SPECULATION MOUNTS OVER NEW CABINET
Speculation mounts over new cabinet
By Elizabeth Archibong
March 19, 2010 03:39AM
Alfa Belgore, Theophilus Danjuma, Shehu Shagari and other prominent Nigerian leaders after a meeting with the Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan at Aso Rock Villa. Photo: NEXT
Perhaps as a sign of new alignment of forces and power, the acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, received only a handful of visitors yesterday. The visitors included the chairman of the People's Democratic Party, Vincent Ogbulafor, and the special adviser to the president on National Assembly matters, Mohammed Abba-Aji.
There was speculation among journalists that Mr. Abba-Aji might be ferrying the list of potential cabinet ministers, but he was quick to deny this, saying the list will be made available as soon as it is ready.
On his part, Mr. Ogbulafor, who spoke to journalists, said the acting president will consult the party before constituting the new cabinet, adding that his visit was to brief him (the acting president) on party issues. “Who told you it is PDP government?” He asked. “PDP is the ruling party, what else do you want? The Acting President will consult us. He did the dissolution yesterday and we will give him time to do the consultation. I am in the State House to brief the acting president on party issues.”
The party chairman was quick to add that the party still plays a key role in the government, but will trust the decisions and judgment of Mr. Jonathan. “We still play a key role. I have absolute confidence in the acting president. He is a party man; he has been governor of a state and he has been a vice president and now an acting president so he is a party man to the core. We are satisfied; we are very satisfied,” he said.
However, Mr. Ogbulafor then went on to advise the acting president on the calibre of people he should employ in his new cabinet, saying he should “get those that will work with him so that he can run the government efficiently and effectively.”
The dissolution of the executive council of the federation on Wednesday by Mr. Jonathan has also set off intense lobbying for various positions, according to a source.
Another source, who asked for anonymity, said most of the 'older' ministers may not come back. “People like the former minister of state for petroleum resources, Odein Ajumogobia; minister of information, Dora Akunyili; former attorney general of the federation, Adetokunbo Kayode; former national planning minister, Shamsuddeen Usman; Ibrahim Kazaure, Godwin Orubebe and Mansur Muhtar may all come back, but some of them will be moved to different ministries,” our source added.
Change in plans
The acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, who was supposed to embark on a series of trips to Kogi and Namibia, cancelled his trips at short notice.
Sources said this was due to the absence of ministers to take him around as is the custom while attending a function concerning a ministry. Sources also claimed he had appointed a former president to represent him at Namibia and also cancelled his proposed trip to the United States of America.