* Jonathan needs support ahead of divisive polls in 2015
* Appoints more northerners from regions opposed to him
* Move follows army reshuffle and resignation of PDP
By Felix Onuah
ABUJA, Jan 21 Nigeria's President Goodluck
Jonathan has found 12 replacements for ministers he sacked last
year, his office said on Tuesday, as he looks to shore up his
support in an increasingly divided ruling party.
Jonathan removed nine ministers on Sept. 11, mostly
targeting junior posts in a move that did not affect the key
posts of finance or oil for the OPEC member. The defence
minister and youth minister had been ousted earlier and not
Jonathan is facing a crisis within his party centred around
his assumed intention to run for another term in the 2015
election. He has yet to say whether or not he will.
Five governors and several lawmakers have defected to a
recently formed coalition opposition in Africa's most populous
Of the 12 names submitted for approval to the national
assembly, eight were from the largely Muslim north where
Jonathan faces most opposition - northerners made up only five
of the 11 sacked ministers.
The president did not assign his 12 nominees to ministries,
meaning he may be creating a new post after only 11 left.
The most high-profile nomination is that of Aliyu Mohammed
Gusau, a former army general and national security adviser.
Gusau is a powerful northern figure and could be a strong asset
there for Jonathan, if he can be kept on his side.
Gusau is tipped to take over the defence minister position.
Two nominations were from the largely Christian
oil-producing Niger Delta, from where Jonathan himself hails.
He had been accused, most recently by his former mentor and
twice president Olusegun Obasanjo, of stuffing government posts
with people from the Delta and of awarding them lucrative
"This list is made up of politicians rather than
technocrats. They have been chosen to take the fight to the
opposition in their states," said Kayode Akindele, partner at
Lagos-based Africa consultancy 46 Parallels.
"This should increase the political temperature, as they
will be using federal resources against state resources of the
opposition." Nigeria is divided into 36 states.
Bamanga Tukur, a northerner and Jonathan ally, resigned last
week under a wave of pressure from party members and after mass
defections to the opposition, and was replaced by former
governor of Bauchi state Adamu Mu'azu, also a northerner.
On the day of that announcement, Jonathan also sacked and
replaced his entire military leadership, without giving a
reason. Some analysts said it was a move to
ensure loyalty from the military ahead of what are likely to be
bitterly divisive elections.
(Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Joe
Brock and Alister Doyle)