Buhari lobbies as PDP senators doubt anti-graft war
• Screening begins on Tuesday
A CRACK seems to have appeared among Senators over confirmation of ministerial nominees following yesterday’s unveiling of the list transmitted to the upper chamber by President Muhammadu Buhari last week.
Some senators are not comfortable with particular candidates while others fault the number.
Meanwhile, the Presidency has begun moves to reach out to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators with a view to persuading them to accept the 21 ministerial nominees President Muhammadu Buhari submitted to the Senate last week even as the upper chamber has fixed next Tuesday for their screening.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Solomon Ita Enang, who was in the office of the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio yesterday, disclosed that no matter what political differences there may be, the immediate concern is to ensure that there is minimal opposition to the President’s request.
Confirming his motive for meeting with Akpabio, Ita Enang said: “Part of our job is to reach out to all the sections. The past is gone, this is a new beginning,” he noted.
The PDP produced 49 of the 108 senators in the Senate at the moment.
Although, confirmation of a ministerial nominee requires only a simple majority, the Presidency is not taking any chances by assuming that all 59 senators of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) would vote in support of all the nominees.
This is mainly because there were issues of lack of consultation with relevant party stakeholders in the states before the list was compiled and submitted.
Shortly after the meeting between the two Akwa Ibom politicians, Akpabio promised to make efforts in ensuring the success of the Buhari administration.
He said: “We will do our best to ensure robust debate, fine-tune the policies of the APC administration to better the lot 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 his word by ensuring that we seek out people of integrity who 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 per cent of the list should pass through.”
President of the Senate, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, had formally read the list out to senators in plenary and directed the Clerk of the Senate, Adetutu Durojaiye to make relevant documents on all nominees, including their personal resumes, available to every senator before next Tuesday.
The first criticism had come from Akpabio who had drawn attention to the constitutional provision that all states of the federation be represented in the federal cabinet.
Akpabio’s submission which attracted support from many senators also expressed doubt regarding the capacity of some persons in the list to meet the expectation of Nigerians particularly with regard to the expected change which Buhari had promised.
Akpabio had argued that the submission of a partial list of ministerial nominees was clearly a breach of the constitution, pointing out that the Senate should ensure that the right step was taken by the President on the matter.
But hurriedly rising in defence of Buhari, Saraki urged his colleagues to be patient and trust the President on his promise to submit the list of the remaining nominees soon.
Those who made the list as read by Saraki yesterday are: Chris Ngige (Anambra); ( 2) Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) (3). Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers) ; (4) Babatunde Fashola (Lagos); (5) Abdurrahman Dambazau (Kano);(6) Aisha AlHassan (Taraba);(7) Ogbonaya Onu (Ebonyi) (8) Kemi Adeosun (Ogun); (9) Abubakar Malami SAN (Kebbi); (10) Senator Sirika Hadi (Katsina); (11) Barrister Adebayo Shittu (Oyo); (12) Sulaiman Adamu (Jigawa); (13) Solomon Dalong (Plateau); (14) Ibe Kachikwu (Delta); (15) Osagie Ehanire (Edo); (16) Lai Mohammed (Kwara); (17) Udoma Udo-Udoma (Akwa Ibom); (18) Ahmed Isa Ibeto (Niger); (19) Ibrahim Jibril; (20) Audu Ogbeh (Benue) and (21) Aminu Ibrahim.
Meanwhile, the PDP said Tuesday that Buhari’s ministerial nominees, had ruined hopes by Nigerians of an early defeat of the evil of corruption from the system.
In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, the 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. 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 added that ‘‘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.”
While some senators commended Buhari for meeting his September deadline, others deplored him for taking so long only to recycle the same group of Nigerians whose dismal records are in the public domain.
Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, PDP, Delta North, flayed Buhari for nominating someone who served as a minister in the Second Republic as well as former governors who just finished their eight-year tenures.
“I am short of words over the kind of candidates that made up the list. I did not see the saints we waited four months to get. These are people we know. So, I don’t understand if this is the change we anticipate or a retaliation. Let Nigerians be the judges.
“Nigerian youths need to ask some questions. Somebody who was a minister at the time of Alhaji Shehu Shagari was nominated by this administration for a ministerial job.
“One would have expected that the new breed should be injected into the system. When will the youths have the opportunity to serve the country? Nwaoboshi asked.