By Sunny Igboanugo, Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Chesa Chesa, Augustine Madu-West and Funmi Falobi:
• Gets List Of Nominees From Governors
• Senate To Expedite Action On Screening
Acting President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday dissolved the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF), the climax of weeks of demand for it by politicians and pressure groups.
Information and Communications Minister, Dora Akunyili, announced the dissolution after a lengthy meeting of the EXCOF, chaired by Jonathan, and during which infrastructure contracts countrywide were approved.
“(Jonathan) did not give us any reasons for the dissolution of the Council, therefore I can’t give you any reasons,” Akunyili said, but added that the Ministers are to hand over to their Permanent Secretaries until new ones are appointed.
Daily Independent had reported earlier in the day that Jonathan was on the cusp of dissolving the cabinet.
“Permanent Secretaries will be in charge of the ministries. Tomorrow morning (today) I will hand over to my Permanent Secretary, and I expect other Ministers will also hand over to their Permanent Secretaries tomorrow morning (today) because that is the practice,” Akunyili stated.
Several Ministers came out of the six-hour long meeting with bland faces. None accompanied Akunyili at the press briefing as was the custom.
Former Labour Minister, Ibrahim Kazaure, in remarks to reporters, thanked both President Umaru Yar’Adua and Jonathan for giving him the opportunity to serve the nation.
He said he has no regrets and would go back to his politics, being a “career politician.”
Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, saluted the sack as a good omen for Nigeria.
“Good riddance to bad rubbish, Jonathan has ceased being Acting President, he is now ‘Action President. Heaven will not fall for all the right and courageous decisions he needs to take as Nigerians are behind him.
“He should now look across the length and breadth of Nigeria for the best and brightest Nigeria can offer without party colouration,” Odumakin counselled.
It was learnt that Jonathan has contacted all the 36 Governors for their nominees as new Ministers before the old ones were fired based on reports submitted to Jonathan on non-performance.
Jonathan took the decision to sack the cabinet at a meeting in the Villa on Monday night where it was canvassed that a selective dissolution was not “politically correct at this time.”
A source privy to the meeting said Jonathan was counseled against removing just some Ministers as that “would send a wrong message to the country if only a few were fired. Some sections of the country may interpret it to mean that they are the sole target of the dissolution.”
Only 12 Ministers may make it back to the cabinet.
A Senator also confirmed that Jonathan “consulted with us on Tuesday about the plan to dissolve the cabinet. The Senate has assured (him) on the need to expedite action on the confirmation of the new nominees.
“We know that time is of the essence for government and we will play our part in the process.”
Both Save Nigeria Group (SNG) and Labour Party (LP) said the mode of choosing the new EXCOF members must deviate from the past, where primordial political and sectional considerations were the only bases instead of competence and merit.
Dan Nwanyanwu, LP National Chairman, noted that the old team had been a clog in the wheel of progress since Yar’Adua’s absence from office since November 23 last year due to ill health.
His words: “It is a welcome development. This is what we have been advocating. It means that (Jonathan) has finally found his bearing and is ready to be his own man and do what Nigerians have been expecting him to do. This country cannot be grounded because of one man.
“We have been waiting for (Yar’Adua) who we were told went to Saudi Arabia to treat himself. Our country has been grounded since then and some people want that to continue because they are benefitting. We cannot continue along that line.
Nwanyanwu advised Jonathan to pick credible people, who are qualified and capable and who have the passion to move the country forward.
“He must look across the board, beyond party lines to pick competent people. Nigerians don’t expect less than his moving this country forward.”
Osita Okechukwu, SNG chieftain, echoed all of that by saying that delay could lead to pressure on Jonathan to choose the wrong people.
“There should be no room for tollgates. Jonathan must not allow the Governors to deceive him that they have the exclusive right to appoint Ministers – and in so doing, give him only those who would not be threats to the Governor’s political ambitions, at the expense of competence and ability to deliver.
“Nigerians expect very much from Jonathan, and he must not fail,” Okechukwu warned.
Action Congress (AC) Board of Trustees Chairman and former Governor of Old Kaduna State, Lawan Kaita, added that, “there is no way (Jonathan) can effectively run the affairs of the state with Ministers he did not appoint, so I support his action.
“But he should be fair in the reconstitution of the EXCOF by ensuring that those who are good and work in the interest of the country are returned.”
Maxi Okwu, Patriotic Alliance of Nigeria (PAC) Chairman and factional leader of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), described the dissolution as a wise political move in line with public mood.
But former Deputy Senate President, Abubakar Dan-Musa, countered that it will create more confusion in a polity already heated up.
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