Analysis: Many Hurdles Before Buhari’s Ministerial Nominees

amaechi ngige fashola

By Samuel Malik

As the Senate begins the screening the first set of ministerial nominees sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari, which is expected to last till Thursday, 15 October, Nigerians anticipate some drama to trail the process

While some nominees are not expected to have any problems at the screening, others, from all indications, might not have a smooth sale.

The first two hurdles before the nominees were made known last week by the Senate spokesman, Dino Melaye, who said that they must secure the support of two of the three senators from their state, while those who had held public office before must show evidence of declaration of assets.

While some believe that the demand for two senators to support a nominee is targeted at frustrating particular nominees, the truth is that this has always been a tradition in the Senate.

The third hurdles, perhaps, the most knotty ones, are petitions by some concerned Nigerians opposing the nomination of some of Buhari’s favored men and women.

Former governors Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers),  Babatunde Fashola (Lagos) and Chris Ngige (Anambra) and former Ogun State commissioner for finance, Kemi Adeosun, all have petitions written against them.

Amaechi, perhaps the most talked-about nominee, faces the biggest hurdle because of his bitter feud with his successor, Nysom Wike.

Upon assumption of office as governor, Wike wasted little time in attacking Amaechi’s tenure, accusing the latter of monumental corruption.

The judicial commission of inquiry set up to probe the former governor indicted him of corruption to the tune of N53 billion, which resulted in a petition to the Senate against his nomination.

Having on Monday crossed the first hurdle posed by the petition by getting the Samuel Anyanwu-led ethics committee to throw out the petition because the matter is in court, Amaechi now has to contend with the three Rivers State senators, all members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who have said they would oppose his nomination.

Another nominee in the hot seat is Kemi Adeosun, who has been accused of using her office as commissioner of finance in Ogun State to carry out shady deals for personal gains.

A civil society organisation, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, petitioned the President about Adeosun’s potential to undermine the government giving “her greed and inclination for corrupt practices.”

According to CACOL, Adeosun was asked to resign from one of the first companies she worked after returning from the United Kingdom because of her anti-company practices, which she carried with her husband.

She was also accused of deliberately misleading the Ogun State government, as commissioner, to the detriment of the state economy.

“On getting the job as Commissioner for Finance in Ogun State, Kemi Adeosun constantly misled both the State Executive Council and the governor by over-inflating the state’s IGR. This led to the Ogun State government being further plunged into debt. It would be instructive to learn just how much debt Ogun State has accrued in the last four years under the watch of Governor Ibikunle Amosun and his Finance Commissioner,” the petition stated..

While she’s expected to be endorsed by the two All Progressives Congress, APC, senators from Ogun State – the third senator, Buruji Kashamu of PDP had his election nullified last week – as she enjoys the backing of Governor Ibikunle Amosun, the petition could undo her.

Babatunde Fashola’s achievement as governor of Lagos State made him the APC’s poster boy for good governance until his N78 million website scandal broke.

However, he is not expected to be challenged at the Senate, despite suggestions that he is not the favoured candidate of his former boss and former governor, Bola Tinubu.

Perhaps more interesting is the petition to the Senate against Hadi Siriki, the ministerial nominee from Katsina State, the home state of the President.

According to Eze Eluchie, the Executive Director of People Against Drug Dependence and Ignorance, PADDI, the President’s decision to head the petroleum ministry coupled with Siriki’s nomination would amount to Katsina having two ministers when other states were yet to have one, although this view will not mean much now as the President on Monday submitted the second list of nominees.

Besides that, the President’s Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, has said Buhari will only supervise the petroleum ministry and would not name himself minister.

From Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, surprisingly, is one those expected to get a very smooth sail at the screening, despite his state governor, Ayo Fayose, being a thorn in the flesh of the President and his party.

Fayose defeated Fayemi in the last governorship election and while the latter congratulated the former, the two of them are not regarded as chummy pals.

But Fayemi is believed to have taken the step to reach out to the Ekiti State governor, who has directed the senators from the state to ensure that the ministerial nominee gets all the support he needs to pass the screening.

“Fayose is starting a new platform of ‎politics without bitterness, that era of using petitions to block ministerial appointment is gone,” the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Idowu Adelusi, said.

One nominee was described as the right person from the wrong state. Amina Mohammed, the Gombe State born development expert, was nominated from Kaduna, causing Danjuma La’ah, the senator from Kaduna South, to submit a petition because she is not from the state.

While the Presidency did not clarify the issue, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning on Monday told the Senate ethics committee that she expects to represent the North east state in the cabinet.

“I was brought up in Kaduna state. My father, a civil servant, lived there‎, but I have no connection to the state,” she said.



    “I am an indigene of Gombe state and the assumption is that I will represent them in the cabinet,” she added.

    Ngige is seen in the South east as a betrayer for not supporting former president Goodluck Jonathan, the preferred candidate of the zone. He has had the tag of a good man in the wrong party hanging over him since his time as a senator on the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. Thus, it was not surprising that the people of Anambra Central Senatorial Zone voted him out for the PDP’s Uche Ekwunife in the 2015 senatorial election.

    Despite this and the fact that none of the state’s senators is from the APC, he will most likely scale through as he would enjoy the privilege accorded senators to “take a bow and go” at ministerial screenings.

    Generally, apart from Amaechi, the nominees are expected to scale through unscathed, particularly as President Buhari is believed to have softened the ground for them when he met with Senate President and other leaders of the red chamber from his party last week.



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