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Thursday, October 15, 2015

How Buhari’s ministerial nominees performed at Senate screening

The Senate on Tuesday commenced the screening of ministerial nominees submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Mr. Buhari sent two batches of nominees to the Senate.

The first batch, consisting of 21 names, was forwarded to the Senate on September 30.

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, read the names of another 16 on Tuesday, bringing the total to 37.

The Senate screened only 10 of the nominees on Tuesday, following a motion by Senate Leader, Ali Ndume.

Those who appeared before the senate on Tuesday were Udoma Udoma, Kayode Fayemi, Audu Ogbeh, Osagie Ehanire, Abdulrahman Dambazzau, and Lai Mohammed.

Others were Suleiman Adamu, Amina Mohammed, Ogbonnaya Onu, and Ibrahim Jibril.

Only Mr. Mohammed, who is currently the APC spokesperson, was asked to take a bow and go without questions, following consensus by the ruling APC and opposition PDP senators.

The screening held under a relaxed atmosphere, although some nominees were grilled and had to respond to series of questions pertaining to their respective backgrounds.

Mr. Udoma, a two-time Senator and former Chief Whip, was the first to be screened. He responded to a few questions before being asked to take a bow and leave.

He emphasised the stimulation of the private sector and creation of an environment needed for domestic and foreign investments to thrive.

Messrs Fayemi, Dambazzau, Adamu, and Jibril spent more time before the Senate. They were faced with several questions.

Mr. Fayemi spoke on varying issues, including his tenure as Ekiti Governor, education, poverty and inequality, foreign policy and internal security.

Mr. Dambazzau, a former Chief of Army Staff, dwelt mainly on security and the challenges confronting the Nigerian military. He is expected to head the defence ministry.

Suleiman Adamu made a case for the development of Abuja satellite towns.

Messrs Onu and Ogbeh easily scaled through the process, with Mr. Ogbeh dazzling the senators with his in-depth knowledge of the agricultural sector.

The appearance of Lai Mohammed, the APC spokesperson, was the most dramatic.

His arrival was greeted with loud cheers from senators, mostly from the APC.

They screamed “bow and go” before Mr. Ndume moved a motion that Mr. Mohammed be cleared without being grilled.

Mr. Ndume asked the Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, to second the motion, eliciting laughter in the chamber.

Mr. Akpabio said though he wished he could second the motion without any amendment, but that he would not want Mr. Mohammed to go “without dropping a propaganda”.

Mr. Saraki ruled that the nominee give brief remarks, and leave.

In his remarks, Mr. Mohammed said it was more comfortable to be in government than in opposition, mocking the PDP Senators that, they “need to stay a bit much longer in the opposition”.

When Ms. Mohammed, the former presidential adviser on MDGs spoke, it was clear senators could not appreciate her largely academic presentation, centered mainly on developmental policy.

She was asked to be concise, and was later allowed to go.

The screening continues on Wednesday when Adebayo Shittu, Chris Ngige, Babatunde Fashola and Rotimi Amaechi among others, are expected to appear.

Read our detailed LIVE UPDATES of the session here.

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