By Ademola Adeyemo and Davidson Iriekpen:
• Internal politics delays nominees from Oyo, Kwara, Cross River
Members of the extended family of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua were locked in a crucial meeting last night over the ministerial nomination of his elder brother’s son, Murtala, by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan.
This is even as it has emerged that the non-representation of some states on the ministerial list is because of internal disagreements among stakeholders in the states over who should be the prospective ministers.
Jonathan had forwarded a total of 33 names to the Senate last week for confirmation but at least six states namely Cross River, Kwara, Benue, Oyo, Adamawa and Ebonyi are yet to have nominees on the list.
Murtala, whose nomination was reportedly mooted by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and supported by the National Security Adviser, Lt. Gen. Aliyu Gusau, is believed to be favourably disposed to the offer, but the family of the president wants him to take “another look” at it.
“The argument of some members of the family is that it should not be seen as Murtala benefitting from President Yar’Adua’s misfortune,” a family source told THISDAY last night.
But the move, believed to have been initiated by the president’s family, may be dependent on assurances about Yar’Adua’s health since he has not been seen in public since he took ill in November last year and returned to the country over a month ago.
“If indeed he is sure the president is coming back to office, Murtala may not take up the appointment. It would be awkward for him to be in the same cabinet with his uncle (the president). Nigerians will not take kindly to it,” the source said.
It would be a big blow to Jonathan if Murtala rejects the offer because it had been described as a masterstroke to “placate” the president’s family which is still feeling hurt by the acting president’s key decisions since he assumed full presidential powers.
Meanwhile, THISDAY learnt that intense lobbying has continued in Cross River in a bid to get a credible nominee to fill the ministerial slot of the state.
Some stakeholders in the state want the ministerial slot to remain in Cross River North Senatorial district while others want the position to move to Cross River Central where the present Governor Liyel Imoke comes from.
In Kwara, a battle of sort is raging over who should get the ministerial nomination. Former Defence Minister and Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council (PAC), General T.Y. Danjuma, is said to be rooting for Mr. John Dara who was his Special Assistant when he was minister while former President Ibrahim Babangida and Jonathan’s wife, Patience, are said to be pushing Mrs. Bola Shagaya’s candidature.
Second Republic Senate Leader, Dr. Olusola Saraki, through his daughter, Senator Gbemi Saraki-Fowora, is said to be gunning for former Commissioner for Health in the state, Dr. Femi Ogunshola, for the ministerial job. Femi is the son of Prof. Albert Ogunshola, a loyalist of the former Senate leader.
The 33 ministerial nominees whose names are already before the Senate will be screened on Monday.
Nine more names are expected to be forwarded to the Senate soon to make the total of the prospective ministers 42 as in the dissolved cabinet.
The founding members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State have penciled down three names for the job, which included Mr. Kale Belgore, nephew of former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Alpha Belgore, who is also a PAC member. The other is Saadu Omoiya.
The situation in Oyo is somewhat similar to what obtains in respect of Kwara. While Oyo State Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala and Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola Alao, are backing the Minister of State for Finance in the dissolved cabinet, Mr. Aderemi Babalola, to return, the PDP leaders in the state are working against Babalola’s candidature.
The PDP leaders, THISDAY learnt, did not want the former minister of state because, according to them, he is not a party man and is more of an Abuja-based politician.
Nigeria’s Ambassador to South Africa, Brig-General Muhammed Marwa, may emerge the ministerial nominee for Adamawa State but the no-love-lost relationship between him and Senator Jibril Aminu is being touted as the only obstacle against his nomination.
Former President Obasanjo had handed the party machinery in the state to Aminu who in turn delivered the state Governor Murtala Nyako. Nyako, however, is said to be a man of his own.
Meanwhile, the acting president has been advised to ensure that the Cross River State ministerial position is retained in the Northern senatorial zone, taking cognizance of spread and fair representation of the minorities in the state.
A release signed by Felix Oko and Henry Eneji, chairman and secretary of the Group for Equity and Fair Representation, said the ministerial slot should be in the Northern senatorial zone otherwise it would become manifest that the people of the zone are clearly marginalized.
Citing the present allocation of national positions in the state to buttress its point, the group pointed out that “at the moment, the central senatorial zone, apart from producing the governor has also produced a senator, an ambassador and several appointees in strategic agencies at the national level leaving the Northern senatorial zone with a senator and a minister. Therefore, it would be quite unfair to displace the North by zoning out this singular position from the North to the Central zone as it is currently being lobbied by interests groups in the central senatorial zone”.
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