Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Senators Give Terms For Confirming Ministers - To Refer Corruption Petitions Against Nominees To EFCC, ICPC

AS the Senate today, unveils the ministerial list it received from President Muhammadu Buhari last Thursday, some senators have provided insight into how the screening and confirmation of nominees would be done.

Some of them, who spoke on the terms and conditions that would guide the screening at the National Assembly yesterday hinted that the upper legislative chamber would adopt stringent measures in line with the provisions of the Constitution.

The senators made it clear that any list that does not cover the 36 states of the Federation will meet serious opposition on the floor.

A People’s Democratic Party (PDP) senator, representing Abia North, Mao Ohuabunwa, said the list of ministerial nominees is expected to be complete in line with the Constitution.

“The Constitution does not support appointment of ministers in batches. Every state must be represented but if the number is not complete, some of us may raise constitutional issues. If we have to wait for another three months for him to send another list comprising representatives of other states, it means those states would be non-functional,” he said.
On petitions against some nominees, Ohuabunwa noted such issues would not be ignored in the process of screening.

According to him, since the present administration of All Progressives Congress (APC) would want to be remembered for curbing corruption, it would be counter-productive to overlook any allegations of corruption leveled against any nominee.

He said: “This government would want to be remembered for fighting corruption and so, it will be unacceptable that the Senate sees a strong petition alleging corruption and ignores it.

“Even if it means writing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to give us a report, we will do so.”

According to him, screening is not a tea party and only trusted nominees with serious and in-depth knowledge would be confirmed.

On the issue of usual style of asking some nominees to ‘take a bow and go,’ Ohuabunwa said it was assumed that the upper chamber would be guided by the Constitution and the rules of the Senate.

“We have resolved to be stringent. Whosoever would be coming should be someone who has a track record. Being a former lawmaker shows you are qualified but you will still be expected to answer some questions,” he stated.

He added that though senators or governors may not have made input in the nomination, the screening would nevertheless be done in accordance with the laws of the federation.

“We may not have made input in the appointment, the screening would be done in accordance with the law and if any nominee has any skeleton in his cupboard, we will send him back to the President,” he said.

Speaking on a report that the President might want to be the Minister of Petroleum, Ohuabunwa said: “He can supervise ministries but cannot be a minister because if he is, he must be screened and approved by the Senate.”

The Chairman of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Publicity, Senator Dino Melaye had said that the screening of ministerial nominees will not be business as usual.

Dino had said: “In our screening of ministers, it will not be business as usual. The era of take a bow and go is over. The right people will be made ministers without any political or religious considerations.”

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