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Senate Sets Tough Hurdle For Ministerial Nominees

The confirmation of the former Governor of Riv­ers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, former Special Adviser to the President on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Hajia Amina Ibrahim Moham­med, and two other ministerial nominees may hit a brick wall, as Senate yesterday set tough hur­dles for them.

The Upper Chamber, at a stormy session yesterday, ruled that each nominee must have the support of at least two senators from his or her state in accordance with its Standing Rules.

It also ruled that the nominees must show proof of asset declara­tion before the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Already, senators from Rivers and Kaduna states have rejected the nominations of both Amaechi and Amina.

It would be recalled that Sena­tor George Sekibo on Wednesday presented before the Red Cham­ber a petition against Amaechi.

Senator Danjuma Laah, on be­half of senators and stakeholders from Kaduna, also presented a pe­tition before the Senate on Thurs­day, saying that the nomination of Amina is a violation of Section 147 of the 1999 Constitution.

“The votes and proceedings document (Senate) of Tuesday, carries one Amina Ibrahim (no state of origin was listed) on the list as a ministerial nominee. Dai­ly Trust of Wednesday, October 7, carries one Amina Mohammed, Kaduna State, as state of origin, a ministerial nominee. Daily Sun of Wednesday, October 7 carries one Amina Mohammed, Gombe State as state of origin, a ministe­rial nominee. The above are dif­ferent sources carrying variations either in names or in the states of origin.

“Be that as it may, I, Senator Danjuma Laah, stand firmly by the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nige­ria, Section 147 Act(3) – which reads in part, ‘Any appointment under subsection (2) of this sec­tion by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of Section 14(3) of the Constitu­tion, provided that in giving ef­fect to the provisions aforesaid, the President shall appoint at least one minister from each state, who shall be an indigene of such state.

“The Daily Trust Page 44 of October 7, a part of Amina Mo­hammed’s citation reads ‘was born of a Nigerian father from Gombe and a British mother from Wales, she was educated in Nigeria from the age of two in Birin Kebbi, Kaduna and Maidu- guri, before finishing in Isles of Man’.

“It is in the light of above, that I categorically state that I will throw my weight behind scut­tling any attempt to impose on  the good people of Kaduna State a non-indigene to represent them at the Federal level,” Laah read
from a document entitled: Objection Against the Nomination of Mrs. Amina Mohammed, or Amina Ibrahim as Minister Representing Kaduna State.

Also, the Interim Chairman of Senate Ad hoc Committee on Publicity, Senator Dino Melaye, reiterated the Senate’s Convention. “We also, in line with our Convention, agreed that for you to be cleared as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, minimum of two senators from your state must, at least, show support for your nomination. It’s a convention by the Senate, and we have decided to uphold that convention in the sanctity of the integrity of the Senate,” Melaye hinted.

Melaye, who addressed the Senate correspondents on the number of issues the Senate considered during a closed-door session, added that they had to do with the approach and the procedure for the screening of the ministerial nominees.

“So, we developed two modalities for the screening of the ministerial nominees. The first criteria is using constitutional provisions as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) as a fundamental procedure for
the screening of ministerial nominees. And we will be considering Section 147(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and Section 147 is very clear.

“We are saying that in the screening of the ministerial nominees, this Section shall be strictly adhered to by the Nigerian Senate, meaning that there would be ministers from each state of the federation in compliance with the provisions of Section 147. Then, Section 14(3) is going to be another fundamental instrument in the screening of the ministers by the grace of God to be as from Tuesday.

“We are also going to consider Section 65 of the 1999 Constitution. Section 65 of the Constitution is clear, and it says: Subject to the provisions of the Section 66 of this Constitution, a person shall be qualified for election as member of the… because what the Constitution is saying is that anyone, who must be a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria must first qualify to be a member of the House of Representatives, meaning (that) all conditions that empower you to run for the office of member of the House of Representatives must be fulfilled before you can become a minister of the Federal Republic.

“The Senate will make sure that this constitutional provision is strictly adhered to, and hat you would find in Section 14(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. You know that the minimum age to contest for the House of Representatives is 30. You know that the minimum qualification is O Level equivalent and a host of other conditions that will necessitate the membership of the House of Representatives.

– Emeka Ekpunobi and Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja

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