Anxiety on Tuesday gripped ministers and other top government officials in Abuja ahead of the last meeting of the Federal Executive Council under the Goodluck Jonathan administration scheduled to hold on Wednesday (today).
The apprehension was triggered by a report (not by The PUNCH) credited to the Minister of Information, Patricia Akwashiki, that President Goodluck Jonathan would dissolve his cabinet during a “valedictory session” of the FEC on Wednesday(today).
But Akwashiki on Tuesady refuted the report and urged the general public to disregard it as “false and malicious.”
The minister, in a statement by her Press Secretary, Joseph Mutah, said at no time did she speak to journalists on the dissolution of the FEC by the President.
Akwashiki said she was surprised that a news report, which initially quoted an unnamed minister from the South- West, ended up crediting her as having made the “tendentious comment.”
The FEC is the highest decision-making body of the Federal Government and it consists of the President, the Vice President, all ministers, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the National Security Adviser, the Head of Service of the Federation and some top presidential aides.
The council members meet every Wednesday to take decisions on national issues.
Since the tenure of the current administration expires on May 29, the council’s valedictory session has been fixed for Wednesday (today).
A minister, who spoke with our correspondent on the report that Jonathan might disband the FEC during its session on Wednesday( today) said he was not aware that such would take place.
He said that he was aware that some of his colleagues had been making contacts in order to confirm if such would happen during the meeting.
The minister said, “I am not aware that the council will be dissolved. Some of my colleagues had actually called me to find out. Since I don’t have any information on it, I am also still reaching out to know the true situation.
“The truth is however even if it happens, it won’t meet any of us unawares.”
Another council member, who is not a minister, however, said although the President would expectedly thank members during the meeting, he might not dissolve the cabinet since he still has over a week to be in the saddle.
He said, “The news is everywhere that Mr. President may dissolve the cabinet on Wednesday (today). I have been trying to confirm this but I have not been able to do so. Let us wait and see what happens.
“But dissolving the cabinet during Wednesday meeting will mean that the President will be running the affairs of the country alone as a sole administrator till May 29.
“I don’t see him doing that now. That can be done next week, very close to the handover date.
“You should also note that many of the ministers are members of either the government’s Transition Committee or the Inauguration Committee.
“The question is if the council is dissolved now, will they continue serving on the committees in their personal capacities or will they cease to be members? Let us wait and see how it plays out.”
Preparatory to the Wednesday (today) meeting, some council members met separately with Jonathan on Monday.
The meetings were held apparently because the President was scheduled to attend the 47th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government holding in Accra, Ghana on Tuesday.
Among those who consulted with Jonathan on Monday evening were the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke; Minister of State, Finance, Bashir Yuguda; Director-General of the Bureau of Public Procurement, Emeka Eze; and the Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Nwanze Okidegbe.