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Jonathan names Arogbofa, ex-general, as chief of staff

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan yesterday appointed Brig.-Gen. Jones Oladehinde Arogbofa as his new Chief of Staff. Arogbofa, a retired officer of the Signals Corps of the Nigerian Army, takes over from Chief Mike Oghiadomhe who resigned last week.

The new Chief of Staff to the President was born on November 10, 1952. He hails from Akoko South-West Local Council of Ondo State.

According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), Dr. Reuben Abati, in addition to administrative capabilities and experience garnered from a distinguished career in the Nigerian Army, Arogbofa brings an impressive array of academic qualifications to his new job.

They include a diploma in Communications Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology, United States (U.S.), a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alabama, U.S. and a Master’s Degree in Military Arts and Science from the United States Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The new Chief of Staff holds several military honours and awards, including Mss, Fss, Fsc and Fwc, and is also a member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE).

His appointment is with immediate effect and he has taken up his new post at the Presidential Villa.

Meanwhile, nine persons Jonathan nominated were confirmed by the Senate yesterday for ministerial appointments.

Those who had the Senate’s approval included Musiliu Obanikoro and Gen. Aliu Gusau (rtd), Mohammed Wakil, Ambassador Amonu Wali, Mrs. Akon Etim Eyakenyi and Mrs. Malam Lawrencia Labaran.

Others were Mr. Boni Haruna, Dr. Khaliru Alhassan, Alhaji Abduljelili Oyewale Adesiyan, Dr. T.W. Dangogo as well as Asabe Asmau Ahmed.

Unfortunately, Hadjia Jamilla Salik from Kano State could not make the list as she was prevented from appearing for screening. Though the nominee was seen around the Senate alongside other nominees, she was not invited into the chamber for screening. The Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, only informed her that her candidature was stood down.

There was a strict opposition to the nomination of Alhaji Abduljelili Oyewale Adesiyan, representing Osun State.

Senator Olusola Adeyeye, Osun State, coming under the Senate Standing Order 14, which has to do with privileges, had prayed the Senate not to confirm the candidate in line with the position of all the senators representing Osun State.

Adeyeye said their objection was not as a result of partisan politics but on the conviction that the nominee might not serve the country well. He also recalled that the nominee was at the centre of a murder allegation against the former Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige.

His words: “I am expressing the privilege to inform this house as the one representing Osun State and also because one of the customs in this house is to make serious considerations and objections concerning any ministerial nomination.

“I have approached you many times Mr. President to alert you to the objection of all three senators from Osun State to the nomination of Mr. Adesiyan. During the hearing, I also approached your seat and sought your wisdom to guide me as to when to voice our collective and unanimous objection to this nomination.

“You advised I should wait till confirmation process. Accordingly, I kept my silence until now even though I have circulated the ground of our objection to members of this chamber.

“I want to place it on record again that all three senators from Osun State unanimously object this nomination. I also want to place it on record that this nominee is the sixth person that was nominated by our President for appointment that required the confirmation of this Senate.

“I want to place it on record that in all five previous nominations, all three of us have not only endorsed them, we have also canvassed support for them among our colleagues.”

He added: “This is the first time that we are opposing a nomination brought before this Senate. This opposition is not being brought frivolously; it is not being brought on the ground of partisan politicking.

“We oppose this nomination on two grounds. One, we do not believe that the interest of our country would be best served by the appointment of Mr. Adesiyan. When he met the three of us from Osun, he did just as he did when he appeared before the Senate.

“He told a long story of being accused falsely in the murder of the late Chief Bola Ige and when he finished, I told him that two things are clear. First, that Bola Ige did not kill himself. Two, the dead do not talk, he will not come to tell us who killed him and as such, we will not border you about that.”

But the Senate President, David Mark, had to stop Adeyeye. While accepting that Adeyeye approached him on the issue and that he also told him he had no problem with his idea and that he could make his objections during confirmation, it was clear from the voice vote that the man satisfied the requirements of the Senate.

Mark therefore urged his colleagues to put their grievances behind them in the interest of the country.

“I think we must put all this behind us. This house will not become a law court where we prosecute or discharge people. If he is not prosecuted in the law court, anything we do here is just an allegation and thank God you said the issue is not really that of Bola Ige.

“He did not nominate himself. He was nominated by Mr. President and we all heard the voice vote here. I think if you have an objection to the voice vote, you can call for a division but I feel that from the voice vote, it is clear that this nominee is approved by the house.

“I don’t see where your privilege has become an issue here that you are coming under privileges but I allowed you. But you have gone into a lengthy explanation and has gone beyond what in my opinion, will be your own privilege in nominating somebody from your state. With this explanation, I should continue with what I am doing. So, I rule you out of order”, Mark said.

The appointment of Arogbofa as Jonathan’s new Chief of Staff may have been facilitated by the Afenifere Renewal Group.

His younger brother, ‘Seinde Arogbofa , a former Chairman of All Nigeria Conference of Principals (ANCOPS), is secretary of Afenifere.

The new Chief of Staff enjoys close ties to notable personalities in the Nigerian Armed Forces and may be on familiar ground with his new assignment.

He was retired Gen. Raji Rasaki’s Campaign Manager when the former made a foray into politics and had been one of the Principal Staff Officers to then Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar.

He also worked with Leo Ajiborisha, a former Military Administrator of Osun State.

Arogbofa’s emergence as COS is seen in certain quarters as an effort to pacify the Yoruba who have felt shortchanged in key appointments by the President, particularly now that 2015 is not too far off.

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