ABUJA—ACTING President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, assumed responsibility of the new office, when he approved a mini-cabinet reshuffle which led to the immediate swapping of portfolios by three ministers including the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Michael Aondoakaa, who now becomes the Minister of Special Duties.

The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode becomes the new Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Minister of Special Duties, Alhaji Ibrahim Kazaure becomes the new Minister of Labour and Productivity.

The redeployments take immediate effect.
Jonathan presided over the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, from the official chair of the President bearing the country’s mark of power, the “Coat of Arms.”

Information and Communication Minister, Professor Dora Akunyili, who briefed State House Correspondents after the meeting, said the Council extensively deliberated on the resolution of the National Assembly, declaring former Vice President Jonathan as Acting President and unanimously endorsed it.

She said: “FEC accepts the resolution of the National Assembly that the Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan becomes an Acting President, Commander-in-Chief. Council commends the National Assembly for their action, and pledges to support the Acting President in his onerous responsibility of steering the ship of the nation.”

Asked why the sudden swap within the cabinet, Akunyili said: “it is the decision of the Acting President to move, it is presidential power, he has the presidential powers to remove any of us.”

According to the Minister, her popular memorandum to FEC, penultimate Wednesday, asking ailing President, Yar’Adua to toe the path of honour by handing over power to his deputy, had to be dropped at yesterday’s meeting because she felt there was no need for it again, especially when FEC had adopted NASS resolution.
Akunyili was accompanied to the briefing by the Ministers of Finance, Dr Muhtar Mansur, Sports, Mohammed Ndanusa, Health, Dr. Babatunde Oshotimehin and Foreign Affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe.

There was a breath of fresh air in Aso Rock, at the meeting which attracted a mammoth crowd of President Umaru Yar’Adua’s aides, some who had, hitherto, absented themselves from FEC meetings without official permission, particularly since Yar’Adua left for treatment.

Obviously afraid of being the first casualties, the Yar’Adua aides were among the early callers at the meeting which was attended by all the ministers and many other cabinet members, because of fear of imminent cabinet shake up.

However, controversial Presidential Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Senator Mohammed Abba-Aji was conspicuously absent, while Principal Secretary to the President, Mr David Edevbie, was seen without a tie for the first time.

The Acting President who does not tolerate lateness to FEC meetings, has put intense pressure on ministers who have to work extra hard to ensure they arrived before Jonathan at yesterday’s sitting.

Unlike in the past, ministers and presidential aides started arriving, as early as 8:43 a.m, for the meeting which started at 10.00 a.m; whereas in the past many of them would choose to attend between 10:30 and 11.00 a.m.

Aondoakaa reacts

Meanwhile, the former Minister of Justice, Aondoakaa, yesterday, told newsmen he had no regrets over his actions in the last eight weeks, noting that there was no way he would have avoided those actions, particularly his insistence that there was no vacuum.

He said: “There is no action I’ve taken that I have regrets for, because every action I took was in the interest of the country. No country will say there is a vacuum. No Attorney General worth his salt will go on the pages of papers to announce that there is a vacuum. We have to preserve executive powers until a leader is selected. A leader has been given by the National Assembly and we have recognized him.

“What we did was a collective decision. First the Acting President told me of the need to go to another ministry. He had a discussion with me in the morning, and it was a cordial arrangement. How do I look at it? Well I am in the government, in the cabinet and I pledge my loyalty to the acting President, I am the Minister of Special Duties.

“The Minister of Labour is now Minister of Justice; I am now the Minister of Special Duties. No, I think it’s understood, first I had a discussion with the Acting President, I have taken a position and in this life when you take a position and there is a change in the position you allow another person who will have a free atmosphere to defend the new position”.

Asked how he intended to perform his new assignments, he said: “When I go there the permanent secretary will brief me on what the special duties are and I will do the job.”

Other decisions of the FEC included the variation of the contract for the construction the two hundred bed hostel at the National Stadium from N892 million to N1.74 billion. The facility is to be upgraded from two-star to a four-star structure.

FEC also approved the appointment of fund managers to manage the recent N10 billion funds, as approved by the National Assembly, for the proposed Urban Mass Transit Programme that was designed to provide loans to operatives at 0.75 per cent interest rate.

Cabinet shake-up covered by ourresolution – Senate

The minor cabinet reshuffle carried out in the Federal Executive Council was within the powers conferred by the Senate resolution on Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President of the country, the Senate’s acting spokesman, Senator Manzo Anthony has said.

Reacting to yesterday’s cabinet reshuffle, Senator Anthony told Vanguard in a telephone interview that the Acting President was empowered by the Senate resolution to run the Federal Government in a way he thought fit to do.

Affirming that it was an administrative procedure that will not bother the Senate, he said: “Our resolutions were two and very clear. If you give somebody acting appointment, it implies that he would do all the jobs of the person he is acting for and if in his opinion that the government he is leading as acting President will run better by reshuffling ministers so be it. Ministers are doing jobs on behalf of the President and it may well be that he will deploy them to areas that he believes that they will perform better and you will agree with me that once you stay in a place for a long time that it is always good to expose you to other areas.

“I don’t read much into this other than that this is just normal business and we don’t comment on day to day administrative business of the President, that is not our job in the National Assembly. What he has done is within the purview of his role as President and just like you don’t expect the President to interfere in the changes in the committees in parliament, so I think it is purely administrative.

“The resolution says he is Acting President and the Acting President says I can run this thing better this way, so I don’t think he has done anything outside the purview of our resolution.”

Anxiety grips Ministry of Justice workers

There was palpable silence at the Ministry of Justice complex located in Maitama, Abuja, yesterday, as members of staff of the Ministry had a few anxious moments, discussing in hush tones, the removal of their embattled former boss, Chief Michael Kaases Aoandoakaa, SAN, who was relieved of his duties as the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, by Acting President Dr.Goodluck Jonathan.

Aoandoakaa who left his office to attend the Federal Executive Council, FEC, regular Wednesday meetings at the Presidential Villa, had scheduled to hold a closed door meeting with the judicial workers upon return, in an attempt to dissuade them from embarking on an indefinite strike action which they had threatened to commence yesterday.

His plans were, however, shattered by Acting President Jonathan, who appointed former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Prince Adetokumbo Kayode, SAN, to take over the reins of leadership at the Ministry of Justice forthwith.

Upon hearing the news of the removal of their former boss, the workers gathered in small groups to discuss the new turn of events. One of the workers told his colleagues: “I know Oga, he will surely resign from this appointment because I don’t think he will like to act as the Minister of Special Duties after holding sway in Nigerian politics for such a long time. What will he be doing there? This is like being relegated to obscurity.”
Meantime, batches of fierce looking mobile policemen had as early as 9.00 a.m, yesterday, fenced-off the perimeters of the Ministry of Justice Complex, where they subjected everything that was taken out of the complex to intense scrutiny.

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Comment by osasere odigie on February 11, 2010 at 11:54am
i still want to use this medium to congratulate the VP Mr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on his position as the acting president and CnC of the federation I pray God give the wisdom of Solomon to handle affairs of the country for the betterment of the masses
Congratulation Your Excellency
Comment by osasere odigie on February 11, 2010 at 11:51am
the plan to swap was well made by the acting president and I really appreciate his effort for doing so to douse their over bearing power being handle by some of the ministers especially that of the former AGF-Chief Michael Kaases Aoandoakaa, SAN was really leading the country in to a state of catastrophic sagacious cucubency that will raise a huge alarm
Comment by Anya Olugu on February 11, 2010 at 11:51am
A bit of Hausa/Arabic that I know, Yar'adua means prayer. Nigeria has Prayed to God in the last two years and now God has given us GoodLuck. If happens that we run out of goodluck, we may need to pray again but until that time comes, we should enjoy Godsent GoodLuck.
Comment by Sifo on February 11, 2010 at 11:48am
Comment by cosmas francis on February 11, 2010 at 11:44am
Well done Dr. Jonathan. First i must congratulate you on your new position in the acting capacity as number one citizen of this beloved country of ours. Yes, what you have done is something also thought of, as we cannot afford to have unclean mind, rogged, selfish, and bootlickers politician in such a sensitive position in this country as they do not have any feelings for the masses. I would like you Mr President as a matter of urgency re-organise inec to ensure free and fair election in 2011, relieve from duty ministers who are not worthy of their portfolio, address niger delta issue and enforce laws that will guide against religious crisis and extremism in the country. Also ensure that constitution review is taken seriously and rule of law remains the guide of your government. I am very positive about you My President and strongly believe you have all it takes to take us to the next level.
Long live the President of NIGERIA
Comment by SEB BEST on February 11, 2010 at 10:56am
Good move. The man Aondoaka has all in all, minister info., special adviser to president on Judicial matters and above all the almighty AGF, who take advantage of the president's absent to lead the nation to the limits lawlessness and unconstitutionality. The Lukeman is too old to be a minister in this country when there are young and vibrate people. His likes should be elder statemen. i propose more reshufflement, especially the so called kitchen cabinet members who used the Prsident's health situation to hold the hostage for selfish desire to cling to power by all means. For PDP, at last God who Power belongs has given power who he chooses. have they brought the letter from Saudi Arabia? posterity will judge them all. may God bless nigeria and direct Dr. Jonathan to pilot the affairs of the nation delligently.
Comment by zinno katta E on February 11, 2010 at 10:50am
There was a swap in the cabinet. I am now the minister of special duties while the minister of labour takes over from me as the attorney general and minister of justice," The disgraced minister told repoters after he was removed and re-deployed to a less post.
More new things are still going to happen soon and do not forget that the Acting president needs our prayers.
Comment by Akoyere Zion on February 11, 2010 at 10:00am
Congratulations my Acting President, this has put paid to effort mischief makers and those who want to interpret the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Upside Down purely becaus e of thier selfish interests.

My prayer is that God will give the Acting President the wisdom that surpasses that of Solomon to enable him steer the ship of Governance in Nigeria to enviable heights. God less Nigeria!!!
Comment by Hon. Aiyamenkhue Edokpolo on February 11, 2010 at 9:16am
I salute the gallant sense of responsibility in Ag. President Jonathan with respect to his reshuffle of the cabinet. It was time to checkmate the cumulative legal rascality of the former Attorney General of the Federation was cut short. I humbly call on the National Assembly to craft the office of the "Surgeon General of the Federation" in the reviewed edition of the constitution. The S.G.F. will be in a position to access the health of the president, the vice president, the Senate president, the Speaker of the House of Reps, the Chief Justice of Nigeria; and formally speak on the health of the nation. He should be empowered to the extent that he MUST be in a position to access the health of whoever he is constitutionally entitled to examine. It is shameful that while the president health imbroglio raged, Michael Oandaka superfluously conducted himself with a view to substantially benefit from the crisis.If he was indeed responsible, he ought to resign. Once again, i salute the gallantry of the Ag. president.
Comment by flourishing florence on February 11, 2010 at 8:48am
this is to tell us that there is nothing God cannot do. we need young people with ideas in the cabinet.I believe God is going to restore Nigeria . Goodluck to the acting president

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