At least eight ministers, who are expected to pursue their goals to become governors, will soon be relieved of their jobs, THISDAY learnt Thursday.
The source said the decision to sack the ministers with governorship aspirations is partly responsible for the delay in filling the vacant ministerial positions that have been open since nine ministers were sacked in September.
President Goodluck Jonathan had on September 11 sacked the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru and his counterparts in the Ministry of Education, Prof. Ruqqayatu Rufa’i; National Planning, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman; Land and Urban Development, Ms. Ama Pepple; Environment, Mrs. Hadiza Mailafia and Science and Technology, Prof. Ita Ewa.
Three Ministers of State, Mrs. Olusola Obada (Defence), Zainab Kuchi (Power) and Alhaji Tijani Bukar (Agriculture) also lost their jobs in the cabinet shake-up. So far, there have been no replacements of the affected ministers.
In 2012, Dr. Haliru Mohammed Bello, was sacked as the Minister of Defence and later, the then Minister of Youth Development, Alhaji Inua Abdulkadir, was dropped from the cabinet in August 2013.
The gale of sack in the cabinet has left the Federal Executive Council (FEC) with 11 members as substantive ministers, some of whom were appointed as supervising ministers for ministries without substantive heads.
THISDAY gathered that one of the ministers with governorship ambition who will be relieved of his job will be Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade (rtd), who is from Ekiti State.
Olubolade is one of the many aspirants jockeying to fly the flag of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Ekiti State governorship election scheduled for the second quarter of 2014.
Top politicians in the state like Senator Gbenga Aluko and Mr. Ayo Fayose, among others have also indicated interest in wresting power from the incumbent, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who is from the All Progressives Congress (APC).
It was also gathered the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, has also indicated his interest to quit the cabinet but has been asked to wait.
He is seen as a top contender for the PDP governorship ticket in Bauchi State for the 2015 election.
Posters and billboards announcing his ambition are a common sight in the state.
Other ministers with governorship aspirations that may go, THISDAY was told, include Minister of Information and supervising Minister of Defence, Mr. Labaran Maku.
Maku, a former deputy governor of Nasarawa State from 2003 to 2007, is seeking to fly the PDP flag in the 2015 general election to slug it out with Alhaji Tanko Al-Makura of the APC, who is the current helmsman in the state.
Another minister that may be dropped is the Minister of Niger Delta, Mr. Godsday Orubebe, who is seeking to succeed Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan of the PDP in 2015.
Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama, who is seeking to be Yobe State Governor in 2015, may also be affected. The state, which was being ruled by the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), is now under the APC following the merger of leading opposition parties that gave birth to the new party.
If the president goes ahead with his decision to drop ministers with governorship aspirations, two representatives of Benue State in the cabinet – Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro and the Minister of State, Trade and Investment, Samuel Ortom – who are also desirous of taking a shot at the Government House, might be dropped.
Moro was the campaign manager to Senate President David Mark, when he was campaigning for re-election as a senator in 2011.
The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, from Abia State, may also be affected.
According to the source, “The president is planning to relieve all the ministers, who have governorship aspiration of their jobs to enable his administration concentrate on the last leg of his transformation agenda without any distraction.
“You know that 2014 is the determining year for the president and therefore, he is going to relieve the ministers that have indicated interest to contest the governorship election in their respective states, in order to concentrate with the transformation in 2014.”