President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday sacked four ministers, including the Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, who had been enmeshed in a scandal over the N255m armoured cars purchased for her by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA. Other affected ministers include Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade (Police Affairs), Elder Godsday Orubebe (Niger Delta) and Dr. Yerima Ngama (Minister of State, Finance).
On Monday, the Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, resigned his appointment suddenly amid speculations that he had fallen out with the President and powerful politicians in the ruling party Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, however said the resignation was based on Oghiadomhe’s
intention to pursue other political ambitions.
The sack of the four ministers came on a day President Jonathan insisted that his administration was fighting corruption in the country as he performed the swearing-in of the Chairman and members of National Population Commission, NPC, as well as and two special advisers before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting.
Except for Oduah, other ministers including Olubolade, Orubebe and Ngama were present at the FEC meeting yesterday before the decision was announced. While Olubolade and Orubebe left the council chambers before the end of the FEC meeting, Ngama, who was in attendance until the meeting ended, declined to speak to State House correspondents on the issue.
Before the sack of Oduah yesterday, the President had on October 23 last year set up a three-man panel of inquiry headed by former Head of Service of the Federation, Alhaji Isa Bello Sali, to investigate the purchase of the N255m armoured cars. Members of the panel include National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sam Dasuki (rtd) and Air Vice- Marshal Dick Iruenaberi (rtd).
The President had on November 24, last year on his return from London after attending the Honourary International Investors’ Council, HIIC, meeting confirmed the receipt of the report of the panel.
However, details of the recommendations of report were not made public before Oduah’s sack yesterday. While briefing State House correspondents on the development after the end of the FEC meeting yesterday, the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, said the President announced further changes in the FEC.
He said: “Clearly what the President did today was to allow ministers who have indicated interest in pursuing further goals in the polity, in the economy and in the life of the country to be allowed to go.
“Those asked by the President to go include the following: The Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama; the Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Capt. Caleb Olukolade (rtd); the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe and the Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Stella Oduah.
“In announcing their acceptance in their decision to participate in the polity, the President thanked them for the great job they had done in helping the government to realise the goals that had been achieved under the transformation agenda.
“The President believes that they have done so well for this administration and was generally happy with what they have done, particularly in their various sectors to help the administration realise the goals we have seen today in the results we have arrived at under the transformation programme of the government.
“The President also further explained that contrary to some insinuations in some quarters, that our colleague, the former Chief of Staff, Chief Mike Ogiahdomhe, was asked to go because of alleged involvement of NNPC alleged fraud.
The President explained that contrary to these insinuations, which came from the social media and were also replicated in some regular media, Chief Ogiahdomhe left to pursue further interest in politics.
“The Office of the Chief of Staff does not supervise the NNPC, it has no direct correlation with the NNPC and he said if Chief Ogiahdomhe left because of the NNPC alleged fraud, then it will suggest that they would have been people that were involved with him and those people too would have gone.
“So contrary to these speculations, the President asked him to go when he offered to resign to pursue interest in politics.
Politics is very vast so the President made it very clear that the resignation of the former Chief of Staff has anything to do with alleged misdemeanor in NNPC but rather purely the decision of the former Chief of Staff to withdraw his services to participate in politics.”
It will be recalled that Jonathan had on September 11 last year at the FEC meeting announced the sack of nine ministers.
The ministers included Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru (Foreign Affairs), Ruqqayatu Rufai (Education), Shamsudeen Usman (National Planning), Ama Pepple (Land and Urban Development), Hadiza Mailafia (Environment) and Ita Ewa ( Science and Technology). The shake-up also affected three ministers of state.
They were Olusola Obada (Defence), Zainab Kuchi (Power) and Tijani Bukar (Agriculture). Meanwhile, pending the appointment of substantive ministers for the vacant positions created in the cabinet yesterday, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Samuel Ortom, will supervise the Aviation Ministry while the Minister of State for Niger Delta will take over supervision of the ministry.
The Minister of State for the Federal Capital Capital, FCT, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, is to supervise the Ministry of Police Affairs while the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala will take full charge of the Ministry of Finance.