Indications emerged yesterday that President Goodluck Jonathan is contemplating relocating some key federal ministries from the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja to Lagos, Sunday Trust can reveal. Some of the ministries likely to be relocated include: Petroleum Resources, Transport and Aviation. A source in the presidency told Sunday Trust that the move may have pitched President Jonathan against his deputy, Vice President Muhammad Namadi Sambo, who was said to have appeared not to be well disposed to the plan. ..
Attempts to speak to the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Communications, Mr Ima Niboro was not successful as he didn’t pick the several calls made by this reporter through his mobile phones nor did he respond to the text message sent to him yesterday.
Also, when Sunday Trust contacted the Special Assistant to the Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili, Mr Francis Agbo, he said that he was not “aware of the issue and the minister is not available for comments.”
When this reporter called the mobile phone of Professor Akunyili last night; a lady answered the phone saying that “the minister is in a meeting but you can leave a message for her.” A text message was later sent to the minister but it was not replied up to the time the newspaper went to press last night.
According to informed sources in the Villa, a final decision is yet to be taken on the ministries to be moved, but it was gathered that the ministries of Transport, Aviation and possibly Petroleum Resources are among the key ones being contemplated.
It was gathered also that the plot to relocate some of these ministries may not be unconnected with the incumbent administration’s measures of de-congesting the expanding Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Vice President Sambo was said to have kicked against the plan to relocate some of the ministries back to Lagos for fear of the political backlash of the moves, particularly as the president is poised to contest the 2011 presidential polls against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP’s) constitutional principle of zoning and power rotation.
“The vice president is not comfortable with the move because of its political implication of the action, particularly in the current electoral season. He is uncomfortable with the political implications of the plan, which is feared may put him in ‘trouble with his people from the North,’” the source said.
Sambo, it was leant is concerned that the decision could pitch him against the northerners who might read political meanings into any plan to relocate certain ministries back to Lagos for whatever reason.
The Publicity Secretary of the Jonathan/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mr Sully Abuh also didn’t pick the several calls put through his mobile phones last night nor responded to the text message sent to him by this reporter over the issue.
When contacted the Public Affairs Strategist of the Jonathan/Sambo campaign organisation, Mr Yakubu Datti denied the story saying that “it is a by-product of mischief makers, who are not capable of embarking on issue-based campaign.” He said that “there is no sense in this because the president has been there in the last one year with all powers to do that but he didn’t do it,” Datti said.
The Jonathan campaign public affairs strategist added that if President Olusegun Obasanjo, having spent eight years as president didn’t see the need to do that, he didn’t see the wisdom for President Jonathan to do that. “It is the mischief of those people who have failed their region,” Datti said.
A source said yesterday that the presidency, which has been grappling with the controversy over the reallocation of nine oil wells to President Jonathan’s state of Bayelsa, cannot be caught in the web of another controversy at this crucial time when the proponents of zoning are closing ranks to adopt one presidential candidate for the 2011 elections. “This administration cannot afford to be caught in the web of another controversy coming after the simmering storm over the allocation of fresh nine oil wells to Bayelsa.
“Moreover, the face-off between the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN) and Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mrs Farida Waziri over the advisory list of purported “corrupt” politicians to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ahead of the 2011 polls, gives the impression that the government is at war with its self,” the source said.