The House of Representatives yesterday passed, for a second reading, a bill for an Act to Amend section 147 and 192 of the 1999 constitution, to compel nomination of ministers and commissioners not later than 30 days after a new government is formed.
Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara referred the bill to a special ad-hoc committee on Constitution Review for further legislative action.
The bill which seeks to ensure timely appointment of cabinet members of the federal and state executive arm received overwhelming support of members of the House.
The proposed amendment to sections 132 and 147 of the 1999 Constitution also seeks to impose a constitutional 30-day time limit for an elected president and state governor to present nominated ministers and commissioners to the Senate and State Houses of Assembly for approval, from the date of taking oath of office and allegiance.
Member representing Obingwa/Osisioma/Ugbunagbo federal constituency of Abia State, Solomon Adaelu, who sponsored the bill, noted that when passed into law, the bill will check the future recurrence of the prolonged delay by President Muhammadu Buhari in unveiling his cabinet members, who were expected to play critical roles in the implementation of government’s policies and programmes.
According to him, the delay in the submission of the names and portfolios of ministerial nominees several months after President Buhari assumed office sent the wrong signals to foreign investors in the aviation and capital market of the Nigerian economy.
“The 30 days’ time limit is ideal as, upon swearing-in into office, the president would have had 60 days prior to inauguration to prepare his cabinet names and also 30 days after inauguration to complete final vetting of his nominations.
“That is a combined 90 days (three months) to put together a cabinet. This is more than sufficient. Governance is serious business and a president-elect ought to be constitutionally mandated to set himself to putting together a government immediately after being declared winner rather than touring the country junketing and engaging in political celebrations and other felicitations which do not benefit the citizens who voted him, and does a great disservice to governance.
“The experience of 2015 whereby it took four months after swearing-in for the president to forward nominated names to the Legislature resulted in a serious setback for governance and adversely affected the serious handling of pressing national issues in the country. This must be prevented by constitutionally imposing a time limit.
“Secondly, it is important to constitutionally mandate the attachment of the portfolios of the nominated ministers by the president when forwarding to the Legislature for consideration as it ensures an effective screening and deliberation by the Legislature on the competence, capacity and suitability of the nominated person for the particular role he/she will play in the government.
“This will greatly reduce the fixing of round pegs in square holes, which is the bane of governance in Nigeria. Situations where an engineer is assigned to the ministry of health or an architect is assigned to power or science and technology only arises in Nigeria due to lack of portfolios attached to the nominations when forwarded to the Legislature for screening,” he said.