Summary of how the first set of ministerial nominees were screened

ministersFor over five hours yesterday, 10 would-be ministers took turns before the Senate, answering questions on their plans for the country, if confirmed.

They were the first set of ministerial nominees to be screened.

They are on the first list of 21 nominees sent to Senate President Bukola Saraki on September 30 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The remaining 11 on the list are expected to appear before the Senate today.

Those screened yesterday are Senator Udoma Udo-Udoma (Akwa Ibom State), former Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, Chief Audu Ogbeh (Benue), Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu (Ebonyi), Dr. Osagie Ehanire (Edo), Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazzau (Kano), Alhaji Lai Mohammed (Kwara), Mrs. Amina Ibrahim Mohammed (Gombe), Suleiman Adamu and Ibrahim Jibrin.
Senator Udoma Udo Udoma
A ministerial nominee from Akwa Ibom, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, set the ball rolling.
He was then asked to take a “bow and go.”
Kayode Fayemi
Called up for the exercise and grilled especially over his stint as governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi challenged anyone to produce an invoice of 50 million naira bed he was accused of buying in the state house during his tenure.”I challenge anyone to bring an invoice of a bed in the state house that is worth N50m.

I did not spend irresponsibly on it. It is probably one of the cheapest state houses in Nigeria. I used my relationship to raise a lot of funds with institutions like the World bank, DFID etc. There is no country that does not borrow. I did not borrow to pay salaries.”

His successor, Governor Ayodele Fayose, had accused Fayemi of reckless spending, alleging that the former governor left the state in debt

On national issues, he said that national educational system should be reviewed and made attractive for the citizen, adding that the nation’s domestic agenda does not drive the country’s foreign policy.

According to him, there was much gap between the rich and the poor, adding, “there is too much concentration of power at the centre. Therefore, there is need for devolution of power in Nigeria.

“Corruption must be tackled headlong. The amount of leakages in our revenues is unacceptable, and must be promptly addressed. We have to reduce our recurrent expenditures and increase our capital expenditures in this country, otherwise we won’t be able to develop meaningfully. We have to diversify our economy,and it is achievable.’’

Lt. Gen Abdulrahman Dambazzau
When it was his time, former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Abdulrahman Dambazzau, who called for constant review of the nation’s defence policy, said: “Defence policy of Nigeria needs constant review because it should centre on the best way to use the military to tackle challenges and come up with order of battle.
On the Boko Harm insurgency, he said: “The soldiers are at risk and if care is not taken some could lose their lives, if a new soldier loses his life, there is death gratuity for him apart from other benefits deriveable by his family. But these could be reviewed upward. We have not been taken advantage of the United Nations reimbursement system, other countries used it to maintain their armed forces but Nigeria relies on annual budget.
“We can use the UN reimbursement to procure critical equipment while greater percentage of the annual budget could be channeled towards welfare to boost the morale of the personnel.
On clashes between the Fulani herdsmen and farmers, he said the development was unfortunate and affecting production, adding that the climate change was causing desertification.

Ibrahim Usman Jibril
For Ibrahim Usman Jibril, unless the issue of compensation and resettlement was addressed in the Federal Capital Territory, the haphazard development in the nation’s capital will not be addressed.
Audu Ogbeh
In his presentation, former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who noted that he was not looking for anything new, said that the president and governors should no longer be given the status of the leader of the party. “The major problem facing the nation’s political system is the lack of internal democracy in the political parties. Another problem is the tendency for the party in power to surrender its authority to the President or the state governors.’’
On agriculture, Ogbeh said: “I am not here because I am looking for anything new. I am here because I believe I can do the job.
On what he would do to bring about change in agriculture if appointed as Agriculture minister, he said: “Since I have been travelling, seeking to know how other countries got it well. Here, we have very bad seeds. There is no seed company in Nigeria. He said breed and nutrition were some of the factors. Interest rate also affects agriculture in Nigeria. With 20 to 25 per cent interest rate, it is difficult to invest and make profit in agriculture.”
Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu
In his presentation, former governor of old Abia State, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu said: “The country is currently passing through serious socio-economic challenges, and all men and women in this country should put their differences aside and let’s tackle the problems together.
“Nigeria produces crude oil but we are importing fuel; doing a lot of farming but importing food stuff. We need to pay greater attention in the area of power generation.
We need to diversify our sources of power generation. Let’s utilize coal as one of our sources. And Nigerian coal is one of the best in the world because of its low sulphur content. We are essentially a consumer nation, and this is not good for our socio-economic existence. We have to improve and become a producer nation.”

Suleiman Adamu
Suleiman Adamu, addressed the senators briefly, he was later asked to take a ” bow and go.”
Dr Osagie Ehanire
On his part, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who noted that our health system was bad, said, “The fight against corruption should be extended to the health sector.
I think that many people that go to hospital don’t get desired attention. I canvassed orientation programmes for hospital workers. Health insurance is still at infancy. It is being studied right now to be applied in communities.
Priority should be given to rural health and one of the issues on focus should be hygiene. The traditional medicine practitioners have a lot to contribute. Many of the drugs we use today came from native medicine.
Traditional medicine has to be better regulated because it is dangerous to allow people who are ignorant to work on citizens.”

Amina Ibrahim
Also in her contribution, Amina Ibrahim warned that with the present economic situation, realising Vision 2020 is no longer feasible for the country.
Lai Mohammed

There was however drama when the APC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed appeared in the Senate chamber at 3.25pm. As he entered, there was laud applause mostly by APC Senators.
Lai Mohammed who bowed to PDP leadership three times, APC leadership four times, bowed six times before Senate President Saraki, a gesture that elicited further applause.

Senate President Saraki then announced, “ the nominee before you Distinguished Senators is from Kwara State.”
It was apparent that the gesture was well understood by the lawmakers.

He then asked if Senators have Mohammed’s CV. There was deafening “yes, yes, yes” in the chamber.

Even before Saraki could conclude, Senate Leader, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, stood up from his seat and moved that “Alhaji Lai Mohammed is very well known to this chamber. I move that he should take a bow and go.”

The chamber became some what rowdy as PDP senators, in a way, opposed the motion.

Senator Saraki said that Mohammed should tell the chamber a little about himself in line with the convention of the Senate.

Mohammed complied and introduced himself, adding that he was in the chamber to seek the support of the Senators to be confirmed as minister, saying that it demands higher service to be in government.

All the 10 ministerial nominees that faced the senators on Tuesday have been confirmed as ministers.

The exercise will continue on Wednesday with the screening of second set of nominees.

It was gathered that another 10 nominees would be screened on Wednesday while all the nominees, including those in the second batch, would be screened and confirmed on Thursday. -Nigerian

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