7 February 2013

Nigeria: Ministers Jittery As Jonathan Cancels FEC Meeting

Ministers were, yesterday, rattled following an abrupt cancellation of the regular Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

Ministers of Science and Technology, Professor Ita Okon Bassey Ewa and Minister of State for Niger Delta, Darius Ishaku among others arrived the Council Chambers before the 10.00am, but had to go back immediately after they were informed that the meeting had been cancelled.

They had no inkling that the meeting was not going to hold, as there was no official statement to that effect.

Journalists who arrived their duty post at the council chambers of the presidential villa met the venue empty and devoid of the usual flurry of activity

It became apparent on Tuesday that President Goodluck Jonathan might have resolved to reshuffle his cabinet when the federal government assigned former former Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Professor Chinedu Nebo the Ministry of Power portfolio as its substantive Minister and named Kabiru Turaki (SAN) minister of Special Duties, leaving the ministry of Defence without a substantive minister.

The two new ministers were expected to fill the positions of Haliru Bello Mohammed who was removed as Minister of Defence on June 22, 2012 and Professor Barth Nnaji who resigned his position as Power Minister on August 28, 2012.

Sources at the Presidency, however, told LEADERSHIP that Police Affairs Minister, Navy Captain Caleb Omoniyi Olubolade may re-assigned to the Ministry of Defence as the substantive minister in the impending cabinet reshuffle.

Although no reason was given for the cancellation of the FEC meeting, the president had, on Tuesday night, jetted out of the country to London from where he is expected to go to Paris to confer with the British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron and the President of France, Mr. Francois Hollande on matters of vital interest to Nigeria, Britain and France.

A statement by presidential spokesman to this effect noted that the president is also scheduled to attend the launching of the Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation in London on Friday before returning to the country on Monday.

But Jonathan's absence would not have stopped FEC from holding because, as it had always been the tradition in the past, whenever the president was out of the country, Vice President Namadi Sambo presided over the council meeting.

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