As the delay in submitting the list of ministerial nominees continues to generate controversy and anger, the leadership of the national assembly rose Thursday evening from a late dinner with President Muhammadu Buhari perplexed and confused over the president’s announced intention to no longer nominate unknown persons for ministerial positions but only tested hands capable of delivering on assigned mandates will make the ministerial list.
“Many at this dinner meeting are saying they want to see the list of the proposed cabinet so that they can go on leave peacefully. I’m very much aware about it; I’m under tremendous pressure on it. But the last cabinet which I headed, most of them, the majority of them I didn’t know them. I had to accept the names and recommendations from the party and other individuals. I worked with them for three and half years at least – meeting twice or two weeks in a month. So I know them. “But, this time around I’m going to be quiet me – me in the sense that I will pick people I personally know,” Buhari said.
The president is yet to send a list of his ministerial nominees to the Senate, weeks after being inaugurated for a second term in office. Huhuonline.com was told by sources close to Senate president, Ahmed Lawan and House speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila were at a loss to understand what the president meant when he said he will be appointing only people he personally knew, saying even APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, who also attended the meeting was overheard wondering whether the president intended to appoint only his friends because it stands to reason that those were the people he really knows.
“What does Mr. President mean when he says he will appoint only people he personally knows,” the source quipped, adding: the president does not know all the technocrats and tested hands in Nigeria with about 200 million people; so, is he saying he will only appointing his friends, because those are the people he knows or is he going to return a majority of the old cabinet, since he said he knows them now, after working with them for the last three or four years? I am sure Mr. President misspoke because the Nigerian people want fresh blood to deliver the dividends of democracy which the last cabinet failed to deliver,” the source quoted Oshiomhole as saying.
At the meeting which held at the new Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Buhari admitted that he was under intense pressure to constitute the Federal Executive Council (FEC). He however said despite the pressure, only those with track records, honesty and credibility would be appointed. He, therefore, enjoined the lawmakers to partner with the executive arm in leaving good legacies for the country as his administration was on its last lap. The president urged the National Assembly to always avoid comparing their parliamentary procedures with that of advanced democracies such as the United States and the United Kingdom.
Senate President Lawan, who spoke to State House correspondents after the meeting, refuted media reports quoting him as saying that President Buhari would submit the ministerial list to the senate this week. He said: “Let me take the opportunity to correct that. A senator raised a point of order under personal explanation. He said we should be sent the list of the ministers by the executive arm of government and in my response I said the executive is working so hard to ensure that the list of Nigerians that will help this administration work is going to be transmitted and we could even receive it this week. We could’ is conditional and I will urge everybody here to report it as it is,” he said.
The maiden meeting with the new legislative leadership was also attended by the Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege; Deputy House Speaker, Ahmed Idris Wase. Also at the dinner were: Senator Abdullahi Yahaya – Majority Leader, Senator Ajayi Borofice – Deputy Leader, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu – Chief Whip and Senator Sabi Abdullahi – Deputy Chief Whip. Others included Emmanuel Bwacha, Phillip Aduda- Minority Whip, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, Ndudi Godwin Elumelu – Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu – Deputy Minority Leader and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly matters (Senate), Ita Enang.
Meanwhile, Huhuonline.com also learnt that the Senate will postpone its long vacation by one week to enable it consider President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial list, if and when the list is sent to the upper legislature. A source close to the Senate president confided to Huhuonline.com that the upper legislative chamber reached an understanding with the president that the list of ministers would be considered and approved before the Senate goes on recess on July 25.