The wait is over, President Muhammadu Buhari sent the names of the ministerial nominees to the Senate late Wednesday and inline with Senate tradition, the names will not be read until Tuesday in plenary. President Buhari had severally reiterated that he will choose competent people as ministers to steer the ship of the country forward.
It can be recalled that President Buhari had during his visit to United States of America in July told journalists that he will name his cabinet members in September, a promise he further repeated in Ghana mid last month to the effect that Nigerians will know his ministers by the end of September.
According to him, the procedure for handing over to his government by the immediate past administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan contributed to the delay in the appointment of cabinet members.
Buhari who made this explanation in a nationwide address broadcast noted that he was not unaware of the anxiety and heat generated both home and abroad by the delay in appointing his ministers.
He also hinted that he was yet to complete the nomination of ministers, saying he would forward additional names to the Senate for confirmation in due course.
“Anyway, the wait is over. The first set of names for ministerial nominees for confirmation has been sent to the Senate. Subsequent lists will be forwarded in due course. Impatience is not a virtue,” the president stated.
Explaining the delay in ministerial appointments, President Buhari restated that his administration inherited a plethora of problems that are urgently seeking to be quickly addressed if the country must move forward in terms of growth and development.
He said, “Fellow Nigerians, there has been a lot of anxiety and impatience over the apparent delay in the announcement of ministers. There is no cause to be anxious. Our government set out to do things methodically and properly.
“We received the handing over notes from the outgoing government only four days before taking over. Consequently, the Joda Transition Committee submitted its report on the reorganisation of federal government structure after studying the handover notes.
“It would have been haphazard to announce ministers when the government had not finalized the number of ministries to optimally carry the burden of governance.
“Order is more vital than speed. Careful and deliberate decisions after consultations get far better results. And better results for our country is what the APC government for change is all about.”
A new twist to the ministerial screening may brew from the cracks in the relationship between the Senate and the executive. Saraki’s trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal over alleged falsification of assets is seen as a witch-hunt from the presidency over his emergence of as Senate president against the wishes of his party.
Screening of ministerial list by the Senate is judged by many as praise singing as some senators from the nominee’s state usually give glowing speeches about the nominee and usually beg their colleagues not to ask too many questions. In a case where the nominee has been a member of the National Assembly he is asked to just take a bow and go or if the nominee is a chieftain or prominent member of the ruling party, he takes a bow and go.
However, the Senate has warned that 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.
Senate Ad Hoc Committee Chairman on Media and Publicity Dino Melaye made this new Senate position known to Senate correspondents.
According to him, the Senate is waiting for the ministerial list and as soon as they get the list they will start working expeditiously and judiciously on the list.
“Screening of the ministerial nominees will no longer be business as usual, era of take a bow is gone, we will make sure all the nominees will be screened, irrespective of political, ethnic and regional consideration.”
Also in his welcome address to the senators, the Senate president appealed to his colleagues that once the ministerial list is submitted, let them ensure that they treat it with dispatch and thoroughness.
He said “we await the list of ministerial nominees this week, I believe the presence of ministers will create the space for greater policy engagement with the Executive Arm of government and enable us to begin to respond in a more systematic manner to the various economic and social challenges before us, especially through our various committees that will also be constituted soon.
“On this note, I want to urge you all my colleagues to ensure that what is uppermost in our minds as we begin the constitutional task of screening of ministerial nominees is the overall interest of our country, informed by the enormity and the urgency of the challenges before us.
“We must not be held down by unnecessary politicking. The enormity of our national challenges at this time does notgive room for pettiness or politics of vendetta.”
LEADERSHIP Sunday checks reveal that the list contains the names of the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Ibe Kachikwu; former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola (SAN); former Rivers governor, Chibuike Amaechi; former Ekiti governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; and a former chief of army staff, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau (rtd.)
Also former governor of Anambra State, Senator Chris Ngige; a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Ogbonnaya Onu from Abia State; national publicity secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed from Kwara State; Senator Udo Udoma (SAN) from Akwa Ibom State; and special adviser to the UN Secretary General on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Ms. Amina J. Mohammed.
Others include the APC governorship candidate in Taraba State, Senator Aisha Alhassan; former national legal adviser of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Alhaji Abubakar Malami (SAN) from Kebbi State; Senator Hadi Abubakar Sirika from Katsina State; a governorship candidate in Oyo State, Alhaji Adebayo Shittu; and the immediate past commissioner for finance in Ogun State, Ms. Kemi Adeosun.
The remaining names will be submitted to the Senate president before the close of plenary on Tuesday.
Monitors reveal that the Senate may want to get back at the executive with the screening. Nominees of APC chieftain Bola Tinubu may find it difficult to pass the screening according to some sources who believe he is one of the arrow-heads behind the crisis in the Senate.
Amaechi may also find his screening difficult as there are reports that his relationship with the Senate president has deteriorated in the last few months.
It remains to be seen how the Saraki will handle the screening, if he will extract his own pound of flesh or if politics will be shelved aside. Only time will tell.