After a long wait and expectations from Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari finally forwarded the list of the ministerial nominees, made up of ‘saintly’ Nigerian men and women, to the Senate for screening and confirmation. Going by the four months of intense suspense and waiting game created by President Buhari before naming his ministers, largely hinged upon trying to ensure that no individual associated with corruption makes his cabinet, it is hoped that none of the nominees is found to be unclean.
Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari and Senior Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, presented the list of ministerial nominees to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki on Wednesday, September 30, 2015.
Though it has not been officially announced, the list reportedly contains 21 names instead of the traditional 36-man list. But the President has said the remaining nominees would be forwarded to the Senate in due course.
The formal presentation finally ends months of speculation and anxiety over the President’s cabinet. It also puts paid to doubts about his promise to name his ministers in September. Receiving the list, Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki vowed not to make it public on until after plenary on Tuesday, October 6. Saraki had confirmed this on his twitter handle last week.
With this action, no doubt President Buhari has acted in line with extant provisions of the constitution which requires him to form a cabinet that would assist him in governance of the country and discharge of his functions as the President.
According to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Section 147 (1) states, “There shall be such office of ministers of the government of the federation as may be established by the president. Sub-section (2), “Any appointment to the office of minister of the government of the federation shall if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the senate be made by the president shall be in conformity with the provisions of Section 14-3 of this constitution.”
For now, until Tuesday this week, it remains a speculation in the media and public domain those who made the ‘holy list’. While we are cautious not to pass any judgment on the speculated names being paraded in the so-called list, we take it as a rather wild rumour that the following made the list: Rotimi ‎Amaechi, Babatunde Fashola, Kayode Fayemi, Chris Ngige, Ogbonaya Onu, Kemi Adeosun are included. Others like the APC governorship flag bearer in Taraba State in the last governorship election, Aisha Alhassan, made the list, including Amina Mohammed; a former commissioner in Ogun State, Kunle Adeosun; Malami Abubakar (SAN) and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Ibe Kachikwu.
While we are not against those that will assist President Buhari discharge his constitutional duties, but as a ‘change benchmark’, he must ensure those coming on board are credible Nigerians with unstained integrity, or else it may signal the end of the hyped anti-corruption crusade of his administration.
It is therefore gladdening that the Senate through its chairman, Ad Hoc Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Dino Melaye, had stated its position that the nominees will be grilled beyond educational qualifications, “Screening of the ministerial nominees will no longer be business as usual. The era of ‘take a bow and go’ is gone. We will make sure all the nominees will be screened irrespective of political, ethnic and regional considerations”, Senator Melaye stated.
Another senator, David Umaru, APC Niger, noted that due process must be followed, saying that things will be different this time, an indication that the Senate will also explore moral profile and antecedents of the nominees. Nigerians have taken note of these words from the Senate and on that account we stand by the Senators’ position and will remind them, just in case they fail to match their words with action.
We caution the President not to be confused with the dubious and cheap statement, “Good people don’t win elections without bad people” being peddled in some quarters. However, we must remind such opinionated writers and thinkers that there is a clear difference between political campaign and governance. It is a grievous logical error to think that a campaign team should be used as an economic team simply because it is a necessity to reward tainted political patrons.
The President must note that a lot is expected of a government that is touted to fight corruption. Therefore, it should not be seen as shielding its members from prosecution or it becomes the case of Chichidodo, a bird that hates faeces but feeds on maggots. Nigerians are watching.