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El-Rufai, 2 others’ confirmation on hold, as Wike, Pate, Edu, 42 others cleared

Keyamo scales hurdle after apology   The Senate yesterday confirmed 45 out of the 48 persons nominated as ministers by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. President…

  • Keyamo scales hurdle after apology

 

The Senate yesterday confirmed 45 out of the 48 persons nominated as ministers by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

President Tinubu had on July 27 forwarded the first batch of 28 ministerial nominees to the parliament for approval.

One week later on August 2, the president sent the second batch of 19 nominees but later dropped Maryam Shetty from Kano for Mariya Mahmoud Bunkure and added Festus Keyamo (Delta).

After eight days of screening, the Senate confirmed the nominations of 45 persons.

It, however, withheld the confirmation of former governor of Kaduna State, Nasir Elrufai (Kaduna), Senator Abubakar Sani Danladi (Taraba) and Stella Okotete (Delta) citing security clearance.

Speaking after the conclusion of the screening, Senate President Godswill Akpabio, said: “The Senate has, so far, approved and confirmed the nomination of 45 out of the total 48 ministerial nominees sent us by the president. The others are still awaiting security clearance.”

Senate spokesperson, Yemi Adaramadu told reporters after the confirmation that the Senate may resume further legislative action on the remaining three nominees if it receives further communication from the executive.

Those confirmed are: Ekperikpe Ekpo (Akwa Ibom), Heineken Lokpobiri (Bayelsa), Betta Edu (Cross River), John Enoh (Cross River) Abubakar Momoh (Edo), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Tahir Mamman (Adamawa), Yusuf Maitama Tuggar (Bauchi), Ali Pate (Bauchi), Abubakar Kyari (Borno), Alkali Ahmed Saidu (Gombe), Uba Maigari Ahmadu (Taraba), Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe).

Others are Mohamed Badaru (Jigawa), Mariya Mahmoud Bunkure (Kano), Abdullahi T. Gwarzo (Kano), Ahmad Dangiwa (Katsina), Hanatu Musawa (Katsina), Yusuf Tanko Sununu (Kebbi), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Bello M. Goronyo (Sokoto), Bello Matawalle (Zamfara), Nkiruka Onyejeocha (Abia), Uju Ohaneye (Anambra), David Umahi (Ebonyi), Uche Nnaji (Enugu), Doris Uzoka (Imo), Dele Alake (Ekiti), Tunji Alausa (Lagos), Lola Ade-John (Lagos), Isiaka Salako (Ogun), Bosun Tijjani (Ogun).

Other confirmed are Olawale Edun (Ogun), Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo (Ondo), Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun), Adebayo Adelabu (Oyo), Joseph Utsev (Benue), Zaphaniah Bitrus Jisalo (FCT), Shuaibu A. Audu (Kogi), Lateef Fagbemi (Kwara) Imaan S. Ibrahim (Nasarawa), Mohammed Idris (Niger), Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Niger), Simon Lalong (Plateau) and Festus Keyamo (Delta).

‘Strong petition’ against Elrufai

Daily Trust had reported that Sunday Karimi, a senator representing Kogi West, had presented a “strong petition” against El-Rufai concerning security, unity, and national cohesion when the former Kaduna governor appeared for screening on the floor of the Senate.

Sunday, who praised El-Rufai’s performance as Kaduna governor and FCT minister said, “But I have a very strong petition against you that borders on security, unity and cohesiveness of the Nigerian nation and I think that petition has to be considered along this screening exercise”.

Karimi then proceeded to lay the petition before Barau Jibrin, the deputy senate president, who was presiding over the screening exercise at the time.

His submission did not go down well with most of the lawmakers and Senator Muhammad Sani from Niger East told his colleagues to allow El-Rufai “take a bow and go” like other ex-governors.

Other senators commended El-Rufai, noting that the former governor is competent enough to be minister.

Ibrahim Kalid, representing Kaduna North, said he and his two colleagues from the state as well as all the residents are in support of El-Rufai’s nomination as minister.

“The resolve from the three senators from Kaduna State in consultation with the people across political divides is that we should support the nomination,” he said.

After responding to questions bordering on power generation asked by Abdulaziz Yari, former governor of Zamfara State, Elrufai moved to respond to Karimi’s comment on the petition against him but the Senate President quickly interjected.

Akpabio said he had received a number of petitions from Nigerians in respect of some nominees but said the petitions would not be addressed during the screening exercise.

He said, “Distinguished colleagues, perhaps I should inform you that I have received petitions from many other people in respect of other nominees but this is not where we are to deal with petitions. Our job here is to screen and of course, we can refer petitions to where petitions would be dealt with.

“These are the nominees of Mr President. If it is something that is a formal petition before the Senate, we will look at it formally but there are certain petitions that we have to refer to the Presidency or security agencies to look at and that has nothing to do with us.

“I think by the time we are going with the issue of confirmation and approval; we will advise. So, I will want to plead with my brother (El-Rufai) to take a bow. So, don’t bother about addressing the petition.”

Issues over Taraba nominee’s qualification to hold office

A former Senator, Abubakar Danladi from Taraba State, during his screening, was grilled on the allegations against him that the Supreme Court barred him from holding public office for 10 years.

In his response, the nominee said there was no such pronouncement.

He said, “Senator Shaibu Lau took the matter to the Federal High Court, Abuja and the court gave me judgement.

“He went to the Appeal Court and the Appeal Court affirmed the judgment of the Federal High Court. He took the matter to the Supreme Court, then the Supreme Court gave me judgement.

“So, there is no judgement from the Supreme Court barring me for ten years. The Supreme Court is hearing me as I’m speaking and lawyers are there.”

Senate President, Godswill Akpabio said, “The Federal High Court Jalingo gave a judgement against you that you were not qualified to contest on the bases of perjury that you lied on oath in respect of your date of birth, then later the Federal High Court sat on the same matter and cleared you?

“What we are saying is that the moment the Federal High Court gave the first judgement they become Fontus Officio in Law and can no longer sit as appellate Court over its own judgement.

“So, you will definitely say what you want to say, we will study this because it is in the interest of Nigeria and it is of public interest.”

Senate thrown into rowdy session over Keyamo

Meanwhile, the Senate was thrown into a rowdy session following a motion to suspend the screening of the former Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo.

The Senate Minority Whip, Darlington Nwokocha, raised issues against Keyamo, a ministerial nominee from Delta State, when he appeared for screening.

Nwokocha said Keyamo disrespected the 9th National Assembly and accused the lawmakers of being corrupt when he was summoned to give explanation on the Special Public Works programme implemented under former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The sum of N52 billion was allocated for the scheme, which was coordinated by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) under the supervision of the minister of state for labour and employment.

The programme was targeted at employing 1,000 unskilled youths in each of the 774 LGAs for three months.

The beneficiaries were expected to engage in public service works and receive a monthly stipend of N20,000 for three months.

Nwokocha drew the attention of the Senate to how Keyamo ignored the Senate when he was asked to give explanation on the disbursement of N52 billion to Nigerians during his tenure as minister.

He therefore moved a motion that the Senate suspend the screening of Keyamo pending investigation and explanation on how the money was disbursed.

Nwokocha’s motion to step down Keyamo’s screening was seconded by Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia-South).

Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, thereafter subjected the motion to a voice vote but the lawmakers were divided on the matter.

The Red Chamber erupted into a rowdy session. Amid heated argument between the lawmakers, Akpabio rose to his feet to call the senators to order, saying based on the rule of the Senate, whenever the Senate President stands up, any Senator would have to remain silent.

When the matter was degenerating, Akpabio beckoned on the Senate Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele to “lead the House.”

Senator Bamidele however moved a motion that the Senate dissolve into an executive session.

Akpabio said the Senate now resolved to go into a closed-door session “to iron out an issue of national concern.”

Senate President Godswill Akpabio subsequently visited Aso Rock villa to meet with President Bola Tinubu.

At the resumption of the screening after about three hours, Keyamo apologised to the lawmakers over his conduct in 2020 to both chambers of the National Assembly, when he was invited to explain the ministry’s activities on the public works programme.

He explained that payment to the beneficiaries of the public works programme was made by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) direct to the beneficiaries account with their verifiable BVN.

He said every beneficiary was duly registered and documented and could be verified by the Senate.

“I apologise and the apology is without reservation,” he told the senators.

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

Senator Ali Ndume therefore moved a motion that the Senate accept the apology.

The motion was unanimously adopted when it was put to a voice vote by Akpabio.

There were no questions posed to Keyamo by the senators after and he was then asked to “take a leave”.

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