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Mixed reactions trail ministerial list as Senate screens cabinet nominees

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Senate President Ahmad Lawan. Photo/Twitter/nassnigeria

Mixed reactions have continued to trail President Muhammadu Buhari´s list of 43 cabinet nominees even as the Senate shifted grounds from its threat to proceed on its annual recess by commencing the screening of the would-be ministers. The process, which took off in earnest two days ago, however, ran into some tense moments when the Senator representing the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Philip Aduda, protested the exclusion of FCT in the appointment of ministers. He cited the provision in the constitution that confers on the territory the status of a state.

While lending his voice to the point raised by Aduda, Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West, concurred, noting that the FCT ought to and should be represented in the federal cabinet. He quoted relevant sections of the constitution that lends credence to his position.

Aduda had continued to raise the point of order at the start of plenary, noting that the appointments were against the spirit of the constitution, just as he drew the attention of his colleagues to the “unconstitutional” exclusion of the FCT from the list.

He said the National Assembly is the “state House of Assembly for the FCT” and that his constituents are aggrieved over the exclusion, stressing that the constitution stipulates that the FCT be treated as one of the states and that each state shall have a minister.

While urging the Senators to hearken to the voice of his colleague, Senator Melaye argued: “Section 297 of the constitution says there shall be a Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the boundaries of which are defined in path 2 in the first schedule of the constitution.

“If you read through subsections a, b, and c, it also says the FCT shall be treated as if it were one of the states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 299, specifically (a), says all the legislative powers, executive powers and judicial powers vested in the House of Assembly, the Governor of a State and in the courts shall be respectively vested in the National Assembly, the President of the Federation, in the courts which by virtue of the foregoing provision, courts are established for the FCT are also that of the judiciary.

“What I am driving at is to give constitutional teeth to the appeal by the representative of the FCT; it is not an appeal by the Senate but a constitutional point of duty. If the constitution has said that it shall be treated as one of the states and the same constitution has said each state of the federation shall have at least a minister, then automatically this is very clear.”

He appealled that in the proposition to the executive, the senate should come from that point of strength to reinforce the position canvassed by Senator Philip Aduda.

While responding to the points raised by the two Senators, the President of Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said the order has been noted, adding that he believes the executive was noting it as well.

Meanwhile, despite the infighting within the Edo State chapter of the ruling party, a group under the auspices of Joint Action for the Advancement of Democracy (JAAD), commended the national chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Ohiomhole, for attracting two ministerial nominees to the state. While making their feelings known at a briefing with journalists in Benin City through the Secretary General, Mr. Felix Isere, JAAD described the two ministerial slots as unprecedented and as a sign of Oshiomhole´s transformative politics.

The names of Edo indigenes in the list include Messrs Osagie Ehinire and Clement Agba.

According to JAAD, “The heartwarming news of two ministerial slots for Edo State underlines Adam’s Oshiomhole’s charismatic leadership of APC, and this is more so because it is the first of its kind in Edo State’s chequered history.

“As a pro-democracy platform, we accordingly thank President Buhari for yielding to passionate pleas along this line. We have been at the forefront of an advocacy that the presidency should change the narrative of rewarding hostile or pro-violent communities with prime appointments. Our stand is such that honour should be directed at peaceful and hospitable communities. Edo State is host to the largest natural gas hub in West Africa. It is only justifiable to reward our state with the Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), taking into account that Edo is the only state yet to get a fair share of the revolving position in the comity of Niger Delta states.”

The group said it habours no doubt that the ministers from Edo will compliment the pragmatic and charismatic leadership of APC’s national chairman and speedily enhance federal government’s presence in all parts of the state.

“We call on the minister-nominees to give priority attention to national security through constructive and sustainable youth employment and opportunities. We will provide road map and templates to these ministers pro bono, and additionally organise town hall meetings across the state to sink Buhari’s programmes into every nook and cranny of the state.”

However, the situation was different for Ondo State nominees as a group within the state chapter of APC urged President Buhari to withdraw Senator Tayo Alasoadura as ministerial nominee. The aggrieved party faithful condemned the nomination of Alasoadura, saying that he is not a loyal party man and not worthy to be the minister representing Ondo State.

The group, under the aegis of Ondo APC Solidarity Group, convened by Comrade Gbenga Bojuwomi, in a statement, called on President Buhari to replace him with an APC loyalist whose love cuts across all the 18 local councils of the state. They enjoined the Senate to halt the confirmation of Senator Alasoadura pending the resolution from the presidency in consultation with loyal party members of the party from Ondo State.

While expressing surprise that President Buhari failed to live up to his promise to nominate not only those he was familiar with, but loyal members of the party, the group alleged that Senator Alasoadura was among those who connived with the former Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, in the 8th Senate to pervert the policies of the APC administration. They also accused the Ondo State ministerial nominee of working closely with Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to foist Action Alliance (AA) on Ondo State, with the result that eventually led to the defeat of President Buhari in the 2019 presidential poll in Ondo State.

Alleging that Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State had a hand in the nomination of Alasoadura to achieve his political goal, the group further warned that making Alasoadura a minister was tantamount to a deliberate attempt to flourish Action Alliance and to also make APC redundant in the state.

While warning Governor Fayemi to desist from interfering in Ondo politics henceforth, the group stated: “In fact, anytime he is cited with Akeredolu in Ondo State, we shall give him the treatment he deserves. Governor Fayemi is the architect of the problem we are facing now in Ondo State. He advised Governor Akeredolu to form AA, so that if President Buhari loses, they can all fall back on the party. Simply because of his ill-fated 2023 presidential ambition, he was actively involved in confusing Mr. President on the choice of Senator Alasoadura; their plan is to build the new party AA before 2023.

“It is also obvious that all the hints and good advice given to Mr. President and APC’s national chairman on Ondo issue have not been heeded but are viewed as a challenge and disloyalty to party authority.

“The present state of uncertainty and stagnation in Ondo APC must not be permitted to degenerate into suppression and retrogression, knowing too well that in a year from now Ondo State would be going into its governorship election with a very stiff opposition because the governor and his cohorts have virtually turned the state into a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) state.

“So, we need a loyal party man who can actually bring people together and form a stronger bond of unity in APC in Ondo State. We feel duty bound to use the opportunities and resources we have as a ruling party at our disposal to restore hope in the minds of Ondo people and renew the aspiration that we can, as people/party, reward loyalty and hard work, not rewarding the betrayers in APC. Since yesterday as everybody can feel, Ondo State has been thrown into hopelessness, and mourning mood over the choice of Senator Alasoadura.”

In another instance, a faction of APC in Enugu State, under the leadership of Deacon Okey Ogbodo, praised President Buhari for returning Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama to the federal cabinet.

The party said, “This singular act is sure proof to me and the APC’s state Executive in Enugu State, which I lead, that our President has dully noted contributions of genuine political allies and critical stakeholders who worked hard for the party and his re-election during the 2019 general elections.

“We worked in close concert with, and under the direction of Chief Onyeama, with whom we traversed the nooks and crannies of Enugu State, against all odds, to market the candidacy of Mr. President.

“His re-nomination for ministerial appointment is, therefore, a fitting recognition of the consummate effort of a discerning, incorruptible leader, a bridge builder and a committed party man”.


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