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Senate stages Comedy Theatre and call it Ministerial Screening

senate screening

Some Nigerian newpapers like the Daily Trust today have headlines like “Senate screens Ministers”, but did any screening occur? The process – a noun, is defined, inter alia as “…the evaluation or investigation of something as part of a methodical survey, to assess suitability for a particular role or purpose”

Did this happen? Was anyone of those who appeared “evaluated”?

“It seems that what actually happened was that the ministerial nominees screened the Senate members instead and took a bow. And those who feared they might be screened – Lai Mohammed, for example, made some bland speeches as if pleading for forgiveness of past transgressions”, commented an observer.

Another person added: “What happened was essentially a celebration of a banana republic. An attempt at doing a pre-appointment hearing with a nominee whose potential portfolio is not attached to the nomination is essentially a symptom of mental ill health. May God help Nigeria.”

Where is the “thorough” tough screening promised by Senator Dino Melaye?

Briefing newsmen on preparations for Screening of nominees by the Senate, the Chairman Ad hoc Committee on Media and publicity, on October 8, Senator Dino Melaye said the screening process would be rigorous, tough and expeditious.

“I addressed you earlier, and told you that the era of take a bow and go is over. We are still going to maintain that, except with slight modification as regards former senators and former members of the National Assembly but we maintain that the screening exercise will be rigorous, will be expeditious, and it will be thorough”, Melaye stated.

But yesterday at the red chambers, it was ‘Bow and Go’ all the way:

Ministerial nominee from Akwa Ibom, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, set the ball rolling. He was asked to take a “bow and go.”

The next nominee to enter the podium is a former governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.

Rights activist, Shehu Sanni, asked the ex-governor if truly he escaped through an unconventional border during the late Gen. Sani Abacha era.

He was also asked to take a ” bow and go.”

The next nominee to face the senators is Chief Audu Ogbeh.

The ex-National chairman of the PDP was asked to take a ” bow and go.”

The next ministerial nominee was Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.

After acknowledging cheers from the senators he was asked to take a ” bow and go.”

The next ministerial nominee was Dr. Osagie Ehanire from Edo State.

He took questions from senators.

The nominee was asked to take a ” bow and go.”

The sixth nominee, Lt. Gen.Abdulrahman Danbazzau (rtd), took to the podium to take questions from senators.

Lt. Gen. Danbazzau was asked to take a ” bow and go.”

The APC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, was the next nominee to face the senators.

He took SIX bows before the lawmakers – three for Saraki and three for the Senators.

Mohammed was asked to take a ” bow and go.”

Next was female ministerial nominee, Amina Mohammed who addressed the Senators and got ready to take questions from the lawmakers.

But after taking few questions, she was asked to take a ” bow and go.”

The ninth nominee, Suleiman Adamu, also addressed the senators, Adamu and was also asked to take a ” bow and go.”

Admittedly, there were things during the Ministerial Screening that Senate did differently from previous screening.

  • Senators led by Bukola Saraki are allowing more participation from Nigerians by taking questions from the public via their social media handles and the official handle of the Senate, @NGRsenate
  • Different platforms are tapping into the feed from National Assembly TV station that was abandoned in different regimes
  • Senate social media account is giving real time update.
  • The CV’S were presented to the public before screening to enable those that know the nominees to raise objections
  • There is a balance of working to get the president’s nominees passed and same time making sure Senate is not a rubber stamp
  • We had the sign language person.

Yet, Dino Melaye had led Nigerians to believe a more serious process was in the offing.

Senator Dino Melaye said the screening process would be rigorous, tough and expeditious.

Melaye had stated last week the Senate would consider petitions so far received against some of the, affirming that such petitions would be treated along with the screening exercise, saying QUOTE:

“We are saying that…Section 120 of the Standing Rules of the Senate will be another major instrument in the consideration and screening of ministerial nominees. 

“Section 120 of the Standing Rules of the Senate reads as follows: That the Senate shall not consider the nomination of any person, who has held any public office as contained in Part 2 of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution prior to his nomination unless there is a written evidence that he has declared his assets and liabilities as required by Section 11(1) of Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; such declaration shall be required for scrutiny by the senators. 

“What this Section is saying is that every ministerial nominee must produce, actual proof of compliance as required by the Constitution and the Rules of the Senate, you must declare your assets, and you must have a certificate of proof that you have declared your assets, and that you are given a certificate of proof by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). So, this is another condition that we are going to be exercising during the screening exercise.

“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.

“I addressed you earlier, and told you that the era of take a bow and go is over. We are still going to maintain that, except with slight modification as regards former senators and former members of the National Assembly but we maintain that the screening exercise will be rigorous, will be expeditious, and it will be thorough”.

In the end, what we witnessed yesterday in the Senate was a comedy Theatre in a Banana republic called ministerial screening!

elsdaniel@yahoo.com

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