By Nuel Suji, Abuja – The Senate on Thursday spelt out the modalities to be adopted in screening the ministerial nominees that would appear before it from next week, even as it received petition from the Southern Kaduna People against the nomination of Mrs Amina Ibrahim Mohammed from Kaduna State.
The Chairman, Senate’s Ad- hoc Committee on Media and Publicity, Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West), told journalists in Abuja that senators at a closed door session that the senate would be guided be the guidelines.
According to Melaye, the guidelines for screening had to do with the relevant constitutional provisions and extant laws of the land as well as practice and convention of the senate.
He sections 14(3), 65, 147(1), 147(2) and 147(3) of the 1999 constitutions as amended would be applied, noting that the provisions bordered on constitutional requirements of a ministerial nominee and principle of federal character as specifically enshrined in section 14(3) of the constitution.
On application of practice and convention of the Senate, he said each nominee is required to have minimum support of two out of the three senators from their states while the former members of the National Assembly among them would be given special consideration.
He said: “At the senate closed door session today, we considered a number of issues that had to do with the approach, the procedure for the screening of the ministerial nominees next week based on two broad modalities.
“The first criteria is using constitutional provisions as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) as a fundamental procedure for the screening of ministerial nominees, and we will be considering Section 147(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and Section 147 is very clear. 147(1) says that: there shall be such offices of the Ministers of the government of the federation as may be established by the President; (2) says:
“Any appointment to the office of the Minister of the government of the federation shall be the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate be made by the President; (3) Any appointment under (2) of this Section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of Section 14(3) of the Constitution, provided that in giving effects to the provisions as aforesaid the President shall appoint at least one minister from each state who shall be an indigene of such state.
“We are saying that in the screening of the ministerial nominees, this Section shall be strictly adhered to by the Nigerian Senate, meaning that there would be ministers from each state of the federation in compliance with the provisions of Section 147 in reference to Section 14(3).”Again also in Section 120 of the Standing Rules of the Senate will be another major instrument in the consideration and screening of ministerial nominees.
“Section 120 of the Standing Rules of the Senate reads as follows: That the Senate shall not consider the nomination of any person, who has held any public office as contained in Part 2 of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution prior to his nomination unless there is a written evidence that he has declared his assets and liabilities as required by Section 11(1) of Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; such declaration shall be required for scrutiny by the senators.
“What this Section is saying is that every ministerial nominee must produce, actual proof of compliance as required by the Constitution and the Rules of the Senate, you must declare your assets, and you must have a certificate of proof that you have declared your assets, and that you are given a certificate of proof by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). So, this is another condition that we are going to be exercising during the screening exercise.
“We also, in line with our convention, agreed that for you to be cleared as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, minimum of two senators from your state must, at least, show support for your nomination. It’s a convention by the Senate, and we have decided to uphold that convention in the sanctity of the integrity of the Senate.
“I addressed you earlier, and told you that the era of take a bow and go is over. We are still going to maintain that, except with slight modification as regards former senators and former members of the National Assembly but we maintain that the screening exercise will be rigorous, will be expeditious, and it will be thorough”.
He further stated that the senate in ensuring that the principle of federal character is strictly adhered to, by the President in his ministerial appointment, expect him to forward list of nominees from the remaining 15 states before the completion of screening of the 21 already sent .He added that the veracity of petitions being received by the Senate against some of the ministerial nominees would definitely decide the fate of those affected.
“We have received a number of petitions, and those petitions are going to be looked into, and the veracity of those petitions will also guide our proceedings during the screening exercise”, he said.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki had after the Senate received a petition from Southern Kaduna Coalition against Amina Ibrahim Mohammed as a ministerial nominee from the state, directed the Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics and Public Petitions, senator Sam Anyanwu ( PDP Imo East), to forward reports of the committee’s findings on all petitions against ministerial nominees to the Senate before Tuesday next week.
The petition filed against Amina Ibrahim by the Southern Kaduna Coalition as tabled before the senate yesterday by senator Danjuma La’ah ( PDP Kaduna South), dwelled on the fact that she is not an indigene of the state.
They urged the President in the 7-page petition signed by Coordinator of the Coalition, Barrister James Kanyip, to the nominee, a minister from her state, Gombe and not Kaduna, her state of marriage.
The petition reads in part: “We strongly object to the nomination of the Ministerial nominee for Kaduna State, Amina Ibrahim Mohammed. Our objection is predicated on the fact that we have reasons to believe that she is not an indigene of Kaduna State but Gombe State.”