President Goodluck Jonathan has fired Martin-Luther Agwai as the head of his government’s intervention unit, SURE-P. Mr. Agwai is a respected former Defence Chief, who led United Nation missions in Sudan, amidst other career runs.
Mr. Agwai was appointed by Mr. Jonathan to head SURE-P, a department created by the government to deploy saved fuel subsidy money for the provision of critical infrastructure and jobs. In a statement Tuesday, presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, named Ishaya Dare Akau as the new head of SURE-P, Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme.
The new SURE-P Chairman hails from Jema’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State and holds Bachelors’ Degrees in the Arts and Law. Mr. Akau comes to the job with years of experience as a high-level administrator in the nation’s public service. His record of service includes tenures as Chairman of the Kaduna State Universal Education Board and Chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission.
The presidency did not give any reason for Mr. Agwai’s removal, beyond saying it was “in furtherance of his efforts to continuously re-energize and reposition agencies of the Federal Government for optimal service delivery”.
But PREMIUM TIMES understands reliably that Mr. Agwai was fired for flouting a presidential instruction that no government official or member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, should attend the birthday event of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, last week.
Mr. Jonathan and the former president have been locked in a longstanding row which has seen Mr. Obasanjo repeatedly criticise the president publicly.
The spat climaxed three weeks ago when Mr. Obasanjo quit the party and publicly tore his membership card.
Sources within the presidency told PREMIUM TIMES that all government functionaries were instructed by President Jonathan to boycott Mr. Obasanjo’s birthday event.
Our sources said when informed of the president’s warning, Mr. Agwai, who climbed to the pinnacle of his career under the Obasanjo administration, said he will go ahead and attend the function, more so, in view of the president’s directive.
Our sources said for daring the president, it was clear Mr. Agwai would be fired.
One source said it appears Mr. Agwai was informed ahead of the announcement of his removal Tuesday, as the former defence chief arrived early at the SURE-P office to pack his belongings.
Mr. Agwai himself replaced Christopher Kolade, who left office after criticising the president.