10 Ministerial Nominees Will Take Their Grilling Turn Today As Ex-First Lady, Ex-ASUU President And Others Are Unveiled In Second Batch List
The first batch of the ministerial nominees from President Muhammadu Buhari that were screened by the Senate yesterday expressed confidence that they would not fail in the tasks of driving Nigeria forward, if they are eventually confirmed as ministers of the Federal Republic.
Meanwhile, the Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, unveiled the final list the 16 additional ministerial nominees that Buhari sent on Monday for confirmation.
The 16-man list comprises one-time first lady of Kebbi state, Khadijah Bukar Abba- Ibrahim, Omoleye Daramola,
Professor Anthony Anwuka, Gov. Rochas Okorocha’s inlaw Geoffrey Onyeama, Brig. Gen. Mansur M. Dan Ali (Rtd) and Barrister James E. Ocholi.
Others are former Goldman Sach banker and Head of African Capital Alliance (ACA), Mr. Okechukwu Enelemah, Muhammadu Bello, Mustapha Baba Sheshuri, Miss Aisha Abubakar, Heineken Lokpo- biri, Adamu Adamu, Professor Isaac Adewole, Pastor Sanni Useni Ughuru and Abubakar Bwari Bawa and Zainab S. Ahmed.
During the first day of the screening exercise, 10 of the nominees in the first list of 21 nominees were screened at the
floor of the Upper Legislative Chamber.
Amongst the nominees that were screened are: Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, Dr. John Olukayode Fayemi, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Dr. Christopher Ogbonnaya Onu and Dr. Osagie Ehanire.
Others include: Lt. Gen. Abdulrah- man Dambazau, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Amina Ibrahim Mohammed, Engr. Suleiman Hussaini Adamu and Mr. Ibrahim Usman Jibril.
Responding to questions from the senators, Udoma, who expressed his preparedness and readiness to hit the ground running, observed that the times are very difficult as a result of a bad economy.
Udoma added that Nigeria cannot continue rely on public sector economy since it is limited by the limitations of the crude oil.
“I will do my best to help in tackling the challenges in the public sector. With the dwindling oil prices, public finances are under pressure.
“We cannot rely on public sector investment alone, if we want to turn the economy around. Therefore, we have to encourage private sector investment. One of the ways to encourage them is to give them assurance of consistency because private sector investors want consistency in economic policies.
“We have to increase our investment rate to 30 percent. We have to review our tax policies, and I will help, if confirmed, to review our tax policies so that it will become a viable revenue source for Nigeria.
When the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, asked him questions on the Petroleum Industry Bill, (PIB) and last National Conference, senators of the All Progressives Congress (APC) shouted no, and requested that he should take a bow and go.
The request was granted, and he took a bow and left.
In his response, Fayemi noted that the major problem in Nigeria is the gap between the rich and the poor.
“The national educational system should be reviewed and made attractive for the citizens. There is the problem of poor quality teachers in the nation’s education system.
“Our domestic agenda does not drive our foreign policy. Alternation of power is the best way to deepen democracy, not perpetuation of power.
“Poverty is not indomitable. China has lifted her citizens above the poverty level. The major problem in Nigeria is the gap between the mindlessly rich and the hopelessly poor. There is too much concentration of power at the centre; therefore, there is need for devolution of power to be done in Nigeria.
“Corruption must be tackled headlong. The amount of leakages in our revenues is unacceptable, and must be promptly addressed. We have to reduce our recurrent expenditures, and increase our capital expenditures in this country; otherwise, we won’t be able to develop meaningfully. We have to diversify our economy, and it
is achievable,” he said.
On security challenges, he observed that, if Nigerians are tough on terror, they also have to be tough on the sources of terror.
“Our Criminal justice system has to be revisited. People don’t get punished for committing crimes in Nigeria. Our prisons have been saturated by those, who are denied justice,” he added.
He suggested that the Police, Immigration and Civil Defence should be be in the Ministry of Interior, while the Prisons should be taken to Ministry of Justice.
Ogbeh dwelt on the problems and development of agriculture.
“The major problem facing the nation’s political system is the lack of internal democracy in the political parties. Another problem is the tendency for the party in power to surrender its authority to the President or the state governors.
“The major problem of agriculture in Nigeria is bad seedlings. We have the worst seeds to plant.
“Agricultural extension workers should be engaged in the local government areas to teach farmers on the best seeds to plant to improve on our agricultural production. Nigeria is facing great danger, if our agricultural production continues to go down. We have to work hard to stabilize agriculture in Nigeria.
“The greatest problem facing development of agriculture in the country today is the high and indeed outrageous interest rates being charged by the commercial banks in Nigeria,” he said.
Onu called for greater attention to be paid in the area of power generation.
“The country is currently passing through serious socio-economic challenges, and all men and women in this country should put their differences aside, and let’s tackle the problems
together. Nigeria produces crude oil, but we are importing fuel; doing a lot of farming, but importing food stuffs.
“We need to pay greater attention in the area of power generation. We need to diversify our sources of power generation. Let’s utilize coal as one of our sources.
“And Nigerian coal is one of the best in the world because of its low sulphur content. We are essentially a consumer nation, and this is not good for our socio-economic existence. We have to improve and become a producer nation,” he said.
Ohanire warned that the practice of traditional medicine would pose a serious danger to human health, if it is not regulated to set standards.
“The health sector is not doing well at all; and this has affected the confidence of the public in the healthcare system. The situation has resulted in crisis of confidence.
– Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja