Nigerian leader to pick cabinet this week: source

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Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan will send a list of nominees for his new cabinet to the Senate for approval this week and some outgoing ministers will be retained, said a presidency source.

Jonathan’s choices for the new administration are being closely watched by both Nigerians and foreign investors who are keen to see a team capable of driving through badly-needed reforms in Africa’s third largest economy.
“The Senate will definitely by Wednesday or Thursday get the ministerial list for screening,” the source told Reuters, asking not to be named, Reuters reports.
“The president will include a plea to lawmakers for accelerated handling of the screening exercise, because he wants his government to start working without delay,” the source said.

Outgoing finance minister Olusegun Aganga and outgoing foreign minister Odein Ajumogobia are likely to be on the list, the source said. The list does not usually detail the portfolios which will be given to the nominees.

During the last government, Aganga oversaw the establishment of a sovereign wealth fund meant to better manage crude oil savings, while Ajumogobia led calls at the United Nations for intervention to end a post-election crisis in Ivory Coast.

The choice of oil minister in Africa’s biggest oil and gas producer will also be keenly watched.

Jonathan, who inherited the presidency when his predecessor Umaru Yar’Adua died last year, was sworn in for his first full term just over a week ago after winning April elections.

He has said he wants his new cabinet in place within two weeks of being inaugurated.

FACTIONS

A new parliament, in which the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has a slimmer majority following the April elections, was inaugurated on Monday.

Outgoing Senate President David Mark was unanimously elected by lawmakers for a second term, while Aminu Waziri Tambuwal was elected speaker of the lower house, defeating an opponent seen as the first choice of the PDP.

Jonathan’s path to the presidency has not been an easy one and several regional and political factions feel he owes them for his victory. Such debts have in the past crimped Nigerian leaders’ ability to pursue reform plans.

A weak government made up of politically-motivated appointments rather than ministers picked for their abilities could undermine the fight against endemic corruption and slow the progress of economic reforms.

Jonathan is the first head of state from the minority Ijaw ethnic group who inhabit the oil-producing Niger Delta and the new cabinet will also need to balance out regional interests to ensure other parts of the country retain a political voice.

Hundreds were killed in rioting in the mostly Muslim north in April after Jonathan, a Christian from the south, won the election. Bomb blasts tore through popular drinking spots in three separate locations hours after he was sworn in on May 29.



Supporters of Jonathan’s main election rival, northern Muslim and ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, have said the post-election rioting was spontaneous. The government has said it was deliberately orchestrated.