Nigerian leader reappoints 12 ministers to old jobs

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 02, 2011 8:58 AM
Nigerian leader reappoints 12 ministers to old jobs

By Felix Onuah

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan reappointed 12 ministers from the outgoing government to their old jobs on Saturday following general elections in April, including oil minister Deziani Alison-Madueke.

Jonathan was sworn in for his first full term over a month ago and his ministerial choices are being closely watched by Nigerians and foreign investors keen for a team capable of driving badly needed reforms in Africa's most populous nation.

"Those of you who are returning are to go back to your ministries and start work immediately," Jonathan said, adding that two new ministers also sworn in on Saturday would be informed of their portfolios on Monday morning.

Those returning also include planning minister Shamsuddeen Usman, minister for the oil producing Niger Delta Godsday Orubebe, justice minister Mohammed Bello Adoke, mines minister Mohammed Sada and information minister Labaran Maku.

The return of so many familiar faces has led Jonathan's critics to question whether his new team will have the reformist credentials it needs. His backers say retaining a core of the old guard will help to ensure consistency.

Government sources have said Jonathan has spoken with World Bank managing director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former Nigerian finance minister, about her returning to the government in overall charge of the economy.

Her inclusion in the cabinet would bring credibility to Jonathan's reform ambitions. However, she is understood to want a role that would give her more autonomy than the outgoing minister and the negotiations are continuing.

Alison-Madueke has repeatedly promised the imminent passage of the long-delayed Petroleum Industry Bill, a wide-ranging reform plan which will alter Nigeria's decades-old relationship with foreign oil partners. But the legislation has yet to pass.

Some people in the energy industry, particularly those involved in buying onshore oil blocks being sold by Royal Dutch Shell, had hoped Alison-Madueke would be reappointed as she has already worked on the deals and they are likely to pass more quickly. [nLDE75S0UO]

Jonathan has so far submitted a list of 34 names to the Senate and the upper house is expected to approve the next batch on Tuesday. The president is then expected to submit a final list to complete his more than 40-strong cabinet.

(For more Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: http://af.reuters.com/ )

(Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by David Stamp)