By Yusuf Alli:
* Akunyili, Martins-Kuye, Usman on list of 33
* Senate begins screening Monday
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo may have influenced the nomination of Murtala, son of the late Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, as minister, it was learnt yesterday.
Gen. Yar’Adua, who died in detention in 1997, was Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, when Obasanjo was military Head of State between 1976 and 1979.
The late general was the elder brother of President Umaru Yar’Adua.
gathered that Murtala Yar’Adua was nominated by the Presidency based on Obasanjo’s recommendation, perhaps to weaken the Yar’Adua camp in the struggle for power.
Murtala declined comments yesterday.
His nomination caught the Yar’Adua family, Katsina Governor Ibrahim Shema and many political players in the state unawares.
It was learnt that the Presidency shopped for Murtala directly as part of its move to “divide the Yar’Adua group”.
A highly-placed source said: “Murtala Yar’Adua wasn’t the choice of the state government at all. But it is evident that the Presidency opted for him for strategic reasons.
“So, he is a product of high-wire politics and intrigues in the Presidency. We learnt that ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, some members of the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) and a few associates of the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua designed the strategy to prove a point that Jonathan has nothing against the family.
“But the message is clear that the Presidency has adopted a divide-and-rule policy for the Yar’Adua family. It is like breaking the back of the camel.
“More so, the nominee is said to have a strained relationship with the President. I think it is a tactical strategy.
“The Acting President has fully taken charge of the reins of government and he is living up to the billing of a politician now.”
The source, however, added: “I think Murtala Yar’Adua was not consulted by the Presidency before the appointment was made.”
It was gathered that apart from Murtala Yar’Adua, the Presidency went for some nominees who have an axe to grind with the President.
In Bauchi State, the Presidency went for Senator Bala Mohammed who is leading the National Interest Group in the Senate which worked for the actualisation of Jonathan’s acting presidency.
It was learnt that the Senator does not enjoy cordial relationship with Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State, the President’s son-in-law.
Others dropped in the past by the President and re-nominated by Jonathan are Senator Sanusi Daggash and Adamu Maina Waziri.
A member of the Yar’Adua family, who spoke in confidence, said: “You can see that there is mischief in the cabinet list. The choice of Murtala Yar’Adua is meant to cause rift in this family.
“Some of us are not happy with the choice of Murtala Yar’Adua because there is more to it than meet the eye.”
“Also, some of the ministers dropped by President Yar’Adua have been returned to the cabinet to achieve a purpose.”
Contacted last night, Murtala Yar’Adua said he had no comment.
The two-minute telephone conversation with Murtala, who was apparently caught unawares by the appointment, went as follows:
: Congratulations on your appointment as a minister.
Murtala: Thank you.
: Have you accepted your appointment as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
Murtala: No comments now, please.
: When will you appear for screening?
Murtala: I’m trying to find out what is happening. I am not even sure of anything now. As I said, I have no comments.
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