Facts emerged on Monday that Acting President Goodluck Jonathan would forward only a list of returning ministers to the Senate on Tuesday (today) for consideration.
This is contrary to widespread belief that a full list of 42 ministerial nominees would be submitted this week.
A top Presidency source disclosed in Abuja that Jonathan decided to limit the ministerial nominees to those retained in the dissolved Federal Executive Council because of the need to ensure urgent and smooth screening of those affected.
If things work according to plans, the screening of this set of ministers would have been completed by Thursday when the Senate embarks on another break.
New ministerial nominees go through rigorous screening sessions unlike those who had undergone such rituals before.
In some cases as where some of them had been parliamentarians, either in the Senate or House of Representatives, they simply bow and go; a display of espirit de corp; to the delight of the nominees and senators.
The idea to forward this first batch of ministers is to have some ministers in place in order not to stifle government business, as permanent secretaries holding the forte currently have little they could do in policy formulations and implementation.
Also, it was learnt that the Acting President had dropped all the members of President Umau Yar’Adua’s kitchen cabinet.
Notable members of this group include the former Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, Dr. Abba Ruma; the former Minister of Petroleum, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman; his counterpart in Special Duties, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa and others.
Aondoakaa, one of the most controversial among them, had engaged in a spat with the former Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili, following her call for Yar’Adua to hand over to Jonathan temporarily, pending his recovery from his ailment.
The Presidency source said, ”Tomorrow (today) it is the list of old ministers who are returning that would be sent to the Senate.
“You know, the Senate is going on recess on Thursday; the whole idea is to get the new ministers screened without wasting much time, having been screened before.”
With the list of first batch of nominees forwarded to Senate today, national attention would be shifted to the upper legislative chamber.
The number of names on the list is yet to be known, but a source had hinted last week that not less than 20 ex-ministers might return.
Among the returnees, it was learnt, were Messrs Godsday Orubebe, Odein Ajumogobia, Prof. Dora Akunyili, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke among others.
Another source said that the Code of Conduct Bureau had sent out asset declaration forms to ministerial nominees, which could not be confirmed at the time of filing this report (8.30pm).
Jonathan reportedly chaired the last meeting on the ministerial list on Sunday night.
However, another source said the list was likely to be forwarded on Monday evening (yesterday).
A source close to the President told our correspondent on Monday night that as at 2pm, Jonathan was still keeping the list of the nominees to his chest.
However, the source, who pleaded anonymity, said the Acting President planned to send the list in the night of Monday two days ahead of the Thursday which had earlier been speculated.
“I think barring any other unforeseen circumstances, the Acting President is more likely to send the list this evening. He has been keeping to his chest and just as he surprised many when he eventually sacked the cabinet, there are chances of surprises in the list he intends to forward,” the source stated.
Another source also said Jonathan might have fast-forwarded the process of forwarding the list of nominees to checkmate the hordes of lobbyists who had piled pressure on him to either appoint them as ministers or appoint their anointed candidates.
However, the source added that the Acting President had been in a dilemma over the list of nominees he is sending to the Senate because of a possible backlash from those excluded from the process of selecting nominees.
Meanwhile, a source at the National Assembly hinted on Monday of plans by the upper chamber to have the screening of the ministers televised live.
A source who pleaded anonymity said the National Assembly had set the standard through previous screening and therefore, would not want to go for anything less.
The source said, “We are going to take it live. We have set the standard with the previous ones. Nigerians expect nothing less and we cannot in good conscience give them anything short of the best.”
SOURCE: Punch Nigeria Newspaper – www.punchng.com