- Nominees must be endorsed by two senators from constituency – Senate
Four of the ministerial nominees yesterday came to the National Assembly, where they conferred with the Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang and some members of the senate leadership.
The nominees, Chief Audu Ogbeh from Benue State; Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, Ebonyi , Dr. Chris Ngige Anambra and Senator Udoma Udo -Udoma reportedly came to submit their curriculum vitae, CV to Enang in his office as requested by the senate as part of conditions for their screening.
Nigerian Pilot however gathered that apart from submitting their CV as claimed, the nominees used the opportunity to lobby senators some of whom were either their colleagues or friends to give them soft landing during the planned senate screening exercise schedule for Tuesday next week.
It would be recalled that following president Buhari’s stance on fighting corruption and the plethora of petitions against most of the ministerial-nominees, some senators have voiced out their opposition to the age-long senate practice of asking their former colleagues when they come for screening to ‘take a bow and go’.
Sources said the nominees used the opportunity of their visit to request that as former key public office holders, senate grant them the privilege of not facing rigours of senate drills. Nigeria Pilot however was not able to confirm this matter with the senate leadership as none of them was willing to give reasons for the august visit.
Whereas Onu, Ngige and Ogbeh came in the same vehicle, Udo-Udoma came alone. However, they all declined interview from senate correspondent when approached to comment on their mission to the National Assembly.
Yesterday, the Senate sent a strong signal of rigorous but thorough screening for the first batch of 21 ministerial nominees sent by President Muhammadu Buhari to the upper legislative chamber when the three-day exercise begins Tuesday next week.
Briefing newsmen after a closed door executive session on the floor of the Red Chamber in Abuja, the chairman, Senate Adhoc Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Dino Melaye said the senators met behind closed doors to fine-tune strategies and to set standard requirements for screening exercise.
Melaye said the Senate is relying on provisions of Section 147(3), Section 14(3), Section 65 of the Constitution for the screening, maintaining that those provisions would be strictly observed.
The senate spokesman, who also informed that section 120 of the Senate’s standing rules which requires that a minimum of two senators from the state of a nominee must subscribe to their nomination, would be strictly enforced.
Part of the stringent conditions set for ministerial nominees, which he said were drawn from the 1999 Constitution as amended, include proof of assets declaration, endorsement by two of three senators from each state and evidence of Nigerian national, among others.
According to Melaye, the Senate would uphold its convention on insisting that two senators from the state of any nominee must accept the nomination before he or she could be screened.
The senate spokesman particularly maintained that nominees, who have held political offices in the past, must show certificates of assets declaration issued by the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, while calling on all nominees to as a matter of urgency forward 115 copies of their curriculum vitae, CV each to the senate before Monday.
He, however, hinted that in line with the tradition of the senate, former members of National Assembly would be given preferential treatment as they may not be made to face the same rigorous screening like other nominees.
Melaye said that former senators and members of the House of Representatives would not just bow and go, but would not be exposed to rigorous scrutiny as their counterparts who had never been federal legislators.
He explained, “Our meeting this morning was primarily to develop a procedure for the screening of ministerial nominees on Tuesday, we considered the approach for the screening.
“We shall be relying on Section 147 of the Constitution; there shall be such offices of the ministers of the federation as may be appointed by the President.
“This section shall be strictly adhered to by the Senate, meaning that there will be ministers from each state of the federation in compliance with the constitution.
“We shall also consider Section 65 which stipulates that only a person who is qualified to be a member of the House of Representatives can be qualified to be screened as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The Senate will not consider the screening of anybody who has held any public office except the person has declared his assets”, he stressed.
According to Melaye, the Senate would insist on seeing the proof of assets declaration before a person who had held a public office could be cleared to be a minister.
“The Senate is not going to politicise the screening; there will be no provision for religion, tribe, ethnicity and other discriminations.
“All ministerial nominees must submit a minimum of 115 copies of their curriculum vitae on or before Monday, October 12,” he said.
On the remaining list still being expected from President Buhari, the spokesman said, as a man of honour and integrity, he would send the list of other 12 nominees before or after the screening of the first batch of 21 sent last week.
He also assured that the screening of new executives of the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON; Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, and the National Communication Commission, NCC, would take place immediately after that of the ministerial nominees.