Nigeria's President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua is expected to announce a major cabinet reshuffle today (Wednesday). Some political observers say at least five ministers are expected to swap positions in the reshuffle said to be aimed at weeding out disloyal and non-performing ministers. President Yar'Adua's expected reshuffle would follow the recent sacking of former Secretary to the Federal Government, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe. Kabiru Mato is a political science professor at Nigeria's University of Abuja. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, that today's possible cabinet reshuffle might not be earth shattering.
"Immediately the government celebrated its first year anniversary, Nigerians had begun the clamor speculating that the president would affect some changes in his cabinet. But if history and antecedent is anything to go by based on the experience that we've had of the president when he was the governor of our small Katsina State. He is not a personality that thrives in making changes, at least swift changes, in his government just for the sake of it," Mato noted.
He said there would be no surprises if the president decides to make changes to his cabinet today.
"I think if the speculation is really rife, I would not be surprised that if at the end of today certain changes are announced in the cabinet. Of course I don't expect that the changes are going to be any fundamental because so far two and half years of the government, one would say without any fear of contradiction that things have not been as active as they are supposed to be. And this is basically anchored on the fact that Nigerians have had a very terrible nightmare during the first eight years of this democratic rule," he said.
Mato said there is indication that some of the president's ministers have not performed credibly.
"That might be it of course, especially if we place the issue against the backdrop of the circumstances that brought the government to power. The government that was brought in by a political party through an election that was certified as certainly not credible, and as such at the time of cabinet formation, various interest groups that have participated in the bringing about of the government, obviously fielded candidates. And these candidates might not necessarily be personal choices of the president," Mato pointed out.
He said the cabinet ministers should not bear all the culpabilities of a possible government failure.
"Cabinet reshuffles and changes in cabinet are a routine affair especially in the third world countries. In Nigeria in particular, performance could be a factor, but I would not also like to think that the ministers did not perform because they are incapable of performing. But the trend in Nigeria is that every minister or chief executive of a government parastatal tries to look at the discretion and thinking of the president, and act along that line even if it is not in the best interest of the public," he said.
Mato said the current government has performed better than its predecessors.
"It is normal that Nigerian citizens would be skeptical about certain pronouncement of the government. But I think every Nigerian would attest to the fact that this government does not break the laws and does not act with impunity as it used to be in the last government. In my own humble opinion, there are a lot of things that have changed," Mato noted.