By Jide Ajani, Emma Aziken & Ben Agande:
ABUJA—SOME of the 42 ministers sacked, Wednesday, are intensifying lobby to return to the cabinet, according to reliable Presidency sources.
Also, the names of the first batch of ministerial nominees will get to senators for screening by Monday while the number of ministers to be appointed will be reduced from the present 42 to about 30, the sources added.
The decision to prune the number of ministers was informed by the desire of the Acting President to run a compact government that would facilitate the delivery of the most needed change in the country.
Already, inputs from governors and other opinion leaders are to be submitted not later than today for such nominees to undergo security screening before their names are forwarded to the National Assembly.
One of the sources told Vanguard that names for ministerial appointments would be sent to the National Assembly on piecemeal basis, as they were cleared by the security agencies so as not to unnecessarily delay the re-constitution of the Executive Council of the Federation.
A source said, however, that despite the intense lobby, “most of the ministers who had served in other governments in the past would be dropped because the Acting President wants to inject fresh blood into the administration. It is obvious that some of the ministers have nothing new to offer so they have to give way to new and more competent hands.”
Vanguard gathered that as many as 20 of the ministers removed from office would not be reappointed because of various problems associated with their tenures.
Some of the ministers whose fate had been sealed are said to be those whose actions in office, are being investigated by the committee set up by the Acting President to review contracts in their ministries.
Some of the names being touted as likely to be appointed into the new cabinet are a former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, a commissioner during the administration of Chief Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu State, a serving adviser to the governor of Benue State as well as a former member of the House of Representatives from Anambra State.
A source told Vanguard: “The Acting President wants to use the opportunity of this appointment to leave an impression in the minds of Nigerians by ensuring that those he brings into office are not necessarily politicians but people who can make a difference in his government.”
How the ex-ministers were fired
In what turned out to be a confirmation of a story published in Vanguard, 72 hours earlier, Acting President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Wednesday, shocked members of the Executive Council of the Federation with his dissolution of the cabinet.
Also, some state governors may lose out in the reconstitution of the Executive Council of the Federation.
Vanguard can confirm that because of the way some state governors had pitched themselves against the Acting President, there are strong indications that opinions of some of them may not count in the reconstitution of the cabinet.
Just as Jonathan did while constituting the Presidential Advisory Council, PAC, when he appointed its members without relying on the state governors for nominees, Vanguard has learnt that the Acting President “might go it solo again.”
How Jonathan announced dissolution
The Acting President, Vanguard has been told, did not betray any emotions neither did he allow members of EXCOF into the workings of his mind until the meeting got to the item of Any Other Business, AOB.
Vanguard learnt that once the meeting commenced and memos were being debated, most of the members became relaxed, believing that last Wednesday was not to be “the day of the dagger.”
One of the former ministers told Vanguard in confidence that “whereas we had expected that at some point the Acting President would dissolve the cabinet, yesterday’s action was unexpected. The truth is that most of my colleagues did not expect that with the way the meeting was going, the cabinet would be dissolved on Wednesday. It was totally unexpected.”
Vanguard was told that “The Acting President simply said (under AOB): Gentlemen and ladies, I want to sincerely thank you for your service to this nation and your cooperation….It was at that point that most of us began looking at each other. It became clear that the next thing would be a bombshell which it was. But the man had to act and he acted”, the former minister told Vanguard.
Governors may lose out again
The expected reconstitution of the EXCOF by Acting President Jonathan may again see some state governors losing out.
A source close to Jonathan hinted at this possibility when he made it clear that “because of what had happened and which led to a fractious cabinet, the Acting President would be circumspect in requesting for nominees from state governors.
“When he was to constitute the PAC, he did not as much as let all the state governors into it because some of them had played their hands out.
“They complained, they grumbled, but the man had to do what he had to do and which appears to be right because once members of PAC were announced Nigerians applauded.
Nothing would be different this time. The man would appoint a cabinet made of men and women of commitment.”
Don’t succumb to selfish interests in reconstituting cabinet, AC warns Jonathan
The Action Congress, AC, has, however, warned Acting President Goodluck Jonathan not to succumb to the dictates of the Governors’ Forum or other selfish interests in reconstituting his cabinet, but to pick men and women who can make an appreciable impact in a short time.
A statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed in Abuja, yesterday, said that if the Acting President gave such interests, especially the Governors’ Forum, a free hand to nominate candidates for ministerial posts, he would get ministers whose loyalty will be to the governors, rather than to the country first and then of course to the Acting President.
The party also advised the Acting President to use technocrats, if necessary, in order for his administration to impact positively on the lives of the long-suffering Nigerians.
AC reminded Jonathan that the absence of visionary leadership at the very top was part of the problems that hobbled the dissolved federal cabinet, which it said ranked very high on the list of under-achieving federal executive councils in the history of the nation.
The party said the dissolution of the cabinet was long overdue, describing its members as a band of unpatriotic people who put narrow and parochial interests above the national interest.
It said: “The dissolved cabinet failed when it mattered most: when a courageous act was needed to break a logjam that rattled Nigeria to its very foundation and threatened its fledgling democracy. It was the ministers’ lack of courage, flimsy loyalty and downright selfishness that eventually left the FEC divided, thus paving the way for it to fall like a pack of cards.”
AC reiterated its earlier assertion that the key areas in which the Acting President can lift the veil of despondency across the country are electoral reform, power and energy as well as the Niger Delta issue.
It noted: “Of all this, we make bold to say that electoral reform is the most important, in that it will help set the stage for the emergence of a truly-elected government, which will act in the interest of the people, rather than a cabal of riggers.
“Once votes are made to count and committed and worthy leaders are elected on the basis of their own abilities and capabilities, other problems – including those of power, insecurity, unemployment and skewed distribution of resources – can then be tackled with genuine gusto.”
SGF denies call for credentials
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Malam Yayale Ahmed has repudiated letters purportedly endorsed by him soliciting credentials from some members of the public for appointment into the next federal cabinet.
Ahmed in a statement, yesterday, disavowed the alleged correspondences, text messages and e-mails allegedly issued by him describing them as fraudulent.
The statement issued by Salisu Na‘inna Dambatta, Deputy Director, Information, in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation reads:
“It has come to the attention of the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, OSGF, that some faceless persons have been contacting unsuspecting members of the public asking them to present their credentials for consideration and appointment into non-existing political positions.
“The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mahmud Yayale Ahmed, CFR, wishes to state with all the emphasis at his command that any correspondences through text messages and e-mails allegedly from his office requesting for such credentials from any member of the public should be disregarded because it is unauthorized, fraudulent and misleading.
“Where it is practicable, anybody identified to have been engaged in sending the purported correspondences should immediately be reported to security agencies for appropriate action.
“For the avoidance of doubt, it is hereby reiterated that government has standard channels and methods of contacting individuals for any purpose and the deviation from the established methods should be disregarded by the recipients of such correspondences.”
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