- ‘Amaechi, Fashola, Mohammed, Fayemi, others are not angels’
- President lobbies PDP as opposition kicks
A combination of jeers and cheers trailed the unveiling of President Muhammadu Buhari’s 21 ministerial nominees by Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki on the floor of the red chamber yesterday, as some Nigerians said the list fell far behind the expectations of majority of the people.
The 49 senators of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP were the first to kick against Buhari’s ministerial list on the grounds of not being a complete list, even as indications emerged that the Presidency had reached out to the opposition party for easy approval of the nominees.
President Buhari had in a ministerial list read on the floor of the Senate yesterday by the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, nominated 21 nominees across 21 out of the 36 states as a partial ministerial list for senate’s approval.
Though Buhari as stated in the letter containing the list, explained that the 21-man list was a partial one, the PDP senators led by the Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom North West) kicked against the submission, arguing that the President had been given more than enough time by Nigerians to come up with full cabinet list.
Akpabio, who anchored his argument on constitutional point of order, cited sections 14(3) and 147(2) of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria to urge the Senate to demand for the remaining list of the ministerial nominees from President Buhari before approval of the nominees already sent.
According to him, since section 14(3) of the constitution states that every state of the federation must have a member in form of a minister at the federal cabinet, President Buhari should be called upon by the Senate to forward the remaining list for all to see in line with the constitutional provision.
“The senate need to urge the President to send the remaining list , so as to confirm that all the states of the federation have been taken care of, as far as ministerial appointments are concerned, more so, when Nigerians have given him more than enough time to do these appointments.
“This is even more necessary in view of the fact that going by four months it took the President to come up with this partial list, if needed pressure is not mounted on him, it may take him another four months or more, to come up with the additional list”, he said.
However the Senate President in his response, urged Akpabio and the other PDP senators to give President Buhari the benefit of the doubt, over his promise of bringing the remaining list.
“Though your point of order is noted but Mr President being a man of his words and integrity, should be allowed time to forward the remaining list.”
He promised to forward the list in September and did fulfill it last Wednesday, the last day of September, and in the list I just read to us all now, Mr President said he would forward the remaining list in a short while, which I believe will be so.”
But shortly after the plenary, Akpabio and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang came to address newsmen where the Minority Leader made a u-turn when he expressed satisfaction with the ministerial list sent by the President.
Akpabio said PDP as opposition party believes in the unity of Nigeria and anything that will improve the living standard of Nigerians.
“We will do our best to ensure robust debate, fine-tune the policies of the APC administration to better the lots of Nigerians, and to ensure that Nigeria gets out of the current economic doldrums. So far, on a personal note, I am impressed with the list that was sent by the President”.
“I believe that he has kept to his word by ensuring that we sort out a lot of people of integrity that can salvage the country. But of course, the Senate will still do its work of screening and re-screening, and I pray that more than 70 or 80 percent of the list should pass through,” he said.
Akpabio also described President Buhari as a man of integrity and said he’s impressed about the list with the calibre of nominees, which he said are those that can help him salvage the country.
He said the PDP senators in particularly would support the president to succeed and also urged journalists to be wary of their reports so as not to scare investors away from the country.
Also speaking, Senator Ita Enang said, “Part of our job is to do a lot of reach out and reach out to all the sections. And the past is gone, this is a new beginning”.
Among the 21 ministerial nominees whose screening would start from next week Tuesday as announced by the Senate President, were former governors of Rivers State, Rotimi Ameachi; Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola; Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi; Anambra State, Senator Chris Ngige and Ebony State, Ogbonaya Onu.
Others are . Abubakar Malami (Kebbi State), Senator Hadi Sirika ( Katsina), Senator Aisha Alhassan (Taraba), Lai Mohammed (Kwara), Adebayo Shittu (Oyo) , Solomon Dalong ( Plateau), Audu Ogbeh (Benue), Ahmed Ibeto (Niger State), Udo Udoma (Akwa Ibom ) and Kemi Adeosun (Ogun).
Also on the list are the former Chief of Army Staff, Bello Abdulrahman Danbazzau (Kano), the NNPC Group Managing Director, Ibe Kachickwu (Delta), Osagie Ehanare (Edo), Sulaiman Adamu (Jigawa), Amina Ibrahim (Kaduna) and Ibrahim Usman Jibril (Nasarawa).
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday said the ministerial list is not worth the several months of suspense Nigerians were subjected to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Reacting to the unveiling of the ministerial nominees by the Senate, the leading opposition party said “by a mere look at the list, one can tell that there is nothing to be excited about, especially considering the length of time it took the President to come up with it”.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh in a statement on Tuesday, said “looking at the list, it is hard to put a finger on why it should take any serious-minded and focused government, six months after its election to assemble such a regular team.”
The party said “the list and the length of time it took have further confirmed the fact that the APC-led administration is driven by propaganda and deceit, a development that raises doubts on the sincerity of its anti-corruption crusade.”