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Nigerian Cabinet Dissolved Ahead Of Next Week’s Inauguration Of President Olusegun Obasanjo - 2003-05-23


The 49-member cabinet was dissolved after an unprecedented six-hour long meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. President Olusegun Obasanjo paid tribute to the outgoing ministers. "On behalf of the Vice President and on my own behalf, and for our victory at the polls, I whole heartedly thank you for your time, energy and commitment. I would like to say that this victory belongs to all of us here and to the nation at large, as it confirms the maturing of democracy in Nigeria". One of the major decisions reached by the cabinet during its last session was the liquidation of the ailing and debt-ridden national carrier, Nigeria Airways. Outgoing Information Minister Jerry Gana made the announcement. He said "Nigeria Airways is hereby liquidated. We find it extremely sad that a wonderful airline that was thriving, was terribly run-down. We tried, since we came, we tried to rescue it a number of times but because of the way the airline had been rundown, several attempts that were made by this administration to rescue the airline failed". Mr. Gana added, "In fact the more we wanted to resuscitate it, the more the airline went into debt."

With the dissolution of the cabinet, all attention has now shifted towards the May 29th inauguration ceremony in Abuja. About 50 foreign delegations have confirmed their participation. The government has unveiled several elaborate activities to mark the event. The Secretary to the federal government and Chairman of the Planning Committee, Ufot Ekaette, offered some insight into the plans. "The distinguished Ghanaian President John Kuffour will deliver the inaugural lecture entitled, Democracy and Prospects for Peace, Development and National Integration in Nigeria. An aspect of the inauguration ceremony which will no doubt stimulate the interest of our people is football match between two outstanding teams on the continent, our own Super Eagles of Nigeria, and Black Stars of Ghana. This item along with the cultural, musical and fireworks display constitute the entertainment aspect of the ceremony." Meanwhile concern is mounting over reports that some opposition leaders are planning violent protests to disrupt the inauguration. Former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari and Biafran secessionist leader Odumegwu Ojukwu have called for mass action to protest alleged fraud in the April 19th presidential ballot. Both men were opposition party candidates. The police has threatened to deal harshly with anyone who attempts to breach the peace.

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