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Eyaaa!!! Ministers shed tears as Jonathan sacks nine

September 12, 2013

President Goodluck Jonathan, in his first major cabinet shake-up since his inauguration on May 29, 2011, sacked nine ministers on Wednesday.

The  sacking , announced by the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, shocked the Federal Executive Council members, most of whom had arrived the Council Chambers in the Presidential Villa  in high spirits  exchanging banter.

Before they left, deafening silence enveloped the Council  Chambers as the President reeled out the names of the affected ministers. Some of the  sacked and retained ministers    betrayed their emotions as they shed tears.

The Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, announced the cabinet shake-up after the weekly FEC  meeting  in Abuja.

The sacked ministers are  Prof.  Ruqayyatu Rufai (Education);   Okon Ewa-Bassey (Science and Techology);  Olugbenga Ashiru (Foreign Affairs);   Hadiza Mailafia (Environment);  Shamsudeen Usman, (National Planning); and  Ama  Pepple (Housing, Lands and Urban Development).

The Minister of State for Defence, Olusola Obada, and her counterparts in the  Agriculture Ministry,  Alhaji Bukar Tijani and  Power,  Zainab Kuchi,   were also affected.

The PUNCH had exclusively reported on August 29 that Jonathan was under pressure from his close aides  to sack some ministers and appoint those believed to have political value in their states.

The aides were  said to have  argued that if the President decided to seek re-election in 2015, many ministers lacked  the required political clout to deliver their states.

A top Presidency source had said that Jonathan was advised  by the aides to constitute what they described as “election cabinet.”

Such a cabinet, according to a source, will comprise mostly people that would  be proud to defend Jonathan  whenever he  was being criticised.

But Maku explained that the dropping of the ministers had no political undertone.

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting, Maku, said the cabinet shake-up was with immediate effect.

He said the President,  through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, had named the  retained FEC members  that would oversee the affected ministries pending the appointment of substantive ministers to head them.

The  Ministry of    Foreign Affairs is to be overseen by  the  minisiter of State, Prof. Viola Owuliri; the Education   by the Minister of State, Nyesome Wike;  and the Minister of   Solid Minerals, Musa Sada, Housing, Lands and Urban Development.

The Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, is to supervise the Science and Technology Ministry;  the Minister of State   for Works, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda,     Ministry of Planning; Maku, Defence; and  Minister of Niger  Delta Affairs, Mr. Goodsday Orubebe,   Environment Ministry.

When Maku announced that he would oversee the Defence Ministry, State House correspondents shouted but he pleaded with them to allow him to  continue his briefing.

He then added  that the Ministers of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina and Power, Chinedu Nebo would take care of the duties of the sacked ministers of state in their respective ministries.

Maku said the President expressed satisfaction with the performance of the affected ministers while in office.

He stated that Jonathan assured them that he would  call on them whenever their services were needed for the development of the country.

The Information minister said, “These ministers have been affected in the cabinet reshuffle and the President in Council expressed his satisfaction and happiness over their commitment  to government since they were appointed.”

“He (the President) also thanked them for their services to their fatherland and said he would continue to engage them in one way or the other in the implementation of the transformation agenda and of course in the various challenges that government faces around the country and in terms of efforts to transform our country.”

The minister said that the President would soon send a list of new ministers to the National Assembly to replace those who had been dropped.

Maku who described the cabinet shake-up as a normal process,added that it was   meant to inject fresh blood into the government.

Maku said, “There is no government in the world where the leaders do not reshuffle their cabinets, there is none. And cabinet reshuffle is part of a systematic public administration and I believe what the President has done is simply to address the issues of re-tooling his government to achieve service delivery.

“It is at the discretion of the President at all times to reshuffle his cabinet. It is his own prerogative under the constitution and this has nothing to do absolutely with any other factor other than having come two years into his administration in the last lap, what I see the President doing is to refocus his government, to inject in fresh blood to achieve greater service delivery to the people of Nigeria. That is the only reason for it, any other thing  has nothing to do with the decision of the President.

“The President is trying to in reject fresh blood into the system while retaining again the loyalty of all those who have worked.”

A source at the meeting said the President  caught the ministers unawares.

He quoted Jonathan as saying,   “Some of you will not be with us at the next Federal Executive Council meeting. It is not because you didn’t do well, but that is the ingredients of democracy. You will hear the details from the SGF.”

He then read out the affected names and then hurriedly left the Council chambers.

One of the  retained  ministers,Edem Duke of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation was seen dabbing his eyes intermittently with his handkerchief. The former Minister of Environment, Mailafia, also did the same before she was driven out of the Villa.

  Before Maku’s briefing, Duke’s action made journalists think that he was one of the nine that were fired.
Punch

From → General

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