A purge of the federal cabinet appears imminent as President Goodluck Jonathan prepares to send a list of ministerial nominees to the Senate next week for confirmation.
Although the plan is ostensibly to fill the vacancies created by the exit of some ministers,there were indications last night that the President might drop more ministers to make way for the incoming ones. 12 vacancies currently exist in the cabinet.
The slots are those of Kebbi, Sokoto, the North East, the South West, Kaduna, Kano, South South, Jigawa, Akwa Ibom, Osun, Niger and Borno.
However, the actual number of the ministerial nominees to be sent to the Senate was kept secret last night.
Some members of the cabinet, especially those said to have scored low on President Jonathan’s ministers performance card, are now gripped by fear.
The fate of Aviation Minister Stella Oduah was shaky last night following pressure on the President either to drop or retain her.
The report of the Administrative Panel on the N225m bullet-proof cars scandal at the National Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) will play a key role in determining her fate,it was gathered.
The panel was chaired by the immediate past Head of Service of the Federation (HoS), Sali Bello Isa.
Other members of the panel were the National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki, and Air Vice Marshal Dick Iruenebere.
But contrary to expectations in some quarters, Minister of State for Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike,stands a good chance of remaining in office.
Wike may, however, leave the cabinet either in June or July to pursue his governorship ambition in Rivers State.
Some of the new hands likely to come on board include the Chairman, Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, Engr. Olajide Adeniji; ex-Governor Boni Haruna; Senator Umar Gada (Sokoto); ex-Speaker Umar Ghali Na’aba (Kano); ex-Governor Abdulkadir Kure (Niger).
It was gathered that some ministers may be asked to go based on either poor performance or political expediency. But the actual number was kept under wraps as at press time.
A Presidency source said: “The President might drop some ministers owning to either poor performance or political expediency.
“The role of Wike in Rivers State crisis has earned him a retention ticket from the President because the minister is seen as fighting a ‘strategic’ cause.”
On the fate of Oduah, the source said: “It is still shaky because the President is under pressure from pro and anti-forces. Oduah has also succeeded in making the presidency to believe that she is being persecuted for politics sake.
“I think the report of the Administrative Panel will go a long way to give direction on the President’s decision on Oduah.”
Besides the sack of nine ministers a few months ago, there are three other vacancies occasioned by the removal of Mohammed Haliru Bello as Minister of Defence and Inuwa Abdulkadir as Minister of Youth Development, as well as the resignation of Dr. Ali Pate as Minister of State for Health.
Also dropped were Olugbenga Ashiru (Foreign Affairs); Hadiza Mailaifa (Environment); Shamsudeen Usman (National Planning); Ama Pepple (Lands, Housing and Urban Development); Rukayyatu Rufai’ (Education); Ita Ewa (Science and Technology); Minister of State for Defence, Olusola Obada; Minister of State for Power, Zainab Kuchi, and Minister of State for Agriculture, Bukar Tijani.