From Martins Oloja:
INDICATIONS have merged in Abuja that there is more to the anger of the ‘anti Dora Akunyili group’ that were desperate to ruin the aspiration of Professor Dora Akunyili who was not allowed to express herself on Monday as the third ministerial nominee to be screened but has now been (grudgingly) cleared by the Senate.

Senator Kanti Bello (Katsina) had led the pack that mounted a strong opposition to her nomination on Monday when he asked the Professor of Pharmacology tough and hostile question on her description of President Umaru Yar’Adua’s kitchen cabinet as “a cabal”.

The Guardian learnt at the weekend that the clique that is still desperate to keep the ailing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in power through spin on his health, has indeed anticipated that unless the former NAFDAC boss and former Information and Communication Minister is stopped in her track, “she will be sworn in as Health Minister and the office will be critical to the implementation of Section 144 of the Constitution, soon after the new cabinet is sworn in.”

Even now, her adversaries have not left the former minister who denied outright that she was part of the cabal and cooked for the President’s wife alone. It was learnt that they are fighting to ensure she does not get a particular portfolio she is said to be interested in.

The Guardian learnt that Yar’Adua kitchen cabinet generally believed to have been routed by the acting President’s pulling down of their strongholds including the dissolution of the cabinet has not given up as they believe that “Madam Dora who has spoken boldly against them (the cabal) will gun for the Health portfolio that will be critical to the implementation of Section 144 of the Constitution, which deals with “Permanent Incapacity of President or Vice President” and the constitution of “Medical Panel” by the President of the Senate.

It was also gathered this week that, the clique that may not be pacified by any mediator, in the circumstances, had reckoned that it was expedient for them to deal with her (Akinyili) ruthlessly so that she would not show her fervency in the deal that is expected to be one of the first major assignments of the new cabinet to be constituted next week.

“The Opposition to Akinyili is real and deeper than has been expressed…That is the reason they (the clique) have attributed the trouble in Senator Joy Emodi’s constituency to even Dora’s manipulation so that they can get the Acting President to replace her (Dora) with Senator Emodi just sacked by a Court of Appeal,” was the way another source put it even before she narrowly escaped clearance by the Senate.

But now, the opposition to Akinyili is back on the beat to ensure that she does not have the health portfolio especially now that a medical practitioner who was minister of state in the former cabinet has been cleared. Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong is a medical doctor.

Meanwhile, apart from the health portfolio, which Akunyili is said to be suitable for, the race for the Office of the Attorney-General is another keen contest for the three Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) within the rank of nominees at the moment.

While Henry Ajumogobia is generally believed to be a good candidate for the Petroleum Ministry, the emergence of a candidate from Edo, who was until recently a big player in the oil industry Mr. Chris Ogiemwonyi and Mrs. Diezani Allison Madueke who worked in Shell as a director in non-exploration department before she joined the cabinet in 2007 has reportedly changed the colour of competition. Sources said last night that, “if Diezani wants the oil portfolio, she will get it because she is a member of the new clique in Jonathan’s new deal in Abuja.”

That development as it affects the Petroleum ministry may alter earlier calculation about the Justice Ministry where the three SANs will have to vie for the prestigious Justice Ministry. Ajumogobia was Attorney-General of Rivers State in Peter Odili’s administration.

Although it is said that the new nominee from Kogi State, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke too has been eyeing the Attorney-General and Justice Minister Portfolio, the trouble with his nomination now is that the Acting President and the Senate have been told about his relationship with former Delta State Governor James Ibori and Ex Minister of Justice, Michael Kaase Aondoakaa. “Adoke would have been dropped but for the Senate President who has extracted a written confession from him (Adoke) about his relationship with Ibori, generally believed to be very close to the so-called cabal,” a source said.

Adoke, Igbira from Kogi, is said to have denied business relationship with Ibori but said he had some link through Aondoakaa as his chamber was used for some professional services between the two: Ibori and Aondoakaa.

Adoke, (SAN), has documented that to the Senate President when President of a Customary Court from his place in Abuja led him to see the Senate President in his residence last weekend before clearance. He reportedly said that it was not that “he was Ibori’s lawyer but that his Chamber was a link between Ibori and the former Justice Minister,” as a source in the Senate disclosed.

The Senate President was said to have promised “to assist in convincing the Acting President to retain him. That has been done as he has been screened and cleared” was the way the same source hinted us.

In the same vein, another revelation and allegation about a high profile cabinet nominee that has been spiked by the Senate is against Alhaji Murtala Yar’Adua, son of the elder brother to the ailing President who was reportedly blackmailed to reject the nomination.

It was revealed that while the screening was going on that the clique in his family “actually brought up a case against the youngest nominee to the extent that he was recently quizzed in the United States (US) on his alleged link to the Al queda network in the wake of the AbdulMutallab foiled attempt to blow up a Detroit bound plane in December last year. It was said that the junior Yar’Adua travelled to the (US) recently for a medical check-up and was allegedly arrested and released on the intervention of the Nigerian Embassy in the US”.

We confirmed that though the young Yar’Adua was indeed quizzed, it was not serious enough to stop his nomination generally believed to have been politically motivated as a master-stroke to deal with the famous “cabal” alleged to be holding his uncle hostage.

As another insider said, “the denouement of the first assignment may result in nomination of the new National Security Adviser, (NSA) General Aliyu Gusau as Vice President while Col Kayode Areh, former Director General State Security Service (SSS) may emerge new NSA if the deal comes through as Yar’Adua’s era is confined to history”.

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