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Major cabinet shake-up, nine ministers dropped… Jonathan says action was ingredients of democracy

By The Citizen
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President Goodluck Jonathan, shortly after the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday, announced the dropping of nine ministers from his cabinet.

According to a source at the meeting, President Jonathan was quoted saying at the end of the meeting that “some of you will not be with us at the next Federal Executive Council meeting. This is not because you didn’t do well, but that is the ingredients of democracy. You will hear the details from the Secretary to Government of the Federation”.

It was said that his statement jolted a lot of them who had no inkling of the plans to drop them.

“Their replacement will be sent to Senate in a yet to be determined date”, the source said.

However, the government has said the dropping of the ministers has nothing to do with any political undertone.

The affected ministers are, Education, Prof Ruqayyatu Rufai,  Science and Technology, Ita Okon Ekwa, Foreign Affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru,  Environment, Hadiza Mailafia, National Planning, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman, and Housing, Lands and Urban Development, Amal Pepple.

The Ministers of State affected are Defence, Olushola Obada, Agriculture, Alhaji Bukar Tijani and Power, Zainab Kuchi.

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, said the reshuffle is with immediate effect.

He said President Jonathan through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, also named the ministers that will oversee the affected ministries.

The Minister of State Foreign Affairs II, Prof. Viola onwuliri is to oversee the Ministry, the Education Ministry is to be overseen by the Minister of State, Nyesome Wike, the minister of Solid Minerals, Musa Sada is to oversee  the Ministry of Housing, Lands and Urban Development, the Minister of Communications Technology is to oversee the Science and Technology Ministry, the Minister of State Works, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda is to oversee the Ministry of Planning, while Maku is to oversee the Ministry of  Defence.

Maku further announced that the Ministers of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina and Power, Chinedu Nebo were directed to take charge of their Ministries pending appointment of new Ministers of state.

Maku said, the President expressed satisfaction with the services of the affected ministers since their appointment and assured them that he would continue to engage them in the future when needed for the development of the country.

“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 also thanked them for their service to their fatherland and said he will 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 to our country. He was indeed pleased to say because of what they have done in serving this country, he reassured them that this government will continue to use their services in the development of the country and thanked them for their services to this administration and to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Also following this a list will be sent to the National Assembly for the confirmation of new ministers and once that is ready and sent I am sure the Presidency will announce, the list of the new ministers to replace the ministers that were affected in the reshuffle”.

“Surely we are very supportive of our colleagues in council who were affected in the reshuffle, we have worked together with them over this period of time, that the President gave us the opportunity to serve and we do know their commitment, but as the President said government is re-tooled from time to time to bring new lease of life to an administration. It is a normal process and the President has given them the assurance that they will continue to be useful to this administration and to this country.

“We will continue to give strong support to the President in his efforts to retouch his government to ensure that he realizes the full objectives of his administration. We remain all loyal to the President and we also know that our appointments are subject to his own goodwill and support and all of us continue to reassure him as a team that we will continue to work for him, work for this nation, work for the realization of his efforts to transform Nigeria. We are all convinced that the President has so far in Council and as a leader of this country shown uncommon commitment to the development of Nigeria and as his policies continue to give results in the field and as he continues to move forward to realize the key objectives of changing this country and making it work for every Nigerian, and ensuring that governance responds to the needs of the people, we commit ourselves to him and we commit ourselves to the nation”.

On whether the reshuffle had political undertone, Maku said, “you know even the press has been speculating cabinet reshuffle for a long time, I can’t remember how many times in the last one year that the press has been speculating that they would be cabinet reshuffle. In fact some have been writing almost openly saying they want cabinet reshuffle. 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 is has nothing to do with the decision of the President. I believe this must have been coming over time. It cannot be something you do over night.

“So I believe as he explained to us, he has studied the way his government has worked, his has set targets for the next two years and what he is doing is to adjust his cabinet to realise the objectives of his transformation agenda. That is exactly the reason he has come out with these changes at this time. Like I told you he was full of appreciation for those who have served him in the last two years and if you know the President, he is not the kind of person that will take decision at the spur of the moment. He is a highly studied person, highly focused leader, he is a patient person and he is someone that when you see him taken any decision he has taught about it over and over again.

“So this cannot be something that has resulted in a month or two or three months, this must be something he has been working on for a long period of time.

“So I want to assure you, this is definitely a decision to refocus government and to resharp his administration in order to achieve greater service delivery. The President is trying to reject fresh blood into the system while retaining again the loyalty of all those who have worked. And like I said he has assured them that they will continue to be relevant to this government in one area or the order. But cabinet reshuffle has been the tradition of every government in Nigeria whether military or elected. And this indeed has been something that has been long in coming, so for him to come into this conclusion means he has been working on it for a period of time.

“What is most important is that this is all part of the process of improving service delivery and that is exactly what is all about it has nothing to do with any order matter”.