action.
According to them, many of the problems identified by various probes are systemic.
The PUNCH had on Monday reported that the president would carry out a cabinet reshuffle as part of measures to reposition his administration and achieve its transformation agenda.
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