By Rotimi Ajayi, Regional Editor North & Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJA — ECONOMIC and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, stepped up efforts to stop corrupt politicians from getting into President Goodluck Jonathan’s next cabinet even as some powerful presidential aides were said to be pushing for the inclusion of former ministers in the list.
Presidency sources said that many of the politicians who were either facing corruption charges or had been indicted would be removed, if President Jonathan accepts the recommendations of the security agencies that have been screening the prospective appointees since last week.
Meeting with presidential aides
Vanguard learnt that the EFCC chairperson, Mrs. Farida Waziri, met top presidential aides in Abuja to make a strong case against those who were on trial for corruption but who have reportedly been included in the ministerial list.
A Presidential source said: “The security agencies have done their checks on those forwarded to them by the Presidency and appropriate recommendations have been made to the effect that those standing trial on corruption charges would be liabilities for Mr. President if appointed into the cabinet.”
Another source said the issue of the quality of nominees from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its governors was a major factor which has kept the list from the Senate more than three weeks after the swearing_in of the President for the current term.
He said that some of those that had been screened were likely to be replaced before the final list goes to the Senate next week.
Vanguard also learnt that the “interactions” between the security agencies and the prospective appointees centered around such issues as criminal records, corruption, the authenticity of their academic qualifications and work experiences, as contained in their curriculum vitae and their social lives.
It was learnt that President Jonathan had made up his mind to avoid any appointment that would paint his administration in bad light and that members of the public with questionable pasts would most likely be shut out of the government, their roles in the past elections, notwithstanding.
Two of the nominees reportedly screened were mentioned in the Siemens bribery scandal and alleged financial misdeeds in the Petroleum Technology Development Fund, PTDF.
Recent comments of former President Olusegun Obasanjo at an International Labour Organisation, ILO, Conference in Geneva, Switzerland to the effect that the Nigerian government could not fight corruption was also believed to have strengthened the position of Aso Villa to demonstrate to the world its resolve to break away from the past and to prove the Egba chief wrong.
Meanwhile, former ministers whose names were yet to make the Presidential list were, yesterday, still hopeful of making it as an aide of President Goodluck Jonathan is pushing to get their names included.
Said the source: “Some of these former ministers may have lost out in the power-play in their states though they had performed creditably well when they served as ministers until May 29. The governors and some powerful politicians must have overlooked the performances of these ministers and so were not considered along the list forwarded to the President.”
Some of the former ministers that may benefit from the efforts of the Presidential aides include Senator Akinlabi Olasunkanmi, whose name was replaced with Engineer Ezekiel Adeniji; former Minister of Housing, Nduese Essien who was replaced with Bassey Ewa; and former Minister of Environment, Mr John Odey, whose state has been vacillating on which name to send to Abuja.
The Presidency source added that the State Security Screening exercise was comprehensive on each of the nominees that had been forwarded to it.
Vanguard learnt that the SSS did not only advise on the eligibility or otherwise of the nominees, it also advised on the suitability of some of them for some ministries based on their experiences.
Also, members of the Edo Youth Vanguard have described the moves by some political leaders in the state to reject the nomination of Arc. Mike Onolememen as nominee of the state as unwarranted.
A statement issued in Abuja by Charles Idehen, spokesman of the group said the political leaders were not representing the good interest of the state.
He said: “The alleged rejection of the ministerial nominee in the person of Arc Mike Onolememen is spurious, misleading, full of evil intent and baseless. Rather, to the contrary, all well meaning Edolites across party lines have been jubilating over the President’s choice of Arc. Onolememen as the ministerial nominee from the state on account of his very impressive track record.”