- It’s no longer business as usual, says Saraki
The Senate will on Wednesday decide the procedure for screening ministerial nominees submitted to it by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, who said this in an exclusive interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday in Abuja, assured Nigerians that the screening of ministerial nominees would not be delayed by the upper legislative chamber.
Ndume said that the screening by the Senate would be thorough just as the nomination process adopted by the Presidency was.
He said, “The communication from Mr. President, which contains the list of the ministerial nominees and which remained sealed as I am talking to you, will be opened by the Senate President as soon as we resume plenary on Tuesday.
“It will appear on the Order Paper on Wednesday morning and the Senate will set up the necessary legislative procedure for the screening exercise. I wish to assure Nigerians that the screening exercise will be thorough just the way the nomination process was thorough.”
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, had on Wednesday confirmed receipt of the ministerial nominees list from the Presidency.
Already media speculations had indicated that 21 names were contained in the list and that a former Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola; and a former Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, made it.
Also said to be on the list are Kayode Fayemi, a former governor of Ekiti State; a former governor of Anambra State, Chris Ngige; and a one-time governor of Abia State, Ogbonaya Onu, among others.
Saraki also on Thursday said the process of lawmaking in Nigeria would no longer be business as usual.
He said he would ensure that the National Assembly under his leadership was people-oriented.
The Senate president spoke in an interview with State House correspondents shortly after taking part in an event to mark the country’s 55th independence anniversary inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said, “I am hopeful and confident that the future is very bright. In the next few years, things will be even better.
“It will not be business as usual. We will ensure that the National Assembly will be people-oriented and will make laws that will make impact on Nigerians.”
In a separate interview, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, said the nation had been progressing on the right path.
“We will make it by the grace of God. We are on the right path,” he said.
But the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, told reporters that the nation had finally discovered that it had been on the wrong path for long.
He said the nation had finally moved to the right path.
“At 55, we have finally discovered that we are on the wrong road. We have finally moved to the road that leads to progress, hope, employment, prosperity and that will lead to Nigeria finally attaining that greatness that God destined it for. We are on the way,” he said.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress member representing Bauchi Central Senatorial District, Hamma Missau, said on Thursday that his colleagues, and not Senate President, Bukola Saraki, prevented Senator Ahmad Lawan from becoming the Senate Leader.
Missau told journalists in Abuja that the APC caucus in the Senate had no option but to align with the position of their North-East colleagues who insisted on Senator Ali Ndume as their preferred choice for the seat.
He said the South-West caucus of the party for instance, had no issue with the choice of Senator Olusola Adeyeye as the Chief Whip by the party hence they elected him as their leader even when his name was on the party’s list submitted to the Senate President.
Misau, therefore, said that Saraki should not be blamed for the inability of Lawan to emerge as Majority Leader of the Eighth Senate as proposed by the leadership of the APC.
He explained that rather than blame Saraki, aggrieved party members should focus attention on the North-East caucus of the APC in the Senate, who overwhelmingly voted against the party’s choice.
“Out of the 11 Senators who are members of the caucus, eight voted for Ndume while three voted for Lawan and since politics is a game of numbers, the candidate with majority of the senators emerged as leader,” he said.
Misau noted that the explanation became necessary in view of the belief that the senate president deliberately antagonised the party leadership by refusing to name Lawan and the others into leadership positions.
He said, “Many people did not know or understand what happened then. Truly, many of us prefer Ndume to Lawan. The fact that Ndume contested the post of Deputy Senate President and at that time and he sought the support of most senators, made it easy for him to get our support.
“In any case, Senator Lawan never told anybody that he was interested in the post of the majority leader. We therefore voted for a person who actually lobbied and sought for our support. So, we take responsibility for our decisions. Nobody should blame the Senate President.
“The Senate President is just first among equals. He represents one district like every other senator. He is not like a state governor or President who has executive powers and discretion to select ministers and commissioners.
“The Senate President must always do what the senators want and must even carry along his colleagues at all times. Saraki is very popular among us today because he is always respecting our opinion and usually doing what we want.
“He has a way of relating to all of us as equals that we are and trying to aggregate the overall interest and position of majority in taking decisions. So, when we said we wanted Ndume as Senate majority leader, he could not have done otherwise.” (Punch)