By Daniel Idonor & Simon Ebegbulem
ABUJAâ€”DESPITE frantic moves by the ruling Peoplesâ€™ Democratic Party, PDP, to beat Acting President Goodluck Jonathan into political line over the composition of the new Executive Council of the Federation, EXCOF, the party appears to be losing out as its input to the expected cabinet was still very scanty, at press time.
Investigations revealed that the last visit by PDP National Chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, to Aso Rock, Thursday, was to discuss with Jonathan on the need for the new EXCOF to have PDP outlook, a position which the governors are also canvassing. Jonathanâ€™s men were, however, said to have rejected the idea, saying that it was not workable in view of the short time left for the administration.
As a pointer to this, Governor Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State, yesterday, rose from a consultative parley with Jonathan with a submission that the Acting President was looking for core professionals and technocrats in the composition of a new EXCOF.
This came as the list of nominees, observed to be seriously lacking in PDP representation, was sent to the relevant security outfits by Jonathan with a directive to commence immediate screening before forwarding same to the National Assembly for confirmation possibly by Thursday.
Vanguard learnt that the list made up of some of the former ministers from the dissolved cabinet, may have pitched Acting President Goodluck Jonathan against the PDP.
According to a Presidency source, names of about 10 former cabinet members are in the list being screened by the State Security Service, SSS, which include Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, Prof. Dora Akunyili, Mrs. Deziani Allison-Madueke, Elder Godswill Orubebe among others. A one-time minister, Alhaji Adamu Waziri from Yobe State was also mentioned as one of those being screened.
It was gathered that some former ministers whose names were not yet listed were mounting intensive pressure on Jonathanâ€™s men to get them on board; but this time, through the use of some party bigwigs.
While one of the affected ministers (names withheld) confirmed to Vanguard that he has just been screened for a possible ministerial slot, another former minister on PDP ticket said â€œnobody has called me,â€ noting that in a similar exercise carried out by Yarâ€™Adua, it was well coordinated, as â€œone of us was calling us one after another for the screening.â€
Fielding questions from State House Correspondents, Governor Ohakim said though he was not in Aso Rock to submit list of possible ministerial nominees, â€œI am a governor of a state and I have the right to submit my ministerial list.â€
He stated, however, that â€œthe Acting President is pragmatic, forward looking, and knows what to do,â€ noting that â€œhe (Jonathan) knows the country has been trekking and we need to run fast.â€
No friction with Jonathan
Ohakim said: â€œMy mind tells me he will look for key professionals; those who can run with the ball, and give them responsibilities of driving activities of this country because we canâ€™t wait forever. I know who he is and he has what it takes. In the next few days you will be happy with what is coming out from the exercise.â€
He maintained that governors of the 36 states were not at daggers-drawn with Jonathan, insisting that â€œthere can be no friction between the governors and the president. The President is to govern the country while the governors govern the states.
The governor noted that he came to â€œconfer with the acting president on the issue of security in the state and luckily the acting president has given some approval. The government has agreed to tackle the issue of security, gangsterism and kidnapping.
â€œThe government is disturbed by the social menace of kidnapping, but nobody can overwhelm government. Now that they are unable to use crude oil to finance their gangs they now decided that millionaires in Igboland must be taken hostage to finance their activities. We are waiting to see how illegalities will outweigh legalities.â€
Anenih, Ogbemudia, Akhigbe in fresh war over ministerial nominee
As the race for who picks the Ministerial slot in the Edo State rages, four names have been submitted to the Presidency for consideration by different political camps in the state.
Vanguard was reliably informed that the names of the immediate past Minister of Defence, General Godwin Abbe (rtd), former Special Adviser to the President, Professor Julius Ihonvbere, former Secretary to the State Government, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and the Mr. Isaiah Osifo, the immediate past Chief of Staff to the State Government have been forwarded to the Presidency.
Vanguard learnt that the battle to push the appointment of these nominees was between the former Chairman of the Peoplesâ€™ Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, two time Governor of old Bendel State, Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia, former Governor of the state, Chief Lucky Igbinedion and the former Chief of General Staff, Admiral Mike Akhigbe.
It was gathered that Anenih was backing the return of General Abbe but Vanguard learnt that Ihonvbere may be his second joker if any thing goes wrong with the nomination of Abbe.
Ihonvbere, it was learnt, may also get the support of his former boss, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Vanguard further gathered that former Governor Igbinedion was backing the nomination of his former SSG, Pastor Ize-Iyamu. The duo of Ogbemudia and Akhigbe are backing Osifo.