Wednesday, 6th December 2023

Renewed Hope Ministers: 11 states await nominations amid intrigues, lobbying  

By Muyiwa Adeyemi (Politics Editor), Terhemba Daka and John Akubo (Abuja)
28 July 2023   |   3:22 am
• Presidential aspirant, NEXIM Bank director, Edu make list of seven women in first batch • Senate ditches recess, promises thorough screening on Monday • Gbajabiamila: Why portfolios were not attached to ministerial list • Wike cannot be leader of our party, Rivers APC kicks • Tinubu solely responsible for my nomination, says Umahi after…

President Tinubu

• Presidential aspirant, NEXIM Bank director, Edu make list of seven women in first batch
• Senate ditches recess, promises thorough screening on Monday
• Gbajabiamila: Why portfolios were not attached to ministerial list
• Wike cannot be leader of our party, Rivers APC kicks
• Tinubu solely responsible for my nomination, says Umahi after legal tussle to become Senator
• Abbas increases Reps standing committees from 109 to 134
• El-Rufai’s son, Ibori’s daughter, Wase, Betara, Faleke, others named chairs

Intense lobbying continued yesterday among All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftains and politicians across parties over the names of the 14 remaining ministerial nominees yet to be submitted to the Senate by President Bola Tinubu.

The President, through his Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila, submitted 28 names to the Senate, promising to send 14 more nominees.
Besides, 11 states are yet to have representatives in the list of ministers-designate, raising the stakes for those angling to be compensated for the roles they played in the February 25 presidential election outcome. The states expected to make up the supplementary list are Adamawa, Bayelsa, Gombe, Kano, Kebbi, Kogi, Lagos, Nasarawa, Osun, Yobe and Zamfara.

The list, which contained names of four former governors, also had seven women, making 25 per cent in the proposed cabinet and a fulfillment of the President’s promise to comply with affirmative action.
In 2019, former president Muhammadu Buhari also appointed seven women to his cabinet, but they were seven out of 42, representing 17 per cent of the total cabinet. President Tinubu is expected to send a supplementary list to the Senate to meet up with necessary constitutional requirements.

The list, as read out by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, are: Abubakar Momoh (Edo), Yusuf Maitama (Bauchi), Ahmad Dangiwa (Katsina), Hanatu Musawa (Katsina), Uche Nnaji (Enugu), Dr. Beta Edu (Cross River), Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite (Imo), Senator David Umahi (Ebonyi), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Muhammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Ekperikpe Ekpo (Akwa Ibom), Nkiru Onyejiocha (Abia), and Olubumi Tunji-Ojo (Ondo).

Others are Stella Okotete (Delta), Uju Kennedy (Anambra), Bello Mohammed Goroyo (Sokoto), Dele Alake (Ekiti), Lateef Fagbemi (Kwara), Mohammed Idris (Niger), Olawale Edun (Ogun), Waheed Adebayo Adelabu (Oyo), Mrs Iman Suleiman Ibrahim (Plateau), Prof. Ali Pate (Bauchi), Prof. Joseph Utsev (Benue), Senator Abubakar Kyari (Borno), Senator John Eno (Cross River) and Senator Sani Abubakar Danladi (Taraba).

Edu, APC national women leader, is the youngest nominee, aged 36. Ohanenye, APC’s sole female presidential candidate in the June 2022 presidential primary, also made the list. She stepped down for Tinubu at the primaries. Okotete, the executive director (Business Development) at the Nigeria Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank, aged 39, made the list.

Other women, who made up the list include Musawa from Katsina, the recently-appointed special adviser on culture and entertainment economy; Uzoka-Anite, a career banker with over 20 years of experience at Zenith Bank and former Commissioner for Finance in Imo; Onyejeocha, a former member of the House of Representatives for Isuikwuato/Umunneochi constituency of Abia; and Sulaiman-Ibrahim, director-general of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) from December 1, 2020, till May 27, 2021.

After weeks of speculation, the suspense was finally over when the Senate announced the ministerial list with little surprises to have warranted the delay to its last day allowed by the Constitution.
The Senate, after reeling out the list, boasted that the nominees would pass through the crucible of their thorough screening before they can be allowed to take the bow.

Senate spokesperson, Yemi Adaramola, disclosed this during an interactive session with the media, adding that there will be thorough ministerial screening like never seen before.
“We are very much aware of the high expectations of those who will assist the President in fulfillment of his mandate. To satisfy the expectations of Nigerians for high velocity performance, we will ‘eye-mark’ not ‘earmark’ the performances. The screening will be very thorough but there will still be the take a bow and go.
“The senate will scrutinise the character and ability of every nominee. The 10th Senate will not disappoint Nigerians to ensure this team brings the necessary oxygen to the table. However, we will not manufacture questions and allegations against anyone.”

He advised that with the unveiling of the list, anyone who has anything against them can channel such to the right quarters.
“Although the Senate is not supposed to sit on Mondays, because of the importance attached to this national assignment, we have suspended all our rules. In fact, we were supposed to go on our annual vacation but we have suspended it for the sake of this assignment. This is a national assignment, very crucial and very pertinent, it is necessary and compulsory for us to be at the chamber on Monday at 11:00a.m. and other days by 10:00a.m.”

He added that there will be no allocation of time for any nominee and if a single nominee takes up to three hours or the whole day, “so be it.”
On the usual take a bow and go, which has become a norm for former senators, he said it is a norm and not an anathema.
Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, explained why President Tinubu did not attach portfolios to the ministerial list sent to the Senate for clearance. Gbajabiamila said the decision is to allow the parliament the freedom to tinker and possibly fix the portfolios if the lawmakers find it necessary.

In an interview with newsmen at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, he explained that it would have been the best idea, but added that fixing portfolios to the names will cause problems if the President decides to change his mind after they have been screened.

“Yes, it would have been a welcome development. As good as that sounds, it straightjackets the President to pigeonhole one person in an office or the other. What happens then if you change your mind? Do you then bring the person back for screening again, because the President is at liberty to change his mind.
“For instance, if I decide I want somebody as Minister of Labour, and then after sending the name, I later decide that, you know what, I didn’t know about this person, this person would actually be better with another portfolio. Meanwhile, the Senate has screened that person for that particular initial portfolio, what happens then? Do you now re-screen the person?

“I like the idea of attaching portfolios, I actually do, because it makes it necessary for the Senate to know exactly what you’re asking and what you’re looking for. But for now, it’s been thought wise that we stick to the tradition of sending the names and then whilst the screening process is going on, allow Mr. President and his team to look at the portfolios and the characters and see how they fit.
“The first step that he has done is that these are people that can work wherever you put them, except specialised fields like the Attorney-General. But in the main, in most of the portfolios, he believes many of them can fit in anywhere. And what’s important is also that Mr. President intends to separate portfolios or restructure the ministries in such a way you might be hearing of new ministries that were not standalone ministries before.

“The President took his time, did a lot of due diligence going through the nominees one by one. As you know, he had 60 days from the time of inauguration, as stipulated in the Constitution. He has fulfilled that requirement by submitting 28 names today.
“As his letter stated, the remainder names, not sure how many, probably 12, maybe 13, will be forwarded to the Senate in the coming days. It’s a good mix of both people with political acumen and technocrats.”

Senate President Godswill Akpabio (left) receiving the ministerial list of President Bola Tinubu from Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, at the National Assembly, Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

He hinted that in the next few weeks, the new ministers would hit the ground running, expressing confidence that they would even begin work in some ways before their clearance and inauguration.

However, the APC in Rivers State has reacted to the appointment of former governor of the state, Nyesom Wike, as a minister. Spokesperson of the party in the state, Darlington Nwauju, in a statement, said they will meet and come up with a response on the matter.
He added though that Wike cannot be the leader of the party in the state even if he chooses to join APC because there are three former governors in the party. Recall that APC had written to the President not to appoint Wike as a minister, accusing him of unleashing terror on members of the party in the state.

For Umahi, he said President Tinubu is solely responsible for his nomination as a minister from Ebonyi. Umahi made the declaration in Abakaliki while speaking to newsmen on being received by Governor Francis Nwifuru.

There had been reactions owing to the emergence of the former Ebonyi governor on the list, despite the long and tortuous journey he took to become a Senator. Recall that last year, he had contested in the APC presidential primary alongside Akpabio and former Senate President, Ahmad Lawan.

Owing to the dictates of the Electoral Act, which prohibited vying for two elective positions at the same time, the trio of Umahi, Lawan and Akpabio had faced a legal battle to get the APC Senatorial ticket, including a rerun primary conducted.

But the Senate Deputy Majority Leader, who also aspired to become the Senate President, said he owed profound appreciation to President Tinubu for “fulfilling his promise during the trying period.
My governor (Nwifuru) should be happy because he wished for it,” he said.

He pledged to work assiduously in justifying the confidence reposed in him, noting that he had no inkling on the ministry to superintend.
“I will work with the president to ensure that all promises he made are kept. I cannot determine the particular ministry to head but I will justify the Ebonyi character of resourcefulness and exceptionality,” he said.

The former governor commended Nwifuru for ‘taking care of the state well,’ since he left the seat in May.

“I have not been to Ebonyi since the past two months and I am particularly happy with the condition of our airport. It seems the airport is better maintained than in our time,” he said.

Nwifuru in his remarks, said that Umahi’s nomination was pleasing to the government and people of the state.
“Umahi is the leader we know and he is a person the nation needs. It is gratifying that the president identified and found him worthy to work with. We are very sure that he will make Ebonyi proud,” he said.

Tajudeen Abbas PHOTO: Twitter

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, on Thursday, unveiled the chairmen and deputy chairmen of the various standing committees. This is just as the number of committees increased from the previous 109 to 134.

Mohammed Bello el-Rufai, son of former Kaduna State governor, and the daughter of former Delta State governor, James Ibori, Erhiatake Ibori-Suenu, were named standing committees chairmen. While Ibori’s daughter was named Chairman, House Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), el-Rufai’s son was announced chairman, House committee on banking regulations.

Former Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Idris Wase, former House Leader, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, Yusuf Adamu Gagdi, Mukhtar Betara also emerged as chairmen of committees.

Ikenga Ugochinyere emerged as the chairman Petroleum Resources (Downstream) while Alhassan Ado Doguwa emerged as the Chairman Petroleum Resources (Upstream). Kabir Alhassan Rurum emerged as the chairman, House Committee on Aviation, while Abdulmumini Jibrin got Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Abubakar Kabir Abubakar Bichi, who was House Committee chairman on works in the 9th Assembly, is now the chairman on Appropriations.

Betara, who headed the Committee on Appropriations in the 9th House now heads the House Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Yusuf Adamu Gagdi retained the Chairmanship of the House Committee on Navy alongside Leke Abejide who also retained his House Committee on Customs and Excise.

Ex-Deputy Speaker of the House, Idris Wase, was named Chairman, Committee on Federal Character while ex-Chairman, Committee on Appropriation, Muktar Betara, emerged Chairman, Committee on the Federal Capital Territory.
Others included Aminu Jaji (Ecological Fund), Miriam Onuoha (Tertiary Education Trust Fund), Abubakar Bichi (Appropriation), Afam Ogene (Renewable Energy), James Faleke (Finance), and Salam Bamidele (Public Accounts Committee).

Yusuf Gadgi and Sada Soli, who headed the Committees on Navy and Water Resources, respectively, in the ninth Assembly, retained the same Committees.
Khadija Ibrahim, wife of the former Yobe State Governor, Bukar Ibrahim, was named Chairman, Committee on the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency, along with Ikenga Ugo-Chinyere (Petroleum Downstream), Leke Abejide (Customs and Excise), Victor Nwokolo (Power), Bello El-Rufai (Banking Regulations), and Erhiakate Ibori-Suenu (Niger Delta Development Commission), among others.