Sunday, May 11, 2008

Yar'Adua's Six Top Worries

Yar'Adua's Six Top Worries
From Martins Oloja (Abuja Bureau Chief)

Soludo's Action On $480m AFC Investment

Obasanjo's Lingering Bashing
* Attorney General's Indiscretion

Diplomats' Concern Over Security, In Abuja

Ministers' Lack Of Initiatives.

Disquiet Over State House Entrenched Staff
AS tongues continue to wag in the nation's capital about the real state of health of President Yar'Adua, who marks the first year in office this month, it appears he is more disturbed by six issues that have challenged his presidency.

Insiders at the seat of power told The Guardian that the issue of the Central Bank governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo's unilateral action in committing Nigeria's hefty $480 million to the AFC deal is quite worrisome to the President.

He is said to be disturbed, coming on the heels of a recent development whereby Soludo was stopped from implementing the re-denomination of the Naira for the same reason: arbitrary decision without consultation with the president.

An interim report of a federal government's committee set up to investigate the circumstances of the AFC investment, was last week reported to have recommended that the CBN governor should withdraw the $480 million and put it in an Escrow account.

The second issue said to be giving the President concern is the reported perception that his office is aware of the politics of bashing of his predecessor, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo - a new passion driving even legislative duty in Abuja.

The President's spokesperson, Mr. Segun Adeniyi, last week debunked the growing perception in an exclusive report in The Guardian. He said Yar'Adua was quite worried about the incessant bashing of his predecessor even as he added that the flurry of probes in the federal legislature had been perceived "as a source of distraction."

It was learnt that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa's frontal attack on Obasanjo last Thursday in Abuja, also flustered the President.

The minister, at a press briefing, declared that "Obasanjo'a government was lawless" and that was why the present administration had been trying to use the rule of law as mantra.

Besides, the AGF reportedly upset the President when he made an infantile remark that his boss was said to be passionate about arbitrary rule because his elder brother had died in an atmosphere of arbitrariness.

It was gathered that the "presidency has been very disturbed" by the AGF's indiscretion at the "strange ministerial briefing where he could not articulate any concrete achievement beyond Obasanjo's bashing."

Interestingly, the President refused to attend the public presentation of former Senate President, Ken Nnamani's Centre for Leadership last week when he (Yar'Adua) realised that the event, attended by many former heads of state, might be an avenue for another attack on his predecessor.

The fourth challenge is the public outcry by diplomats in Abuja last week that the level of insecurity (armed robbery) and poor infrastructure (power supply) in Abuja had become disturbing.

Consequently, the leadership of the ruling PDP had last week held a meeting with the FCT minister, Dr. Aliyu Modibbo Umar and the diplomats over the development.

But a furious Umar chided the diplomats, whom he accused of provocative statements without first reporting to him. He said they exaggerated the development.

However, it was discovered that there had been some unreported robberies within the diplomatic circles even as surveillance had increased in the FCT following security cooperation among the neighbouring states of Kogi, Nasarawa and Niger.

The diplomats are reportedly worried by their huge expenditure on diesel, as they run their Missions on power generators all day. But that is not an FCT affair, as it is a national headache.

Yar'Adua is also not happy about the quality of his first cabinet. It is said he is keen on changing but for the subsisting (expected) Supreme Court ruling on the April 2007 presidential election petitions challenging his victory.

"The President is quite disturbed by the apparent lack of initiative on the part of most of the ministers," a presidency source said. "He is worried that there are not many strategic planners and thinkers in the cabinet.

"That is why there will be low-key celebration of one year in office without much to show-case in terms of concrete achievements."

The sixth challenge the President faces in Abuja is how to weed out all vestiges of the "old soldiers" in the presidency.

It was understood that the number of entrenched staff inside Aso Presidential Villa had agitated the President. "But he could not act until a recent issue of alleged leakage of a document by one of the aides an inheritance from his predecessor."

The aide was reportedly detained by the State Security Service (SSS) and released, having concluded investigation and interrogation on the leakage issue and currently awaiting a presidential directive on his fate, "to be communicated to him soon by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).

However, his action had precipitated a flurry of inquiries to weed out all the "old soldiers" including security operatives, who had stayed longer than necessary in the Villa.

"The presidency has found out that some of them have become very wealthy and pompous," a source said.

The security and intelligence outfits are said to have completed their house-cleaning and change of guards at the Villa - an exercise that "predated the leakage of document.

As an officer revealed last week, "that exercise began since October last year. But we just completed that. It was done, as some officers were in the habit of resisting transfers from tour of duties by calling on influential people in government to remain on their beats."

"But in the new dispensation, it is no longer permissible to resist transfer. We have completed that," the officer added.

Meanwhile, it was gathered that the president might authorize mass movement of even top bureaucrats from the Villa very soon, as "some have been discovered to be disloyal to the present set-up."

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