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Ministers lobby for juicy portfolios

*Akunyili, Olubolade tipped for health, works

By Ben Agande

ABUJA— INTENSE lobbying for positions, yesterday, characterised the placement of ministers into various portfolios as various political and interest groups lobbied for their candidates to be given what they consider ‘juicy ministries.’

Though the nominees who were all cleared by the Senate, Wednesday afternoon, will be sworn-in today, none of them was sure of which portfolio he/she would be assigned to by the President.

However, some nominees were being strongly associated with certain ministries in view of their perceived strength and bias. For instance, while the former Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili was being strongly considered for the Health Ministry portfolio alongside Dr. Isa Hong as the Minister of State, Vanguard learnt that Senator Mohammed was being considered for the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory or Environment.

Ministers : Mr Nuhu Somo Way (left) chatting with Akinlabi Olasunkanmi (right) and Fidelia Njeze (middle) during the Ministerial screening at the National Assembly.

Although the immediate past Attorney General, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode was said to be favoured to retain the portfolio, sources in Abuja have revealed that Bello Adokie, also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, was virtually assured of the position. Since his nomination, Adokie was said to have embarked on an expensive and aggressive media campaign to clinch the job of AGF.

However, the name of Alhaji Maina Waziri who was the Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund, PTDF, was also being tipped for the post of the FCT Minister.

It was authoritatively gathered that lobbists which included senators, major stakeholders in the petroleum sector and northern interest group besieged Aso Rock to prevail on Acting President Goodluck Jonathan on who  to hand the portfolio to.

Senators who met with the Acting President over the issue, it was learnt, were well disposed to Engr. Chris Ogiewonyi, who recently retired as Executive Director of  the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, after 34 years of service, while others were pushing the case of   former Minister of State in the ministry, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, SAN, and former Steel Minister, Dieziani Allison-Madueke

While Ajumogobia and Allison-Madueke, it was learnt, were being pushed by two separate interests, a group that is lobbying the Acting President for Ogiewonyi who is representing Edo State, was said to have recommended him because of his technical knowledge of the petroleum  industry. According to a source,  “Those pushing for the nomination of a technocrat in the oil sector are looking for the achievement of so many things in one piece because oil industry is not only important but it is linked with the attainment of stable power supply and sustainable economy.”

Power blocks behind nominees

A source in the Presidency told Vanguard, yesterday, evening that close aides of the Acting President have come under intense lobby from supporters and power blocs behind the ministerial nominees to ensure that their preferred candidates did not get less prominent positions.

The source said: “This is the last cabinet before the next elections, so nobody wants to be left out. The position one occupies would, to a large extent, determine his or her  relevance in the next elections so all the power blocs are keen on having their ways.”

For the Ministry of Finance, it was gathered that the consideration was between Mr. Olusegun Olutoyin Aganga and the former Minister of State for Finance, Remi Babalola.  Navy Captain Olubolade was expected to go to the Ministry of Works of Housing.

The source added: “However, the consideration is that since Remi Babalola was part of the team that was sacked by the Acting President, it is not likely that he would go to the Finance ministry but he may be pushed to either the National Economic Planning or to the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory as the Minister since he was seen to have done well as supervisor of the Ministry when President Yar’Adua dissolved the cabinet.”

One portfolio that appears to have been settled seem to be that of Information and Communication which appear to have been left for the former Deputy Governor of Nasarawa, Labaran Maku. He has the credibility and at this time, Nigeria needs somebody who will effectively and efficiently sell her. We have that in Maku” the source told Vanguard, yesterday.

John Odey was being tipped for either the Interior Ministry or Aviation.


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