· * Takes Charge Of Defence
By: Sunday Oyewole
The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, has explained why President Goodluck Jonathan had to sack nine of his Cabinet ministers, saying the action was taken to refocus his administration in line with the transformation agenda.
Maku, who now doubles as the acting Minister of Defence was speaking with State House correspondents after the weekly Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. He also dismissed insinuation that the President’s action has political undertone.
According to him, it is the prerogative of the President to reshuffle his cabinet at will for greater service delivery. He said the decision to re-jig the Cabinet must have been something the President had planned carefully over a long period of time.
The Minister explained further, “you know even the press has been speculating cabinet reshuffle for a long time, I can’t remember how many times in the last one year that the press has been speculating that they would be cabinet reshuffle. In fact some have been writing almost openly saying they want cabinet reshuffle.
“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.
“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. That is the only reason for it, any other thing is has nothing to do with the decision of the President. I believe this must have been coming over time. It cannot be something you do over night.
“So I believe as he explained to us, he has studied the way his government has worked, his has set 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 taken any decision he has taught about it over and over again.
“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. So I want to assure you, this is definitely a decision to refocus government and to reshape his administration in order to achieve greater service delivery.
“The President is trying to inject fresh blood into the system while retaining again the loyalty of all those who have worked. And like I said he has assured them that they will continue to be relevant to this government in one area or the order. But cabinet reshuffle has been the tradition of every government in Nigeria whether military or elected. And this indeed has been something that has been long in coming, so for him to come into this conclusion means he has been working on it for a period of time.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku is to oversee the Ministry of Defence pending the appointment of new minister. The Minister of State, Foreign Affairs (1) Professor Viola Owuliri is to take charge in the interim while the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike will take full charge of the ministry until the appointment of a substantive minister.
The Ministry of Environment under the arrangement is to be supervised by the Minister of state for Niger Delta Affairs, Darius Ishaku, while the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development will be overseen by the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Architect Musa Sada.
The Minister of Communication Development, Mrs. Omobola Johnson will supervise the Ministry of Science and Technology while the Ministry of National Planning will be overseen by the Minister of State for Works, Ambassador Basir Yuguda.
The Ministers of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo and Dr Akinwumi Adesina are to take full responsibilities of the Ministries of Power and Agriculture respectively pending the appointment of ministers of state.