Barring any change in plan, President Goodluck Jonathan will appoint a replacement for his Chief of Staff, Mike Ogiadomhe, who resigned Tuesday, from the South-West geo-political zone, reliable presidency sources have told PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr. Ogiadomhe resigned his appointment in controversial circumstances on Tuesday as there were indications that he was forced to do so by Mr. Jonathan, who allegedly was no longer comfortable working with him.
Presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, who confirmed the resignation of the former CoS, however said Mr. Ogiadomhe resigned to enable him to run for an elective office.
According to Mr. Abati, Mr. Ogiadomhe acted in obedience to the call by the president to members of his cabinet who have political ambitions to quit.
The former CoS, who hails from Edo State, was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff for the Vice President’s Office in 2007 during the administration of the late Umaru Yar’Adua.
When Mr. Yar’Adua scrapped the position, he was made private secretary to Mr. Jonathan. However, when Mr. Jonathan became president in 2010 following the death of his boss, Mr. Ogiadomhe was named chief of staff.
The president’s plan to pick a replacement from the South-West is reportedly borne out of the cries of marginalization by the zone in the area of federal appointments.
None of the six states in the zone is controlled by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the president’s party.
While Lagos, Osun, Ogun, Ekiti and Oyo states are under the control of the opposition All Progressives Congress, Ondo State is governed by the Labour Party.
However, leaders of the party in the zone have repeatedly pressed the Jonathan administration to address alleged marginalisation of the region.
Apart from a few ministerial positions, the highest positions in the federal administration ceded to the zone are those of the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives occupied by Mulikat Akande from Oyo State and National Secretary of the party, Wale Oladipo from Osun State.
The zone was billed to produce the Speaker of the House in 2011, but that arrangement was aborted by the emergence of Aminu Tambuwal from Sokoto in the North West zone for the position and Emeka Ihedioha from Imo State, in the South East zone, as Deputy Speaker.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the president is determined to appease the people of the zone with the CoS position, especially with the 2105 general elections approaching.
Our sources, who do not want to be named because they are not authorised to speak on the matter, said long before Mr. Ogiadomhe’s exit, Mr. Jonathan had been reaching to some Yoruba leaders asking them to nominate suitable candidates from the zone for the position.
Among those the president reportedly consulted is the former vice presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, in the 2011 presidential election, Tunde Bakare.
Mr. Bakare, whose political future is unclear, is the senior pastor/founder of the Latter Rain Assembly, Lagos. He is yet to declare for the APC to which his political soul-mates now belong.
When contacted Monday, Mr. Bakare, declined to confirm whether or not Mr. Jonathan consulted him.
“All I can tell is is that I won’t be the one to nominate a Chief of Staff for the President,” he said.
The president is also reportedly asking for nominations from top PDP leaders from the zone.
Our sources said Mr. Jonathan is desperate to hand the CoS position to a nominee from the South-West as a way of shoring up his political acceptability in the zone ahead of the 2015 election.
He also wants to use the appointment to puncture allegations that he is a clannish leader, surrounding himself largely with people from his Niger Delta region.
But when contacted Thursday, Mr. Abati told PREMIUM TIMES he had no idea who Mr. Ogiadomhe’s replacement would be and what part of the country he would come from.
Doubt over resignation claim
Despite the presidency’s claim that Mr. Ogiadomhe resigned, there are indications that he was forced to quit as a way of easing him out without necessarily disgracing him.
Although, Mr. Abati did not give details of Mr. Ogiadomhe political direction, the former CoS is believed to be eyeing the governorship seat in Edo State, which will not be vacant until 2016, as the incumbent, Adams Oshiomhole, was sworn in for his second term in late 2012.
Even if the explanation by the presidential spokesperson that Mr. Ogiadomhe resigned in obedience of Mr. Jonathan’s directive to those that have political ambition is true, it remains unclear why the former CoS had to be the first to do as many others in his category are still in government.
Among those who have political ambitions but are still in government are the Minister in charge of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, and Information Minister, Labaran Maku, both of who are eyeing the governorship seats of Bauchi and Nasarawa States respectively.
Presidency sources said long before the former CoS resigned, there were huge speculations that he would be relieved of his position.
In fact, President Jonathan began search for his replacement several months ago, administration insiders say.