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Drama, revelations that trailed ministerial screening

The Senate on Monday confirmed 45 out of the 48 ministerial nominees sent to it by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for approval following eight non-consecutive…

The Senate on Monday confirmed 45 out of the 48 ministerial nominees sent to it by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for approval following eight non-consecutive days of screening.

The confirmation of a former Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Senator Abubakar Sani Danladi (Taraba) and Stella Okotete (Delta) were withheld over security clearance.

The screening was characterised by drama, tears, revelations, shock, rowdiness and vengeance when the nominees appeared before the senators.

While some, especially former governors as well as serving and ex-lawmakers, were accorded the parliamentary “bow and go” privilege without being quizzed, others were grilled on their capacity and antecedents.

One of the key features of the screening was the showering of encomiums on the nominees, mostly by the senators representing them.

Instead of grilling, each senator rose to speak in defence of ministerial nominees from their state or senatorial district and appealed to others to allow them to take a bow and leave.

Uproar over Keyamo’s screening

The last day of the screening seemed to be a day of reckoning for Festus Keyamo (SAN), a former Minister of State for labour and Employment. His “misdeed”, which the lawmakers said was ignoring the oversight powers of the parliament, haunted him.

Keyamo was the last nominee to face the lawmakers, but his screening threw the Senate into a state of commotion, which forced the Red Chamber to dissolve into an executive session, and the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, to rush to the presidential villa.

The Senate’s Minority Whip, Darlington Nwokocha (Abia Central), moved a motion to suspend Keyamo’s screening, saying: “He disrespected the 9th National Assembly and accused the lawmakers of being corrupt,” when he was summoned to give explanation on the disbursement of N52bn to 774,000 beneficiaries of the Special Public Works programme implemented under former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Akpabio, thereafter, subjected the motion to a voice vote, but the lawmakers were divided on the matter and the chamber erupted into a rowdy session.

The lawmakers later dissolved into an executive session and Akpabio subsequently visited Aso Rock to meet with President Bola Tinubu.

At the resumption of the screening after about three hours, Keyamo apologised to the lawmakers, saying, “I apologise, and the apology is without reservation.”

Senator Godiya Akwashiki (SDP Nasarawa) urged his colleagues to accept Keyamo’s apology given his remorseful disposition.

The senators forgave him after a motion by Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South) that his misdeeds be forgiven.

There were no questions posed to Keyamo after his apology and he was asked to take a leave.

Shetty’s shocking replacement

Maryam Shetty from Kano State received the possible biggest shock of her life when she heard of her replacement with Mariya Mahmoud Bunkure, her former classmate, on the day of her screening.

Shetty, a young and relatively unknown politician, came to limelight when she was named among the second batch of ministerial nominees. When she arrived the National Assembly prepared and in company of associates to be screened, she left in disappointment following a correspondence a few minutes to her screening from the president informing the Senate of her replacement with Dr Mariya, a former Commissioner for Higher Education in Kano State.

Amid the outrage that trailed her replacement, a video surfaced on social media showing a former Kano State governor and now the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Ganduje, mocking Shetty.

In the viral video that emerged barely 24 hours after the dramatic turn of events, Ganduje can be seen with his wife, Hafsat, Bunkure and other women laughing at the mention of the name of Maryam Shetty.

In what seems to be a thank you visit to Ganduje and family, a woman whose face is not captured is heard saying in Hausa language that, “The head has now fitted the cap.”

Meanwhile, Shetty said she would not allow the incident stop her from believing in the country.

“Yet, life, with its characteristic unpredictability, led to the withdrawal of my nomination. To some, this could seem like a setback, but my faith as a devout Muslim guided my understanding. I saw it as the divine will of Allah, who I believe grants power as He wishes, when He wishes. His plans are always superior to ours,” she said in a statement released the following day.

Lecturer nominee defended by former student

Professor Tahir Mamman, from Adamawa State, watched with emotion when one of his former students at the University of Maiduguri, Borno State, defended him when he appeared before the Senate.

The professor of law was defended by Senator Kaka Shehu Lawan, who said the nominee treated him well during his university days and therefore in return blew his (Mamman’s) trumpet in the Red Chamber.

During the screening, Lawan, representing Borno Central, said Mamman was his law lecturer and dean of student affairs, adding that he equipped him intellectually and otherwise.

Tijani’s ‘unpatriotic’ tweets against Tinubu

A minister-designate from Ogun State, Bosun Tijani, was also haunted by his “unpatriotic” tweets against President Tinubu who appointed him and the Senate that screened him.

When he appeared before the senators, Tijani, an Information Communication Technology (ICT) expert, was tackled over the comments he shared on Twitter some years ago.

The tweets were said to be critical of President Tinubu, federal lawmakers and the Nigerian passport and Nigeria as a nation.

Responding to the senators, Tijani said he was passionate about Nigeria and committed to the country’s development, adding that he tweeted out of a frustrating experience he had at the Chinese Embassy some years ago.

“I tweeted in anger,” he told the lawmakers, and begged for forgiveness, saying he was not trained to disrespect elders.

Senators Adeola Solomon (Ogun West), Ishaku Abbo (Adamawa North) and Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central) rose in defence of Tijani, appealing to their colleagues to forgive his shortcoming occasioned by his “youthful exuberance”.

“We are all fathers and we cannot throw the baby away with the bathwater. On behalf of the Senate, I want to accept your apology,” Akpabio told the nominee.

Musawa asked to ‘bow and go’ after getting emotional

Hannatu Musawa, a lawyer and the presidential adviser on culture and entertainment economy, got emotional during her screening.

The Katsina State minister-designate spoke about her humble family background, her upbringing and how her father, Musa Musawa, traded in Kolanut to sponsor her education before he died.

The nominee, while weeping, told the senators that her biggest regret was that her father, who laboured for her, could not witness her nomination for a ministerial appointment despite all the hardship.

She said, “My greatest regret is that my father is not here to witness his daughter’s screening for a ministerial position.”

While she sobbed and spoke, some senators chanted loudly, “It’s okay,”and she was asked to take a bow and go without answering a single question.

Controversy over Benue prof who started primary school at age 3

Prof Joseph Utsev from Benue State generated controversy over the age he started primary school.

Responding to a question from the senators, Prof Utsev said he was born in 1980 and graduated with first leaving school certificate in 1989, indicating that he was three when he started primary school.

His Senator, Abba Moro (PDP, Benue), rose in his defence and appealed to his colleagues to ignore the discrepancy pertaining to dates in his educational qualifications, claiming it might have been a result of typographical error.

But Titus Zam, another Benue senator, disagreed with Moro’s submission, saying that there were no discrepancies in the academic records of the nominee.

In a move to bury the issue, Senator Elisha Abbo (APC, Adamawa) said the nominee was exceptionally brilliant like himself for starting primary school at the age of three.

Abbo said, “The nominee is exceptionally brilliant like me. I took the entrance exam at the age of three and I won (sic).”

The prof was asked to take a bow and go after speaking briefly on how he will turn things around if confirmed and assigned to a ministry.

Sokoto nominee grilled on how he got varsity admission with 2 credits

Bello Muhammed from Sokoto State was quizzed on how he got admission into university with two credits in his secondary school result.

“You sat for five subjects with two credits. I would like you to explain how you got into university with that,” Senator Allwell Onyesoh (Rivers) asked the nominee.

Responding, Muhammed said he sat for another examination and passed but did not attach the result to his CV, noting that with the qualification of secondary school certificate as enshrined in the constitution, he could stand for an election up to the presidential election.

Akpabio noted that there was a clear difference between contesting an election and being nominated to serve as a minister.

He said the lawmakers were keen on knowing something in totality about the nominees, including the number of children and houses they had as Nigerians had the right to know their ministers as did the international community.

“So, you don’t choose and pick,” he told the nominees, asking him to bring other results he had.

Alake shielded from reciting N/Anthem

There was a mild drama on the floor of the Senate as Minority Leader, Senator Simon Davou Mwadikwon, asked Dele Alake from Ekiti State to recite the second stanza of the National Anthem.

In defence of Alake, Majority Leader, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, representing Ekiti Central, asked the senate presiden to let his kinsman “take a bow and go.”

This caused a mild drama on the floor of the Senate, but Akpabio came to the rescue, saying, “I myself as an adult can recite any stanza of the National Anthem.”

Alake was, therefore, shielded from reciting the National Anthem and eventually left the Red Chamber after responding to questions on press freedom and regulation of social media.


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