By Sam Akpe and Victor Ebimomi:
A clash of might between Acting President Goodluck Jonathan and his ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over appointment of new ministers may likely prolong the constitution of a new cabinet.
Jonathan had on Wednesday dissolved the cabinet he inherited from ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Some members of the sacked cabinet were said to be more loyal to the incapacitated President than Jonathan.
Although he is yet to make public the names of the nominees, sources at the Presidency confirmed that Jonathan would not likely allow the PDP leadership to vet the list before sending it to the Senate for confirmation.
Already, sources said the party hierarchy has initiated efforts through state governors to decide who should be recalled among the old ministers and who should be part of the fresh nominees.
But Jonathan’s mind is said to be working in a different direction, said a source close to the Acting President on Thursday night.
“He wants to pick his team based on certain criteria among which loyalty and performance, not undue political consideration, are chief, a Presidency source told Saturday Independent.
Our correspondent leant that Jonathan did not hold “elaborate consultation” with the PDP leadership before dissolving the cabinet on Wednesday, in spite of the later grandstanding by the party that it was duly consulted.
A reliable insider at the Villa said on Friday that the party leadership is yet to understand the mind of the Acting President, who believes that a political party must not dictate to the President what should be done.
He said further: “PDP is not supposed to have a say in what the Acting President does. It was (former President Olusegun) Obasanjo who legalised that aberration; allowing the ruling party to dictate the pace of governance.
“This is a presidential system of government and not parliamentary. The President is elected by the people based on the manifesto of the party, which he is expected to implement.
“Government is beyond the party. It is for the people that elected it. It was a serious oddity when Obasanjo, and later Yar’Adua, allowed the party to slow down its agenda by deciding who should be part of governance.”
That is even as leadership of the Mega Movement and the hierarchy of Labour in Nigeria, rising from a one-day strategic parley at the country home of Elder Statesman, Anthony Enahoro, on Wednesday in Benin City, Edo State capital, reviewed what it called “the belated decision of the Acting President to reconstitute the EXCOF”, and cautioned Jonathan on appointing another set of proxies of the old order into his new cabinet.
The parley also alerted that why it called for a transitional administration earlier was to help the Acting President overcome the constitutional deficiency in his appointment given “the refusal of both the EXCOF and the cabal-infested PDP to hearken to the yearnings of Nigerians to invoke section 144 of the 1999 Constitution to redeem the situation”, and to focus his government strictly on bringing about credible electoral reform and good governance in the country.
The leaders however charged Jonathan not to falter in constituting an all-inclusive transitional cabinet comprising “the best, brightest and credible elements from key sectors of the nation capable of using its limited period in concentrating to midwife a popular electoral system, credible leadership and good governance by 2011.”
This was the assertions of some leaders of the movement; Olu Falae, Balarabe Musa and Professor Pat Utomi, who represented Enahoro at the eighth Biennial National Delegates’ Conference of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Thursday at Oba Akenzua Conference Centre, Benin City Edo State capital.
The strategic parley converges again next week at the Labour House – National Secretariat of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Abuja, where a political alternative platform is expected to be announced.
The subtle face off between the Acting President and PDP started when Yar’Adua left Nigeria for Saudi Arabia on November 23, 2009, where he underwent medical treatment for more than three months.
PDP, led by Vincent Ogbulafor, shot itself in the foot when it aligned with forces that sought to frustrate the emergence of Jonathan as Acting President in line with the Constitution.
When the National Assembly eventually came up with a resolution and declared Jonathan Acting President, PDP leadership teamed up with the state governors and barred Jonathan from contesting for public office in the 2011 elections.
Sources said thereafter Jonathan, “felt like an orphan” and proceeded to make and implement policies with minimal consultation with the party, whom he felt had forsaken him.
At present, said an insider, Jonathan is still a member of the party but is answerable principally to the National Assembly, whom he sees as representing the generality of Nigerians and not one political party.
Jonathan is said to have held secret meetings with the leadership of the Senate before the dissolution of the cabinet in a bid to ensure accelerated confirmation of the nominees next week.
To make that possible, he was expected to have sent the names of recycled and fresh nominees to the Red Chamber on Thursday to enable the lawmakers begin the screening process on Tuesday this week. But that was not done.
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