The Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to replace ex-Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, with another competent person from the South-East geopolitical zone.
The group said Jonathan should abide by the Federal Character principle, which guides political appointments, to ensure that the number of the ministers from the zone in his cabinet was not depleted by Nnaji’s resignation.
In a telephone interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, the National Publicity Secretary of the group, Ralph Ndigwe, said it would not lobby on the matter but expected the president to do “the right thing.”
He said, “If the president wants to replace our son, Prof. Barth Nnaji, he has to pick from the South-East. The issue of appointment of ministers is clear; it is in the constitution that it is by the federal character principle. So, the replacement for Nnaji, must come from the South-East.”
“If a Yoruba man is removed, he is replaced by a Yoruba man, if an Igbo man is removed, he should be replaced by an Igbo man. There is no controversy about it. The president knows that very well. We don’t need to teach him his job.”
Ndigwe further argued that since Jonathan had absolved Nnaji of any wrongdoing, there was no basis for the slot to go to another geo-political zone.
“The president was in Anambra State yesterday, and I was there live, when he said Barth Nnaji did not do anything wrong, but for the credibility of the reform process that somebody had to step aside. So, we expect that President Jonathan will replace him with another competent person from the South-East. So there is no lobbying at all,” he said.
He added that Nigerians needed competent people to man the power ministry, stating that there were other persons from the South-East who can perform even better than Nnaji did.
The presidency, last Thursday, denied speculations that the president had taken over the supervision of the Ministry of Power and the Ministry of Defence after the exit of their ministers.
Presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, in a media chat said the ministers of state in both ministries had been managing the affairs of the ministries since the senior ministers vacated their positions.
“The exit of the ministers has not created any vacuums in the ministries as is being speculated. The ministries of power and defence both have ministers of state who work side by side with their senior ministers just like governors do with their deputies,” Abati said.