Written by Iyobosa Uwugiaren:
* Akunyili, Ishola Williams compete for INEC chair
As Acting President Goodluck Jonathan prepares to forward a list of his ministerial nominees to the National Assembly, there was a strong indication last night that several of the ministers dropped last week will make it back to the new cabinet. Already, many of them have passed the compulsory screening by the State Security Service (SSS).
A reliable source told LEADERSHIP last night that two of the former ministers have, however, failed the screening, which means their names are not on the list sent back to the acting president by the agency.
Those who have passed the screening include former Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili; former Minister of State for the Niger Delta, Elder Godswill Orubebe; former Minister of Solid Minerals, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, and former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Adetokunbo Kayode.
The others are former Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia; former Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, and former Minister of Sports and Chairman of the National Sports Commission, Mr. Sani Ndanusa.
Elder Godswill Orubebe, said the source, is being considered to become a full minister in the Ministry of Niger Delta.
However, the source did not disclose to our correspondent the names of the two former ministers that failed to scale the security hurdle.
But according to the source, Prof. Akunyili and Gen. Ishola Williams (rtd.), the chairman of Transparency International in Nigeria, who is known for his integrity, are being considered by the acting president for the chairmanship of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). One of them may replace the present chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu, whose controversial tenure is due to end in the next few weeks.
One surprise in the appointments package is the former Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Malam Nuhu Ribadu who, Leadership gathered, is being considered for a slot in the new arrangement as a senior special adviser to the acting president in a cabinet rank.
Jonathan had dissolved the cabinet formed by ailing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in what political monitors described as a deft move to fast-track development within his short period of stay in government.
He is expected to forward the list of members of the new cabinet to the Senate for confirmation next week.
The list will contain names of the returning ministers and fresh nominees.
The senators were said to have suspended their recess, which was supposed to start on Thursday, to enable them peruse the list.
“Apart from nominees that are expected to come from majority of the state governors, the acting president will make direct nomination from some states for strategic reasons,” a source close to Jonathan stated. “While governors are at liberty to make their nominations, the acting president will not accept nominees with questionable character that will not add value to the cabinet.”
The source added that apart from “sound politicians,” majority of those that will form the new cabinet will be technocrats from across the nation.
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