This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Yar'Adua Creates Ministry of Niger Delta

Abuja — President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua yesterday stepped up ongoing moves to revamp the machinery of his government with the restructuring of the federal ministries under which a Ministry of Niger Delta has emerged.

Also, Aviation, Transport, Works, Housing and Urban Development, Water Resources, as well as Agriculture and Rural Development are now substantive ministries.

THISDAY had reported exclusively last month that a plan to restore them as full-fledged ministries was under way.

Addressing State House Correspondents at the end of yesterday's Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Alhaji Mahmud Yayale Ahmed, said the new Ministry of Niger Delta which will have two ministers, would lead and coordinate environmental and youth empowerment policy initiatives as well as reinforce the administration's commitment to the overall development of the region.

He said there would not be any duplication between the new ministry and the Niger Delta Development Commis-sion (NDDC) as the latter will be a parastatal under the ministry.

"To make sure that the workload is given the necessary focus, two ministers are being proposed. One will be in charge of development of Niger Delta area whereby construction of roads, electricity, etc instead of being handled by ministry of works or power will now be aggregated in this new ministry for better focus, quick implementation to demonstrate the seriousness and commitment of this administration.

"The minister of state will take charge of youth empowerment because the Niger Delta has a twin problem of development of youth empowerment," he said.

Similarly, the Ministry of Police Affairs has been restored to give necessary attention to the security imperatives of the nation within the ambit of the Seven-Point Agenda of the present regime.

"It is in line with the reform of the police as an institution and also because the police is the largest employer of labour in the public sector now. There are nearly 400,000 police officers and men, which must be given the necessary focus and attention," Ahmed said.

The Ministry of Energy has also been broken into two ministries - the Ministry of Power to be manned by a substantive minister and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources with a minister and a minister of state.

Furthermore, the ministers in the Ministries of Education, Mines and Steel Development, Science and Technology have been reduced by one each.

Under the new arrangement, there will be 28 ministries and 42 ministers in all.

A committee that will determine the new mandates of the ministries, their roles and relationship is expected to be inaugurated today by the SGF.

The committee is also to come up within one week the actual structure in terms of the number of departments and parastatals in each ministry.

The review of the current structure, according to the SGF, is predicated on the need to streamline and strengthen the mechanism for service delivery without sacrificing the objectives of the Public Service Reforms carried out in the twilight of the last administration.

Ahmed said: "Under this new structure which is expected to engender greater flexibility, direction and focus, there will be 28 ministries and 42 ministers to cover the constitutional requirements for federal character while addressing the issues of equity and affirmative action.

"Other ministries in the new dispensation are Finance, Health, Justice, Commerce and Industry, Foreign Affairs, Defence, Information and Communications, Labour and Productivity, Youth Develop-ment, Women Affairs and Social Development, Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Interior and Federal Capital Territory Administration. The National Planning Commission and National Sports Commission retain the same structure."

He said President Yar'Adua had directed all ministers to re-articulate the mandates of their ministries and departments in line with the requirements of the Seven-Point Agenda under the guidance of the SGF and Head of Service.

The next FEC meeting will hold on Wednesday September 24, to allow the President enough time for the implementation of the restructuring exercise.

The restructuring is part of efforts to fast-track and effectively co-ordinate the implementation of the Seven-Point Agenda of the President.

Yar'Adua had decorated the new service chiefs last Monday, his first official assignment after he returned from a two-week sojourn in Saudi Arabia performing the lesser hajj.

And moments after the ceremony, the former SGF, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, was sacked and replaced by Ahmed who was formerly Minister of Defence.

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