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FG removes 10 ministers • Ezekwesili, others get portfolios

Posted by Yomi Odunuga, Sam Akpe and Isine Ibanga on 2005/07/14 | Views: 2279 |

FG removes 10 ministers • Ezekwesili, others get portfolios


Ten ministers on Wednesday lost their seats in the Federal Executive Council, as President Olusegun Obasanjo brought in 11 fresh hands and redeployed six others.

Ten ministers on Wednesday lost their seats in the Federal Executive Council, as President Olusegun Obasanjo brought in 11 fresh hands and redeployed six others.

Three special advisers, one senior special assistant and four special assistants also lost their jobs, according to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant (Media) to the President, Mrs. Oluremi Oyo.

The former Presidential Adviser on Petroleum and Energy Matters, Dr. Edmund Daukoru, is the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources - the first to be so appointed in the entire life span of the current administration.

No substantive minister was named for the ministry, which the president is supervising since 1999.

The former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN), was named the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General; he displaced Chief Akinlolu Olujinmi from the cabinet.

The former Minister of Solid Minerals, Mr. Magnus Odion-Ugbesia, lost his portfolio to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence, Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili.

Other newcomers to the Federal Executive Council include Mrs. H.E. Esuene, named as Minister of State, Health, to replace Ms. Olufunke Adedoyin.

The wife of a former Minister of Finance, Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, Maryam, was announced as Minister of Women Affairs in place of Mrs. Rita Akpan.

A one-time President of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, Dr. Joseph Itotoh, got the portfolio of Minister of State for Internal Affairs. He took over from Alhaji Saidu Samaila, who has been moved to the Sports Ministry. Alhaji Ahmed Abdulhamid was named the Minister of State, Power and Steel. He replaced Dr. Babalola Borishade, who was re-assigned as Minister of Aviation in place of Alhaji Isa Yuguda.

The new Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mr. Frank Nweke Jr., succeeded Chief Chukwuemeka Chikelu from the cabinet. Nweke’s former portfolio as Minister of Inter-Governmental Affairs, Youth Development and Special Duties is being taken over by Col. Musa Mohammed (rtd.). He relinquishes his own former portfolio as Minister of Sports to Samaila.

The new Minister of State, Education, is Mrs. Halimat Alao; she replaced Hajia Bintu Musa who has been dropped. Dr. Rahman Mimiko takes up the office of Minister of Housing, for which there had been no substantive occupant since the dismissal of Mrs. Mobolaji Osomo from the cabinet in April.

Ambassador Fidelis Tapgun is the new Minister of Industry. He took over from Ambassador Magaji Muhammed, who became the Minister of Internal Affairs. Dr. Iyorchia Ayu who previously held that portfolio has been redeployed as Minister of Environment. Ayu displaced Col. Bala Mande from the cabinet.

Also newly appointed was Alhaji Yahaya Abdulkarim, who became the Minister of State, Works. He displaced Alhaji Saleh Shehu from the cabinet.

Ministers who retained their former slots following the cabinet reshuffle include Alhaji Adamu Bello (Agriculture), Alhaji Idris Waziri (Commerce); Chief Cornelius Adebayo (Communications); Alhaji Lawan Guba (Cooperation and Integration in Africa); Chief Franklin Ogbuewu (Culture and Tourism); Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso (Defence); Mrs. Chinwe Obaji (Education); Mallam Nasir el-Rufai (Federal Capital); Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Finance); and Mrs. Nenadi Usman (Minister of State, Finance).

Others are Ambassador Olu Adeniji (Foreign Affairs); Prof. Eyitayo Lambo (Health); Alhaji Hassan Lawal (Labour and Productivity); Mr. Broderick Bozimo (Police Affairs); Senator Liyel Imoke (Power and Steel); Prof. Turner Isoun (Science and Technology); Chief Abiye Sekibo (Transport); Alhaji Mukhtar Shagari (Water Resources); and Chief Adeseye Ogunlewe (Works).

A source within The Presidency told our correspondents on Wednesday that Obasanjo had requested the Governors of Bauchi and Oyo states to send names of fresh nominees for ministerial jobs.

This, according to the source, is in view of the fact that the two substantive ministers from the states, Yuguda (formerly of Aviation) and Olujinmi (formerly Attorney-General and Justice Minister), have been dropped from the cabinet.

The source explained that some of the ministers were dropped to enable them pursue their political ambition for 2007. However, some of the aides were dropped for non-performance.

The aides may also have been dropped following the advice by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission that the president should downsize his aides to about 50, or 25 per cent of the present figure.

Though the names of the sacked presidential aides were being kept secret as at 6pm on Wednesday, a reliable Presidency source listed those affected to include Chief Rochas Okorocha; Gen. Ja’afaru Isa; Mrs. Benni Lar; Mr. Shima Ayati; Mallam Lawal Batagarawa; Mr. Chris Mammah; and one Mr. Dako, who was said to be a Senior Special Assistant to the President

President Obasanjo said more ministers might yet be sacked and prosecuted for giving bribe to unnamed members of the National Assembly during the defence of the 2005 budget.

He said although none of the ministers had owned up to offering bribes besides the former Minister of Education, Prof. Fabian Osuji, the President was still investigating some cases.

Obasanjo spoke at the Aso Rock Villa shortly after administering the oath of office on the newly appointed ministers.

He warned the ministers against lobbying with money to have their budgetary allocations increased or approved.

He added, "No minister should go and see anybody when the time comes for your budget; whatever you are given is what will be passed.

"The other time, after the then Minister of Education was exposed, I said was there anybody left? But nobody came out to say he was also involved.

"I am still trying to find out because I believe that there are others who were involved, who have not shown that they are involved."

The President warned family members of the ministers not to make impossible demands on the appointees just because of the new offices they were occupying.

He said, "If you ask them to give you money that they don’t have, then you are asking them to go into corruption and they will pay for it."

Speaking extemporaneously, the President said the ministers and aides should see themselves as athletes holding in their hands the batons for the final lap of a race.

"We are now in the last lap," he told them, explaining that they needed to see themselves as anchormen who must make up for the lost ground by running very fast with endurance and stamina.

He said, "Those of you who have been brought at this stage, you know what is expected of you. We want to finish the race in top form and we expect you to carry the baton to the finishing line.

"What this means is that if you get 25 hours out of a day, I will demand it from you.

"If you can only sleep for two and half hours a day, I will demand it from you and the nation will demand it from you.

"If you will work on weekends, I will demand it from you. We are on the last lap and the baton is in your hand.

"To the old ministers, what I am saying also applies. We all have to redouble our efforts.

"And without embarrassing any minister here, those of you who normally get a little emotional, with tears coming out of your eyes, we have to keep tears away because there will be more and more demanded.

"We have a lot of work to do. The results have to show, so we are encouraged and you must all feel encouraged, that our labour has not been in vain and will not be in vain.

"It requires more effort to remain on the pinnacle. When you are on the pinnacle, you are seen by everybody and whatever you do is in the full glare of everybody, and for that reason, you cannot be a spectator."

The Guild of Medical Directors on Wednesday, in Lagos, expressed shock at the last minute exclusion of Dr. Kingsley Akinroye from the list of ministers sworn in by the president.

The Chairman of the Lagos State branch of the Guild, Dr. Babatunde Ladele, supported by other medical professionals, said, "We are shocked by some of the reasons we read in the papers as reasons why he was dropped at the last minute.

"Some of the issues raised bordering on his CV are what prompted our reaction. He has not claimed what he is not.

"He is a physician, he graduated in 1975, and had his post-graduate studies at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith hospital, University of London, in the United Kingdom. He has worked in several hospitals in Britain."

Though Ladele said his group had not written a formal letter to the President, it was making informal contacts.

The Punch, Thursday, July 14, 2005

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