By Innocent Oweh and Austin Oboh:
• Barkindo, Iwu, Waziri’s Jobs Also Threatened
“The vibrant Nigerian press,” as she put, is one of the things former Information and Communications Minister, Dora Akunyili, said she would “greatly miss” from her beat as she said her good byes at the ministry on Thursday.
It was tension that led to the sack of the entire federal cabinet, she explained in Abuja, 24 hours after the fact, and noted that Acting President Goodluck Jonathan took the decision in the best interest of the nation.
And more firing is in the offing, likely to sweep off the Service Chiefs and other top notch political appointees whose jobs have been rumoured for months to be on the line.
Particularly in the eye of the storm are the Service Chiefs whose loyalty to Jonathan has been in doubt since the airport drama that attended the return of President Umaru Yar’Adua from Saudi Arabia on February 24, and the deployment of troops without Jonathan’s knowledge.
Others in the loop of the hangman include Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group Managing Director, Mohammed Barkindo; Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman, Farida Waziri; Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Maurice Iwu; and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Yayale Ahmed.
A source lamented to Daily Independent that Jonathan and his men are concerned that the Service Chiefs are loyal only to Yar’Adua who appointed them.
They also have a strong relationship with the so- called cabal headed by Turai Yar’Adua, he said.
The failure of the military to forestall the bloodletting in Plateau State is fresh in the minds of many, and may have stoked the suspicion that the Service Chiefs are not dependable, highlighted by the allegation of bias leveled against troops in the carnage.
Merely reposting the Service Chiefs would not suffice, according to our source, who explained that they could be forced into retirement since they would not accept to serve under their subordinates.
Barkindo could lose his post for his inability to stabilise the chaotic fuel supply in the country, especially at a time when the South South elite have demanded that his job be given to someone from the region.
Iwu’s tenure as Nigeria’s chief electoral officer elapses in June, and he is eligible for reappointment; nevertheless, some opposition parties and civil society groups have stridently rejected his continuing in office, a call with backing from as far as Washington.
Jonathan could fire him in order to please that vocal segment which insists that Iwu has not given a good account of himself in his sensitive post.
As for Waziri, her removal has long been speculated since Jonathan became Acting President, based on diverse reasons; the most prominent being that the war against greed and graft lost its steam way back when she replaced the man who gave the EFCC an international reputation – Nuhu Ribadu.
Waziri has defended her style, saying it conforms with the rule of law, but this has been dismissed by individuals and groups, as well as by the international community.
Jonathan may bring in a new EFCC boss to unsettle some Governors and clip their newly developed wings.
It is believed that Jonathan sees in Waziri’s sack a window of opportunity to secure the endearment and support of the international community.
The most intriguing case in the proposed purge is that of Ahmed who, up to now, is considered to be in Jonathan’s kitchen cabinet.
A source close to Jonathan said he does not trust Ahmed.
Reminiscing on her own tenure on Thursday, Akunyili disclosed that the attempt by Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up an American aircraft last December distracted from the Rebranding Nigeria campaign she spearheaded.
She spoke while handing over to her Permanent Secretary, Nicolas Damachi, in line with Jonathan’s directive to all Ministers on Wednesday.
Akunyili pledged to continue her rebranding campaign even out of office, being an initiative to help country folks to rediscover themselves for the good of the land.
“Given the political tension in Nigeria, the dissolution of the cabinet is probably in the best interest of the nation,” she added.
“Events in our country and globally from the end of December 2009 tended to slow down the tempo of the Rebranding Nigeria campaign, we are still far from winning the war.
“In the course of this rebranding battle we did encounter some obstacles like the district 9, the Sony advert saga, but I am glad to note that the victory in those two battles belongs to the average law abiding Nigerian who refused to be a negative report card.
“The Bible says, ‘there is time for everything,’ and as the time comes for departure, I am leaving with an unshaken faith in the destiny of our great country, Nigeria.
“It is this faith that informed our Rebranding Nigeria project and I am glad that we used that initiative to help the ordinary Nigerian begin the journey of re-discovery both for self and motherland.
“Beyond this, I would greatly miss my colleagues on the EXCOF (Executive Council of the Federation), staff of the Ministry of Information and Communications, as well as the vibrant Nigerian press.”
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