The Nigerian senate on Tuesday began the screening of the first batch of ministerial nominees forwarded to it by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Those who appeared before the senate on Tuesday, from the first batch of 21 names forwarded to the Senate on September 30, were Udoma Udoma, Kayode Fayemi, Audu Ogbeh, Osagie Ehanire, Abdulrahman Dambazzau, and Lai Mohammed.
Others were Suleiman Adamu, Amina Mohammed, Ogbonnaya Onu, and Ibrahim Jibril.
The screening continues on Wednesday (today) when Adebayo Shittu, Chris Ngige, Babatunde Fashola and Rotimi Amaechi among others, are expected to appear.
PREMIUM TIMES’ national assembly correspondent, Adebayo Hassan, is in the senate chambers and will bring you live updates of the session, expected to kickoff at 10:00 a.m. Nigerian time
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9.57: Few minutes to commencement of Senate session, none of the nominees has arrived. However, their associates and supporters have already filled the Senate gallery to the brim.
10.05: Ministerial nominee, Khadijat Bukar Ibrahim, arrives.
10.08. Yesterday, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, announced that today’s session would commence at 10am prompt. Yet most of the Senators are yet to arrive the chambers, while few of them like Stella Oduah, Shehu Sani, Babajide Omoworare are just arriving.
The lateness may be due to the fact that the Senators are used to commencing plenary at 11am.
10: 45: The ministers to be screened today are Babatunde Fashola, Ibe Kachikwu, Abubakar Malami, Chris Ngige, Aisha Alhassan, Solomon Dalong, Kemi Adeosun, Hadi Sirika, Adebayp Shittu and Rotimi Amaechi.
10.46: Chris Ngige, Anambra State, arrives Senate.
11:11: Votes of Proceeding of the Tuesday October 13 session approved.
Senate President reads a letter from President Muhmmadu Buhari withdrawing the nomination of Ahmed Musa Ibeto as ministerial nominee.
11: 20: The senate resolved to take a motion on the death of DSP Alamieyeiseigha, former governor of Bayelsa state (who died on Saturday October 10) on the next legislative day.
11:28: Samuel Anyanwu, chairman of the Ethics and Privileges Committee said the report on the petition against former governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi, was not ready.
He said the committee could not meet on Tuesday because the senate was screening the ministerial nominees. He said the committee would meet later today.
11:48: The Senate Leader, Mohammed Ndume in a motion read out names of 10 ministerial nominees from the Order Paper. It was seconded by Senator Philip Aduda. The Senate resolved to dissolve into Committee of the Whole to consider the ministerial nominees.
11:49: Former Lagos Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, is the first nominee for screening today. He introduced himself as directed by the Senate President. Mr. Fashola said he is a legal practitioner, Nigerian by birth and that he is 52 years old.
He is currently addressing the chamber. He said he is willing to serve in President Buhari’s cabinet in pursuit of the “Nigerian dream and the Nigerian project”.
12: 05: Responding to a question: “My attitude is to see criminals as my competitors. And in a competition my desire is always to win.”
12:09: The former governor says there’s need for decentralisation of the police.
“As governor of Lagos, I didn’t sign cheques. None of my commissioners signed cheques. I didn’t sit in awards of contracts. There is a tenders board.
“The unfortunate thing about money is that it always raises suspicion, even among brothers. In all, nobody has said I have personally enriched myself.
“The concept of loyalty is a very strange concept. May our loyalty never be tested. If your loyalty is tested, you might end up taking bullet for your own children.”
“In public life, I have remained loyal to causes I have signed on to. Nobody can accuse me of going back on my words.”
On the deportation of some destitute from Lagos during his tenure as governor, Mr. Fashola said, “In a federation, the right to free movement is not absolute, it carries with a responsibility not to be a nuisance. He said those moved to their states of origin were those who asked to be taken home.”
Mr. Fashola apologised in the interest of national cohesion.
On judgement debt, Mr. Fashola said he is not able to conclude that it grows because of corruption. He said the first thing to do is to identify the cases for which judgment debts are incurred. On infrastructure, he said resources can be moved to areas where there is urgent need. He said Nigerians appear to be investing more outside their country.
Mr. Fashola said debts are necessary to grow our productivity and nation but that he is not a debt man. Mr. Fashola takes a bow and leaves after about an hour answering questions.
QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM FASHOLA’S APPEARANCE AT THE SENATE – COURTESY ADEKUNLE SALAMI (ON FACEBOOK)
“I don’t sign cheques. I don’t fix contract prices, State Ministries handle these.”
“My Knowledge of Abuja is not as deep as my knowledge of Lagos. I have lived in Lagos all my life.”
“If we are afraid of abuse, start the state police. Not every state should start if it can’t be funded.”
“We are under policed based on statistics and my recommendation is decentralization.”
“As governor I felt responsible for every citizen that was robbed.”
“Security remains the primary but toughest job a leader can have; It was a competition.”
“Government exists to protect citizens and their assets therefore criminals are my competitors.”
“Online Technology is a very versatile tool for tax collection… moving to it would be important.”
“Before we increase taxes we must optimize the capacity to receive what is in place.”
“Our Work in Lagos was a Team Effort, I won’t appropriate personal responsibility for the Good Work.”
Dayo Williams, a commentator, said of the former governor’s appearance:
“Is Fashola a guest speaker at the Senate today?
“Utter silence. Maximum concentration. Rapt attention.
“I like the way he links his divergent and varying ideas together.
“He has a way of bringing them to a point of convergence for the sole purpose of ensuring good governance.
“Before you accuse me of anything, I am a passionate fan of the former Governor of Lagos State.”
13:02: Ibe Kachikwu, NNPC GMD, is the next nominee on the floor. He has given details of his background. He said he has had 30 years experience in the oil industry. He said he is privileged to be in the upper chambers and appreciates the architectural masterpiece.
Mr. Kachikwu said there is no plan to remove subsidy on PMS and kerosene, saying it is a rumour. That is the reason there are short queues. He said lack of maintenance was responsible for the shutdown the nation’s refineries. He said the NNPC was working on policy that will see the production of more kerosene. He said Nigeria looses $15 billion a year because of the absence of the Petroleum Industry Bill.
Mr. Kachikwu said if confirmed minister, he would consolidate on the changes he has brought into the oil industry in the last six weeks of his appointments as GMD of NNPC.
“Strategic reserves and sustenance of refineries will be our priority” Mr Kachikwu.
Mr Kachukwu further explained that once PIB is broken up into realistic aspects, then progress begins.
Mr. Kachikwu said he won’t be constrained by the lack of PIB, but will continue work with the existing laws for now.
The senate passed a motion extending the time of sitting to enable senators continue wih the screening of the nominees.
Mr. Kachikwu said he had no choice but to appear before the Senate when summoned because it is a matter of law.
He said he would do more than that. He said he was planning what he called “NNPC Manual” which would be published to address relevant issues in the sector monthly.
“I now do a weekly broadcast to all of our Staff memebers as well as a Monthly Town Hall Meeting”, Mr Kachikwu said.
Mr kachikwu said He will continue to have real time weekly session to update the President on happenings of the oil sector.
Mr. Kachikwu denied the NNPC staff are owed five or six months salary.
He said NNPC has one of the best retirement packages in Nigeria.
Mr. Kachikwu takes a bow and leaves after over an hour answering questions.
Public Affairs Commentator, Sony Akoji (via Facebook) wrote the following on the appearance of Ibe Kachikwu before the Senate:
On The Screening Of Dr Ibe Kachikwu As A Minister ‘Designate’ For The Petroleum Ministry:
The takeaway for me on the screening and confirmation of Dr Ibe Kachikwu as a Minister by the Senate was that the exercise was a referendum on how Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke and Dr Goodluck Jonathan ran the oil sector.
Senator Andy Uba fired the first shot when he asked the nominee to tell the Senate the state in which he met the NNPC when he took over as GMD six weeks ago. Of course the answer was a confirmation of what we all know. The NNPC is a tower of corruption!
Senator George Akume was even more frontal when he asked the nominee to tell the house if he will honor an invitation by the senate if he is invited by the House to come and brief the lawmakers on the state of affairs in the petroleum ministry.
Of course it is on record that during the last dispensation, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke shun the invitation by both chambers of the National Assembly SIX times with the active support of President Goodluck Jonathan who shielded her actively!
For answer, Dr Ibe Kachikwu took a jab at President Goodluck Jonathan in his response, by saying that President Muhammadu Buhari will not condone indiscipline and that he won’t even wait for the Senate to summon him before he brief them about the state of affairs in the oil ministry, based on the template of transparency he has set up in the NNPC as GMD.
Senator Godswill Akpabio rubbed it in when he asked the nominee if he will be accessible as Minister of Petroleum. He asked that question because according to him, he was unable to fix an appointment to see the Minister of Petroleum, as a Governor for three years! He didn’t mention any name, but we all know that he is talking about Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke. For three years the Uncommon Transformer kept on calling Madam Minister but she refused to pick his call!
All these and many more were the highlight of the screening of Dr Ibe Kachikwu, which I tagged as a referendum on the Diezani Allison-Madueke and Goodluck Jonathan era. It got so bad that Akpabio asked a follow up question and wanted to know if the NNPC has generated any revenue in the last six weeks that Dr Ibe Kachikwu took over as GMD. He said this was because for SIX months during the last dispensation, the federation account has to rely on Customs and other source of revenue for monthly allocation to the three tiers of government as the NNPC did not remit a single kobo to the federation account!
Is that not a referendum on Diezani and Goodluck? I think it is!
15:30: Abubakar Malami SAN, is the next nominee on the floor. He spoke of his antecedents in the defunct CPC and the legal profession. He expressed gratitude at the opportunity to be considered a
He is currently addressing the chamber. And he is being asked questions on practical steps on the reformation of the administration of justice and the prison system.
He was also asked if his personal interest will not conflict with his ministerial obligation.
Responding to questions: Mr Malami said He is of the opinion that the Nigerian legal system is imported from our colonial masters.
He said, clear cut policies have not been established for prisoners.
“Criminal justice administration bill is still pending in the National Assembly”, Mr Malami said.
Also responding to a question from the senate leader Senator Ali Ndume, Mr Malami said the administration of Justice should be completed between a space of 180 days.
Mr. Malami takes a bow and leaves after answering questions.
The following updates are courtsey of the Nigerian Senate Twitter handle @NGRsenate
15:51. Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige, is the next nominee on the floor.
Mr Ngige made his introductions. He particularly greeted the Senate Leadership.
He introduced himself as the one of the first people to assemble a vehicle in Nigeria.
Mr. Ngige said he indeed feels at home in the Senate. He spoke fondly of his antecedents in the 7th Senate.
And also reflected on his tenure as Governor of Anambra State.
“We are in the era of change and this change will be holistic.” – Mr. Ngige said.
He further spoke about his contributions as Deputy Chair of 7th Senate C’ttee on Power and member of the Health Committee.
The Senate President moved a motion to allow Mr. Ngige take a bow owing to the magnanimity of his C.V and his experiences.
16:04: Senator Aisha Jummai Alhassan, is the next nominee on the floor. She hails from Taraba State and served in the 7th Senate. She spoke about her experience in the judiciary in the past.
Mrs. Alhassan debunks the claims that her ministerial appointment is compensation for her failed gubernatorial bid.
She addressed the supposed rumor that she was voted based on sentiment.
Mrs. Alhasasn talked about judicial corruption and cited various forms of corruption that can come about.
“The key players of corruption in the judiciary are the bar and the bench”, She said.
After her remarks, She was asked to ‘bow and go’ by the Senate President.
16:14: Barrister Solomon Dalong, the nominee from Plateau State, is the next nominee on the floor.
Mr Dalong introduced himself and said that he is a lawyer by training; born 51 years ago.
“I am a human rights advocate; a community leader and a retired Prison officer.” He said.
He also offered myself for selfless service, haven being nominated as a minister.
Responding to series of questions: Mr Dalong said that if he were to advise on judicial reform he would push for corrective reform of the prison system.
He further said that to move Nigeria forward, we must insist on adhering to laid down rules and regulations.
Mr. Dalong also said that change of government contributes to Nigeria’s limited maintenance culture.
“Change can only be achieved when we review existing projects and I cooperate pre-existing with new ones”, He said.
He said that to address the crisis in the North Eastern part of Nigeria, we must examine the history of the crisis.
Mr. Dalong said that insecurity is caused by unemployment and poverty. He also said an inclusive master plan is necessary to rescue the situation.
When speaking on the issue of corruption, Mr Dalong said corruption is a generic term. To find the root of corruption, we must examine the existing legal order.
“if we do not determine what corruption is, we may smuggle morality into law”, He said.
Mr. Dalong said, we must practice what our religions preach. Both Islam and Christianity are religions of peace.
Tackling questions bothering on diversification of the economy, Mr Dalong said that the over dependency of oil has made Nigerians lazy people.
Mr. Dalong also said that Nigerian prison systems are punitive. And further explained that the morale of prison officers have been dampened.
“Change is not a concept; it is an ideology”, Said Mr Dalong.
While speaking on social media, Mr. Dalong said that social media regulation is a very serious aspect of our law that needs to be considered.
He said that there is a need to enforce laws on slander to limit defamation on social media.
“Laws regulating social media may bother on slander”, Mr Dalong said.
When asked to describe a ‘corrupt person’, Mr Dalong said that only the law can define ‘a corrupt person.’
“Impunity has taken a centre stage. it seems it is the norm itself”, Mr Dalong said.
Mr Dalong said that laws bordering on environmental issues have to be enforced to flush out impunity and rectify our reward system.
Mr. Dalong takes a bow and leaves after close to an hour answering questions.
17:10: Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, is the next nominee on the floor. She expressed her gratitude to the President for nominating her.
She expressed the need for creative-innovative solutions to add value to our country and economy.
Responding to questions: Mrs Adeosun said that to block leakages, we need to ‘chase out cash.
“Every where that people transact in cash, there are leakages”, She said.
She said the country needs to seek out other forms of cash transfer that faces out physical cash.
Mrs. Adeosun said that there is need to invest primarily in infrastructure. As Inclusive growth creates job and wealth.
She said that Banks are not in business to sit on government money, it’s bad economics.
“TSA was introduced in Ogun state in 2011, which consequently reduced borrowing by the state government”, Mrs. Adeosun said.
While speaking about Foreign Investment, She said that the major challenge of foreign investment is infrastructure.
“We need to establish public-private-partnerships to develop Nigeria’s infrastructure”
“If we get our infrastructure right, there are opportunities”, She said.
She added that Nigeria has to increase its revenues and improve on things like audits.
“Increase revenues, better cost efficiency and seek out other sources of funding to avert recession”, Mrs Adeosun said.
Advising the government on cost-reduction, Mrs. Adeosun said that we all need to eat, drink, focus on ‘Made in Nigeria.
While addressing funding to non-oil sectors of the economy, She said that our interest rates are far too high. It’s very difficult to make a profit with these interest rates.
“Markets tend to overreact when there is a shock or a slight depression, hence, the recent recession projections”, Mrs. Adeosun said.
She added that unemployment Solutions, jobs and entrepreneurship are what she intends to capitalize on while crashing interest rates.
After answering all questions, She was asked to ‘bow and go’ by the Senate President.
17:50: Senator Hadi Abubakar Sirika, the nominee from Katsina state, is the next nominee on the floor. He introduced himself as a former member of the Red Chamber.
Mr. Sirika responded to the Senate President on what thinks about Nigeria having a national carrier.
“Nigeria ought to have a national carrier; over 90% of tickets go to international airlines”, He said.
Mr. Sirika was asked to ‘bow and go’ by his former colleagues.
Senate Leader, Ali Ndume moved to stand down the screening until the next legislative day.
The Senate then moved to approve the confirmation of the Ministers screened today.
All the nominees screened yesterday and today were approved and confirmed as Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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