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Page last updated at 17:37 GMT, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Nigeria gets first oil minister

Rilwanu Lukman
Rilwanu Lukman is a widely respected technocrat

Nigeria's President Umaru Yar'Adua has named a new minister in charge of the country's troubled oil sector.

Rilwanu Lukman, former secretary general of the oil cartel Opec, will now head the petroleum ministry.

Until now it was a post the president had kept for himself, as did his predecessor Olusegun Obasanjo.

Mr Lukman is widely respected and regarded as the architect of planned wholesale reforms of the country's oil and gas sector.

The country's main earner, the oil industry, is beset by a violent conflict in the southern region which has cut output by a fifth.

The industry has also been damaged by the government's failure to keep up its part of the funding deals it made with the oil companies.

Mr Lukman has advised sweeping reforms of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

Byword for honesty

A new minister for the restive Niger Delta is expected to be announced soon.

President Yar'Adua named Godsday Orubebe, a former minister of special duties, as the junior minister.

They will have the job of improving development in the region in the hope that it will improve security.

The head of the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (Nafdac), Dora Akunyili, has been appointed information minister.

Correspondents say since taking over at Nafdac Mrs Akunyili has become a byword for honest public service.

The cabinet reshuffle has been long awaited, the president has been hinting at a shake-up in his administration for almost a year.

Last week the country's supreme court dismissed a challenge to President Yar'Adua's election by opposition candidates.



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