The shock was occasioned not mostly by the act in itself or the affected ministers; as Nigerians had increasingly speculated that a cabinet shake-up was long over-due, but in the timing.
It is speculated that the ministers were sacked due to the crisis in the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) as most of those affected come from states where their governors are staunch opponents of Mr. Jonathan and the national leadership of the PDP under Bamanga Tukur.
However, Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku argued that there was no political undertone to the exercise.
He said the minor cabinet re-shuffle was a routine practice in any government and in this particular instance, it was done to inject fresh blood in to the system.
Among those who got the boot are Foreign Affairs Minister Olugbenga Ashiru; Ruqqayatu Rufai (Education) and Shamsudeen Usman (National Planning).
Others include Land and Urban Development Minister Ama Pepple; Environment’s Hadiza Mailafia; Science and Technology’s Ita Ewa.
Three Ministers of State were also sacked. They are Defence, Olusola Obada; Power, Zainab Kuchi and Agriculture, Tijani Bukar.
According to Maku, “These ministers have been affected in the cabinet reshuffle and the President in Council expressed his satisfaction and happiness over their commitment to government since they were appointed. He also thanked them for their service to their fatherland and said he will continue to engage them in one way or the other in the implementation of the transformation agenda and, of course, in the various challenges that government faces around the country and in terms of efforts to transform our country.
“He was indeed pleased to say because of what they have done in serving this country; he reassured them that this government will continue to use their services in the development of the country and thanked them for their services to this administration and to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Ruling out political undertone in the sudden termination of the ministers’ appointments, Maku said: “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 there 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.”
Maku said the President set targets for the next two years and he is adjusting his cabinet to realise the objectives of his transformation agenda.