Nigeria’s cabinet dissolved

Nigeria’s acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, has announced the dissolution of the country’s cabinet.

In a statement after a cabinet meeting, Nigeria’s information minister, Dora Akunyili, said that “the acting president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, dissolved the Federal Executive Council [cabinet].” In the same statement, Akunyili said that Jonathan had provided no reason for the move, although analysts said that it was due to the impediment of the cabinet to Jonathan’s efforts to put his own mark on the office.

According to Akunyili, the move would not lead to a power vacuum, as the permanent secretaries will step up to take the positions vacated. Jonathan had taken over the role of acting president in February after President Umaru Yar’Adua temporarily stepped down due to sickness, and the cabinet had been entirely appointed by Yar’Adua.

In Akunyili’s statement, she said that an official statement from Jonathan as to the future of the cabinet would be released soon. Additionally, at some time in the future, Jonathan will submit to the National Assembly a list of his submissions for the next incarnation of the cabinet.

In a statement released from the president’s office, a spokesman said that it was “the prerogative of the president to change the cabinet whenever he feels the need to inject new blood, reinvigorate the cabinet and give it a new focus.” According to another, unnamed, government official, the cabinet had become paralyzed by infighting, impeding attempts of governance on major issues.

Yar’Adua has recently returned to Nigeria after being treated for a heart ailment in Saudi Arabia, but has made no public appearances. As a reflection of his impaired condition, Nigeria’s election next year has been brought forward three months, and the ruling People’s Democratic Party, of which both Yar’Adua and Jonathan belong to, has announced that its candidate in those elections will be a Muslim, preventing Jonathan, a Christian, from running. The decision follows a tradition of alternating between Muslim and Christian candidates, allowing each two four-year terms.

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