Petinrin Now Favourite for Defence Portfolio-Peoples Daily

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Mu’azu or Yarima may replace Bala as FCT minister

There are strong indications that the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin (rtd), is favourite to become the new defence minister and coordinating minister for security.

There are also feelers of a major cabinet shake-up which will see some notable ministers losing their seats and the reshuffling of others. The exercise according to reliable sources in the Presidency is likely to affect some strategic ministers including that of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Notable politicians from the north including former Bauchi state Governor, Adamu Mu’azu, or former Zamfara state Governor, Senator Ahmed Sani Yariman Bakura, are being considered as replacements for Senator Bala Mohammed as FCT minister.

The choice of Petinrin, who is expected to be officially pulled out of  service today was said to have emerged following the insistence of some military top brass that due to the prevailing security challenges facing the nation, the defence ministry should be manned by a highly experienced person with a very strong military background.

It was learnt that the service chiefs had prevailed on President Goodluck Jonathan to pick one of them instead of former FCT Minister, Senator Adamu Aliero, who was initially tipped for the position.

As the minister of defence and coordinating minister for security, Petinrin is expected to be saddled with the task of superintending over all military formations, office of the National Security Adviser, the State Security Service, and the Police among others.

Also having served as Chief of Defence Staff, Petinrin is expected to command very strong respect among the service chiefs, the military and other security apparatuses in the country.

Petinrin, who hails from Osun state, it was gathered, was picked because of his performance as Chief of Defence Staff, a position which also placed him in a vantage position to have a good grip of the security challenge in the country.

It was also gathered that his choice was also an attempt to appease the South West, which has been complaining of marginalisation and poor representation at the federal level. The clamour for the replacement of the former minister, Bello Halliru Mohammed,  with somebody from the North West where he hails from was defeated by arguments that zone already has very good representation at the federal level having produced Vice President Namadi Sambo, Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal among others.

Though it is not clear which minister will eventually be sent packing in the expected shake-up, there are fears that those whose ministries performed below the expectations of the President would be sent packing. Also some of those indicted by the National Assembly in its probes may be affected.

The National Assembly had recently indicted some ministers and called for their sack. On Thursday, the Speaker of the House of Representatives told President Jonathan at the 2013 budget presentation ceremony that reports coming from the House committees currently on oversight function to ascertain the level of implementation of the 2012 budget were unimpressive.

In the changes anticipated, sources hinted that Mu’azu who is also from the Bauchi state as the FCT Minister Bala Mohammed is being tipped to for the job so as not to tilt the pan against the North East. It is not however clear if Mohammed would be retained in the cabinet or not.

It was gathered that the move to bring in Yarima later on is part of the plot to get the core North West and the opposition All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) into the game-plan ahead of the 2015 general elections.



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