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Monday, June 20, 2011

Likely Ministers in Goodluck Jonathan's Cabinet

The list of probable ministerial nominees for the federal cabinet is taking shape as President Goodluck Jonathan has submitted more names to the Department of State Security Service for screening, preparatory to their presentation to the senate for confirmation.

But their names would only be forwarded to the senate if they scale through security scrutiny.

Among those on the fresh ministerial nomination list are the acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr. Haliru Bello, the party’s national secretary, Alhaji Kawu Baraje and former Managing Director of Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr. Festus Odimegwu.

Others are former African female speedster on the track and field, Mrs. Mary Onyali-Omagbemi, Michael Onolemhehe, an architect and Alhaji Bukkar Tijjani.

Bello, a former Minister of Communication under President Olusegun Obasanjo, will be representing Kebbi State in the cabinet, if he scales the security hurdle. Baraje, on the other hand, is from Kwara State.

Their nomination is in fulfilment of an agreement the president reached with the party’s NWC members when they met with him last month at the Obudu Mountain Resort, Cross River State, where he had gone for a retreat after the general elections.

At that meeting, the president had conceded to their request that some of them be appointed to the new cabinet.

It is also in keeping with the tradition of the PDP-led federal government started by its first president, Olusegun Obasanjo and sustained by his successor, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to reward members of the party’s National Working Committee for their contributions to the election of the president.

During his time, Obasanjo named some NWC members as ministers and special advisers. Among them were Mrs. Josephine Anenih, a former national woman leader, who was his Special Adviser on Women Affairs until 2006 and Venatius Ikem, former national publicity secretary, who was appointed special adviser in 2005.

The late Yar’Adua, on his part, named one of Baraje’s predecessors, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, as foreign minister and Mr. John Odey, former national publicity secretary, as minister of information.

Jonathan later reassigned Odey to the Ministry of Environment and Housing, in a cabinet reshuffle after Yar’Adua’s death last year.

The implication of Bello and Baraje’s nomination is that the PDP may be heading for an earlier national convention.

Its national convention is slated for March next year, but if the two of them make it to the cabinet, the party would have to hold an earlier convention to replace them.

Onolemhehe, a former Minister of State for Defence in the Obasanjo administration, hails from Edo State.

His nomination could foreclose the return of the former Minister of State for Works, Mr. Chris Ogiemwoye, who is also from the state.

He may, however, stand a narrow chance of being nominated if Jonathan decides to select the zonal nominee to represent the south-south zone in the cabinet from Edo State.

Festus Odimegwu, who vied for the party’s gubernatorial ticket in Imo State in 2007 shortly after the NB Plc eased him out over his involvement in politics, was among ministerial nominees whose name was sent for security screening on Monday.

Onyali-Omagbemi will be representing Anambra State while Tijjani will represent Borno State.

THISDAY further learnt that the name of the Managing Director of the World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who was Obasanjo’s Minister of Finance and later foreign affairs, was among those slated for screening, an indication that she might have accepted Jonathan’s offer to serve Nigeria again.  She will be representing Abia State in the FEC.

It was, however, unclear Saturday if the former Minister of Finance, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, would be returning to the cabinet like some of his colleagues.

In a related development, controversy is still raging over who would represent Delta State in the cabinet.

The wife of the former PDP national chairman, Col. Ahmadu Ali (rtd), Dr. Mariam Ali, is said to be under pressure to withdraw her petition against the election of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa representing Delta North Senatorial District, as a pre-condition for her consideration as the state’s nominee.

Former Minister of State for Education, Chief Kenneth Gbagi, may also not return to the cabinet, as it was gathered that he no longer enjoys the confidence of South-south Elders Forum leader, Chief Edwin Clark. Clark is said to have nominated Dr. Cairo Ojougboh as the Delta representative.

Ojougboh’s nomination is said to have received the blessing of Clark and a former Economic Adviser to Obasanjo, Chief Philip Asiodu, and other top stakeholders from Delta State.

A presidency source confirmed that under the circumstances, Jonathan would have to pick between Ali’s wife and Ojougboh.

If this sails through, Delta State may have two ministerial nominees as Mr. Godsday Orubebe, who was Minister of the Niger Delta in the last cabinet and is believed to be returning,  is said to represent the south-south geo-political zone.

The official in the presidency revealed that only Cross River State in the south-south has no nominee for now.

He disclosed that the SSS last Wednesday screened 11 former ministers ahead of their presentation to the senate for confirmation.

Some of the former ministers sighted at the SSS headquarters, otherwise known as the ‘Yellow House,’ included former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke; former Minister for the Federal Capital Territory and the former Minister of State of the same ministry, Senator Bala Mohammed and Navy Captain Caleb Olubo-lade (rtd), respectively; former Minister of Defence, Prince Adetokunbo  Kayode and Orubebe.

Others were former Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqqayatu Rufa’i; former Minister of Labour, Chief Emeka Wogu, his former Health counterpart, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu and former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke.

The screening, however, has been delayed by Thursday’s bomb blast at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, as all security agencies have deployed their resources to fishing out the perpetrators.

The blast has also disrupted the screening of the nominees by the police, which sources said would resume next week.

So far, Jonathan has sent an estimated 20 names as nominees for security clearance.

Source: THISDay

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