Despite the controversy trailing his ministerial screening at the Senate penultimate week, Musiliu Obanikoro has been sworn in as the minister of state for foreign affairs II by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The former minister of state for defense whose pivotal role in the alleged Ekiti Governorship rigging saga is still under question was among the eight new ministers sworn in by President Jonathan on Wednesday, March 18 after securing a controversial clearance at the Senate.
Also sworn by President Jonathan in his latest minor cabinet reshuffle are Alhassan Khaliru, who replaces Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu as minister of health. Chukwu who led Nigeria to a successful containment of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) last year resigned to pursue a governorship bid in Ebonyi state.
Fidelis Nwankwo, an engineer from Ebonyi State, was also sworn in as new minister of state for health while Mrs. Patricia Akwashiki (Nasarawa) is now minister of information, replacing Labaran Marku who also resigned last year to contest Nasarawa Gubernatorial election.
Professor Nicholas Ada from Benue State is now the minister of state foreign affairs I. Augustine Akobundu, a retired colonel from Abia State is minister of state for defence. Other new ministerial appointees are: Hauwa’u Lawan Bappa, now minister of state (Niger Delta affairs); Kenneth Kobani, minister of state for industry, trade and investment; Joel Danlami Ikenya, minister of labour.
In his address during the brief swearing in ritual, President Jonathan likened the period the eight players were chosen to serve their fatherland to an ‘injury-time’ in the game of football, a period when every player must bring out the best to get the results. “It is like bringing a player when you have just five minutes to go in a football match. So everyone wants to know what that player will do, the magic the player will perform within that short period.”
He urged them to brace up for the challenge of meeting higher expectations of the people. “You are coming in at a quite challenging period and I believe that a number of people will not envy you because government is coming to a close. But sometimes it is even good to come at this time because you are now well exposed to Nigerians. Your dancing steps will be watched by everybody and we believe you will dance well.”
By Olisemeka Obeche