Friday, 17 August 2012

Nigeria: Arguments over appointment of new Minister of Defence

The State Security Service (SSS) has screened retired Brigadier General Bitrus Boka Ushe, who is being proposed as the new Minister of Defence. The proposed nomination of Ushe - who, unlike many former military officers, has not entered politics since he retired seven years ago – is, however, being opposed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in his own Kebbi State where he is viewed as not a “party man”.
Some who oppose Ushe's nomination are doing so on the basis of religion because his nomination and subsequent appointment as Defence Minister would result in the Defence Ministry being headed by two Christians. The Minister of State for Defence, Mrs Olusola Obada, is also a Christian.
The appointment of a Defence Minister is quite political and it is reported that the presidency is shopping around for an ideal candidate who is not merely suitably qualified to head the ministry but is also an indigene of Kebbi State. This is because the presidency has to fill the ministerial slot reserved for Kebbi State which has become vacant following the removal of the former defence minister Haliru Bello Mohammed.
Kebbi State's Governor Saidu Dakingari had reportedly forwarded three names to the president as ministerial nominees. They were: Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, a former gubernatorial candidate of the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) who has since defected
to the PDP; Isa Mohammed a former water resources minister and national chairman of the now defunct United Nigeria Congress Party; and Bello Usman Maitambari, a retired permanent secretary in the Federal Civil Service.
All three were rejected by President Goodluck Jonathan who stated that he wanted a suitable candidate who was not just from Kebbi State but who also had a relevant military background. Others being speculated as possible appointees - such as former National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Gen Aliyu Gusau and retired Colonel Dangiwar Umar - have not yet been screened. It is, therefore, very likely that barring any last minute unforeseen circumstances, the president will now forward Ushe's name as his nominee for Defence Minister.
For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.
© 2012 Menas Associates

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