Nigeria: Anxiety Grips Ministers As Jonathan Plans Shake-Up

THE President may drop some ministers in a proposed cabinet shake-up, it was learnt last night.

The reshuffle may take place after the first anniversary of the administration on May 29.

A list of would-be ministers is being compiled and security checks are being carried out on them, according to sources.

President Goodluck Jonathan is said to be unhappy with the performance of about 17 ministers in his 42-man cabinet. But a senior government official, who confirmed the imminent shake-up last night, said: “Yes; it is likely, but it won’t be that massive.”

Besides security reports and random assessment of the ministers, the President has taken “a deep interest in the submissions of ministers” at the ongoing stewardship programme organised by the Federal Ministry of Information.

It was learnt that Jonathan is disappointed that some of his ministers could not give account of their performance so far.

Another source, who spoke in confidence, said: “I think there might be a cabinet reshuffle either a week before May 29 or a week after it.

“As I am talking to you, at least 17 of the ministers may be shown the way out. These ministers have not performed up to the benchmark set by the President. “

The fuel subsidy probe is believed to have shown to the President some of the challenges in some of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

At the ongoing stewardship platform of the Federal Ministry of Information, some of the ministers could not list their achievements, The Nation learnt.

The President is said to be unhappy with the pace of development in one of the ministries, considering the huge budgetary allocation to it last year.

A team was sent from the Presidency to conduct an appraisal of developments in the ministry and the verdict was not “encouraging”.

Jonathan, it was said, was shocked that the New Maitama Extension District in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was named after him. “He has decided to reject it because he does not want any minister to personalise governance,” it was said.

Said the source: “There was also a particular incident abroad when a minister did not live up to expectations of a public officer. There is no rationale for retaining such a minister.”

Responding to a question, the source said: “What the President is after is for ministers to be able to say exactly how many roads have been constructed; significant steps in the provision of housing; access to basic needs, such as water and electricity; and a situation where ministers in strategic ministries would have impacted on the lives of Nigerians.”

Pressed to give more insight into the imminent shake-up, the source identified some of the ministers. Some are said to have got hints of plans to drop them and have started lobbying to be retained.

Many people are making a strong case for the Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqqayyat Rufai, who was able to stave off the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) crisis and initiate reforms.

The source said: “Although going by the assessment report before the President, the Minister of State for Education, Nyisom Wike, is rated higher in performance than Prof. Rufai, some forces are pushing for the retention of Rufai, in view of the synergy between the two ministers.

“The team work in the Ministry of Education between the two ministers has been fairly better than the case in the past.

“A strong case is also being made for the retention of the Minister of Works Mike Onolememen who has succeeded in fixing some roads, which had been written off. Some forces believe that Onolememen has performed better than most of his predecessors. But the President does not like a situation where some vital roads are about 40-52 per cent completed.”

Some of those who may join the cabinet, if there are favourable security checks on them, are a former Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund(PTDF), Hamisu Mai Rago; the immediate past acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Kawu Baraje; former Deputy Governor of Imo State Ada Okwuonu; former National Chairman Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo; ex-Governor Chukwuemeka Ezeife, former PDP National Organising Secretary Uche Secondus; former PDP National Publicity Secretary Prof. Rufai Alkali; former PDP National Legal Adviser Olusola Oke; Senator Abba Aji and some of the aspirants who withdrew for the National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, at the last National Convention.

But another source added that some members of the President’s kitchen cabinet are opposed to bringing “deadwoods” to the cabinet. The source said: “There are fears that some of the names being peddled may not add value to the cabinet.

“So, in the next few weeks there will be more amendments to the list of new hands to be injected into the cabinet.”

The Nation

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