A well-connected source at the Presidency in Abuja has told SaharaReporters about the behind-the-scenes maneuvers that forced President Goodluck Jonathan to include the name of Musiliu Obanikoro on a list of ministerial nominees that was hurriedly sent to the Senate for approval. Those on the list include Musiliu Obanikoro(Lagos), Patricia Akwashiki (Nasarawa) and Kenneth Kobani (Rivers).
Mr. Jonathan’s decision to send the list to the Senate today struck many political observers as curious, specifically because the Senate is still on recess and would not resume until February 17, three days after the presidential election.
Our source at the Presidency disclosed that the timing of the president’s submission of the list was dictated by demands made by Mr. Obanikoro, a former Minister of State for Defense. Mr. Obanikoro had resigned from his ministerial post in order to seek the nomination of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the party’s governorship candidate for Lagos State. In the party’s primary, Mr. Obanikoro lost the governorship ticket to Mr. Jimi Agbaje.
“Chief Musiliu Obanikoro insisted that Mr. President [Goodluck Jonathan] must compensate him again with a ministerial position as a condition for him [Obanikoro] to support the party at the February polls,” said our source.
Our source disclosed that the former minister and failed governorship candidate set the condition during a meeting he held a few days ago in Lagos with Vice President Namadi Sambo.
Our source, who said he was privy to the discussion, added that President Jonathan caved in to the former minister’s demands because “Koro [as Mr. Obanikoro is popularly called] made it clear that, if he is not given a ‘soft landing’ as a minister, he would not campaign for Agbaje or for the PDP as a whole.” The source added that Mr. Obanikoro had convinced the president and vice president that, despite his loss in the gubernatorial primary, he is a widely popular politician in Lagos State, with the capacity to help Mr. Jonathan and the PDP upset the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the February elections.
“He kept reminding the vice president about their agreement, and the VP convinced Mr. President to send the list of ministers immediately in order to carry Koro along,” said the source. He added: “Koro does not want to lose out totally. So he told the vice president that the agreement must be kept to.”
Mr. Jonathan reportedly felt that he had no option than to hurriedly compile the names of a few nominees and forward the list to the Senate.
Even though there are several other states without adequate representation on the cabinet, Mr. Jonathan felt he needed to act fast to send a list that included Mr. Obanikoro’s name in order to avoid another political grudge in the Lagos State chapter of the PDP, a state the president’s strategists are determined to capture.
Via Sahara Reporters