- Category: Politics
- Published on Tuesday, 17 May 2011 05:17
- Written by Admin
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There are indications that President Goodluck Jonathan will reduce the number of his cabinet members when he submits his ministerial list to the National Assembly next month for approval.
Investigations by our correspondent in Abuja on Monday showed that the President had made up his mind to heed the advice of the Presidential Advisory Committee, which in January urged him to reduce the number of ministries, departments and agencies.
It was learnt that while each of the 36 states would be represented in the new cabinet, the President would do away with zonal representation. If the President drops zonal representation, cabinet members may reduce from 43 to 36.
A Presidency source stated that Jonathan would be guided by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution while constituting the new cabinet.
Section 147 (1, 2 & 3) of the constitution states, “There shall be such offices of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as may be established by the President.
“Any appointment to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President.
“Any appointment under subsection (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of section 14(3) of this Constitution:-
Currently, besides the 36 states, which are represented in the cabinet, a minister is appointed from each of the six geo-political zones in the country.
The Presidency source, who stated that since there is no provision for zonal representation in the constitution, the President believes that doing away with it will help reduce the cost of governance in the country.
It was learnt that the greatest obstacles to the implementation of the PAC’s recommendation are the members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, who are bent on getting ministerial posts and other federal appointments after losing during the April general elections.
The PDP had last week directed each state chapter to submit names of 10 nominees for ministerial and other appointments.
It was learnt that at least 360 names had been submitted to the party’s headquarters for consideration for appointments.
Investigations showed that because of the factions in some state chapters, different lists were submitted, thus worsening the struggle for appointments.
For example, in Lagos State, three groups—Chief Bode George’s faction; Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe’s group and the PDP neutral group — submitted different lists.
A top member of the PDP, who pleaded anonymity, said, “Our party members, who want rehabilitation through federal appointments are creating confusion.
“Some members, having lost the last election see the appointments as the only way to revive their careers. They are not comfortable with PAC’s advice.”
Investigations showed that although the President would not shut out his party members from his government, he was disposed to implementing the suggestion of PAC members led by a former Defence Minister, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd).
“The President does not want to lose the goodwill of eminent Nigerians. You will remember that PAC raised the alarm over the high cost of government some months ago. It was difficult that time for the President to drop some ministers. This is an opportunity for him to implement the PAC recommendation,” said the PDP chieftain.
PAC members, had during a visit to the President on January 20, advised him to reduce the cost of governance by either merging or cutting down the number of MDAs.
The Danjuma group stated that this would enable the government to direct more spending on infrastructural development.
Danjuma, after the visit, told journalists that one of the suggestions made to Jonathan was “reducing the number of ministries and where there are functions they should be rationalised.
“We made a number of far- reaching recommendations to government to take remedial actions to correct all these problems. We realised that we are on the eve of elections and that there is going to be a transition, however we think also this is the right time we raise these issues.”
The President had welcomed the suggestions of the group and promised to continue working with the PAC members, whom he described as people of good character.
He had also said that a robust economy was crucial to the survival, growth and well-being of any nation, adding, “Issues of the economy are critical, since you can’t provide education, health or security without resources generated from a robust economy.”
Apart from PAC, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mallam Lamido Sanusi, had last December raised the alarm over the high cost of maintaining public officials.
He lamented that such a high cost made it difficult for government to invest in the critical sectors of the economy
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had in 2007 reduced 22 ministries to 16. But his successor, President Umaru Yar’Adua, created a new one and de-merged all the already merged ministries, except that of Agriculture and Water Resources. (Punch)