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Illegality Of The Confirmation Of Some Ministers By The Nigerian Senate:

 

Constitutionality And Effects Of The Senate’s Refusal To Comply With Section 14 Of The 1999 Constitution Of Federal Republic Of Nigeria.

In pursuant to Section 147 (2) of 1999 Constitution which states thus:

(2) Any appointment to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President. 

the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, purportedly screened and confirmed 38 names out of 39 names of certain individuals that were sent to the senate by the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan GCON. 

The events and circumstances that came to play before, during and aftermath of the above mention act of the senate have made it imperative to point out an apparent breach of our sacred constitution and its consequential effect of the wittingly and unwittingly acts or omissions of the acting President and the Senate which has in effect rendered the desired and laudable exercise aimed at injecting new blood and life to the governance of Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as snatching the nation from the strong jaw of the so called cabal in our polity. 

Without much ado, the Section 147 (2) of the Constitution mentioned above rested and is subject to the strict adherence to Section 14 (3) of the Constitution, as Section 147 (3) states thus: 

(3) Any appointment under subsection (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of section 14(3) of this Constitution:-

It is therefore pertinent to remind ourselves that the provision of Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution which provides thus; 

        The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and         the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the         federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to         command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance         of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that         Government or in any of its agencies. 

It is submitted that the opening of the above Section 14 , subsection 3 of which is under reference spelt out the two (2) fundamentals and strong pillars the country political colours should be based, which are democracy and social justice as the Section 14 provides that: 

14. (1) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice. 

(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that: 

(a) sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority; 

(b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government: and 

(c) the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. 

(3) The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.

(4) The composition of the Government of a State, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such Government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people of the Federation. 

It is now almost elementary that various descriptions of the ideology of democracy envisage the importance of Constitution as the grund norm for the proper governance in any state. 

Osborn’s Concise Law Dictionary in page 85 of its Eight Edition, Leslie Rutherford and Sheila Bone define Constitution as

“…those laws, institutions and customs which combine to create a system of government to which the community regulated by those laws accedes…The written document embodying these laws…”,

While the study of constitutional law is the learning of all rules which directly or indirectly affect the distribution or exercise of sovereign power. So much of the law as relates to the designation and form of the legislature, the rights and functions of the several parts of the legislative body, the construction, office and jurisdiction of the courts of justice.

In as much as a lawyer that respect and take into consideration of time tested judicial interpretation of which I was almost convinced with the argument that this provision dwells in the realm of unenforceable provisions of our Constitution as it is contained in Chapter II (Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy) of the Constitution. 

I however equally reasoned and therefore submit that the drafter of our Constitution understood the reason for compliance with the principle of Federal Character when in Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution, the grund norm provides for the establishment of the Federal Character Commission and shouldered it with enormous responsibilities which are sombre and enforceable. 

Section 9 of the particular Part even extends the principles of Federal Character to the compositions of the Board of Directors of every Stated owned enterprises. 

If the principle of Federal Character could be so important to the drafter of our constitution in management at state level, how much more of Federal level, especially in the appointment of people heading the affairs of Federal Ministries. This principle is cardinal in our constitutional democracy and the Senate cannot just waive same.

It is therefore with shock, disbelieve and alarm that one watch the Senate’s President, David Mark waiving aside and slaughter a very fundamental aspect of our constitution at the alter of sheer political permutations and exigencies by overruling his distinguished colleague from Plateau State, Senator Gogwin when the Senator requested that the provision of Section 14 be adhered to.

Whereas the Section 1 of the Same Constitution states: 

(1) This Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on the authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 

(2) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed, nor shall any persons or group of persons take control of the Government of Nigeria or any part thereof, except in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. 

(3) If any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.

With the foregoing and without any fear of contradiction from any quarters, I submit that the purported Senate’s confirmation of the nominees affected in the circumstances is an act in breach of the provisions of our Constitution and it is therefore illegal, unconstitutional, null and void. 

Thank you. 

Kayode AJULO, ESQ.,

Chairman, Egalitarian Mission Africa.