The Nigerian senate will Tuesday (today) in Abuja begin the screening of the first batch of ministerial nominees forwarded to it by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The nominees include Nigerians drawn from across the states and different professions.
The batch include the spokesperson of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Lai Mohammed; former governors Chibuike Amaechi and Babatunde Fashola; Abubakar Malami; former defence chief, Abdurahman Dambazzau; former governorship candidate in Taraba state, Aisha Alhassan; Adebayo Shittu; former senator, Udo Udoma and Ibrahim Jibril.
Others are Suleiman Adamu; former senator, Chris Nigige; Kemi Adeosun; Ahmed Ibeto and Hadi Sirika.
Also expected to appear before the upper legislative chamber are former PDP chairman, Audu Ogbeh; former Abia governor, Ogbonnaya Onu; NNPC group managing director, Ibeh kachikwu; Amina Mohammed; Solomon Dalong; Suleiman Adamu; and former Ekiti governor, Kayode Fayemi.
PREMIUM TIMES’ national assembly correspondent, Adebayo Hassan, is in the senate chambers and will bring you updates of the session, expected to kickoff at 10:00 a.m. Nigerian time
9.38. Former Ekiti Governors and APC Chieftains, Niyi Adebayo and Segun Oni, arrived National Assembly to boost Kayode Fayemi’s morale before the Senate during the screening.
9.43. Kaduna ministerial nominee, Amina Mohammed, arrives
9.51. APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, arrives the National Assembly
10:04 Ahead of the screening session, slated to commence at 11am, the Senate gallery is now filled to the brim, especially by associates and family members of the nominees. Many people are locked out.
10.20. The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and other principal officers of the Senate, arrive.
10:37 Only 10 nominees will be screened today by the Senate. They are: Udoma Udoma, Kayode Fayemi, Audu Ogbeh, Ogbonaya Onu, Osaghie Ehanire, Abdulrahman Dambazzau.
Others are Lai Mohammed, Amina Mohammed, Suleiman Adams, Ibrahim Jibril.
Others are to be screened on Wednesday and Thursday.
11:05: The Kano State ministerial nominee, Abdulrahman Dambazzau and APC spokesperson, Lai Mohammed arrive.
11:45: The Senate went into a closed-door session during which it perhaps considered the reports of its Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions Committee on petitions against Rotimi Amaechi and Amina Mohammed.
A group, Integrity Group, had submitted a petition against Mr. Amaechi, alleging cases of fraud.
On the other hand, a group, Southern Kaduna Coalition, submitted another petition against Ms. Mohammed, challenging her nomination from Kaduna State, saying she is not an indigene of the state.
11:55: Following the submission of the report of the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, on the petition against Amina Mohammed, the Senate has ruled that she be a nominee from Gombe State.
South Kaduna Coalition had forwarded the petition challenging her nomination from Kaduna State.
11.48 APC leaders, led by John Oyegun, and Presidential Advisers on NASS, Ita Enang and Kawu Samaila allowed into the Senate Chamber following Senate vote.
11.53. Udo Udoma now being screened.
12: 05: “I can assure Nigerians, if I am confirmed by this Senate, I’ll perform in that onerous task,” Udoma addressing the Senate.
He claims to have sufficient experience in both private and Public sector to perform. He said he would not be going into government to learn.
12:08: Senators asked Mr. Udoma, former chief whip of the upper chamber, to bow and go. He exited.
12: 10: Former Ekiti Governor, Kayode Fayemi, moves in for screening. He is currently talking about his antecedents.
12:12: Mr. Fayemi talked about his work in journalism, academics, governorship of Ekiti state, and contribution to the victory of the APC in the last elections.
12: 15: Senators Sola Adeyeye, Shehu Sani and Andy Uba asked the nominee questions about his stewardship in Ekiti State, especially the allegation that he left a heavy debt burden for Ekiti state, and that he spent billions building a magnificent Government House.
He was also asked about his operation of an illegal radio, Radio Kudirat, during the Abacha days, and why he escaped Nigeria through unconventional borders.
12:20: Mr. Fayemi answered, saying he served well and that the Government House he built is for the people of Ekiti. He said he built the complex because the state never had a befitting Government House. He said at N2.5 billion, it’s perhaps the cheapest Government House in Nigeria today.
“I’m not given to irresponsible behaviour,” he said.
12:37: Answering a question, Mr. Fayemi said when he took over in Ekiti, the internally generating revenue was N109Million a month. He said he was able to raise that to between N500million to N600million per month. He said following the economic crisis that hit the country in the dying days of his administration, the IGR fell to about N350 to N400million a month.
Mr. Fayemi said majority of Nigeria’s graduates have no work place skills.
Reporter Adebayo Hassan filed this additional reports on Fayemi:
Kayode Fayemi is faced with questions that bordered on his tenure as Governor. Chief Whip, Olusola Adeyeye, asked to clear the allegation that he spent “untoward amount” on the renovation of the Government House at the expense of public welfare and also that of leaving a heavy debt burden for his state.
On debt, he said he met obligations in excess of 30bn naira when he became governor in 2010. He said he had to complete his predecessor’s project before he moved on to commence his original promises and programmes.
With low allocation from the federation account, he had to look for ways of raising funds, particularly from the capital market and multilateral development agencies. He said he raised 25bn from the capital market and “the results are there to see”.
“I borrowed but not in rank of the figure being bandied around.” No country exists without borrowing, he said. He said his most profound legacy was the social security safety programme which gave N5,000 to indigent people monthly.
On the renovation of the Government house, He justified the action, saying Ekiti for 19 years did not have a befitting Government House.
He denied buying 50million naira bed for Ekiti Government House and challenged anybody to bring evidence to the contrary.
Responding to Shehu Sani, he said he had never gone out of Nigeria through non conventional borders.
12: 55: Mr. Fayemi was asked to bow and go
12: 56: The next nominee – Audu Ogbeh – comes in and is introducing himself. He described himself as “a farmer who has interacted with some of you in the past”.
He said most of Nigerian universities have become intellectual ghettos.
Reacting to criticisms of his nomination, Mr. Ogbeh said he was before the senate not because he wanted anything new, but because President Buhari asked him to serve in his cabinet. “I wouldn’t be here if I don’t believe I can do it.”
“For a party to surrender authorities to the President or governors, at state levels, is harmful”
“Since I left office in the Second Republic as minister, I have been in school, not in any classroom but in the school of life, travelling around the world and exploring agriculture, why we are failing where others are succeeding”.
It must be said that Mr. Ogbeh, with facts, statistics and elucidation, clearly dazzled the senate.
1: 14: Godswill Akpabio moves a motion that Chief Audu Ogbeh, being a donation by the PDP, should take a bow. Mr. Ogbeh bowed and moved out.
1:16: Next nominee, former Abia Governor, Ogbonnaya Onu, enters the chamber, and bowed before senators.
Mr. Onu says, “there are too many abnormalities in our country”.