Muhtar, Ex-DMO DG, To Be Named Finance Minister
•Surprise as President reshuffles cabinetFrom Sufuyan Ojeifo and Juliana Taiwo in Abuja, 12.18.2008
Former Director-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Dr. Mansur Muhtar, may have been picked by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to be the new Minister of Finance. He is at present with the Africa Development Bank (ADB).
Muhtar’s name was sent to the Senate last night for ratification as Minister.
THISDAY also learnt that Dr. Rilwan Lanre Babalola, said to be an expert on the power sector and who was among the three ministerial nominees cleared yesterday by the Senate, may emerge the Minister of Power.
Ex-Imo State Governor Achike Udenwa and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Ufot Ekaette, also cleared by the Senate yesterday, are to be named Ministers of Commerce and Industry as well as the newly created Ministry of Niger Delta respectively.
Muhtar was DMO boss during the tenure of Prof. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Finance Minister under the former President Olusegun Obasanjo regime.
Yesterday, President Yar’Adua distributed portfolios to his 16 new ministers and reshuffled old ones but left the ministries of Finance, Power and Niger Delta without substantive ministers.
There was suspense, then surprise and then claps spiced with laughter as the President unfolded the portfolios at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
To the consternation of many at the event, he announced former Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Dora Akunyili, as the new Minister of Information and Communication.
She replaces Mr. John Odey who is now Minister of Environment.
Former governor of Kebbi State and a serving Senator, Adamu Aliero, emerged as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), while Dr. Hassan Mohammed Lawal was named new Minister of Works and Housing.
For the new Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Diezani Allison-Madueke, formerly Minister of Transport, her seeming disappointment with the new posting seemed palpable. She was seen standing alone, looking forlorn.
The swearing-in ceremony, which did not start at the scheduled 10 am but at 12.55 pm, saw nine ministers retaining their portfolios while 12 others were posted to new ministries.
Those who retained their portfolios included Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mike Aondoakaa; Minister of Agric and Water Resources, Syaddi Abba Ruma; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe; Minister of State Foreign Affairs II, Ambassador Bagudu Hirse; and Minister of State, Education, Hajia Aishatu Dukku.
Others were Minister of Interior, Gen. Godwin Abbe (rtd); Minister of State, Petroleum, Odien Ajumogobia; Minister of Youth Development, Senator Akinlabi Olasunkanmi; and Minister of State, Finance, Remi Babalola.
Twelve of the old ministers who got posted to new ministries included former Minister of Finance, Shamsudeen Usman, now Deputy Chairman/Minister of National Planning Commission; former Minister of Culture and Tourism, Adetokunboh Kayode, now Minister of Labour; former Minister of Transport, Allison-Madueke, now Minister of Mines and Steel Development, former Minister of Special Duties, Elder Godwin Orubebe, now Minister of State, Niger Delta Affairs; and former Minister of Labour, Muhammed Lawal, now Minister of Works & Housing.
Others were former Minister of State, Culture and Tourism, Idi Hong, now Minister of State, Health; former Minister of State Environment, John Odom, now Minister of State, FCT; former Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs. Grace Ekpiwhre, now Minister of State, Works and Housing and former Minister of State Science and Technology, A. B. Zaku, now upgraded to full Minister of Science and Technology.
Former Minister of Information and Communication, Odey, who is now Minister of Environment; former Minister of State Agriculture and Water Resources, Ademola Seriki, now Minister of State, Defence; and former Minister of State Defence, Fidelia Njeze now Minister of State, Agriculture and Water Resources.
The 16 new ministers sworn in are: Minister of Aviation, Babatunde Omotoba; Minister of Culture and Tourism, Senator Bello J. Gada, Minister of Defence, Shettima Mustapha, Minister of Education, Sam Egwu, Minister of FCT, Senator M.A. Aliero, Minister of State Foreign Affairs I, Alhaji Jibril Maigari, Minister of Health, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, Minister of Information & Communication, Prof. Dora Akunyili, Minister of State, Information & Communication, Alhaji Aliyu Ikra Bilbis, Minister of Petroleum, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, Minister of Police Affairs, Dr. Ibrahim Lame, Minister of State, Power, Arch. Nuhu Wya, Minister/Chairman National Sports Commission, Engr. Sani Ndanusa, Minister of Transport, Alhaji Ibrahim Bio, Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Salamatu H. Sulaiman, and Minister of Special Duties, Ambassador A. Kazaure.
President Yar’Adua while welcoming the new ministers to the Federal Executive Council (FEC), said they were entering “a new dispensation – one which scrupulously demands pro-action, establishes definitive performance benchmarks, and insists on effective service delivery, strict adherence to due process, and unwavering focus on the policy objectives of this administration as encapsulated in the Seven-Point Agenda”.
He said these were the minimal standards that would guarantee continued membership of the Executive Council of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He said: “While congratulating you all, I would like to admonish that you see your appointment at all times as a sacred call to national service and not an opportunity for self aggrandizement or the pursuit of narrow, selfish interests. The task of nation building and national transformation calls for honesty of purpose, sincerity, consummate diligence, and unmediated commitment to the national cause. The people of this nation demand no less from each and every one of us. Our every act must be guided by the highest standards of integrity and the fear of God.
“I must reiterate our administration’s total abhorrence of corruption in all its ramifications and our insistence on absolute compliance with established rules, regulations and procedures in the conduct of all government business. Any proven case of corrupt practices or non-conformity with the rule of law and constitutionality will be visited with the strictest sanctions.
“In this period of stark economic realities at home and unprecedented global economic challenges, we all must begin to think out of the box, recommit to the ideal of prudent and judicious application of resources, and stay faithful to the principles of value for money, transparency, accountability and the rule of law.”
The new ministers were part of the FEC meeting, which resumed at 3 pm after breaking for an hour.
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday confirmed former SGF, Ekaette, from Akwa-Ibom State and Udenwa as ministers.
The Upper House also confirmed Babalola from Osun State at the end of the screening of the third batch of three ministerial nominees forwarded to the Senate last Friday.
The confirmation of the nominees has brought the number of ministers so far approved by the Senate to 19.
The Senate last week rejected the nomination of Alhaji Abdulrahman Adamu, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) nominee from Adamawa State, and deferred the confirmation of Mr. Humphrey Abah from Kogi State due to contention among senators from the State.
Ekaette was screened last Tuesday with the Senate deferring the screening of Udenwa and Babalola to yesterday because it had to receive a briefing on naira depreciation by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, in the committee of the whole.