• Jonathan, Abba-Aji in crucial meeting •New ministers to emerge next week
A big battle has erupted between governors in some states of the federation and the senators representing those states, over who should produce the next set of ministers by the different groups.
This is just as the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Alhaji Mohammed Abba-Aji, held a meeting with Acting President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday.
Sources informed the Nigerian Tribune that following the dissolution of the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF) on Wednesday, some senators and those known in the states as Abuja politicians have started making representations to the presidency on the likely candidates for ministerial slots from the states.
Sources said that some governors who got wind of the moves by some senators and other Abuja-based politicians concerning the ministerial nominees immediately took offence and threatened to deal with any of them who attempted to undermine them in the process of appointment of the new ministers.
Said a source: “Some of the governors who got wind of movements in Abuja have warned their senators and other members of the National Assembly to steer clear of the process.
“They have warned that the senators also have a duty to support the next ministerial nominees or risk their second term tickets.”
The source said that states where the battle between the governors and the National Assembly members had been intense included Katsina, Kogi, Delta and Bayelsa.
“The governors have warned that should we oppose the ministerial nominees, we would risk our second term tickets. And that we should not obstruct them in the process of appointment.
“They have said that we could have a free ride in obstructing the nominees but that we should ready for the consequences, when we come for second term tickets,” a source said in Abuja.
It was gathered that in Katsina, a battle had erupted between loyalists of ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua and the incumbent governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema.
It was gathered that forces loyal to the governor had proposed the appointment of former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Aminu Bello Masari, as the new minister from the state.
It was also gathered that the battle for the ministerial slot had erupted in Kogi, with the governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, and some people of Kogi West said to be at loggerheads.
It was gathered that the governor was insisting that Kogi East should produce the next minister, while the indications had emerged that some people from Kogi West and Central opposed the proposal.
It was also gathered that senators from Bayelsa State were also at loggerheads with the governor over the new minister.
Bayelsa State governor, Mr. Timipre Silva, is said to be opposed to National Assembly members from the state as well as loyalists of Acting President Goodluck Jonathan.
The governor is seen by loyalists of the acting president as an antagonist and there is no love lost between the two camps.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that the names of the new set of ministers would be sent to the Senate next week.
It was gathered that the list would arrive in the Senate in two batches and that the names of returning ministers would largely make the first list.
Jonathan cancels tours
Less than 24 hours after sacking the cabinet, Acting President Jonathan did not attend two major state assignments he was scheduled for on Thursday.
The acting president was supposed to be in Kogi State on Thursday but did not make the trip, as he stayed put in his office attending to other state functions.
Also, his scheduled trip to Angola was cancelled at the last minute and all those who were billed to travel with him were called on Wednesday night and told to forget about the trip that was to have been on Friday.
Though no official reason was given for the cancellations, sources at the Presidential Villa hinted that the acting president wanted to sit back to handle the outcome of the cabinet sack.
In another but related development, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, said, on Thursday, that the PDP was carried along by the acting president in the dissolution of the federal cabinet, which was announced on Wednesday.
Speaking with State House reporters, Ogbulafor, who came to brief Jonathan on party matters, also advised the acting president to reconstitute the cabinet with men and women who could help him to deliver good governance.
Speaking also on the reconstitution of the cabinet, Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Alhaji Abba-Aji, said on Thursday that the list of ministerial nominees was not ready.
Abba-Aji, who is expected to convey the list from the presidency to the Senate for confirmation, said this in Abuja after a meeting with Acting President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House.
Reporters had asked Abba-Aji, who carried a medium-sized envelope out of the acting president’s office, if the envelope contained the list of ministerial nominees.
“No, no, no! I am not with the list yet. You will be briefed as soon as it is ready.
“I am sure the acting president is taking his time to come up with the best list that he can put together; but it is not yet ready.
“This envelope does not contain the list,” he said.
Abba-Aji, however, said that he was optimistic that the list of the would-be ministers would contain names of purposeful citizens who would engender the country’s development.
He also expressed optimism that the Senate would act quickly in screening and confirming the would-be ministers.
‘Dissolution is in Nigeria’s interest’
Former Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili, has said the dissolution of the cabinet by Acting President Jonathan is in the interest of the nation.
Akunyili said this in Abuja, on Thursday, while handing over to the permanent secretary in the ministry, Professor Nicholas Damachi.
According to Akunyili, “Acting President Jonathan, in his wisdom, dissolved the cabinet and in view of the ongoing political tension in Nigeria, the dissolution is, probably, in the best interest of the nation.”
Giving an account of her stewardship, Akunyili said events in and outside Nigeria from the end of 2009 tended to slow down the tempo of the re-branding campaign.
She said several ongoing projects in the ministry’s parastatal agencies were completed and inaugurated while work had reached advanced stages in others.
Akunyili said the ministry also worked towards improving the flow of information between the government and the governed, through the publication and distribution of Open Government.
She said the ministry’s website was up and running, while the ministry attracted the interest and support of the World Bank to the Nigerian entertainment industry to the tune of N3 billion.
The former minister hoped her successor would implement the recommendations of the 20-man committee set up to review salaries of workers of federal media organisations.
The former minister expressed gratitude to the government and entire Nigerians for their support during her tenure.
In his remark, Damachi thanked Akunyili for what he called her tireless and distinguished service to the government and people of Nigeria.
He described her as “an innovator,” adding that her achievements spoke for her and prayed God to guide and protect her in her future aspirations.
‘No SMS on appointment emanated from my office’
Following Acting President Jonathan’s dissolution of the cabinet, on Wednesday, some unscrupulous Nigerians are trying to cash in on it to dupe some unsuspecting members of the public by offering them political appointments.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, raised the alarm on the activities of these faceless groups sending text messages and e-mails, allegedly from his office to some people, asking them to present their credentials for appointment, saying that such messages should be disregarded.
The SGF, in a statement by the Deputy Director (Information), Mr Salisu Na’inna Dambatta, said “it has come to the attention of the office of the SGF that some faceless persons have been contacting unsuspecting members of the public, asking them to present their credentials for consideration and appointment into non-existing political positions.
“The SGF wishes to state with all the emphasis at his command that any correspondences through text messages and e-mails allegedly from his office requesting for such credentials from any member of the public should be disregarded, because it is unauthorised, fraudulent and misleading.”
Ahmed added that where it was practicable, anybody identified to have been engaged in sending the purported correspondences should immediately be reported to security agencies for appropriate action.
“For the avoidance of the doubt, it is, hereby, reiterated that government has standard channels and methods of contacting individuals for any purpose and the deviation from the established methods should be disregarded by the recipients of such correspondences,” he said.
It will be recalled that a similar press release was issued on July 1, 2009, by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, warning members of the public to disregard such mails.
NASS members pledge support for Jonathan
Also, some members of the Senate and House of Representatives have formed a pillar of support for Acting President Jonathan, promising to offer assistance in clearing challenges which were likely to slow down his zeal towards giving Nigeria responsible and effective governance.
About 140 members of the House of Representatives, on the aegis of Nigerian First Forum (NFF), made this known in Abuja, on Thursday, adding that they had been in a working relationship with their counterparts in the Senate on how to form a sustainable support base for the acting president.
About 74 senators, under the National Interest Group (NIG), have been rallying support for the acting president, having initiated the process of his empowerment by a Senate resolution amid controversy.
Members of the forum, who addressed the media on their mission, said they were proud supporters of Jonathan, having earlier mounted pressure on both the Senate and the House on the need to empower him as acting president.
Speaking on behalf of the group, chairman of the forum, Honourable Anas Abba Adamu, said the senators and House members resolved to come together to champion the cause of constitutionality by advocating the enthronement of Jona-than as acting president.
Adamu described members of the group as progress minded, who felt Jonathan deserved to be acting president in line with constitutional stipulations.
According to him, Jonathan’s supporters in the two houses of the National Assembly were, so far, impressed by his ability to stand firm while steering the ship of state, adding that the actions taken, so far, by Jonathan in stabilising the polity had portrayed him as a dedicated and courageous leader.
The group lauded the acting president for the removal of former Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Michael Aondoakaa; appointment of a new National Security Adviser (NSA), General Aliyu Gusau; setting up of Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC ) and the sack of the entire members of the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF).
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