Politicians and activists say the President Jonathan should have fired “deadwoods”, controversial and lazy ministers.
Nigerians have reacted angrily to President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to spare some of his most controversial ministers in aWednesday cabinet reshuffle that saw the removal of nine ministers.
After months of speculation, Mr Jonathan on Wednesday fired Ruqqayyatu Rufa’i (Education), Olugbenga Ashiru (Foreign Affairs), Hadiza Mailafa (Environment), Shamsudeen Usman (National Planning), Ama Pepple (Housing and Urban Development) and Ita Bassey Okon (Science and Technology), saying he wanted to retool.
Three ministers of state- Zainab Kuchi (Power), Olusola Obada (Defence) and Bukar Tijjani (Agriculture), were also affected.
Activists and political leaders who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES criticised the president’s decision to sack only nine ministers from a cabinet that had 42 largely non-performing ministers, many facing serious allegations of corruption.
They specifically expressed outrage that the Ministers of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, Finance/Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke; Police Affairs Minister, Caleb Olubolade and others were left untouched.
The National Publicity Secretary of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties, CNPP, Osita Okechukwu said although the president had the discretion to sack any minister, he disappointed Nigerians by keeping Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke and Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, in government.
Mr Okechukwu said the economic policies introduced by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, who is also the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, were anti-people and at variance with the social condition of the people.
He also said the petroleum minister had shown that she did not understand that the nation’s refineries could be rehabilitated or that new ones could be constructed.
A group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, applauded the sack of the ministers, but insisted that the president “must carry out further surgical overhaul of the Executive Council of the Federation to weed out other lazy and incompetent persons currently constituting grave cog in the wheel of progress of Nigeria.”
In a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Media Affairs Director, Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA specifically stated that it was incomprehensible that the minister of police affairs, Caleb Olubolade was left on the job “even when it is clear that the Nigeria Police Force as currently constituted has failed in the simple constitutional duty of protecting lives and property of Nigerians thereby exposing the lives and property of ordinary citizenry and global citizens in the country to avoidable risks of being whisked away by armed kidnappers who now constitute serious security threats to Nigeria’s internal security.”
The Chairman of the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, Olarenwaju Suraj, said there was nothing to celebrate about the cabinet reshuffle, stressing that the president should have sacked the non-performing ministers and those variously linked with corruption cases.
Mr Suraj frowned at the sack of Messrs Ashiru and Usman who he said were not politicians but professionals in government just as he expressed anger over the retention of the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike.
According to him, Mr Wike had no business remaining in government because he was behind the political crisis in Rivers State.
“It should have been far-reaching,” he said. “Why should the president sack the Foreign Affairs and National Planning Ministers who are not politicians but professionals and leave Shenanigans like Wike who is responsible for the political crisis in his state? People like Wike should have been excused.
“Again, why leave those who have corruption allegations hanging on their necks and even those who it is clear are not performing?
“Except the sack of the Education Minister and that is because there have been crises in the education sector, there is nothing to celebrate about this (reshuffle).”
Former military governor of Kaduna State, Abubakar Umar said Mr Jonathan was merely exercising his power as president, which ordinarily should not attract any serious attention.
Mr Umar, a retired army major, said Mr Jonathan must have assessed the performance of each of the ministers and may have acted based on the assessment.
He, however, stressed that it was not right to drop any minister based on mere allegations of corruption until such allegations were found to be true.
In the same vein, the Chairman of the Afenifere Renewal Group, Yinka Odumakin said there was nothing unconstitutional in the sack of the ministers.
Asked what he felt about the retention of Mrs Alison-Madueke and other controversial ministers, Mr Odumakin said it was the responsibility of the citizenry to pile pressure on the president to remove ministers who were either corrupt or controversial from office
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