New Ministers: Obanikoro Goes to Foreign Affairs, Akwashiki Heads Information
President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday swore in the new set of ministers recently cleared by the Senate. The exercise saw former Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, (Lagos) being sworn in as the Minister of State Foreign Affairs II, while Nicholas Ada (Benue) is now the Minister of State Foreign Affairs I.
Obanikoro, more popular for his political radicalism, had drifted in and out of controversies in recent time. His nomination and final clearance by the Senate had been embroiled in controversy more for his alleged role in the Ekiti State election rigging scandal which audio recording had been a subject of intense debate.
Members of the main opposition party, All Progressives Congress, opposed his nomination but the Senate President David Mark, said Mr. Obanikoro’s clearance was constitutional and in line with the Senate’s tradition being a former member of the Senate. Obanikoro is not new to Foreign Affairs as he has served as Nigeria’s Ambassador.
President Jonathan also named Alhassan Khaliru the Minister of Health while Fidelis Nwankwo, is now the new Minister of State for Health.
Other ministers sworn in include: Patricia Akwashiki (Nasarawa) as Minister of Information; and Augustine Akobundu (Abia State) as Minister of State, Defence.
Others are Hauwa’u Bappa, as Minister of State Niger Delta Affairs; Kenneth Kobani (Rivers) as Minister of State Industry, Trade and Investment; Joel Ikenya (Taraba), Minister of Labour.
President Jonathan also swore in two Federal Civil Service Commissioners – Jonah Madugo, who will represent Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa states and National Population Commission, Abimbola Salu-Hundeyi.
The President told the new Ministers that they were coming in at the “injury time”. He said Nigerians will be watching their moves.
“For the ministers this is an injury time. It is like bringing a player when you have just five minutes to go in a football match. So everyone wants to know what that player will do, the magic the player will perform within that short period. The player himself will be struggling to at least kick the ball before the end of the game.
“So you are coming in at a quite challenging period and I believe that a number of people will not envy you because government is coming to a close.
“For the member of the Federal Civil Service Commission, civil service is key; it is the engine room of government.
“The greatest problem that people complain about is the issues of discipline in the service. I believe that with you coming to join others, you will continue to modernize the federal civil service.
Mr. Jonathan said the National Population Commission team is qualified to hold office.
“For the National Population Commission, we are thinking of how to go for another head count. And every country wants to know the exact population for the purpose of planning and all that. I believe this is a good team and listening to your citations all of you are eminently qualified to hold any office in this country. And we believe that you will join us to serve our nation.” he said.