Mr. Jonathan says there is no political undertone to the sack of the ministers.
President Goodluck has deployed some Ministers who survived today’s cabinet shake-up to oversee the activities of the ministries which lost their ministers Wednesday, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, has said.
Mr. Maku said the president gave the directive through the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Anyim Pius Anyim.
Mr. Maku, who briefed journalists after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, said that he had been deployed to supervise the Ministry of Defence, while the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, was assigned to oversee the Ministry of Education.
The Minister of State for Niger Delta Development, Darius Ishaku, will oversee the Ministry of Environment, while the Minister of Solid Mineral Development, Musa Sada, was assigned to oversee the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, just as Minister of Communication Technology, Omobola Johnson, was assigned to oversee the Ministry of Science and Technology, vacated by Ita Ewa Okon.
The Minister of state, Works, Bashir Yuguda, was assigned to oversee the Ministry of National Planning following the sack of the longest serving cabinet member, Shamsudeen Usman, who was first appointed minister by late President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Mr. Maku also announced that the Ministers of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina and Power, Chinedu Nebo were directed to take charge of their ministries alone pending appointment of new ministers of state.
The information minister quoted President Jonathan as thanking the removed Ministers for their service to their fatherland, and saying he would continue to engage them in “the implementation of the Transformation Agenda”.
Justifying the sack of the cabinet members, the president, according to Mr. Maku, explained that it was necessary that “government is retooled from time to time to bring new lease of life to an administration”.
The President had earlier announced the sack of nine ministers from his cabinet during the weekly FEC meeting.
The nine Ministers sacked were Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru; Education, Ruqqayatu Rufai; National Planning, Shamsudeen Usman; Land and Urban Development, Ama Pepple; Environment, Hadiza Mailafia; Science and Technology, Ita Ewa; Minister of State Defence, Olusola Obada; Minister of State, Power, Zainab Kuchi; and Minister of State, Agriculture, Tijjani Bukar.
Mr. Jonathan was quoted to have told the ministers that he was very pleased with their services.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the sacked ministers were caught off guard because throughout the duration of the meeting, the president did not show any sign of his plan to do away with some of them.
A presidency source, who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said the President actually announced the sack after the meeting.
“Just as the president was about to leave, then he turned round and said ‘some of you Ministers will no longer be with us, it is nothing special but its just the ways of democracy,”” our source said.
He then went ahead to read out the names of the removed ministers and immediately left the council chambers.
Mr. Maku had while briefing State House correspondents said a fresh list of ministerial nominees would be sent to the National Assembly for approval to fill the vacancies left by the nine Ministers.
No Political Undertone
Responding to questions from reporters, Mr Maku said there was no political undertone to the sack of the cabinet members.
“There is no government in the world where the leaders do not reshuffle their cabinets, there is none and cabinet reshuffle is part of a systematic public administration and I believe what the President has done is simply to address the issues of re-tooling his government to achieve service delivery,” the minister said.
“It is at the discretion of the President at all times to reshuffle his cabinet. It is his own prerogative under the constitution and this has nothing to do absolutely with any other factor other than having come two years into his administration in the last lap, what I see the President doing is to refocus his government, to inject in fresh blood to achieve greater service delivery to the people of Nigeria.
“I believe this must have been coming over time. It cannot be something you do overnight.
“So I believe as he explained to us, he has studied the way his government has worked, and has set his targets for the next two years and what he is doing is to adjust his cabinet to realise the objectives of his transformation agenda. That is exactly the reason he has come out with these changes at this time.
“Like I told you he was full of appreciation for those who have served him in the last two years and if you know the President, he is not the kind of person that will take decision at the spur of the moment. He is a highly studied person, highly focused leader, he is a patient person and he is someone that when you see him take any decision he has thought about it over and over again,” Mr. Maku said.
“So this cannot be something that has resulted in a month or two or three months, this must be something he has been working on for a long period of time.
Ruqayyat hands over to Wike
Meanwhile, outgone Minister of Education, Ruqayyat Rufai, was the first to hand over to the minister assigned to supervise her ministry.
Mrs. Rufai handed over to Nyesom Wike her former junior Minister after she returned from the FEC meeting.
The former minister said she was returning to her teaching job at Bayero University, Kano, from where she was brought into the cabinet.
But the former minister may have to wait until after the ongoing strike by university lecturers is called off before returning to the classroom.
She had, until her sack, unsuccessfully engaged her lecturer colleagues on the ongoing industrial action, urging them to call of the strike