- Cracks in senate, presidency relationship deepen
- As ministerial nominees face tough screening
As the screening of ministerial nominees begins on the floor of the Senate, Wednesday, there are strong indications that tough time awaits would-be members of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, following the hard stand allegedly being planned for them by some senators.
President Muhammadu Buhari had last Wednesday sent the names of the ministerial nominees in a sealed envelope through his Chief of Staff, Babagana Moguno and the Senior Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Sen Eta Enang, to the upper legislative chamber in Abuja.
Although the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki had pleaded with the senators to eschew politics of vendetta in the screening of the ministerial nominees, it was learnt that some of them, especially those who are loyal to Saraki are poised for ‘war’ with Buhari through the nominees.
It was gathered that the Senate President made the plea in his welcome address to the senators when they resumed from a six weeks recess last Tuesday, following information that some of his loyal colleagues were allegedly planning for a show down with Buhari whenever he sends the ministerial list to the senate for screening.
According to sources, some of the nominees that may find it difficult to pass the screening are those believed to have been nominated by the national leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Director General of Buhari/Osinbajo Presidential Campaign Organisation, Rotimi Amaechi, who is also speculated to be one of the nominees.
Nigerian Pilot learnt that the senators see Tinubu as the cause of the cracks in relationship between the Senate and Presidency due to his alleged interest in the election of who became the Senate President and other principal officers during the inauguration of 8th National Assembly on June 9, which did not favour him.
On the other hand, Amaechi is also seen as taking side with President Buhari and Tinubu in the perceived tussle in the leadership of the Senate.
Confirming the alleged plan of strict screening of the nominees to our correspondent, a senator elected on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who pleaded anonymity, said “the tradition of ‘bow and go’ in the Senate is over, irrespective of who you are, as we are ready to conduct thorough screening for all the ministerial nominees sent to us by Mr. President.
“Nobody will be given special treatment. Everyone of them will be made to answer questions from the distinguished senators and whoever we feel is not fit to be minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will be screened out”, the senator from a state in the South West maintained.
He, however, added: “This has nothing to do with the ongoing prosecution of the Senate President at the Code of Conduct Tribunal by the federal government. We have pledged that the Eighth Senate will be different and better than the previous assemblies, and we are ready to do that. In fact, it will start with the screening of ministerial nominees next week”.
Another lawmaker from the North Central geo-political zone, agreed that the screening of the nominees may further deepen the existing cracks in the senate and presidency relationship, saying “it’s true that the screening this time around will not be business as usual as we are not ready to ‘dash’ anybody ministerial appointment”.
“Some people got the ministerial appointment on a platter of gold in the past by just coming to the chamber to bow and go during their screening, and at the end of the day became worst performing ministers. This time, everyone of them will have to tell us their experience and what they have to offer this country”, the APC senator said.
Speaking in the same vein, another senator from the North West geo-political zone, said the screening of the ministerial nominees will no longer be business as usual, adding that the practice of nominees taking a “bow and go” will no longer be tolerated.
According to him, any of the nominees who fall short of expectation during the screening may have to be stopped, and that Nigerians should not see such action if happened as a way of getting back at Mr. President over the current leadership crisis in the senate.
The Senate spokesman, Senator Dino Melaye, while speaking on the screening, assured that the upper chamber was ready to carry out a thorough screening of the nominees without recourse to political party, ethnic, religious and personal considerations.
He said: “I want to assure Nigerians that we will attend to the ministerial list expeditiously but diligently.
“Due process will be followed but I want to assure that the nominees will be properly screened and only those who meet constitutional and moral requirements will be cleared”, he said.
Meanwhile, it was speculated that the names of prominent Nigerians nominated as ministers and forwarded to the senate by Buhari include former governors like Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) of Lagos State; Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers); John Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Chris Ngige (Anambra); and a former governor of Abia State, Chief Ogbonaya Onu.
Others reported to be on the list are the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu; former chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau (rtd); APC governorship candidate in Taraba State, Hajia Aisha Al-Hassan; a governorship candidate in Oyo State, Alhaji Adebayo Shittu; and the immediate past Commissioner for Finance in Ogun State, Ms. Kemi Adeosun.