Friday, 17 October 2008

Nomination Of Ministers Of Niger Delta Affairs Stalls Cabinet Reshuffle

The reshuffle of the President Umaru Yar'Adua cabinet which has been on the card for some time, may not take place now, except if the political intrigues, arm twisting and horse trading, thrown up by the creation of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs are resolved.

The President in a move, according to Presidency officials, targeted at finding a lasting solution to the problems of the long neglected oil rich region had created a Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. The creation of the Ministry elicited varied reactions from observers, while some hailed the move as a step in the right direction, others described it as capable of creating more problems, while a section of observers approached the issue cautiously. The Movement For The Emancipation Of Niger Delta(MEND) had in an online news release, advised caution in celebrating the creation of the Ministry.

chidi opara reports learnt that as soon as the Ministry was created, various interest groups moved into Abuja to lobby for slots in the potentially "lucrative" Ministry. The Ministry like others will likely have two Ministers, one senior, the other junior. The concentration of the lobbyists, according to knowledgeable contacts in Abuja is on the senior Ministerial slot.

The first set of lobbyists were ex-governors James Ibori, Peter Odili, Donald Duke and Dieyepriye Alamesigha. We can authoritatively report that Ibori and Alamesigha wanted the position for themselves, but have not been able to independently confirm whether Odili and Duke wanted the position for themselves or for their political godsons/daughters.

Other groups lobbying for these Ministerial slots are influential ethnic leaders from the Niger Delta region, as well as influential youth leaders from the oil bearing zone.

very rich business men and women from other zones in the country, whose main interests are in oil and gas are also said to be lobbying to nominate Niger deltans whom they can use to advance their business interests.

The activities of these lobbyists, according to presidency contacts is what is delaying the cabinet reshuffle, contrary to news media reports. "Mr. President cannot afford to offend these powerful interests, so he is still consulting" a Presidency contact whispered to chidi opara reports.