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Nigeria’s new ministers: technocrats and loyalists in, everyone else out

Nigeria’s acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, today submitted a list of new nominations for the cabinet that he dissolved late last week. The list seems designed to send two messages: To the international community, it gives all the "right" signals of stability. To the Nigerian politburo, it says get loyal or get out. The first message ...

Nigeria's acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, today submitted a list of new nominations for the cabinet that he dissolved late last week. The list seems designed to send two messages: To the international community, it gives all the "right" signals of stability. To the Nigerian politburo, it says get loyal or get out.

The first message comes from the keeping of two ministers who have won international plaudits for their business and investor friendly policies: Finance Minister Shamsudeen Usman and Minister of State for Petroleum Henry Odein Ajumogobia. Both have a solid technocratic reputation, and their staying in office no doubt signals that Nigeria wants to stay open to business, despite other turmoil.

But to the feuding political classes, Jonathan has signalled the ousting of pretty much everyone else -- with the noted exception of the Information Minister, Dora Akunyili, who had incidentally called for the incapacitated President Umaru Yar'Adua's resignation and Jonathan's official instatement as president. Loyalty, in Nigerian politics, is rarely overlooked.

Nigeria’s acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, today submitted a list of new nominations for the cabinet that he dissolved late last week. The list seems designed to send two messages: To the international community, it gives all the "right" signals of stability. To the Nigerian politburo, it says get loyal or get out.

The first message comes from the keeping of two ministers who have won international plaudits for their business and investor friendly policies: Finance Minister Shamsudeen Usman and Minister of State for Petroleum Henry Odein Ajumogobia. Both have a solid technocratic reputation, and their staying in office no doubt signals that Nigeria wants to stay open to business, despite other turmoil.

But to the feuding political classes, Jonathan has signalled the ousting of pretty much everyone else — with the noted exception of the Information Minister, Dora Akunyili, who had incidentally called for the incapacitated President Umaru Yar’Adua’s resignation and Jonathan’s official instatement as president. Loyalty, in Nigerian politics, is rarely overlooked.

Elizabeth Dickinson is a Gulf-based member of the journalism collective Deca.

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