12th September, 2013
Opinions were this morning divided over the sack of some ministers by President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday.
The ministers, nine of them, were relieved of their positions by the President at the end of the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council, FEC.
While some Nigerians who spoke with P.M.NEWS described the action as targeted at the President’s perceived enemies within the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, others said it was normal for Jonathan to hire and fire any cabinet member as the Nigerian constitution stipulates.
The affected ministers included those of the Environment, Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafa; National Planning, Shamsudeen Usman; Education, Ruqayyatu Rufai; Science and Technology, Ita Okon Bassey Ewa; Housing and Urban Development, Ama Pepple and Foreign Affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru.
Ministers of State affected included those for Agriculture, Bukar Tijani Borno; Defence, Olusola Obada and Power, Zainab Kuchi.
Former governor of old Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa, told P.M.NEWS that the President only exercised his powers since he was the one that appointed them.
“Any of the ministers who thinks the President has gone beyond his powers should come out and say it. If he wants to sack the entire cabinet, it is his business.
“However, I only hope the action is in the best interest of the country and his party.
“I hope he would not worsen the crises in his party by appointing people without consulting the leadership of the party,” Musa said.
Solicitor of the Supreme Court, Chris Akiri, said the President has constitutional right to relieve the cabinet members of their duties according to Section 47 of the constitution.
He also said there could be various reasons for his action, adding that they were first appointed to help the Jonathan deliver the benefits of democracy.
“But where the President begins to realise that they have not met expectations, he has the right to fire them.
“There could also be a chance that the ministers are embroiled in politics to the detriment of their employer.
“As human beings, we believe he who pays the piper dictates the tune. So for me, it could be as a result of incompetence or disloyalty,” he told P.M.NEWS.
Shettima Yerima of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF, said he did not see any issue relating to politics in what the President did.
According to him, “the cabinet reshuffling is long overdue. Where a minister is appointed and discovered not to be useful, then he or she should be eased out.
“One should have expected the President to sack many more and replace them with better people who know what they are doing. If you look at that cabinet, you can only find very few competent hands.
“How can you defend people like Prof. Rukayyat Rufai? Has she worked? The answer is no!
“If there is a failure in government, the best thing to do is look inward and reshuffle the cabinet, send some away and bring in better people,” he said.
Human rights activist, Abiodun Showunmi, said the President’s action sends a message that the crisis within the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, cannot be resolved.
According to him, most of the sacked cabinet members were nominated by leaders now considered as Jonathan’s enemies.
“Gbenga Ashiru was nominated by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Olusola Obada was nominated by Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Ama Pepple was nominated by Rotimi Amaechi.
“The nominee of the Kano State governor and that of the Sokoto State governor were also affected and these are people Jonathan is fighting,” he said.