By Yusuf Alli:
Acting President Goodluck Jonathan is likely to unveil the list of new ministers next week, The Nation learnt yesterday.
Security agencies are investigating some of the likely new hands, sources said in Abuja.
A huge lobby for ministerial slots has begun, with former ministers wooing members of Jonathan’s kitchen cabinet.
A source, who pleaded not to be named, said: “It is likely that the list of ministers is sent to the Senate on Tuesday. Every arrangement is being made towards that.
“The Acting President wants to address the issue as quickly as possible to stave off pressure from lobbyists.
“Some of the security agencies are examining the dossiers of some of the recommended names to assist the Acting President in his judgment.
“The office of the National Security Adviser is playing a key role in screening some politicians and professionals.”
The battle for ministerial appointments has put ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, members of the Presidential Advisory Committee and some members of the kitchen cabinet of the Acting President under pressure.
Another source said: “Obasanjo is likely to play a key role in the choice of members of the new cabinet because the Acting President defers to him.
“In fact, the ex-President was being expected in Abuja Thursday night. Some of the ex-ministers have been asking their godfathers to help them approach Obasanjo for a second chance.”
There have been fears over the Jonathan acting presidency, following the perception that he may be Obasanjo’s poodle. His associates deny this.
It was also learnt that some sacked ministers have been urging three of their former colleagues to intercede for them.
The three powerful ex-ministers, who are believed to have the ears of the Acting President, are ex-minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs Godsday Orubebe (the only nominee of Jonathan in the disbanded cabinet), former Minister of Mines and Steel Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke (a confidant of the Acting President) and ex-Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Mr. Odein Ajumogobia (SAN).
He said: “There is tremendous pressure on these three. Their colleagues have been approaching them to retain their jobs.
“The ex-ministers have no choice than to woo Orubebe and the others because they can no longer reach out to the Acting President. They have been shut out.
“Of the 42 ex-ministers, it was glaring at the Council Chamber on Wednesday that these three kitchen cabinet members had the inkling of the dissolution of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).”
Delta State may get two ministerial slots in the reconstituted cabinet, it was learnt.
But controversy is trailing the nominees from Katsina and Kogi states.
Also, the participation of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) in the cabinet was uncertain last night.
There is intense lobbying to give Delta State two slots following renewed agitation from militants.
One of the nominees might represent Delta State, the other may fill the South-South slot.
In the sacked cabinet, Orubebe was Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs.
It was gathered that a former top shot of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) may be appointed from Delta State.
A source said: “I think from the look of things, Delta State may have two slots for strategic reasons. But there are challenges in Katsina and Kogi States.
“In Katsina, there is a strong recommendation in favour of a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Bello Masari. The state governor, Ibrahim Shema, has left the issue open for the Acting President but the pro-Yar’Adua Group is still angling for the slot.
“In Kogi State, the people of Kogi West Senatorial District have started fresh agitations for a ministerial position. The last nominee, Humphrey Abbah, who was Minister of State for Commerce, is from Kogi East Senatorial District as Governor Idris Ibrahim.
“The Yoruba people in Kogi State are insisting on having the slot. The governor wants the status quo to remain, with a warning to elected members in the National Assembly and House of Assembly fanning the embers of ethnic agitation to forget a second term ticket, if Kogi East loses the ministerial ticket.”
The fate of ANPP and PPA which responded to President Yar’Adua’s call for a unity government, is uncertain in the coming cabinet.
A source added: “What some Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwarts are saying is that the basis for such an alliance is no longer there. They do not want unity government as originally conceived again.
“They believe that the Acting President can form a broad-based cabinet without pacifying ANPP and PPA. So, it is left to Jonathan to determine the fate of the alliance.”
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