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The former Edo State governor said this during a chat with journalists at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja, adding that any minister who disobeys presidential directive would be punished at the party level, and then prevail on the president to drop such a person.
Oshiomhole said some ministers had taken advantage of Buhari’s fatherly disposition for far too long hence the need to instill some internal discipline.
“You know, we must return to internal discipline. You cannot purport to be an honourable minister and you act dishonourably. Nobody is greater than the party,” Oshiomhole was quoted as saying.
“If the President condones disrespect for his office, I will not condone disrespect for the party.
“And when we expel the minister, we will prevail on the President that he can’t keep in his cabinet people who have neither respect for his own decisions nor have respect for the party without which they would not have been ministers.
“Nobody, I emphasise, no minister is above the party and they have taken undue advantage of the President’s fatherly disposition.”
Oshiomhole was reacting to reports, that ministers were refusing to inaugurate the boards of the agencies and parastatals under their ministries, despite the fact the “it is the same green pen that made them ministers that appointed these boards that they are refusing to swear in”.
He said he was sure that the ministers involved in the anomaly do not have the President’s backing in their actions, stressing that it was illegal for a minister to usurp the powers of the boards that were established by law.
“When a minister sits in his office to appropriate the powers of the board in a democracy — not in a dictatorship — and award contracts that didn’t go through boards, those are clear abuse of office for which they are liable.
“I am convinced that what they are doing is not with the endorsement of Mr. President. Over the period, they have tried to drop the President’s name, but I tell them it is the same authority that appointed these people.
“So, we are informing them that it is either they comply with the President’s instructions or they comply with the party’s position or they go and administer outside the government.
“We have respect for ministers, but only to the extent that they recognise that they are products of a political party and we are not negotiating that.
“If they did that in the past, under our leadership we will not tolerate it. They either comply or we will expel them from the party (and) when we expel them, we will find out how a government can keep a rebel in the cabinet. There is no question about that.”
Oshiomhole had written to Chris Ngige, Minister of Employment, urging him to inaugurate the board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), whose members were appointed months ago by President Buhari. However, Ngige replied that the former NSITF board has a pending N40 billion corruption case in court.
Similarly, Hadi Sirika, Minister of State for Aviation, is yet to inaugurate the boards of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NMA) and Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
In a letter dated July 11, 2018, Oshiomhole, in his capacity as APC National Chairman, directed the ministers to obey presidential directives and inaugurate the boards within seven days, failure of which the party will take appropriate disciplinary measures against them.