3 Ex-Govs in Shock Over Failure to Make Ministerial List
26 Mar 2010: Aaron Ossai
There is unquantifiable shock in the camps of three former governors over the failure of the ex-state chief executives to make Acting President Goodluck Jonathan’s ministerial list.
A highly-placed Presidency source told correspondents in Abuja yesterday that until what seemed to be a Jonathan shocker earlier in the week, the trio of Chief Achike Udenwa, Dr. Sam Egwu and Obong Victor Attah, former governors of Imo, Ebonyi and Akwa Ibom states respectively, were said to be very sure of landing ministerial nominations.
While both Egwu and Udenwa were hoping to return to the federal cabinet, where they were ministers of education and commerce respectively, Attah was said to be angling for his first shot as minister.
Expectedly, aides and supporters of the former chief executives are tracing their principals’ failure to clinch nominations to the politics of the respective states and the permutations for 2011.
But the situation became even more confusing with the ex-South East governors. One of them, who had been having a running battle with the incumbent governor of his state, as a minister, suddenly returned to befriend the governor immediately after the cabinet dissolution, hoping that the new-found friendship would make the governor re-nominate him. He was said to have a few days ago publicly embraced the governor in a show of friendship. But the former governor was said to have received the shock of his life when he later heard another person’s name was announced as a minister. Incidentally, the new nominee was the same person whom the sitting governor had wanted to nominate when President Umaru Yar’Adua was constituting the now sacked cabinet.
In Akwa Ibom for instance, there were said to be jubilations, although muffled, across the length and breadth of the state over the nomination of Hon Ndueso Essien as minister, even though the celebrations seemed to be more for the failure of immediate past governor Attah to clinch the state’s ministerial slot.
According to the Presidency source, one of the governors, who had literally relocated to Abuja in the days preceding the release of the first list of nominees was worst-hit by this development. According to a source, the camp of the former governor was said to have concluded plans to celebrate his nomination at a hotel owned by his son-in-law, where they had hoped to use the nomination to rub home the claim that they were in control of the state party machinery.
The former governor, it was reliably gathered, had relocated to Abuja, the seat of power, shortly after the dissolution of the federal cabinet by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, to lobby his way into the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in the belief that he and the Acting President were at one time, members of the Governors’ Forum. He also expected that his claim that he, at a time, called for the declaration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President to count in his favour.
It was gathered that the former governor had wanted the ministerial appointment as a springboard to gain his lost political relevance in the state, re-launch the governorship campaign of his political son (who is also related to him by marriage) in 2011. If everything had gone according to plan, the ministerial slot was also to help the ex-governor take another shot at the Presidency, an ambition which he had been nursing since 2007.
The Presidency source, in a chat with select journalists, further revealed: “the decision to ease out former governors from the FEC is the best action taken in the prevailing circumstance. Don’t forget that some of those former governors wanted to be president in 2007 but failed, how do you expect them to be made a minister, under somebody whom they believe they are better than? That would amount to committing political hara-kiri by the Acting President.”
Unlike Attah who did not expect his successor in office, Obong Godswill Akpabio, to do him any favours, former governor Egwu expected a world of favours from Governor Martin Elechi in Abakaliki. He was said to be very shocked, therefore, at the alleged refusal of his Ebonyi State Governor to re-nominate him for the plum job.
The trio is finding it unbelievable that despite their moves, they could not make the list and, as at Press time, were yet to leave Abuja for their states as a result of the shock. However, if the politicians in the two affected South-East states have managed to keep their excitement suppressed, their counterparts in Akwa Ibom have pulled out all the corks: they are jubilating Hon. Essien as much as they are hailing Acting President Jonathan for making the right choices in the calibre and quality of people he has nominated for the position of ministers.
“We are happy with the choice of Ndueso Essien and it is a message to the spineless opposition in the state that Governor Akpabio is in charge,” said Obong Dominic Udoro Attah, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Uyo. He said that the Akpabio tendencies in the state have, by this nomination, “tightened their hold on the state and the party.
“Essien is a well-grounded politician and a staunch supporter of the governor. As a member of the chairman of the PDP South-South caucus in the House of Representatives, he led a powerful delegation to challenge the Dr Ahmadu Alli-led NEC of the PDP’s decision not to allow the governor to run in 2007,” Attah recalled.
According to the Presidency source, the ex-governors should borrow a leaf from the likes of Orji Kalu and James Ibori, who seem to be more interested in nominating other people and not throwing themselves in the race for ministerial slots. “Those two, even as they keep their eyes on the bigger pie, do not belittle themselves fighting over ministerial appointments. They nominate people and concentrate their energies on serving the country at a higher level”, he told journalists at the meeting.