Ministerial list: Technocrats, politicians on collision courseLatest Politics, Ministries, Raw Politics Saturday, May 21st, 2011
|Strong indications emerged on Saturday that core politicians may have a limited place in the new cabinet being put together by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The development, SUNDAY PUNCH gathered, is already causing bad blood between the nation’s political class and technocrats as the chances of the former get slimmer by the day.
Our correspondents learnt that the President’s decision to make use of technocrats and core professionals in the drive to reposition the country is even favouring permanent secretaries and other civil servants ahead of the politicians.
Sunday Punch gathered that at the presidential retreat at the Obudu Cattle Ranch, many of the permanent secretaries wormed their ways into the heart of the president.
A Presidency source who confided to one of our correspondents said the president had expressed appreciation at the contributions of the civil servants towards the success of his administration.
Although the permanent secretaries and other top civil servants had been invited to the retreat, it had not been made public the way the invitation of the politicians and party bigwigs had been announced.
The president is said to be uncomfortable with the list of nominees that emerged from the states, which comprised mainly names of party chieftains, governors and political officer-holders who lost in the April elections.
“The lists from the South-West states are particularly alarming. All the former governors and National Assembly members want to be rehabilitated with ministerial appointments,” the source said.
It was gathered that a few of the permanent secretaries may emerge as ministers the same way some retired permanent secretaries are going into politics after retirement from service.
For instance, Dr. Imoro Kubor who retired from the federal civil service had gone into active politics and emerged as the governorship candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria in Bayelsa State.
There is also Dr. Rafiq Ogunbambi, who retired as permanent secretary in the Federal Capital Territory. Ogunbambi’s name has emerged in one of the ministerial nominee lists that emerged from Lagos State.
Ogunbambi is alleged not to be a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, but a silent achiever that had distinguished himself when he was a permanent secretary of the FCT.
SUNDAY PUNCH gathered that as the news of the president’s preference for the seasoned technocrats reached the state, fresh tension has gripped the PDP.
Our correspondent learnt that the politicians were aggrieved that their positions would be taken over by technocrats who are not known to be party loyalists.
“If the president picks many of these people, they will limit our chances and further aggravate the losses we suffered in the elections,” a PDP source said.
But the PDP in Lagos State said on Friday that it would not be swayed by the rumours.
The PDP Chairman in the state, Mr. Sotonji Kosoedo, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said the party would not rely on unsubstantiated information.
“I don’t want to give any comment on this rumour flying about. It is disappointing and I know that those flying the kite are the disgruntled party members who are, indeed, disloyal because they have one leg in and the other leg out. They are unpatriotic,” he said.
Although Kosoedo did not reveal the facts about the list, he said apart from Ogunbambi, so many other names were believed to be on the Lagos list.
He said there was no final say about ministerial appointments from the state because it was open to all the qualified nominees.
“I see no reason why anybody should be too bothered about the issue of ministerial list at the moment because we followed the same old process of nominating candidates for the appointment. We followed the usual zoning process. And, let us think deeply about this thing, the list is confidential and still remains so. People are just peddling unsubstantiated rumour. Their imagination is merely running wild,” he added.
Kosoedo disclaimed the rumour that Ogunbambi was not a member of the PDP.
“As far as I am aware; he has been one of us as far back as the days of Funsho Williams. Every person that made the list was selected on zonal basis. The floor was open to everybody to contribute and I assure you that every member of the party had the right to contribute in the process.”
Meanwhile, another Presidency source said the decision to include a large number of technocrats into the cabinet was part of the efforts to bring competent hands into the administration.
“The president had said he would maintain a large cabinet, but it would be filled with experts and competent people.
“The President is not only looking for technocrats from within the country, he is also looking far and wide, including Nigerians in Diaspora and the private sector. The list is still being compiled.
“Anybody who has anything against the nominees or any allegations why certain individuals should not be appointed as ministers is free to come out. Such nominees will be dropped if need be,” the source said.
Our correspondents learnt that Jonathan would employ the same technique he used to pick the crack team that made the Independent National Electoral Commission the pride of the nation.
“You will remember that some of the commissioner-nominees for INEC were dropped as a result of protests from different sections of society. The same process will apply this time,” he said.
Jonathan had requested each state to provide 10 nominees for ministerial appointments.
The President had directed that the names be compiled from the local government level in order to give it an authentic grass roots appeal.
The lists, however, have been generating controversy in such states as Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun where the PDP was defeated in the just concluded elections.
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