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Still On Senate Ministerial Nominees’ Screening

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Revisiting the “Take a Bow and Go” approach
to the Senate screening of the 43 ministerial nominees on July 24 is sufficed for the purpose of more understanding of the roles of the Senate and political intrigues among the lawmakers.
It will as well give insights to the position of the law and clear the air on the critics’ arguments on whether or not the Senate has abused the privilege provided by Section 147 (2) of the 1999 Constitution on the screening of the nominees.
Political analysts note that explaining some issues on “Take a Bow and Go” approach to the screening as it is applied will give a mindset on how the future screening can be managed within the precinct of the law.
The contention has been that Nigerians did not expect the number of nominees that were exempted from screening in a “Take a Bow and Go” approach to their screening going by the provision of the law.
Analysts observed further that “Take a Bow and Go” approach started in 2003 and it was introduced as a courtesy and privilege for any nominees who had been elected to the Senate or House of Representatives in the past.
According to them, although the 1999 Constitution that gives Senate the power to confirm appointments in that regard does not make a provision for the “Take a Bow and Go” policy.
Further to this, they note that the policy has been extended to all persons with previous legislative experience even at state levels.
Irrespective of the Senate interpretation of the constitutional provisions in that regard, analysts insist that the policy can prevent nominees from answering some important questions bordering on national concerns, competence and accountability.
They note that Nigerians have witnessed a lot of screening of ministerial and other executive nominees who were asked to recite the National Anthem, or explain their master plan or agenda for their offices.
However, a source within the National Assembly who pleads anonymity, observes that there were some political intrigues on the application of “Take a Bow and Go” policy during the screening.
He links the “Take a Bow and Go” approach in the screening to some interests of the Senate leadership in the nominees that the leadership knows if they are subjected to serious screening, they may not sail through.
According to him, supporting the screening in that method will pay back for the lawmakers in the appointment of the committees, especially those that crave for “juicy committees”.
He observes further that this explains why the appointment of committee chairmen and their deputies had to be delayed until shortly after the screening.
The nominees that enjoy “Take a Bow and Go” privilege are Chris Ngige, Hadi Sirika, Muhammad Bello, Gbemisola Saraki, Pauline Tallen, Sharon Ikeazor, Lai Mohammed, Rotimi Amaechi, Timipre Sylva, Zainab Ahmed, Godswill Akpabio, Sa’adiya Umar Farouk and Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo.
Similarly, Ramatu Aliyu, George Akume, Olorunnimbe Mamora, Tayo Alasoadura, Maryam Katagum, Abubakar Aliyu, Mustapha Shehuri, Zubairu Dada, Emeka Nwajiuba and Maigari Dingyadi, enjoyed the method.
But some lawmakers have expressed concerns on the method, including Senate Minority Leader Eyinnaya Abaribe, who raised a constitutional point of order that the screening had turned out to be a mere endorsement of some nominees.
He stated that in global parliamentary practices, confirmation hearings are conducted for nominees to access their competence and qualification for their appointments as ministers, explaining that confirmation hearings ought to be different from endorsement.
In the same vein, Senator Dino Melaye said, “I will tell you categorically that Nigerians are not happy, especially with the way the proceedings of the screening have been conducted and I can tell you that it is more of adoption than a screening.
“I am not a presiding officer of the National Assembly, I cannot speak for either of them but as long as some of us remain there, our voices will be heard and we will always insist on doing the right thing.”
In a controversy, Malam Muhammed Bello, a nominee and a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, also requested to be granted the same privilege extended to former lawmakers who skipped the screening, insisting that he had been a public office holder and had been close to the National Assembly members.
But Mr Femi Akinwumu, a public affairs analyst, also insists that it is wrong for the Senate to allow ministerial nominees facing corruption charges to take a bow and leave without asking any question.
He expressed concern about the screening of some nominees, citing the case of Mr Rotimi Ameachi, former Minister of Transportation, who had never been a member of the Senate but was asked to “take a bow and go”.
In response to this, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, noted that Ameachi was screened in that manner because he was a former member of Rivers State House of Assembly and a Speaker for eight years.
Some civil society organisations have similarly expressed dissatisfaction with the Senate for the method, suspecting that the Senate could become a rubber stamp and stooge of the executive.
In a statement by Executive Director Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Frank Tietie, the organisation said that checks and balances which would have improved the performance of government would suffer when legislative scrutiny appeared to be lax.
He called on the Senate to show a sense of seriousness and change of approach towards the future screening.
Similarly, Director of Centre for Democracy and Development Austin Aigbe, said that senate “is charged with the duty to engage the nominees on topical issues that will liberate the country from challenges.
`What we see now is that you are former senator, former house member so you bow and go; the funny one is that your brother used to be a member of the National Assembly and you come from the area where the senate president is from and because of that, you take a bow. What does that add to the Nigerian state?” he asked.
Irrespective of arguments for or against, analysts described the “Take a Bow and Go” approach to screening as a farce and charade, observing that the trend won’t help the country.
Ogunshola is of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

 

Femi Ogunshola

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Gov Emmanuel Shuts Borders, Suspends Ibom Air

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Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has ordered the closure of all borders and roads leading to the state with immediate effect.
The governor also directed that Ibom Air suspends all flight operations with effect from Sunday, March 29.
The Secretary to the State Government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, disclosed this in a statement in Uyo, yesterday.
Emmanuel was quoted as directing that workers in the state should stop work with effect from Monday, March 30 for one week. “Following a critical analysis of the situation relating to COVID-19 situation, I have been directed by His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel to make the following announcements:
“Salaries of state government workers for the month of March will be paid on or before Friday, March 27, 2020.
“Workers are advised to prepare to stop going to work and stay at home for one week with effect from Monday, March 30, 2020. The stay-at-home order will be strongly enforced. March 30, 2020. The stay-at-home order will be strongly enforced.
“All borders and roads leading in and out of the state are closed with immediate effect; except for transportation of food items. Ibom Air will suspend all flight operations from Sunday, March 29, 2020.
“Markets are to remain open for sale of foodstuff and essential items only,” Emmanuel said.
The governor appealed to all Churches in the state to fast t situation. and pray on Sunday, March 29 for God’s intervention in the present situation.
He added that while the one week stay at home order would be on, government would continue to monitor the situation and provide update on the coronavirus in the state.
“While the one week stay-at-home order subsists, the Akwa Ibom State government will continue to monitor and provide regular updates on any development in the COVID-19 situation in our state,” he said.

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Partisan Politics: Awuse Wants Civil Servants Isolated

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Elder statesman and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, Chief Sergeant Awuse, has said civil servants should be isolated from partisan politics in order to achieve maximum productivity.
Chief Awuse stated this in his remarks at the public presentation of the book, ‘A Handbook on Discipline of Civil Servants in Nigeria’ written by the State Head of Service (HOS), Rufus Godwins in Port Harcourt, recently.
“He stated, “By 1971/72 when we finished our secondary school, I was in Ministry of Establishment. The Permanent Secretary that they had then, if I may say, was a position that many people wanted to have. They were secure. I will want the writer in subsequent review to consider the importance of career civil servants and not political permanent secretaries.
“The reason is simple. Loyalty is always the ingredient for their appointment. But those days, permanent secretaries were judged by their ability to deliver, their ability to perform and they were more secured. I know you may not include that in your book now for obvious reasons.
“But in future, when you are reviewing, please make sure you mention that area. But remember, in every sector today, the politicians are also very important.
“The important thing is that future civil servants should be isolated from partisan politics. They should be allowed to function and use their brains. They should be allowed to do the job, irrespective of which party is in government,” he stated, noting that it was difficult to get the best out of the civil service with frequent rotation.
“Some of them are afraid to function properly because they know that the words that are used that ‘I am directed’. If you are not directed properly you are on your way out,” the elder statesman noted.

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Lagos Assembly Lifts Suspension On Four Lawmakers

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The Lagos State House of Assembly, yesterday, reinstated four of its members earlier suspended indefinitely over alleged misconduct and insubordination.
The Speaker, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, made the announcement during the plenary in Lagos.
The House, had on March 9, passed a resolution sacking two of its principal officers and suspending two members indefinitely for alleged misconduct, insubordination and action that could destabilise the House.
The speaker announced the punitive measures following the voice votes by members present during the plenary.
He said the principal officers that were removed included the Chief Whip, Mr Rotimi Abiru and Deputy Majority Leader, Mr Olumuyiwa Jimoh.
The speaker also announced the suspension of Mr Moshood Oshun (Lagos Mainland Constituency II) and Mr Kazeem Raheem Adewale (Ibeji Lekki Constituency II).
The offices of the four lawmakers in the House were subsequently locked by the Speaker on March 10.
Obasa said on Thursday during plenary, that the House decided to lift their suspension following the intervention by the Governor’s Advisory Council and the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“The Governor’s Advisory Council and the National leader of our party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, have intervened in the crisis and directed that the House should reinstate the suspended lawmakers.

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