President Jonathan descends on perceived political enemies ahead of 2105 presidential poll.
The sack of nine ministers by President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday may not be unconnected with the raging crisis in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which split into two following the formation of the “New PDP” about two weeks ago by a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, seven governors and other chieftains of the ruling party.
Mr Abubakar and seven governors, namely Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), had stormed out of the Eagle Square, Abuja venue of the Special National Convention of the PDP in protest and headed straight to the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre where they announced the birth of the “New PDP” at a news conference.
They were joined at the news conference by Governors Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State and other senior members of the party.
The group also announced Kawu Baraje as its national chairman and Olagunsoye Oyinlola as its national secretary.
Both Messrs Baraje from Kwara State and Oyinlola from Osun State were at some point acting national chairman and national secretary of the ruling party.
The two factions have since been on each other’s throats even as moves are on to reconcile them.
However, some Nigerians have linked Wednesday’s sack of the nine ministers to the festering crisis.
The ministers sacked were Ruqqayyatu Rufa’i (Education) from Jigawa State; Olugbenga Ashiru from Ogun State (Foreign Affairs), Hadiza Mailafa from Kaduna State (Environment), Shamsudeen Usman from Kano State (National Planning), Ama Pepple from Rivers State (Housing and Urban Development) and Ita Bassey Okon from Akwa Ibom (Science and Technology).
Three ministers of state sacked were Zainab Kuchi from Niger State (Power), Olusola Obada from Osun State (Defence) and Bukar Tijjani from Borno State (Agriculture).
Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Rasfanjani told PREMIUM TIMES that the exercise had nothing to do performance, but instead attributed it to the fall out of the crisis in the PDP.
According to him, the firing of the Education minister and her Housing and Urban Development counterpart may not be unconnected with the crisis in the ruling party because their governors, who nominated them for the positions, had since fallen out with President Goodluck Jonathan.
While the Education minister was nominated into the federal cabinet by Mr. Lamido, Ms. Pepple was brought in by Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State.
Besides, it was learnt that Mrs Kuchi was booted out of the cabinet because she was nominated by the Niger State governor while Mrs Obada suffered that fate because of her close association with Mr Oyinlola and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. In fact, before her appointment as defence minister, Mrs Obada was deputy to Mr Oyinlola while the latter was Osun State governor.
They were sacked by the Court of Appeal which recognized the incumbent, Rauf Aregbesola as the duly elected governor.
However, there are also speculations that Mr Jonathan fired Mr Ashiru as Foreign Affairs Minister because he was nominated into the cabinet by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The Youth Minister, who was nominated into the federal cabinet by the Sokoto State governor, was also sacked recently.
Mr Amaechi has also tasted the negative side of the power game as his associates, Sam Sam Jaja lost his place in the PDP as Deputy National Chairman while the party structure in Rivers State was retrieved from him and given to his political rival, Nyesom Wike, who now will oversee the Education Ministry until a substantive minister is named.
It is not even unlikely that the controversial junior minister may be retained as the substantive minister in the strategic ministry.
In the main, although, Mr Obasanjo has been involved in the troubleshooting in the party since the crisis began and in fact heads the PDP Elders Committee, which met with the two factions in Abuja last Friday, it was gathered that Mr Jonathan had fingered him (Obasanjo) as the brain behind the crisis.
Mr. Jonathan, reports say, believe Mr Obasanjo, his major political benefactor, does not want him to run for the nation’s highest political office in 2015
PREMIUM TIMES had reported exclusively that the president stormed out of a recent peace meeting and accused his predecessor of fuelling the crisis.
The former president has been romancing with some of the “rebel” governors, some of who invited him to commission projects they executed in their states.
For Instance, while in Jigawa state on May 29 (Democracy Day) to commission some projects executed by Mr Lamido, Mr Obasanjo in his speech hinted that the Jigawa governor could aspire to the office of president.
Even so, Mr Obasanjo seems to be the main loser as his associates both in the government and the ruling party are gradually being eased out.
Apart from Messrs Oyinlola, a retired military general (who had earlier lost his place as the National Secretary of PDP) and Ashiru, other associates of the former president who have lost their positions in the party include Bode Mustapha as National Auditor of PDP, Olusegun Oni as National Vice chairman of the party in the South West.
Mr. Obasanjo’s associate, Kema Chikwe, is believed to have returned as the National Woman Leader of the PDP because she switched political loyalty to Mr Jonathan and his wife, Patience, after she and other members of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party were prevailed to resign their positions last June due to a report by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, faulting their election in the March 2012 National Convention of the ruling party.
To be sure, Mr Jonathan, still wielding the big stick, may deploy it against perceived political enemies in his bid to return as president in 2015.
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