Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: 2013 - the Personalities to Watch in Jonathan's Government

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Jonathan election poster - cartoon

It is no news that Nigerians voted for Dr. Goodluck in 2011 as their President. But what could be news now are the unseen hands that wield so much influence within the corridors of power in Jonathan's administration. From the national assembly to the cabinet, down to the Presidency, there are individuals whose names ring bells. These personalities have so far played significant roles in the 19 months of Jonathan's regime. In this special report, Saturday Vanguard's JOHN BULUS x-rays the roles of some of these individuals vis-à-vis the avalanche of promises of taking the country to glory in 2013.

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo -Iweala

She is the Minister of Finance and doubles as the Coordinating Minister of the Economy. Her pedigree goes without questions as she has worked on both national and international scenes. The last of her assignment was at the World Bank where she worked as the Vice President. Prior to the time, she had also served the previous Government of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo as Finance Minister and

later Foreign Affairs before her controversial resignation. She has the brain. She has knack and the resilience to stimulate national development and economic growth. Recall the subsidy removal saga in January 2012. She was mainly at the centre of the controversy. In fact, many dubbed her as the de facto President just as many said she ill-advised President Jonathan on the matter.

By virtue of her experience and position, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala remains a key figure in Jonathan's administration and as such, very influential. On several occasions, she has spurred up controversy between the Presidency and the national assembly to which she stood her ground based on her conviction to prompt a virile economy.

For instance, Dr. Iweala during the presentation of the 2013 national budget in October last year canvassed the need for the national assembly to approve the $75 per barrel oil benchmark. Just recently, the Economist dropped a bombshell that her octogenarian mother who was kidnapped and later released in December was abducted by oil marketers consequent upon her position in oil subsidy matter. No doubt, she is a force and personality to reckon with in the present administration especially in 2013.

Deziani Allison Madueke

Bold and beautiful, she is the "powerful" Minister of Petroleum Resources. She presides over the Nigeria's gold mine. About 90 percent of Nigeria's revenue comes through her Ministry. She was not far from the oil subsidy controversy that engulfed the nation especially during the scary revelations that came to light on the heels of House of Representatives Adhoc Committees investigations that at a time.

Many had to call for her sack. She hails from Bayelsa State as President Jonathan and shares an affinity with him. Mrs. Madueke is undoubtedly a personality in the Jonathan's administration. To many people, she remains untouchable as long as President Jonathan remains in power.

David Mark

He is a retired Army General turned politician. He has been in the Senate representing Benue South since the return of Democracy in 1999. Mark is currently the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a position he has occupied since 2007. He wields much influence both in the national assembly and in the Presidency. That the gale of impeachments that defined the Senate prior to his ascendancy to the position of number three citizen in the country stopped was to the credit of Mark.

It may not be out of place to state, as it was widely acknowledged, that David Mark provided the thick skin for the Presidency during the Boko Haram insurgency last year. In several quarters, he was seen as the backbone of President Goodluck Jonathan. Mark speaks tough when the integrity of the Senate is undermined by anyone. Recall his stern rebuke to Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku when he (Maku) said that resolutions of the national assembly are not binding on the President.

Recall also, another rebuke to the Senior Special assistant to President Jonathan, Dr. Doyin Okupe in the wake of the 2013 budget presentation where Okupe said that Mark's speech at the presentation was both dictatorial and authoritative. Again, David Mark is a strategist who knows when to employ the tool of diplomacy. He is a must watch in 2013.

Aminu Waziri Tambuwal

He is the Speaker, House of Representatives. A Lawyer by profession, he hails from Sokoto and joined politics in 1999. He was elected the Speaker of the House in 2011 by his colleagues. He appears gentle, calculative and intelligent. He has brought stability in the hitherto rancorous House of Representatives.

Many Nigerians will remember the physical blows that members in the previous assembly led by the former Speaker, Dimeji Bankole exchanged. Though he is young, he has matured so fast in politics that he has assumed a leadership position in northern Nigerian. Tambuwal also wields significant influence at the national stage.

Dr. Doyin Okupe

His is the Senior Special Assistant to President Jonathan on Public Affairs. By profession, he is a medical doctor but prefers politics. To some analysts, Okupe is the attack dog of the presidency. And to justify his pay, Okupe goes on to confront whosoever or whatsoever that challenges the presidency of Jonathan. He does not see anything wrong in whatever decision that is taken by the President. With that, he has earned himself a place in the heart of President which has made him a force to reckon with.

Mike Oghiadomhe

He is President Jonathan's Chief of Staff. Though very little is known about the man in the public sphere, he is a very powerful hand in the Jonathan's presidency. In some places, he is the dogged leader of "Edo cabal" in the presidency. He was the deputy Governor of Edo State during Lucky Igbinedion's administration.

He wields so much power that he determines who sees the President and at what time. However, several controversies surround him. Speculations are rife that he was part of the reasons for Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) loss in the last gubernatorial elections in Edo state as he is said to be one of the godfathers behind the PDP's candidate, Ihembvorarre.

Oronto Douglas

He is Jonathan's Assistant on Documentation. He hails from Bayelsa State. Douglas may be an Assistant but many believe that he is more powerful in the presidency that most Ministers. Little wonder Governors and Generals trooped recently to Bayelsa State for his late father's burial which unfortunately claimed the lives former Governor of Kaduna State, Late Mr. Patrick Yakowa and the former national Security Adviser (NSA), late Owoeye Andrew Azazi. By this, Douglas is said to command influence in many respects that even the military would allow its aircrafts to be used for his private ceremonies.

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