Amos Esele analyses the political implications of the new ministerial list for the eventual take-off of governance during the week.
Wednesday Ministerial nominee screening by Senate is raising the political temperature once again. At play are the mutual independence between the Red Chamber and the Presidency, the power play among the power blocs within the ruling APC, the reach and strength of the opposition PDP and the status and standing of the nominees themselves.
According to findings by The UNION, there is certainty that most of the nominees will sail through, (including the 11 that are expected to be added to the list tomorrow) at least to help the President get on with proper policy administration and ignite the almost comatose social and economic infrastructures that had been lying idle for the past four months waiting for the government to address the burning issues of the economy while the politics meddle and fumble over titles and positions. Mutual Interdependence
The independence anniversary celebration that united President Buhari and Senate President Bukola Saraki since the emergence of the later as leader of the National Assembly at the weekend gave a refined and fresh dimension to the strained relationship between the duo. Few days to this fortuitous meeting, the Senate, speaking through its spokesman, Senator Dino Melaye stated that screening of ministers will not be business as usual as nominees will not be allowed to take a bow and go.
According to Melaye the nominees, he said would be thoroughly screened before they are cleared. He had said, “We are eagerly waiting for the ministerial list from Mr. President and we want to assure Nigerians that as soon as we get this ministerial list we would start working on them expeditiously but diligently
Even so, Saraki remark during his welcome address to his colleagues from recess last week Tuesday, gave the indication that the Senate would not pose any trouble for the presidency.
Said Saraki: “As we await the list of ministerial nominees this week, I believe the presence of ministers will create the space for greater policy engagement with the Executive Arm of government.” With 80 Senators passing a vote of confidence of him in the wake of his embarrassing appearance before the Code of Conduct Tribunal of a 13-count charge of false asset declaration, Saraki would be counted upon to deliver on the screening of the nominees, even though a very significant few of the nominees had been a subject of public opprobrium owning to their arguably questionable transactions while in government
The PDP is said to be ready to play ball since it would want to seize the opportunity to keep its prized Deputy Senate position in Senator Ike Ekweremadu. So this first test of the power between the Senate and the presidency is expected to be normal, a golden chance to begin a rapport between them as a source puts it. Even the temptation for the PDP to base any opposition on the lopsided political nomination from only APC cannot hold chiefly because during its hey day, the PDP did the same. Status of Nominees.
Apart from ex-Governors Babatunde Raji Fashola and his Rivers counterpart, Rotimi Ameachi who have been in the public eyes recently over allegations of fraudulent engagements during their tenure, some of the nominees who got on board along with the duo did so through intense lobby despite presidency insistence it was searching for angels to occupy the ministerial positions. With virtually all the power blocs within the APC having their candidates in the list, for example, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Senator Chris Ngige from, Action Congress of Nigeria, Chief Ogbonaya Onu from All Nigerian Peoples Party, Aisha Alhassan from nPDP and woman quota, former National Legal Adviser to the defunct Congress for Progressives Change, Malami Abubakar; while powerful bodies like General Theophilus Danjuma got in his in-law, Osagie Ehanire. The retired General was a big donour to the electoral war chest of the APC.
Nonetheless, the inclusion of Fashola and ex-Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State would continue to reverberate in Asiwaju Bola Ahmed’s camp. These two former governors were known to be so independent minded as to cause ripples in the southwest camp under Tinubu’s grip during their tenure as governors of Lagos and Ekiti. Apart from being highly cerebral, the duo are reputed to be so aloof that party leaders virtually got no money to run the party, as the duo were known to insist that the money raised for the party was more than enough to carry the party through four years, if well managed. And attempts by the Southwest strong man to frustrate their inclusion appears to be have come unstuck as President Buhari has since yearned to be free himself from some of the influence of power blocs within the party. During some of his choice diplomatic trips abroad, the president, who deliberately was testing the waters by including Fashola and Feyemi in his entourage, is said to have benefitted immensely from their contributions and could not see why he should not include them in his first eleven team. Moreover, the allegations of fraud against Amaechi and Fashola for instance still remain in the realm of speculation and allegation until proven. To soften ruffled feathers however, Mohammed, former National Publicity Secretary and Tinubu’s man Friday had to be included in the lsit. Amaechi’s inclusion is no surprise to followers of APC’s inside politics since the new dispensation. Apart from his massive financial contributions to the success of the party during the recent polls, so much that he is said to have challenged Tinubu’s weidly influence on the basis of individual donations to the party at a point in time, he is the most aggressive and outspoken among the nPDP governors to protect their interests, if it comes to that. He is also feared to unpredictable in terms of ready to speak out if he was shortchanged.
Still, there is no telling how the public will react when the Senate unveils the list on Tuesday and get down to work. Giving the different political shades that have been angling for relevance and presence since the dawn of a new government, many Nigerians who feel cheated one way or the other should be expected to make their input, however small Anticipating such reaction the Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics and Public Petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, told journalists at the weekend in Abuja that the committee would, as usual, get petitions from members of the public for consideration. Though he said no member of the public has formally submitted any, even though he expects such move by Tuesday after the Senate unveils the list, he assured that the committee would give prompt attention to any petition submitted to it.
Anyanwu however noted that the committee might start receiving petitions as from Tuesday when the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, would have officially unveils the list.
He said, “We have not been receiving petitions from members of the public obviously because the list of ministerial nominees has not been officially unveiled by the senate president.
“I think the petitions will start coming in as from next Tuesday after Nigerians would have known the nominees.”
As it stands now, the opposition, if any, is expected to come from some state chapters of both the APC and PDP state, which have had an axe to grind with a past governor, such as Rivers or some nominees considered unrepresentative of their interests, such as Lagos.
Rivers for example is waiting for the Senate to authenticate the reported nominee list by public approval on tomorrow and then launches their attack through a petition. Their main grouse is hitched on their continued opposition against former Governor Amaechi, whose administration has been undergoing probe and a dirty one indeed, whereby top officials of the Agriculture Ministry have revealed how billions of Naira were siphoned through fake loans to Local Government Chairmen in the name of offering assistance to communities through their cooperative societies.
The Rivers State Government and the state chapter of the PDP is said to have concluded plans to carry their battle against Amaechi to the Senate once it is revealed that he is a ministerial nominee.
The Media Assistant to the State Governor, Mr. Simeon Nwakaudu, reportedly said the “state government would take a position after the senate must have read out the list on Tuesday.”, adding that “ everything about the content of the ministerial list would be mere speculation until it is read out by the National Assembly.
“Let the list be read first; if the list comes out, we will formerly take a position,” he said.
Similarly, the State PDP Deputy Publicity Secretary, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike, said the party would leave no stone unturned once the former governors name is confirmed to be on the list.
He said: “When the Senate reads out the list, we will react. We are always thorough when we take a position on an issue. They said it is the Senate that will disclose the content of the list and that will be on Tuesday. We are waiting for them to do that”.
Whatever happens, all the power bloc within and without the APC have, hopefully been settled and real governance, barring any odds, is expected begin in earnest during the week. Then Nigerians would know better whether President Buhari was right when he said during his recent visit to France that ministers are “Noise Makers” or that he had searched and found no saint to assist him implement his policies an programmes for Nigerians.