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Presidency, Senate Flex Muscles Over Ministerial List

Posted: Oct 1, 2015 at 7:17 am   /   by   /   comments (2)

Why We Delayed Submission –Buhari  Presidency Can Announce Names –Saraki   •No, Only Senate President Can Unveil List –Presidency

By Temidayo Akinsuyi (Lagos), Chesa Chesa and Rotimi Akinwunmi (Abuja)

The Presidency and the Office of Senate President may continue to hold Nigerians in suspense on the federal cabinet for the next few days as the two autonomous offices flex muscles over who should reveal the identities of the persons on the ministerial list.

Senate President Bukola Saraki confirmed after yesterday’s plenary of the Senate that he had received the much-anticipated ministerial list by 5 p.m.

However, President Muhammadu Buhari this morning explained that the delay in submission of the much-awaited ministerial list to the Senate was to enable the administration determine the number of ministries the country actually requires to run.

In his independent day broadcast to the nation, the President assured Nigerians that there was no cause for anxiety and that the administration seeks to operate “methodically and properly.”

According to him, “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 hand over notes. It would have been haphazardous to announce ministers when the government had not finalised the number of ministries to optimally carry the burden of governance.”

The wait is over, he assured, with the submission of the first set of names for ministerial nominees for confirmation to the Senate, assuring that “subsequent lists will be forwarded in due course.

“Impatience is not a virtue. 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,” Buhari counseled.

That was after the Senate had adjourned plenary till October 8, 2015.

In a message posted on his twitter message yesterday at 5:20 p.m., Saraki said, “I can now confirm that I just received the list of ministerial nominees.”

Hopes that Nigerians would know the true identities of the ministerial nominees before October 8 resumption date of the Senate are, however, remote, as neither the Office of the Senate President nor the Presidency is likely to disclose them before the list is presented at plenary.

In a chat with Daily Independent, spokesperson to the Senate President, Yusuf Olaniyonu, said his principal received the list at exactly 5 p.m. after yesterday’s Senate session had ended and could not make the content open to public before being presented to plenary.

The list was delivered to the Senate President by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, and Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang.

“The list was brought at exactly 5 p.m. The Senate president, having concluded the day’s business, could have gone home by 4 p.m. and immediately he leaves, the office will close because everybody will leave too. But he had to wait to receive the list,” Olaniyonu said.

 October 8

Olaniyonu stated that the Senate would not make the list public until it resumes plenary on October 8.

He, however, said that the Presidency was free to make the list known to Nigerians if it deemed fit.

“The Senate President won’t make the list public until October 8 when the lawmakers resume. The Presidency is at liberty to announce to Nigerians the names on the list it has forwarded to the National Assembly,” he said.

But the Presidency has also claimed that it was not in its place to unveil the names of nominees on the President’s ministerial list.

In his response as to whether the Presidency would reveal the names in the event that the Senate was still holding onto it, Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to the president, Femi Adesina, said the presidency will not unveil the identities of the ministerial nominees.

Adesina said that the norm was that the president would forward the list to the Senate President, who would in turn read out the names on the floor of the Senate.

“The Presidency will not read out the names. The tradition has always been that the President will forward the names to the Senate President. He is the one that will now read it to the House,” he said.

Buhari had promised to have his cabinet in September. Towards the close of the month, however, there had been widespread anxiety as to whether the president was going to honour his deadline.

The anxieties also resonated at the Senate when it resumed plenary on Tuesday after a six-week recess.

Contrary to expectations, the Senate had its plenary on Tuesday and Wednesday without reading the names of the would-be ministers.

But unlike Tuesday, when the Senators left without any fuss over the ministerial appointments, there were attempts at the mid-week’s session by the Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, who lamented the secrecy and inconsistencies around the list, challenging the Senate President to unveil the document reportedly submitted to him.

The leader of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators citing Section 14 of the Senate Standing Rule, which deals with matters of privileges of Senate and Senators, said the failure to read the list as promised had put members under unnecessary pressure.

Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu had also told PDP leaders yesterday at the party’s secretariat that the news of the submission of the list to the Senate was a fluke, saying that as at morning, nothing of such existed in the Senate.

At yesterday sitting, Akpabio said that the fact that President Buhari had repeatedly stressed his readiness to submit the list of ministerial nominees before the end of September had put the Senate and Senators under pressure, arguing that Nigerians had been made to believe that the Senate was delaying the confirmation of the nominees.

He asked the Senate President to openly disclose to Nigerians whether or not Buhari had sent to him the list and he (Saraki) was hoarding it.

But before the Senate President could respond, the Senate Deputy Majority Leader, Ibn Na’Allah, swiftly rose in defence of Buhari pointing out that although the President had promised to submit his list in September, it was still too early to condemn him because September 30 being the last day of the month would only end by 12.00 midnight.

Saraki then upheld Na’Allah’s submission and ruled Akpabio out of order saying, “Thank you, the Leader of the Senate. I am sure the Minority Leader is well satisfied with your explanation. So, I have to graciously rule my Minority Leader out of order.”

Earlier efforts at the Presidency to get official confirmation on the status of the ministerial list was not successful as Senator Enang, was unwilling to comment on the issue.

Asked for his comments on the controversy generated by the ministerial list, he simply said: “I am happy to receive you in my office, but I will not comment or grant interview on that matter. I hope you will understand, thank you.”

However, Senate’s spokesperson, Senator Dino Melaye, at a press conference shortly after the Senate session, reported that the list was not with the Senate yet.

He promised that Senate would make it public once the Presidency made it available.

“Senate is still expecting the ministerial list and will communicate receipt of the list once it comes,” he said.

Melaye urged Nigerians to be patient, as he disclosed that the Senate would begin to consider communications from Buhari next week.

Also yesterday, Ekweremadu said that the list had yet to be submitted to the Senate as he mocked the APC government, saying he had always known that the party was comfortable without ministers.

Ekweremadu, who spoke while submitting the report of the PDP Post-election Review Committee at the party secretariat, said, “I am not worried because I knew they would never be ready with the list on the 30th. So, I predicted what is going on.

“The APC seemed to be very comfortable ruling without the ministers, which is an obvious breach of our Constitution, because the framers of the Constitution envisaged Government of Unity. And this can only happen through a cabinet, where you have ministers from all the states.”

NNPC Probe

The President also spoke of the ongoing efforts to sanitise the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) while ensuring operational efficiency to reduce corruption to a minimum.

“Those of our refineries which can be serviced and brought back into partial production would be enabled to resume operations so that the whole sordid business of exporting crude and importing finished products in dubious transactions could be stopped.

 “In addition to NNPC, I have ordered for a complete audit of our other revenue generating agencies mainly CBN, FIRS, Customs, NCC, for better service delivery to the nation. Prudent housekeeping is needed now more than ever in view of the sharp decline in world market oil prices. It is a challenge we have to face squarely. But what counts is not so much what accrues but how we manage our resources that is important.

“We have seen in the last few years how huge resources were mismanaged, squandered and wasted. The new APC government is embarking on a clean-up, introducing prudence and probity in public financing,” he said.

Buhari applauded the fact that Nigeria has remained together which he believes should be appreciated and consolidated upon.

He also praised his former President Goodluck Jonathan for conceding defeat thereby deepening the roots of national democratic system.

“Whatever one’s views are, Nigerians must thank former President Jonathan for not digging-in in the face of defeat and thereby saving the country untold consequences,” he stressed.

He re-echoed his inaugural speech, saying he bears “no ill will against anyone on past events. Nobody should fear anything from me. We are not after anyone. People should only fear the consequences of their actions. I hereby invite everyone, whatever his or her political view to join me in working for the nation.”

He acknowledged the fact that Nigerians are not interested in the problems inherited by his administration, but “solutions, quick solutions, not a recitation of problems inherited. Accordingly, after consultations with the Vice President, senior party leaders and other senior stakeholders, I quickly got down to work on the immediate, medium-term and long-term problems which we must solve if we are to maintain the confidence which Nigerians so generously bestowed on us in the March elections and since then.”

Comments (2)

  • Oct 1, 2015 at 6:04 pm Okafor

    Buhari won’t do much as long as those hawks in APC are there. This is not military regime. Everything has to pass through the senate and HOR. He had to bow to his party since the party is ‘supeme’. We are watching.

  • Oct 1, 2015 at 7:47 am DOUBLESWORD

    So,what man would use four months to study d number of ministries in a country that he was sure of winning election in which he should have done that prior to his swearing in?
    Buhari is guile n a rattle snake!

Comments are closed.