Nigeria: A reconstituted cabinet

Nigeria: A reconstituted cabinet

by / 7 Comments / 48 View / 25th March 2010

As the political rumblings continue unabated, acting President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan who had earlier sacked the entire federal cabinet sent a fresh list of 25 nominees to the Senate for screening and possible confirmation as ministers. Seven of the ministers in the dissolved cabinet made it back while the remaining were either fresh nominees or those earlier sacked from the first cabinet by Yar`adua.

Surprisingly though, the former minister of information and communication, Prof Dora Akunyili, believed to be a core loyalist of Acting President Jonathan was not among the initial 25 nominees. It is however assumed that she will get appointed ultimately into the reconstituted Federal Executive Council (FEC). What appears worrisome to many admirers of Akunyili is the fact that another person, a female politician and wife of the Peoples Democratic Chieftain, Chief Tony Anenih, Mrs Josephine Anenih from Anambra State, which is the State Akunyili comes from was nominated.

While this may not hinder the nomination of Akunyili, however, many Nigerians who have come to respect and admire her principled stance over the need for the FEC to declare President Yar`adua incapacitated, thus paving way for Jonathan to be sworn in as President, are not happy that her name was not included in the initial nomination. But in a swift and expected move, Akunyili’s name was announced alongside two other nominees, thus bringing the number of nominees so far to 33.

Other nominees of interest are the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari and President Yar`adua`s nephew, the son of the late politician, Gen Shehu Musa Yar`adua, Alhaji Murtala Yar`adua. Both are from the same State with President Umaru Yar`adua, Katsina. But while the nomination of Masari is seen as an attempt by Jonathan to further consolidate power, that of Murtala is being seen as a means of assuring the Yar`adua political dynasty that they are still relevant.

Aminu Masari had a running battle with Yar`adua who schemed him out of the Governorship race in Katsina State in 2007. Since then, they never saw eye to eye and Masari had been one of the most prominent and vociferous voices calling for the removal of President Yar`adua on health grounds.

Another nominee of interest is Senator Bala Mohammad, a serving Senator from Bauchi State, where Malam Isa Yuguda, the son in-law of President Yar`adua is Governor. Both Yuguda and Bala were political soul mates until recently when things went sour and they fell apart.

Presently, Bala Mohammad is facing a recall threat from his constituents, a development that is believed to have been sponsored by Yar`adua`s son in law. With his nomination, it is clear that he is being appointed Minister to avert any political calamity that might come his way as a result of the recall bid. Governor Isa Yuguda is said to be livid as a result of this development which he sees as a threat to his ambition to retain his position as Governor in 2011. Senator Bala Mohammad had been in the fore front in the Senate campaigning and lobbying other Senators to support Jonathan as Acting President.

Senator Sanusi Daggash, a former minister of national planning from Borno State also made the list. He was appointed as minister in the first cabinet of President Yar`adua in 2007 before being subsequently sacked without any reason. He will be assuming office as minister, if he scales the screening exercise as one of the most reliable cabinet members Jonathan will work with.

As the nation anxiously awaits the screening exercise by the senate to commence, political permutations so far clearly show that the Acting President is gradually, but effectively assuming total control. The additional list of ministerial nominees being expected will definitely exclude all former ministers that were perceived to have opposed the emergence of Jonathan as acting president. Already these developments have continued to send fears into the Yar`adua political camp, as there are clear signals that unless President Yar`adua gets better soon and resumes work; his political ambition may finally be eclipsed within the shortest time, if the current trend continues.