President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday sacked nine members of his cabinet, the first major shake-up since he appointed the cabinet shortly after he was sworn in as president in May 2011. Ministers affected by the shake-up include Erelu Olusola Obada of defence, Alhaji Bukar Tijani Borno of Agric, Prof. Ita Okon Bassey Ewa of science and technology. Others are of education, Prof Ruqqayat Rufai, Hadiza Malaifa of Environment , Mrs Ama Peppel of Lands and urban development, Samsudeen Usman of National Planning, Gbenga Ashiru of Foreign Affairs and Zainab Kuchi of Power.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting, Maku, said the cabinet shake-up was with immediate effect.
He said the President, through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, had named the retained FEC members that would oversee the affected ministries pending the appointment of substantive ministers to head them.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to be overseen by the minisiter of State, Prof. Viola Owuliri; the Education by the Minister of State, Nyesome Wike; and the Minister of Solid Minerals, Musa Sada, Housing, Lands and Urban Development.
The Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, is to supervise the Science and Technology Ministry; the Minister of State for Works, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda, Ministry of Planning; Maku, Defence; and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Goodsday Orubebe, Environment Ministry.
When Maku announced that he would oversee the Defence Ministry, State House correspondents shouted but he pleaded with them to allow him to continue his briefing.
He then added that the Ministers of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina and Power, Chinedu Nebo would take care of the duties of the sacked ministers of state in their respective ministries.
Maku said the President expressed satisfaction with the performance of the affected ministers while in office.
He stated that Jonathan assured them that he would call on them whenever their services were needed for the development of the country.
The Information minister said, “These ministers have been affected in the cabinet reshuffle and the President in Council expressed his satisfaction and happiness over their commitment to government since they were appointed.”
“He (the President) also thanked them for their services to their fatherland and said he would continue to engage them in one way or the other in the implementation of the transformation agenda and of course in the various challenges that government faces around the country and in terms of efforts to transform our country.”
The minister said that the President would soon send a list of new ministers to the National Assembly to replace those who had been dropped.
Maku who described the cabinet shake-up as a normal process,added that it was meant to inject fresh blood into the government.
Maku said, “There is no government in the world where the leaders do not reshuffle their cabinets, there is none. And cabinet reshuffle is part of a systematic public administration and I believe what the President has done is simply to address the issues of re-tooling his government to achieve service delivery.
“It is at the discretion of the President at all times to reshuffle his cabinet. It is his own prerogative under the constitution and this has nothing to do absolutely with any other factor other than having come two years into his administration in the last lap, what I see the President doing is to refocus his government, to inject in fresh blood to achieve greater service delivery to the people of Nigeria. That is the only reason for it, any other thing has nothing to do with the decision of the President.
“The President is trying to in reject fresh blood into the system while retaining again the loyalty of all those who have worked.”