Angry Jonathan Sacks Four Ministers, More to Go
Barely 48 hours after sacking his Chief of Staff and friend, Mike Oghiadomhe, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday put up yet another tough guy mien by sacking four ministers all of whom, a Presidency source said, had failed to impress the President. The affected ministers include embattled Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Oduah, Niger-Delta Minister, Godsday Orubebe and Police Affairs Minister, Capt. Caleb Olubolade. Also shown the red card was Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama.
The President was said to have considered many reasons including his 2015 re-election bid before taking the decision. Besides, the source said two of the ministers were said to have scored below par and come short of the President’s anti-corruption benchmark.
While Oduah has been enmeshed in a messy scandal over the purchase of two bullet-proof cars for N255 million, Orubebe was said have angered the President with his not-so-transparent handling of matters in the Niger Delta Ministry especially, Orubebe was said to have failed to convince the president on how he spent the billions of Naira appropriated and released to his ministry for the East-West road, a major artery linking the West to the East and South –South states.
Orubebe had promised to deliver the road before the end of this year but from the pace of work over the past one year, this looks impossible. An angry President Jonathan had summoned the minister on several occasions but each time the minister was said to have failed to convince the president that the project would be delivered as scheduled.
In the build-up to the 2015 election, the president is hoping to trot out the East-West road as one of his achievements to woo the people of the Niger Delta and other parts of the South East. This and many more ‘sins’ associated with Orubebe precipitated his sack. A source also accused Orubebe of putting more energy and commitment to his gubernatorial ambition in Delta State than the higher calling of serving the entire people of the Niger Delta through his ministry.
For Stella Oduah, a staunch member of the President’s kitchen cabinet, it was a case of ‘your cup is full’. Oduah who contributed immensely to Jonathan’s success at the poll in 2011 through her pet project – Neighbour to Neighbour- was until the car scandal a high-performing cabinet member. Her sack was seen as a face-saving act by the president. There were indications yesterday that the anti-corruption agency EFCC may invite her for further interrogation after the Senate had roundly indicted her in the car scam.
Olubolade’s sack was seen by Presidency sources as a shock because of his strong ties to the president dating back to Bayelsa State when the president was deputy governor. “Olubolade would have been sacked before now especially after the expose by Channels Television of the state of decay at the Nigeria Police College in which the president blamed him for negligence and poor oversight instinct”, a Presidency source told our correspondent. His exit will create for him a leeway to pursue his governorship ambition in his Ekiti State.
The ministerial cleansing yesterday is a prelude to more actions to be taken by the president to shore up his chances at the polls next year. There were strong indications that more ministers and Special Advisers would join the growing list of ex-cabinet members as President Jonathan rallies to tighten his grip on power and the political structure of the ruling party.