By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Ben Agande
President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, gave reasons for the sack of Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir as Minister of Youths Development, saying that he mismanaged elections into the National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN.
Meanwhile, Abdulkadir’s sack is being flayed in some sections of the North, who claim that the administration failed to use the extensive network of the former minister in cutting deals with Northern leaders.
Abdulkadir, who was sacked as minister by the President on Tuesday, was the pioneer Secretary of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, and was believed to have formed an extensive network of contacts across northern Nigeria in that position.
Responding to what it claimed were misrepresentations in the media on the sack of the minister, presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, in a statement yesterday, gave reasons for the removal of the minister.
The media had been awash with reports that Abdulkadir was sacked for his supposed close relationship with some alleged political foes of the president, prominent among whom are Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal and Governor Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State.
Other reports had attributed the sack to the former minister’s alleged deliberate attempt to undermine the election of a supporter of President Jonathan as the new NYCN president.
The statement said: “While many media outlets erroneously attributed the Minister’s sacking to his disloyalty or closeness to a particular governor or governors said to be opposed to the President, the most disingenuous and malicious speculation was by a national newspaper, which claimed that Alhaji Abdulkadir was fired for “failing to ensure that a Pro-Jonathan candidate emerged as President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN.
“We wish to assure the general public that nothing could be further from the truth. President Jonathan regards all Nigerian youths as his wards and constituents.
“Claims that he had a preferred candidate in the NYCN elections are completely baseless and without justification as there was absolutely no reason for him to prefer one candidate over others.
“President Jonathan remains sincerely and unwaveringly committed to doing all within his powers to promote the credibility and integrity of the electoral process at all levels in the country.
“He firmly believes that a culture of free, fair and credible election must be constantly nurtured and encouraged amongst Nigerian youths and all other sections of the country.
“In point of fact, it was Alhaji Abdulkadir’s regrettable deviation from this presidential commitment in the management of the NYCN elections that led to the decision to relieve him of his appointment as Minister of Youth Development.
“President Jonathan was very displeased with the mishandling of the NYCN elections in Makurdi and Minna by the Ministry of Youth Development, which resulted in the unfortunate fractionalisation of the youth council.
“The President found the Ministry’s failure to provide appropriate leadership towards open and transparent youth council elections unacceptable.
“President Jonathan is sincerely committed to doing everything possible to ensure that the Nigerian youth, on whom the country’s aspirations for a bright and prosperous future depend, are given the best possible upbringing and orientation.
“The President, therefore, expects all officials of his administration to exhibit greater rectitude and sensitivity on issues related to youth development, and comport themselves at all times in a manner worthy of emulation by Nigerian youth.”
‘He’s an asset’
Meanwhile, there was concern, yesterday, that in sacking Abdulkadir the administration let off one of the most experienced and knowledgeable persons in the administration on issues about the North.
As pioneer secretary of ACF, Abdulkadir was said to have developed an extensive network of friends and contacts in the North through whom the administration could have articulated its political and other objectives.
A government official told Vanguard, yesterday: “There are very few persons around with the kind of network that Inuwa has.
“In his position as ACF secretary, he developed the kind of contact that crossed all ethnic and religious divides in the North as he worked with people like Sunday Awoniyi, Yakubu Gowon, Shehu Shagari in the setting up of ACF.
“It was somebody like Inuwa that was needed to reach out to Boko Haram and Northern leaders, but he was left hanging out.”