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Cold war in President Jonathan’s cabinet over subsidy probe

By on November 10, 2012

Investigations have revealed that the ongoing probe by the EFCC has caused a division in the Federal Executive Council (FEC) following the indictment of some oil marketers.

Although the procedure is done by the Presidential Committee on Verification and Reconciliation of Fuel Subsidy headed by Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, some ministers are unhappy with what they consider as overbearing influence of the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

They seem to be aggravated following her insistence that they should be punished when there could be room for restitution.

It was gathered that some ministers prefer that the indicted oil marketers return the subsidy money while she, Okonjo-Iweala wants full trial for the marketers.

Findings reveal that the some ministers were angry because Okonjo-Iweala was treating the matter like a personal issue without seeking for the input of other ministers.

The angry ministers were said to have been secretly working to undercut Okonjo-Iweala, with some of asking for her withdrawal from the cabinet saying she knows too much.

However, the President is said be on the ministers side because he believes in her ability and guide.

A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The truth is that some ministers are unhappy with the way the probe into the fuel subsidy scam was handled by Okonjo-Iweala. Their argument is that the process of investigation and trial could paralyse the oil sector, particularly the fuel supply system.

“But the Finance Minister insisted on bringing transparency into governance instead of giving soft-landing to the ‘untouchable’ marketers.

“In fact the release of the report of the Presidential Committee to the public and the uncovering of the 25 indicted marketers deepened the crack between Okonjo-Iweala and the ministers.

“There are handfuls who are engaging the Minister of Finance in cold war, which is apparent to cabinet members. They pretend to be tolerating her, but if they have their way, they would want the President to drop her.”

Responding to a question, the source said, “I think some oil barons are desperate to create a wedge between Okonjo-Iweala and other cabinet ministers.

Another source added, “All is not well between some ministers and Okonjo-Iweala for not protecting some interests. She stepped on powerful toes without looking back. That is why she has been receiving threats. My position is that it is normal in any Executive Council.

“You can imagine what will happen to the image of Nigeria if no action is taken against the fuel subsidy syndicate. What is important is that she is enjoying the confidence and trust of her boss.”

A source close to the Minister who begged for anonymity said, “I think I can only say that some cabinet members have not come to terms with the ongoing reforms of Okonjo-Iweala. However, they are gradually being integrated to appreciate it.

“The war against those who benefited illegally from fuel subsidy funds is not personal. It is also not aimed at undermining the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, or any cabinet member as being insinuated by some people. I can tell you that the Finance Minister is only complementing the reforms in the oil and gas sector. They enjoy the best of relationship.

“Most of the policies and decisions are meant to set the system right. If she had not acted the way she did, the government would have been rubbished.”

“For instance, the handling of the economy has enjoyed international support and approval. We have just obtained a positive rating by Moody Rating Agency. The Standard and Poor too also did the same with high score on the management of the nation’s external reserves.”

One Comment

  1. Nura

    November 10, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    We know it will melt like block of ice