Nigeria’s acting president appoints new advisers

Nigeria’s Acting President Goodluck Jonathan set up three new advisory committees on Monday, including one on the Niger Delta, in a further sign he is asserting his authority.

Fears of a debilitating power struggle sprang up last week in Africa’s most populous nation, a major oil exporter, when ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua returned unexpectedly from three months in a Saudi hospital still too frail to rule.

Those around Jonathan appear to have gained an upper hand over a cabal loyal to Yar’Adua, led by his wife Turai. Jonathan said he was naming a Presidential Advisory Committee to provide input on government policy.

A statement said the panel would “promote good governance in the areas of power, economy, security, infrastructure, social sector, the electoral process, and the fight against corruption, among others”. It will start work on Thursday.

The council will be headed by Theophilus Danjuma, a retired general who served as defence minister under former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He fell out with Nigeria’s then leader, who picked Yar’Adua to succeed him in 2007.

Jonathan also approved the restructuring of a committee monitoring the volatile oil producing Niger Delta region and initiated a panel to assess ongoing government projects.

Jonathan assumed executive powers on February 9, ending months of state paralysis and allowing him to set priorities such as implementing an amnesty for rebels in the Niger Delta, restoring power supplies and preparing for elections.

But Yar’Adua’s return came just two weeks later and threatened to again put policy-making on hold in the OPEC member state of 140 million people.



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