Nigeria : Jonathan Craves Legacy in His Appointments

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The first high level appointments into the President Goodluck Jonathan new administration may indicate a strategic departure from business as usual. They may also indicate a hardened resolve by President Jonathan to build a legacy in his image. The appointments, nevertheless, could provoke an unneeded tension with the National Assembly that may shadow the administration’s four-year tenure.

The three high level appointments so far made are Senator Anyim Pius Anyim as Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Gen. Andrew Azazi (rtd.) as National Security Adviser, NSA and Ambassador Godknows Igali as Chief of Staff.

The trio, perhaps with little additions of some Jonathan’s associates who operate at the background, could form the kitchen cabinet that would shape the Jonathan legacy.

Anyim was appointed SGF despite the high level endorsement and push by the top hierarchy of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for Chief Ojo Maduekwe, the party’s erstwhile National Secretary, for the job. President Jonathan, it was learnt, took his decision based on the preference of South-East Governors for the erstwhile Senate President.

The South-East Governors, according to sources, saw Anyim as one who would better look back towards Ndigbo. Besides, age was also a factor. Anyim is 50 whereas Maduekwe is 66.

Anyim was also said to have won as a result of the President’s insistence of steering his new administration away from controversial persons a fact underscored by Chief Maduekwe’s talkativeness in his past roles in government.

Azazi’s military carrer

The decision of the President not to look towards Gen. Aliyu Gusau (rtd) as his NSA further shows the determination of the President to carve his niche in history as his own man. Azazi, one of the country’s best trained persons in intelligence gathering, had prior to his appointment last year acted in the background as a private counsellor to the President on intelligence issues.

Azazi spent almost his entire years before his appointment as Army Chief in the intelligence service.

He rose to the top in his military service having served as both Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Defence Staff and had one of the fastest promotions in the military since the return of democratic rule in 1999. He rose from the rank of Major General to a four star General between May 2006 and June 2007.

Igali as Chief of Staff

Igali, the new Chief of Staff in the Presidency is replacing Chief Mike Oghiadhome, who came to the position through a relationship nurtured with the President when both of them were deputy governors between 1999 and 2005.

Igali was Secretary to the Government during Dr. Jonathan’s stewardship as Governor of Bayelsa State and reportedly through the President’s influence was appointed Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Scandinavian countries. He was said to have performed creditably in his ambassadorial appointment. His redeployment from the diplomatic service to the Federal Ministry of Water Resources as Permanent Secretary last year was believed to be preparatory to an enhanced role in Jonathan’s administration.

Igali who has some background in intelligence is said to be a very organised person with a reputation of achieving set goals.

With the three appointments, the President may have indicated his determination to shape a future for the country largely in accordance with his own preferences. The appointments, however, put the President in the difficult position of stoking a conflict with the National Assembly.

The appointment of Anyim as SGF would indicate the President’s determination to stand by the zoning policy recently agreed by PDP leaders. It then means that the President would push for the election of a Speaker of the House of Representatives from the South-West, an issue that is bound to instigate instability in the House where a growing proportion of the proposed members are clearly shifting away from that option.

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