Mr. Agwai is a respected former Defence Chief, who led United Nation missions in Sudan, amidst other career runs. He 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 released today Tuesday, presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, named Ishaya Dare Akau as the new head of SURE-P, Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme.
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.
Their 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.
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 was sacked after criticising the president.