Sacked Ministers: Lobbyists Storm Aso Rock
Two days after President Goodluck Jonathan sacked nine of his ministers, some leaders of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party PDP), business moguls and traditional rulers yesterday stormed Aso Rock, the seat of power, putting their cronies forward for the vacant offices.
On Wednesday, the president dropped the minsters of foreign affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru; education, Prof. Ruggayat Ruf'ai; national planning, Shamsudeen Usman; housing and urban development, Amal Pepple; environment, Hajiya Hadiza Mailafia; and science and technology, Prof. Bassey Ewa. Others were the ministers of state for defence, Erelu Olusola Obada; agriculture, Alhaji Bukar Tijani; and power, Alhaja Zainab Kuchi.
When our correspondent arrived at the Pilot Gate of the Aso Rock, it was a beehive as some influential lobbyists were being screened by the security operatives before they were allowed to enter into the presidential villa.
A source within the villa disclosed that the outpouring of the lobbyists began on Thursday as they mounted pressure on those that are very close to President Jonathan. 'These people have been coming since Thursday, a day after the sack of the ministers. Most of them are from the affected states since they know the replacements are coming from there. Some are politicians of note, some are businessmen and women, some are former political officeholders, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, a deputy speaker, two former governors from the north are on the list and I have seen at least two traditional rulers who also came for the same reasons,' the source disclosed.
Also yesterday, the new PDP members said President Jonathan sacked the ministers because they were identifying with them, noting that the ministers were placed under surveillance, denied the necessary tools to work with and programmed to fail.
The party said the minister of housing, Ms Amal Pepple, was fired because she literally knelt down and pleaded with the president to forgive the Rivers State governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, of whatever sins he had committed against him.
Also, the party said the refusal of the police to allow Amaechi and his guests enter the Government House signposts the return of the days of Gen. Sani Abacha.
Minister of information Mr Labaran Maku had said the changes in the cabinet were due to the president's commitment to deliver the dividends of democracy to Nigerians by bringing in new hands and ideas into the system.
But a statement signed by the new PDP's national publicity secretary, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, said the presidency cannot justify the sack of the ministers. He said: 'No matter the flimsy excuses being given by the federal government over the sack of nine of our candidates from the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the truth of the matter is that these innocent ministers were sacked because they were either nominated by us or sympathetic to our cause.
'We are aware that these ministers had been under surveillance and denied the necessary tools to work with - in short, they were programmed to fail immediately they were identified with us. Sadly, these innocent ministers have been sacked while the most corrupt ministers whose atrocious activities are well known to Nigerians are retained.
'The most pitiable case of these sacked ministers is that of our mother, the minister of Housing, Ms Amal Pepple, whose crime was approaching Mr President to plead with him, even kneeling down to beg him to forgive Gov. Amaechi of whatever sins he's assumed to have committed against him.
'We wish to assure these victimised ministers that their travails are temporary. They have nothing to be ashamed of; their fate is in the hands of God and their future is very bright. Therefore, rather than being sad, they should count themselves lucky for being part of the struggle to salvage our party and country from the hands of opportunists who are using a political party which they do not know how it was formed to torment and haunt the founders of the party and their supporters.
Amaechi distorting facts, playing victim – PDP
The PDP leadership yesterday lambasted Amaechi for 'distorting facts and manipulating the media' over the police's refusal to allow him and his guests access to the Government House on Thursday.
The party said Amaechi was aware that the police had sealed off 'a secretariat illegally opened by some individuals under the name, flag and colour of the PDP' based on a court ruling and, as such, the route leading to the structure was closed.
The PDP national publicity secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, in a statement said: 'Of particular concern is the manipulation of the media by the governor of Rivers State, His Excellency Chibuike Amaechi, to mislead Nigerians and create an impression that he was barred by the police and the federal government from entering the Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt.
'This distortion of facts is totally unacceptable and unbefitting of a state governor. It is indeed condemnable that Governor Amaechi has continued to distort facts and interfere in the lawful activities of the police and security operatives ensuring law and order in Rivers State only to manipulate the media and portray himself as the victim.'
The national leadership of the Accord Party (AP) has described the sack of nine ministers by President Jonathan on their alleged political affiliation with the G-7 governor as a threat to democracy in Nigeria.
The party's national secretary, Dr Samson Isibor, while reacting to the development in Benin City, Edo State, said it is a pointer to bad political leadership which must be condemned by all defenders of democracy.