Obasanjo readiesnew cabinet for "challenges ahead"; debate about his "perfomance"continues

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Amidst criticisms over his performance inoffice, downturn in the economy, decaying infrastructure andepileptic power supplies to citizens, Nigeria's president OlusegunObasanjo dissolved his cabinet to announce a new one. According toUSAfricaonline.com sources in Abuja, he has assembled a team who willdeal with what hecalled "challenges ahead." To be sure, there are many of thosechallenges.

They include the posibility of his running forreelection, religious crises in various parts of Nigeria, a wearypopulace who seem tired of waiting for the "dividends of democracy"and critical challenges to the federal structure of the country ofalmost 110 million by ethnic and nationalist groups from variousparts of Nigeria. Remarkably, some of Obasanjo's key aides and keyministers were at the vanguard of the failed move for the late brutaldictator Gen. Sani Abacha to succeed himself. Curiously, this did notstop Obasanjo, a retired army general from hiring many of them, witha handful of other retreads from Nigeria's chequered past.
The list of ministers he dropped and their former portfolios are:Dapo Sarumi - Co-operation and Integration in Africa; Tunde Adeniran- Education; Tonye Graham-Douglas - Culture and Tourism; AdamuHassan - Agriculture; Bekky Igwe - Minister of State, WomenAffairs; Tim Menakaya - Health; Ibrahim Bunu - Federal CapitalTerritory; Sani Zango Daura - Environment; Damishi Sango - Sportsand retired General David Jemibewon - Police Affairs.

How well Obasanjo does in his latest effort to lead a new "cabinet" -which needs to be basically fair and representative of all of Nigeria- will offer some indications of where he will be in history. Butbefore history's records are in and contrary to some of the praisefrom Obasanjo's supporters, Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, whobelongs to the same ruling part as the president argues strongly thatObasanjo has failed the nation by his "performance" and wastedopportunities to treat all Nigerians fairly and equally.

Meanwhile, Chief Sunny Okogwu has revealed in an interview with theinfluential ThisDay newspaper that President Obasanjo cannot run forreelection due to a pact Obasanjo signed with his fellow retiredGenerals and opposition parties prior to the 1999 elections. Thisone will, for sure, be another issue for debate. If it is true hesigned any such agreement, it will raise questions on both sides ofhis supporters and critics as to his sincerity and the path he rodeinto office.
Nwangwu,Founder & Publisher of the first African-owned, U.S.-basedprofessional newspaper to be published on the Internet USAfricaonline.com,USAfrica The Newspaper, The Black Business Journal, BBJonline.com,and NigeriaCentral.com,is the recipient of the Journalism Excellence Award, HABJ 1997. Heserves as an adviser to the Mayor of Houston on internationalbusiness (Africa).

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