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Senate gets Buhari’s cabinet nominees without portfolios

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, John Akubo, Adamu Abuh, Segun Olaniyi (Abuja), Seye Olumide (Lagos), Lawrence Njoku (Enugu), Oluwaseun Akingboye (Akure), Abiodun Fagbemi (Ilorin), Michael Egbejule (Benin City) and Murtala Adewale (Kano)
24 July 2019   |   4:30 am
The demand by the Senate that the president tables the names of ministerial nominees with portfolios attached failed again yesterday as President Muhammadu Buhari passed a 43-person list to the Red Chamber.

• Akpabio, Keyamo, Amaechi, Sirika, Aregbesola, others make list
• It’s uninspiring, waste of time, says PDP
• Yakasai flays inclusion of ‘fantastically corrupt’ persons
• Enugu APC rejects Onyeama as Kwara, Ondo govs praise nominations

The demand by the Senate that the president tables the names of ministerial nominees with portfolios attached failed again yesterday as President Muhammadu Buhari passed a 43-person list to the Red Chamber.Coming almost two months after the president was sworn in for a second term, the lawmakers will be forced to screen the cabinet members of the world’s most populous black country by mere guesswork.

Legislators at the forefront of the agitation for portfolios had argued that it would help the Federal Government put round pegs in round holes for good governance. Futile efforts had earlier been made to amend the constitution and realise the objective. The chamber later resorted to passing a resolution to urge the president to attach portfolios to ministerial nominations.

But this was dumped few weeks before yesterday’s list, with the Senate describing as unnecessary the resolution passed by the Eighth Senate mandating the president to attach portfolios accordingly. Members of that Senate had argued that the move would enable lawmakers to tailor specific questions to each nominee.

Bassey Akpan (Akwa Ibom) had received satisfactory nods from his colleagues when he reminded the leadership of the Ninth Senate about the resolution. He argued that the best way to help Buhari put right persons in right positions was knowing the designated ministry of each nominee when they appear for screening. This would, in turn, be matched with their competencies, Akpan explained.

But speaking on behalf of the Ninth Senate in an interview recently, the spokesperson, Adedayo Adeyeye, said it was not mandatory for the president to attach portfolios to the list. He argued that the presidents of advanced countries like the USA, which subscribed to the practice, still reserved the right to swap the portfolios of their nominees before and after their inauguration.

He noted that the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a lawyer, performed well as minister of finance, while the late Aminu Kano, a teacher, also excelled as minister of health.

“It is not a constitutional prerequisite, neither is it mandatory for the president to assign portfolios to the ministerial nominees. Also, Senate up till now has not made any law or any regulation that would insist on that. There is nothing, either in the Senate rules or in the Constitution, that will compel the president to do that. Our major concern is to identify the leadership qualities in the nominees being presented to us for screening,” Adeyeye said.

The list read by Senate President Ahmad Lawan at the commencement of plenary yesterday included former Senate Minority Leader Godswill Akpabio, former Benue State Governor George Akume, and Senator Gbemisola Saraki. Buhari also retained some former ministers like Lai Mohammed, Rotimi Amaechi, Ogbonnaya Onu and Chris Ngige.

The full list has: Uchechukwu Oga (Abia State), Muhammadu Musa Bello (Adamawa), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Chris Ngige and Sharon Ikpeazu (Anambra), Adamu Adamu and Maryam Katagum (Bauchi), Timipriye Sylva (Bayelsa), George Akume (Benue), Mustapha Baba (Borno), Goody Eddy Agba (Cross Rivers), Festus Keyamo (Delta) and Ogbonnayya Onu (Ebonyi).

It also has Osagie Ehinire and Clement Agba (Edo), Richard Adeniyi Adebayo (Ekiti), Geoffrey Onyema (Enugu), Ali Isa Ibrahim Patani (Gombe), Emeka Nwajuba (Imo), Suleiman H. Adamu (Jigawa), Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed and Muhammed Mahmood (Kaduna).Others are Sabo Nanono and Salihi Magashi (Kano), Hadi Sirika (Katsina), Abubakar Malami (Kebbi), Ramatu Tijjani (Kogi), Lai Mohammed and Gbemisola Saraki (Kwara), Muhammed Margarito Danhyaddi (Sokoto), Saleh Mamman (Taraba), Abubakar Ali (Yobe) and Sadia Umar Farooq (Zamfara), Babatunde Raji Fasola and Adeleke Mamora (Lagos), Mohammed Abdullahi (Nasarawa), Olamilekan Adegbite (Ogun), Zuberu Dada (Niger), Tayo Alasoadura (Ondo), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Sunday Dare (Oyo), Pauline Tallen (Plateau) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).

Reactions, meanwhile, have continued on the propriety or otherwise of the list.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) downplayed the worth of the list, saying: “To the chagrin and utter disappointment of Nigerians, the list is replete with incompetent individuals who failed in their erstwhile ministerial assignments and left their ministries in a shambles.”

In a statement released by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said: “Such a ministerial list can only come from a leadership that does not have the mandate of the people. It is a complete waste of time and cannot fulfill the expectation of Nigerians.”

A member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Young Stakeholders Forum, Dagogo Fubara, regretted what he described as the exclusion of youths. He said it was unfortunate that youths were sidelined in spite of the efforts they put in to ensure Buhari’s election.“I felt disappointed when I saw the ministerial list. I asked, ‘Where are the youths who travelled all over the country in 2015 and 2019 to campaign for our party?’ They are not hidden. The president and other party leaders know them,” he said.

Elder statesman, Tanko Yakasai, described some persons on the list as “fantastically” corrupt, adding: “The fact that returnees are many means the policy of the new government will not be much different from that of the outgoing.”A former minister of transportation, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, said he is less bothered about the appointments because, according to him, the APC has failed to move the country forward.

The National Chairman of the National Conscience Party, Dr. Yinusa Tanko, said Nigerians should not bank on the list, while a lawyer and former president of Igbo think tank, Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, described the list as a selection of the good, the bad and the ugly.

A member of Lagos State APC chapter, Fouad Oki, was restrained, saying he would only be in a position to comment after studying the profiles of the nominees.The Enugu State chapter however expressed displeasure over the reappointment of former Minister Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, saying the move was a “terrible mistake”.

The chairman, Dr. Ben Nwoye, said the development was not in the interest of the state and the nation, accusing Onyeama of allegedly working against the party in the state.But in separate statements yesterday, Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and his Kwara State counterpart, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, praised the nominations of Senator Tayo Alasoadura, and Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Senator Gbemisola Saraki.