A Presidency source said three ex-governors in the Federal Executive Council – Dr. Sam Egwu (Education); Adamu Aliero (FCT); and Chief Achike Udenwa (Commerce and Industry) – had become jittery over the possibility of being eased out of government in the planned cabinet reshuffle.
They are said to have been making secret moves to ensure their retention to FEC. They also want to be named to their current positions or influential ministries.
According to the source, Jonathan’s secret deal with serving governors on the composition of a new FEC, as reported by Saturday PUNCH on February 13, may affect Udenwa and the two other ministers. The report said the governors had reached an understanding with the Acting President to allow them nominate persons to serve in the new FEC.
Sources say that the Imo State Governor Ikedi Ohakim has never hidden his desire for Udenwa to be removed as a minister.
For Aliero, who is a former governor of Kebbi State, factors standing in his way include the filthy state of the FCT; his controversial spat with the House of Representatives over speed bumps; procedural problems with the contract for the expansion of the Airport Road; and the storm over the revocation of plots in Abuja.
The source said that before Yar’Adua was hospitalised, Aliero was fond of bypassing the vice-president’s office and communicating directly with the President.
The source said the former governors of Delta, James Ibori; and Abia, Orji Kalu, were also making moves to either be named ministers or get their nominess into FEC.
However, the corruption cases against both ex-governors are standing in their way. The source said that one of the reasons Jonathan removed Mr. Michael Aondoakaa as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice was because he (Aondoakaa) was believed to be blocking the effective prosecution of their cases. Also, the source said Jonathan had been under intense pressure from the international community to demonstrate that the Federal Government was still serious about fighting corruption.
Also, Ibori and Kalu are reportedly not having a cordial relationship with the governors of their states, Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta) and Theodore Orji (Abia). Currently, the governors are said to be unhappy that they did not nominate the ministers from their states into the cabinet.
“Orji is unhappy that he had no say in nominating the FCT Minister of State, Mr. Chuka Odom, while the Minister of State for Environment, Mrs. Grace Ekpiwhre, and the Minister of State for Niger Delta, Mr. Godsday Orubebe, were imposed on Uduaghan. The governors’ deal with the Acting President may affect these ministers,” he said.
It was also gathered that the Acting President may dispense with the Government of National Unity formed by Yar’Adua in the early days of his administration, in favour of tested technocrats.
Our correspondent learnt that Odom and other ministers in FEC as part of the GNU were under pressure to defect to the Peoples Democratic Party. This is another factor against Kalu, given the poor showing of the Progressive Peoples Alliance, to which he and Odom belong, in the February 6 governorship election in Anambra State.
“While Kalu is said to be planning to replace Odom, who is from Imo State, as the PPA minister, the Abia State governor is insisting that he must be allowed to choose his person. Odom is under serious pressure to dump the PPA for PDP to remain in the cabinet because of the peculiar nature of his appointment. So, he will not be banking on the GNU ticket but the Acting President’s assessment of his performance as the FCT minister of state to remain in FEC and possibly get a better position,” the source added.
The source added, “Some ministers that may be dropped include the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Rilwan Lukman and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe. They may be dropped on account of age and poor public perception of their performance.
It was also gathered that if he was not dropped totally, the Minister of Health, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, who it said to be close to first lady, Turai Yar’Adua, may lose the health ministry to Prof. Dora Akunyili, for her courage to speak up against the efforts to frustrate Jonathan from becoming the Ag. President.
Also, other ministers who have been in the corridors of power over the years, are likely to be dropped. Nigeria’s former ambassador to the United States, Dr. George Obiozor, and Prof. Pat Utomi are being seriously considered.”
In December 2009, Lukman travelled to Austria for personal reasons, a day after Jonathan had ordered him and two other ministers not to go on Christmas holidays. The directive was as a result of the fuel crisis and the government’s inability to meet its December 31 target to provide 6000 megawatts to Nigerians.
When contacted on Sunday, Utomi said he was not aware that he was being considered for any ministerial appointment.
However, attempts to obtain comments from the PPA and ANPP on the likely dissolution of the GNU failed.