By Jide Ajani, Deputy Editor
Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has decided to stick with all ministers and other top government officials in President Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s kitchen cabinet, at least for now, after weighing various political options on reshuffling or dropping them outright.
Different interest groups, Sunday Vanguard gathered, have been piling pressure on Dr. Jonathan to assert himself by reconstituting the cabinet and appointing his own loyalists.
The situation was not helped by what some people described as the antagonism exhibited by some of the Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s men to the acting presidentâ€™s person and office.
It was gathered that some other interest groups, however, prevailed on him to shelve any idea of dissolving the cabinet because such a move could only heat up the polity.
Three old cabinet members – Dr. Rilwan Lukman (Petroleum Resources); Dr. Shettima Mustapha (Interior), Mr. Ekaette Uffot (Niger Delta), had met him to thread softly and not regard anyone as Yarâ€™Adua or Jonathanâ€™s supporters, but all as members of a united team.
It was on the strength of this that the acting president, at last Wednesdayâ€™s meeting of the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF), told all cabinet members to desist from talking to the press or anyone about the situation in the Presidency and just continue doing their jobs.
* Gives governors shocker
Meanwhile, the 36 state governors may have got their first shocker from Acting President Goodluck Jonathan after failing to consult them or seek their input in constituting the 26-man Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC).
The panel, headed by former defence minister in the Obasanjo administration and one time Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Yakubu Danjuma, was inaugurated on Thursday in Abuja by the Acting President.
It is empowered to â€œprovide alternative input into policy formulation that would promote good governance in the areas of power, economy, infrastructure, security, social sector, electoral process, fight against corruptionâ€ and â€œevaluate policy implementation and advise on areas requiring adjustmentâ€, among others.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that in a sharp departure from tradition where governors were asked to nominate candidates from their states, the acting President decided against unnecessary politicisation of the composition of the committee. (See details in Story of the Week on PP 10-11).
Most of the current ministers were nominated by the governors who have a strong hold on them.
Besides, various interest groups have been pressurising the acting president to enlarge the committee so that each of the 36 states will be represented.
Such pressure is being rebuffed, sources said.
â€œSome Nigerians are situating appointments into the council within the quota regime,â€ one source said, adding, â€œCan you believe that some Nigerians are still lobbying and piling pressure on the Acting President to enlarge the Council?
â€œSome people are saying why 26 members and why not 36 to go round the states of the federation?Â What some of them are forgetting is that it is within the powers of the Acting President or any President for that matter to select men and women of integrity and honour to assist him in delivering good governance to the people.
â€œSome people in their seventies are lobbying; you wonâ€™t believe it!Â Some are saying if a Danjuma or a Bamangar Tukur isÂ there why not them, too.â€
But the source was quick to add, â€œthe Acting President is not swayed by those pressures because he has not created this body for purely political reasons; it is for delivery and we will deliver.Â He has made it clear and if you listen to our Chairmanâ€™s (General T Y Danjuma, former Chief of Army Staff as well as former Minister of Defence, is the Chairman â€“ see list below) speech, it was as if the Acting President and the General were on the same pageâ€.
The Acting President, who confessed that â€œas much as he would have loved to personally get in touch with members of the team but could notâ€ but still appreciated their acceptance of the offer to serve, is said to be ready to listen to the counsel of the Council.
The PACâ€™s five terms of reference, contained in a March 3, 2010 letter of appointment signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Alhaji Yayale, are:
â€œ1)Â To provide alternative inputÂ into policy formulation that would promote good governance in the areas ofÂ power, economy, infrastructure, security, social sector, electoral process, fight against corruption
â€œ2)Â To evaluate policy implementation and advise on areas requiring adjustments
â€œ3)Â To advise the (Acting)Â President on how toÂ maximize the benefits derivable from government
â€œ4)Â To advise on such actions and programmes that may improve credibility and performance of the government
â€œ5)Â To advise on any other matter referred to it by the (Acting) Presidentâ€.