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Govt names Niger Delta ministry, 27 others

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Govt names Niger Delta ministry, 27 others

Post  Admin on Thu Sep 11, 2008 11:06 am

SWEEPING changes in the structure of government and operations were effected by the Federal Government yesterday.

A fundamental aspect of the reforms was the creation in the history of Nigeria, the Ministry of the Niger Delta, which is seen as a deliberate step by the President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua's administration to address the neglect of the oil-producing region. From the inception of his administration, Yar'Adua has promised not to pay lip service to the protracted crisis in the region, which culminated in armed struggle being led by militants. The activities of the armed men have cost the nation's oil a fortune as output and export have significantly dropped.

The move is part of efforts to fast-track and coordinate effectively the implementation of the seven-point agenda of Yar'Adua, who also approved the rationalisation and restructuring of federal ministries and their political heads.For the first time since 1999, the Petroleum Resources Ministry may have a substantive minister. Yar'Adua's predecessor, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, merged about 50 ministries into 19 and held sway in the petroleum ministry throughout his eight years run. Yar'Adua adopted the same style until yesterday when the government unfolded plans to appoint a minister for the ministry.

A total of 42 ministers will be appointed to man the 28 emerging ministries. The Guardian had reported exclusively a few months ago that Yar'Adua was not comfortable with the arrangement, which he considered unwieldy and too complex.The Guardian had also earlier reported exclusively that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice had completed his legal advice on the restructuring of the ministries as directed by the President.

The Ministry of the Niger Delta is the second in the country that will concentrate its activities in a particular area, coming after the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which addresses the developmental needs of the nation's capital. In the new deal unfolded for the Niger Delta after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting yesterday, officials said the President's move was to co-ordinate environmental and youth empowerment policy initiatives in order to reinforce the administration's commitment to the overall development of the region.

Similarly, the Ministry of Police Affairs has been restored to give necessary attention to the security imperatives of the nation.The Ministry of Energy has been broken into two. One of them - Ministry of Power - is to be headed by a substantive minister while the other, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, will have a minister and a minister of state.

Other adjustments in the current ministerial structure are the restoration to their original concepts of the Ministries of Aviation; Transport; Environment; Works, Housing and Urban Development; Water Resources; and Agriculture and Rural Development.Furthermore, the ministers in the Ministries of Education, Mines and Steel Development, Science and Technology, have been reduced by one each.

The review of the current structure was predicated on the need to streamline and strengthen the mechanism for service delivery without sacrificing the objectives of the Public Service Reforms carried out in the twilight of the last administration.Under the new structure, which is expected to engender greater flexibility, direction and focus, there will be 28 ministries and 42 ministers to cover the constitutional requirements for federal character while addressing the issues of equity and affirmative action.

Other ministries in the new dispensation are: Finance, Health, Justice, Commerce and Industry, Foreign Affairs, Defence, Information and Communications, Labour and Productivity, Youth Development, Women Affairs and Social Development, Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Interior and Federal Capital Territory Administration. The National Planning Commission and National Sports Commission retain the same structure.

Yar'Adua has directed all ministers to re-articulate the mandates of their ministries and departments in line with the requirements of his agenda under the guidance of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and the Head of Service.According to a statement yesterday by Mr. Segun Adeniyi, Special Adviser to the President (Communications), the next (FEC) meeting will hold on Wednesday, September 24, to allow the President enough time for the implementation of the restructuring exercise.The Executive Council also yesterday approved N843.62 million worth of contracts for the FCT as well as Ministries of Transport and Interior.Consequently, the FCT gets N123.036 million; Ministry of the Interior, N430.003 million and Ministry of Transport, N290.58 million.

The FEC also gave a nod to the issue of Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) bond in the equivalent of $500 million to raise funds from the International Capital Market (ICM). But the project for this was not stated.The President's office still kept sealed lips at press time over a reported cabinet reshuffle and the ministers that will take charge of the new 28 ministries.

But it was learnt that almost all the ministers had prepared for the changes that may come any day. There were hints last night that the President had quietly told those concerned even as it was indicated that a very senior minister who was in Obasanjo's cabinet might be deployed to the Defence Ministry vacated on Tuesday by the new SGF.Besides, there were hushed talks last night that there would be a few new faces in a fresh cabinet to be unfolded soon.

The Niger Delta Ministry is to be presided over by two ministers - one to focus on infrastructure development while the other is to focus on youth empowerment.Consequently, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is placed under the new Niger Delta Ministry.Also, a committee to determine which agency/department constitutes each of the ministries will be inaugurated today.The committee is expected to report back to the Council in a fortnight.


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