JONATHAN RESHUFFLES CABINET
In a mini cabinet reshuffle yesterday, President Goodluck Jonathan moved the Minister of State for Finance, Remi Babalola, to Special Duties. redeploying Navy Captain, Caleb Olubolade, the incumbent, to Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as Minister of State
Babalola, who stirred controversy last month by declaring Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) insolvent, a statement which the Federal Government publicly denied, only nodded repeatedly when his name was announced last after the swearing in of the new ministers and assignment of portfolios.
Those sworn-in and assigned portfolios were Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi (Delta), who is now the Minister of State for Education, Mrs. Yabawa Lawan Wali, (Borno) now Minister of State Finance, and Mrs. Salamatu Suleiman (Kebbi), Minister of State II Foreign Affairs.
Also sworn-in were Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Commissioners, Ambassador Mohammed Ahmed Wali and Dr. Christopher Emoga, as well as Professor Dan Adebiyi as the Special Adviser on Policy Monitoring and Evaluation. Meanwhile the Presidency yesterday distanced itself from speculations making rounds that the Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Deziani Allison-Madueke, who is presently steering wide-range legislation to overhaul the oil and gas industry through the parliament was to be sacked ahead of next year's general elections.
The Presidency, while assuring the Organised Private Sector (OPS), especially the international business community, to continue to carry out their lawful businesses with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and its parastatals, including the NNPC, at all times, said there was no plan to effect changes in the leadership of the ministry. Highly placed Presidency source described the rumour to sack the minister as handiwork of political opponents who believed that the control of the Ministry of Petroleum was a political asset to a presidential aspirant in the 2011 general elections.
Meanwhile, President Jonathan yesterday berated the media for being the new found weapon of political warfare where politicians resorted to speculation and rumour mongering to weaken their opponents and, therefore, advised them to remain agents of development rather than being used to destabilize the polity.
A visibly angry Jonathan at the swearing in of the new ministers reacted to media reports (not Daily Sun) that he was considering reshuffling his cabinet months ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections, said 'nobody would know if he wanted to remove any Minister'.
Directing his appeal to the mass media to always be guided by professionalism rather than being used to fight press war, the president said, 'what we read in the media convey a kind of sponsored press war; this is not helpful to the nation. If a minister is not to be removed and you continue to tell the world that the minister is to be removed, what you publish affects the ministry drastically as people who have one thing or the other to do with that ministry will become careful, they would want to wait for the day the minister will be removed which will not come.'
'I assure you that if I am to redeploy a minister you will not know until the announcement will be made. So, all these speculations about redeployment or removal, I plead with the media, please, help Nigeria because you are not serving us if you publish spurious stories, because they are being sponsored by some interests group.
'There are sometimes sponsored stories about senior staff of government to be removed or redeployed, yes we serve government and redeployment is a part of our service. A minister that is to be redeployed or is being redeployed is not an indictment but for one reason or the other, in some cases to strengthen some other departments of government,' he stated.
Addressing the 'new appointees, Jonathan said, 'today we have sworn in three Ministers, two INEC commissioners and one special adviser to serve. You have taken your oath of office not to serve Goodluck Ebele Jonathan but to serve, Nigeria and Nigerians.'
The President challenged them 'to go and do your best to serve our dear country and motherland to make sure that we improve on any situation that we meet as we go to the office.' 'I believe that you will do your best, some of you I have interacted with for quite some time and I know you will give us the best of service.'