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Published On: Wed, Mar 5th, 2014

Why Jonathan axed Sports Minister

Minister of Sports, Bolaji AbdullahiBy Lawrence Olaoye & Albert Akota

The recently sacked Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, is the latest victim of the local politics playing out in Kwara state.

Abdullahi, a staunch loyalist of the Kwara political strongman and godfather, Senator Bukola Saraki, was relieved of his job yesterday while he was away on official assignment to Poland.

He was to be replaced by Dr. Tamuno Danagogo.

The former Sports Minister, according to an impeccable source in the Presidency could not be trusted due to his loyalty to his mentor who had fallen out with President Goodluck Jonathan and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by joining the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) alongside his supporters, including the Kwara state Governor, Alhaji Abdufatah Ahmed.

Abdullahi was believed to have been nominated for ministerial appointment in 2011 after President Goodluck Jonathan won the Presidential election.

The source said that Abdullahi would have been sacked long ago but for the successes he recorded in the Sports Ministry.

But, the source added, the straw that broke the camel’s back was that Abdullahi failed to go ahead of President Jonathan to Ilorin to organize reception for him last Monday, when he went to the state alongside party leaders to receive decampees to the PDP. The source disclosed further, that Abdullahi was disowned by the stakeholders in the state PDP even as they told the visiting President and the party leadership, that they doubted his loyalty to the party in the state.

It was learnt that the Kwara PDP impressed it upon the party leadership that it would be a Herculean task to dislodge Bukola Saraki and his loyalists when Abdullahi is still benefitting from the party as a serving minister.

Reacting to Abdullahi’s sack, Victor Orji, President of the Federation of Public Service Games (FEPSGA), said the development would not have any negative impact on sports development in the country.

“Government is a continuum. So, the new minister will just have to continue with the development programmes on ground. Since the Director-General of the National Sports Commission and the other directors are still on ground, they will not want to disrupt the good things the former minister has put in place,’’ he said.

Orji, however, commended Abdullahi for transforming the sports sector and bringing Nigeria back to winning ways.

Coach Erasmus Onuh, a former coach of Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) Football Club of Ilorin, said Abdullahi’s replacement would give him an opportunity to seek higher political office. “There is nothing wrong in his removal, because it is a routine thing to be appointed and dropped in the Presidency. Abdullahi has done well within the period he occupied the office. So, he has no cause to regret his removal. His works have spoken for him,’’ Onuh said.

National Beach Volleyball coach, Chakuma Ismail, said Abdullahi’s removal at the time Nigeria was witnessing positive changes in sports could be a disservice. “He has contributed very well, even though we don’t know the reasons for his removal,’’ he said. Coach Zulu Usman of FCT volleyball team expressed fears that Abdullahi’s programmes might be halted by the new minister, and said this could affect the progress on ground.

“I was not happy when I heard that he has been removed in his absence while on national assignment in Poland. Now, his outlined plans and programmes may be altered by the new person coming and this is not good for us, especially now that we are witnessing good times in most of our sports. Abdullahi has a good record because we recorded more successes during his stay, more than some other sports ministers, and I feel he should have been left to continue,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, Jonathan yesterday swore-in nine ministers even as he disclosed that he would appoint more ministers next week.

With this declaration, there are indications that more ministers, who are still serving in the cabinet would be sacked to allow for fresh hands even as the nation prepares for the 2015 general elections.

Those sworn-in include, Gen. Aliyu (Zamfara) as the Minister for Defence; Sen. Musliu Obanikoro (Lagos), Minister of State Defence; Alhaji Aminu Wali (Kano), Minister of Foreign Affairs; Alhaji Mohammed Wakil (Borno), Minister of State Power; Alhaji Abduljelili Adesiyan (Osun), Minister of Police Affairs and Mrs. Akon Eyakenyi (Akwa Ibom), Minister of Land, Housing and Urban Development.

Others are Mrs Lawrencia Laraba-Mallam (Kaduna), Minister of Environment; Dr Tamuno Danagogo (Rivers), Minister of Sports and Hajia Asabe Ahmed (Niger), Minister of State Agriculture; Boni Haruna (Adamawa), Minister of Youth Development and Dr Khaliru Alhassan (Sokoto), Minister of State, Health.

President Jonathan asked the new ministers to assume work immediately by participating in the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting which held after the ceremony.

Jonathan charged the new ministers to see public office as public trust and to serve people without fear or favour.

He said their appointment was a call to service and they should bring value to their new offices in line with the transformation agenda of his administration.

The president also charged them to be innovative and creative and do things differently to bring positive changes to the administration.

Jonathan stressed that the Ministers should work closely with one another, the permanent secretaries, directors and staff in their various ministries.


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