Nigeria's Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has put paid to speculation about his role in government following President Umaru Yar'Adua's continuing absence from office. He has made it abundantly clear to all that he is fully in charge of the affairs of the country.
Having shocked Nigerians when he dissolved the erstwhile 42-member cabinet on March 18th, about five weeks after he assumed duty as Acting President, he has now reconstituted the cabinet more to his liking.
The dissolution of the former cabinet invariably triggered intense lobbying in Abuja as many of the affected ministers fawned on him to regain their former portfolios or be assigned new ones in the remodelled cabinet. But when he eventually unveiled the new list of ministers with their portfolios on 6th April, many were disappointed.
Perhaps, to convince everyone that he wields full executive powers, Jonathan has taken on arguably the most difficult and troubled ministry--Power--under his own portfolio. Nigeria's perennial power shortages have been a huge drain on the nation's economic growth and its financial resources. His nomination of Murtala Yar'Adua, nephew of the ailing Umaru Yar'Adua, as Minister of State for Defence, is considered a master stroke.
Jonathan's nomination of Olusegun Aganga, the MD of Goldman Sachs International, London, as Finance Minister, is also seen as a strategic decision, particularly among stakeholders in the financial sector of the economy. Oil majors popped champagne corks when it emerged that Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former hot shot at Shell and immediate past Minister of Solid Minerals, has been made Minister of Petroleum Resources. She is the first woman in the country's history to occupy this exalted position, vacated by Rilwan Lukman, a former Secretary-General of the Organisation of Petroluem Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Jonathan also caused more ripples in the oil industry when he relieved the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mohammed Barkindo, of his post, ostensibly due to his inability to tame the recurrent fuel crisis in the country. A retired Group Executive Director, Commercial and Investment, NNPC, Laden Shehu, replaces Barkindo. The fearless Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili, who was earlier sidelined during the nomination process, eventually regained her portfolio, after attempts by a section of senators to stop...