Anxiety grips ministers as cabinet shake-up looms

Between five and seven ministers may be dropped by President Umaru Yar’Adua in the planned changes in the Federal Executive Council. The last cabinet reshuffle by the President was on October 29, 2008 when 20 out of the 42 ministers were dropped. But barely a year in office, investigations have shown, some cabinet members have not lived up to the expectations of a public officer.

The Nation quoting a highly-placed source, said: “They might be from five to seven but it won’t be a complete overhaul like the case last year.

“Some of them are aware that they have to leave but they do not know when.”

The Nation reports that some of the affected ministers are being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the stateSecurity Service (SSS).

It was learnt that the President is not too comfortable with security reports on the performance and financial activities of the said ministers.

Although the list of the ministers is being kept secret, it was gathered that some security agencies have had cause to interact with them on some issues and allegations.

It was also gathered that some of the affected ministers were not initially cleared by security agencies.

But, based on political exigency, the President decided to give some of these ministers a chance to either prove their mettle or confirm the security reports against them.

Besides a few with below average performance, some ministers are also being investigated for abuse of office, graft, spendthriftness and acquisition of properties.

The source added: “Actually, about seven ministers are seriously under consideration for removal from the cabinet.

“Their exit depends on the outcome of the ongoing investigation of their financial activities by the EFCC and other security agencies.

“Also some of the ministers have not met the performance benchmark put in place by the President. Yar’Adua has been fair to them by allowing them free hand to operate.

“Some of the ministers too have not been prudent and they dispense favours without moral decorum.

“The truth is that in line with the President’s policy of fairness, he will lay the cards on the table for the ministers to see why they have to leave the cabinet.

“A few courageous and dutiful ministers have no cause to fear. In fact, there is a report on a minister who refused moves by an influential leader of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party to give a contract to him.

“The conscientious minister said the party chieftain was not qualified for the job and he won’t want to be dragged before any tribunal after leaving office. It is such ethical ministers that are wanted in the cabinet.”

As at press time, most ministers were eager to know whether they will be dropped or not.

Another source said: “They are wielding influence here and there but it is difficult to know the mindset of the President.”

Investigation showed that some jittery ministers could not go far because the President does not believe in lobbying.

It was however unclear at press time when the cabinet change will be effected.