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2015: Jonathan to empower ministers against govs

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan appears to have devised a strategy for freeing himself from the clutches of governors hostile to his 2015 ambition, especially those from the states ruled by the Peoples Democratic Party.

At the centre of this strategy, The PUNCH learnt, was a plan to empower ministers against the chief executives of their home states and create alternative power base from which Jonathan could tap for his second term ambition in 2015.

The ministers that would readily benefit from this presidential empowerment, as already discussed and decided on by members of the President’s kitchen cabinet, are those from states whose governors have been seen as antagonistic to Jonathan’s 2015 ambition.

The revelation came even as the Nigerian Governors’ Forum holds its election on Monday (today) in Abuja.

Though President Goodluck Jonathan said on Sunday that it had no interest in the governors’ forum elections, there were indications that the Presidency would put the poll under close watch.

Beyond merely electing who replaces Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi as the chairman of the forum, analysts say the NGF poll will pinpoint the direction of the 2015 poll, especially within the Peoples Democratic Party.

Amaechi is regarded in the circle of Jonathan as not a fan of the President. There is said to be an underground campaign to ensure that Amaechi is not returned whereas the majority of the governors are said to be in support of retaining the Rivers State governor.

Not included in this majority of supporters for Amaechi are governors Godswill Akpabio, Henry Dickson and Ibrahim Shema of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Katsina states respectively.

Investigations have, however, shown that Jonathan would use Monday’s election to measure the loyalty of the governors.

“If the NGF election today does not go the way that will inspire confidence in the loyalty of the governors, the Presidency has a ‘Plan B’ option to fall back to,” a source who claimed to be privy to the ‘empower the ministers’ strategy confided in one of our correspondents on Sunday.

The source said that the President had decided to sidetrack the unfriendly governors and use the ministers to mobilise support from such states.

When the strategy begins to unfold, the ministers would be the one to nominate candidates from their states to be appointed to boards at the federal level.

Apart from that, the ministers would also be allowed to appoint what the source called “a point man” at each local government.

The source said, “The Presidency has decided to strengthen the ministers in states where the governors are not favourably disposed to the second term ambition of the President.

“The need to have this was discussed at a recent meeting the President had with his close aides.

“The President is worried that the governors, even though some of them are from his party, are not working with him on the need for the party to win the 2015 presidential election.

“So, we have decided to make the ministers his point men in the affected states and also allow the ministers have representatives at each of the local governments in their states.”

He also said that the President might appoint more politicians into his cabinet anytime he decides to effect a change among the ministers.

“He says he needs PDP-carrying members in some strategic states to enable such ministers carry party members along and also allow PDP members in the states to have a feel of his government,” the source added.

Sources say that the sin of Amaechi, who is a contestant in today’s election of the NGF, is that he is seen as not supporting the second term ambition of Jonathan, a fellow South-South person. The Rivers governor is alleged to be planning to run as vice presidential candidate to another incumbent governor from the north.

Amaechi has denied the speculation on many occasions but his traducers are not convinced.

The governors started arriving Abuja on Sunday for the election scheduled to hold at the Rivers State Lodge.

Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak, in an exclusive interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Sunday said the President did not have interest in who becomes the forum’s chairman because the group is not a constitutional organ.

He said members were free to decide who lead them once the tenure of the incumbent ends.

He said, “President Goodluck Jonathan does not have anything to do with who is or who becomes the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum.

“The group is not a constitutional organ, though members have constitutional rights of freedom of association.

“The President has nothing to do with who is the chairman. He is not interested in who leads them because all the governors are his political associates.

“He can’t dictate who gets what in the forum. Once the tenure of the chairman ends, members are free to put anybody there.

“Before, the chairman was Sam Egwu, later it was Adamu Abdullahi and later Bukola Saraki. The Presidency has nothing to do with it.”

-Punch

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Posted by on Feb 25 2013. Filed under Goodluck Jonathan (2010-present), Ministries, Presidency. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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