President Muhammadu Buhari Says Constitution Mandates Every State To Have A Minister In The Cabinet But Not Portfolio
Tony Ailemen, Abuja President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday gave insight into how his cabinet will operate, saying that not all ministers will be assigned portfolios.
The President, who stated that Nigerian economy is too weak to accommodate 36 Ministers, noted that while it is constitutionally true that each state will be represented in his cabinet, the Constitution did not compelled him to assign portfolio to all the ministers.
Speaking after receiving the list of 36 ministers approved by the senate from Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, at the Presidential Villa, yesterday, President Buhari noted that he sent a list of 36 ministers for clearance in line with the provisions of the constitution.
“If I can remember, there must be a member from each of the 36 states. That was why I limited the number of my nominees to that number, 36”, he said.
The President while speaking on speculations that all ministers designate will be assigned portfolios, declared that “the Constitution did not say I must have 36 ministers”. “I think there is some enthusiasm in some parts of the Presidency today that portfolios are to be given to the 36.
The constitution certainly said there must be one member of the cabinet from all the states but the constitution did not say I must have 36 ministries. “I will explain that details. Because of the economic imperative, to have a lot of ministers, substantive ministers, let me put it that way, whatever somebody speculated in some of today’s newspapers, I think that the economy as I have seen it now since my sitting here for the last four months, that we are so much battered.
Although some people are saying I am giving bad publicity and scaring away investors. “Any investor who is interested in investing in Nigeria will seek to know more about the economy more than ourselves. So when I come and tell the truth about the position of the economy of the country, I am going out looking for investors. “But I am confirming to them that we are truthful, that we need them to come and help us help ourselves by getting in industries, manufacturing and services.
“They know our needs. The economy of human resources, I believe, will make them eventually come and help us”, he argued. While commending the Senate for discharging the “hard work technically within record time”, the President assured that “we will follow the constitution and all the 36 will be sitting in the cabinet as the constitution stipulates.” Senate President, Bukola Saraki noted that the Senate had to submit the list yesterday following the adoption of the vote of proceedings of the ministerial Screening last week.
“I want to formally present the list of the 18 ministers who have now been cleared to you and that makes a total of all your 36 nominees that have been cleared by the Senate.”
Speaking further on the ministers without portfolio, he declared “I think the key issue is being in cabinet, is being part of government and those that would have the responsibilities of ministering are those that at the end of the day would do that”. “So, minister of state is not new. We had it before, if you remember that very well.
Honestly I believe we need to move away from the small issues and begin to focus on the major issues. “As I said it is not new in having all not full time ministers, but let us wait to see what portfolio or responsibility some of them will have. I cannot speak on behalf of the President on that, but we have done our won constitutional responsibility”, he said.
The Senate President, who clarified why he brought the letter personally to the President, declared that he was at the Villa to discuss other issues too. “There were other things we discussed. As you can see after you left we discussed for about 20 minutes on some major issues as well.
So it wasn’t just about the list. “I have a constituency which is the senate which I must first engage and am sure with time, Nigerians will know as the major issue has to with moving Nigeria forward”, he added.
Pressed further if the issue of his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal constituted part of the issues discussed, Saraki said the issue did not come up. “Did you think that will come up in this kind of situation? No it didn’t come up”, he said.