Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: New Cabinet Brings Aso-Rock Alive Again

It was the day set aside for the inauguration of the new ministers by the Acting President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The event attracted so many relatives, friends, supporters and other well-wishers who started thronging the State House as early as 9:00 am, for a occasion that was scheduled for 12: noon.

As a result of the population upsurge, there was an undoubtedly a large crowd that almost overwhelmed the capacity of those saddled with the duties of crowd control. There is no gainsaying the fact that the security officials attached to the Presidential Villa, were overstretched as they found it very hectic controlling the movement of the hundreds of friends and well-wishers of the newly sworn-in ministers.

As observers simply put it, "it was a carnival of sorts as associates, including town unions resident in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of the ministers, clad in colourful traditional attires and accompanied by musicians converged at the Pilot Gate of the Villa to keep the once politically tensed premises of the State House alive as they waited for their newly sworn-in ministers from their constituencies.

While many drummed and danced ceaselessly in different songs some supporters were kept entertained by musicians, even as other were sighted either charting in groups or making telephone calls all through the two hours the event lasted.

Vanguard gathered that even though the ministers had been told to limit the number of those that would accompany them to the event to two, the supporters made their ways into Aso Rock but couldn't gain entrance into inner part of the Presidential Villa.

Inside the main venue of the ceremony there was indeed a larger crowd of well-wishers as State House Correspondents were hurriedly asked, with little appeal, to vacate their seats for "guests" or political jobbers.

Donned in what children would simply refer to as Christmas Dress, the then minister started filing-in into the venue but were first ushered to the tea room, next to the hall where they had some snacks . And few minutes later they were again ushered to the venue proper where they took their seats before the chief host arrived to perform the oath taking.

Jonathan went in, took his seat, and the next thing, his Principal Secretary, Chief Mike Oghiadome, took over proceedings when he told the gathering that the exercise would be done in six batches with the first to the fourth having six ministers each, while the last two will have seven persons each, even as he took time to read the brief biography of the new cabinet members in alphabetical order.

And shortly after the oath taking ceremony, rather than announce the portfolios himself, as the practice with his immediate boss, ailing President Umaru Yar'Adua, the Acting President decided to assign that responsibility to Chief Oghiadome.

According to the portfolio, management executive of Goldman Sachs Mr. Olusegun Olutoyin Aganga was to become Nigeria's new Minister of Finance and Chairman of the National Economic Team, a body that will be charged with the responsibility of repositioning the Nigerian economy. Also appointed is Mr Aderemi W. Babalola the immediate past Minister of State for Finance, who retains his portfolio, even as he becomes the Vice Chairman of the Economic Team.

Contrary to expectation and speculations, the Acting President, in his wisdom decided that the lucrative portfolio of the Petroleum Resources Ministry be given to a fellow Bayelsan and immediate past Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mrs. Deziani Alison-Madueke; even as Jonathan did not appoint a Minister of State for the ministry.

The immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Adetokunbo Kayode, SAN, is now Nigeria's Minister of Defence, while he will be assited by the nephew of ailing President Umaru Yar'Adua, and son of late Shehu Musa Yar'Adua, Alhaji Murtala Shehu Yar'Adua . Former Minister of Petroleum, Mr. Henry Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, is now the Minister of Foreign Affairs with former Minister of State for Health, Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong as the new Minister of State (1) for Foreign Affairs.

A onetime Minister of the National Planning Commission, Sen. Sanusi M. Dagash, is now to head the Ministry of Works while the man, many thought would be the minister of Petroleum, Engr. Chris Ogiemwinyi, from Edo State is now the Minister of State for Works. The Lands, Housing & Urban Development components of the former ministry of Works, following its splitting into two, now has Hon. Nduese Essien, as its substantive Minister.

Prof. Sheikh Ahmed Abdullah heads Agriculture while Mr. Awodele Najeem Adewale serves as Minister of State. Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN is Nigeria's New Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister for Justice (AGF), Mrs. Fidelia Njeze Aviation. Sen. Jibril Martins Kuye is to head Commerce & Industry while Mrs. Josephine Tapgun is the Minister of State in that Ministry.

Abubakar Sadiq A. Mohammed is the Minister of Culture & Tourism while Prof. (Mrs) Ruqayyatu A. Rufa'I heads the Education Ministry; Sen. Bala Muhammed is the new Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) while Mr John Odey retains his former portfolio of the Environment Ministry. However, the Ministry of Health was left open without a substantive Minister, even as Alh. Suleiman Bello was appointed as the Minister of State in the Ministry.

The Information & Communication Ministry portfolio was retained by Prof. Dora Akunyili, while the former Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State, Mr. Labaran Maku, is now the new Minister of State in the Ministry. The Ministry of Interior has Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho whiles the immediate past Minister of State for Commerce, Mr. Humphrey Enemakwu Abah, becomes the new Minister of State in that ministry.

Mr. Chukwuemeka Ngozichineke Wogu is to oversee the Ministry of Labour & Productivity; Mines & Steel Development now has Arc Musa Mohammed Sada, as the substansive Minister, while the former Minister of State for Niger-Delta Affairs, Elder Peter Godsday Orubebe, is now promoted to the rank of a substantive Minister; with Hon. Samuel Ode now the Minister of State in that Ministry.

The Power Ministry, like Health, has no substantive Minister yet, instead, the former minister of State in the Ministry,, Arc. Nuhu Somo Wya who found his way back to government was retained as the second in command. The Police Affairs Ministry has former Minister of State for Agriculture and Water Resources, Alh. Adamu Waziri, from Yobe State as the substantive Minister; Prof. Muhammed K. Abubakar, was appointed to head the Science and Technology Ministry.

A onetime Military Administrator of Bayelsa State, Navy Capt. Earnest Olubolade (Rtd), is to head the Special Duties ministry; while Yusuf Sulaiman got the plum job of the minister of Transport. Immediate past Minister of Youth Development, Sen. Akinlabi Olasunkanmi, retains his job as the substantive Minister; just as the his former colleague in the National Planning Commission (NPC), Dr. Shamsudeen Usman, returned unopposed as the NPC boss.

Wife of former Minister of Works and National Leader of the ruling Peoples Democratice Party, Chief Tony Anenih, Mrs Iyom Josephine Anenih, mni, is now the new Minister of Women Affairs. The former Minister of Transport, Hon. Ibrahim Isa Bio, now heads the National Sports Commission; while Water Resources now split from Agriculture is yet to have a minister.

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