Nigeria's Acting Leader Presents Cabinet Nominees

Published March 25, 2010

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) -- Nigeria's acting president submitted a partial list of Cabinet nominees to the senate on Wednesday for vetting to replace the ministers he sacked last week, said the head of Nigeria's senate.

Senate President David Mark read out the 33 names to senators, starting a process to vet the nominees. He did not make any comments.

Later, Senator Anthony Manzo told journalists the senate will begin vetting the nominees next Monday.

In Nigeria nominees are not assigned portfolios, so the vetting normally involves general questions on Nigeria's economy and how each individual will contribute to the country's development.

The process can take several days and nominees have been rejected in the past.

Among the prominent nominees are former information minister Dora Akunyili. She circulated a memo to the Cabinet in February calling on it to grant then-Vice President Goodluck Jonathan powers to act on behalf of President Umaru Yar'Adua who has been ill and absent from office for months.

It is unclear when Jonathan will name the other Cabinet nominees.

When Jonathan dissolved the Cabinet last week, it was his first major move since becoming acting president early February and was seen as an effort to purge top officials loyal to Yar'Adua.

Until then Jonathan had largely remained quiet as a constitutional crisis gripped the nation over Yar'Adua's absence since November, when he went to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment. At the time, the president's doctor described Yar'Adua's condition as serious. He said the president had an inflammation of the sac surrounding his heart.

Though the nation's constitution offers clear steps for a president to hand over power in his absence, Yar'Adua chose not to implement them. For months, many wondered how Yar'Adua would rule Africa's most populous nation from abroad.

The National Assembly empowered Jonathan to become acting president in a vote Feb. 9. Two weeks later, Yar'Adua's handlers apparently whisked the ill president back to the presidential palace in an ambulance surrounded by a military convoy. However, Yar'Adua has not been seen publicly since returning.

Jonathan had largely shied away from making major decisions since becoming acting president, though he did move some Cabinet ministers loyal to Yar'Adua into new positions. While fears of a coup permeated the country, which has a long history of military dictators, top officials in the armed forces promised not to intervene and have restricted troop movements.

Written by <P>By BASHIR ADIGUN , Associated Press Writer</P>

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