Buhari’s ministerial nominees escape interrogations as ‘Bow and go’ policy dominates senate screening
The ministerial screening by the upper chamber of the National Assembly that commenced on Wednesday has been met with mixed feelings.
The screening concluded on Friday with the senate screening additional seven nominees. The senate later adjourned screening till Tuesday.
However, only four of the 14 ministerial nominees the Senate screened on Thursday for appointment as ministers gave account of themselves.
Ten others were accorded the privilege of the controversial “bow and go” policy.
Those upper chamber grilled included Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd), Sunday Akin Dare, Mohammed Abdullahi and Ambassador Zubairu Dada.
Senator Tayo Alasoadura, Abubakar Aliyu, Mustapha Baba Shehuri, Timipre Martin Sylva, Ramatu Tijani Aliyu, Otumba Richard Adeniyi Adebayo and Mohammed Musa Bello received the privilege of bow and go.
Other nominees who were also accorded the bow and go policy were Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed and Sa’adiya Umar Farouk.
The upper chamber adopted controversial bow and go policy on Wednesday as a privilege to former Senators, members of the House of Representatives and members of the State House of Assembly.
Some senators were however uncomfortable with the policy which they said, does not give them opportunity to ask nominees questions.
Before the session started, Senator Bamidela Opeyemi said that there is the need for the Senate to take steps to clarify the policy of ‘bow and go’ to Nigerians.
The Ekiti Central Senator said that the clarification was necessary because the media was giving the impression that every nominee that appeared for screening is asked to take a bow and go.
Senator Bashir Ajibola, on his own said that there was nothing wrong with the policy.
The Osun Central Senator noted that the rule Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje quoted on Wednesday to oppose the policy referred to ranking.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in his ruling said that there was no need to prolong the debate of the policy.
Lawan said that the chamber had already a standard which should be followed.
The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, was also forced to question the policy at a stage during the screening.
Abaribe who read the constitutional provision that empowered the Senate to screen ministerial nominees before appointment, reminded the chamber that what they were doing was “confirmation hearing and not endorsement hearing.”
Abaribe said that the Senate should endeavour to go by the dictates of the Constitution.
The former ECOWAS Monitoring Group Field Commander, Major General Magashi (rtd), told the Senate that infighting among Service Chiefs was affecting military operations in the country.
He admitted that relationship between Service Chiefs was indeed “not cordial” as expected.
Senator Orji Uzor Kalu had asked General Magashi what he would do to address infighting among Service Chiefs if he was assigned the Defence Ministry
The Kano State nominee noted that infighting among Service Chiefs was unhealthy for successful operations.
He said, “But as you rightly said, the operation between the Service Chiefs is not very cordial, I put that in quotes.
“My relationship is very simple; the creation of the relationship has been in existence since the creation of the office of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).
“In the process, all of our operations that would have been conducted internally and externally are governed by the principles of the hierarchy of command.
“And where the echelon is weak, probably downwards, we will also be weak.
“Regarding the Service Chiefs, in my own view, we have come to a situation where you find that each commander or each Service Chief is trying to please the nation.
“In Nigeria today, there is what we call the command structure, the command structure is now seen as a witness.
“The military is always ready to acknowledge performance. We don’t want to always hear that we have not performed.
“The theatre of war, I think we encourage it because every day you find one problem either for north-east or the central or anywhere, then we need troops to cover those areas.
“I don’t think the current structure shows the true reflection of our requirements.”
Sunday Dare who is an Executive Commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on his own, dwelt on what the telecommunications regulator is doing to reposition the sector in the country.
The Senators appeared to have been overwhelmed by the wealth of experience exhibited by the nominee.
Unlike most of the nominees, Dare was prepared to answer all the questions posed to him.
Senate President, Lawan, was the first to ask the nominee how the kidnapper could be tracked with their telephones.
Dare gave blow by blow of what the NCC has been able to achieve since two years ago when he joined the commission.
Dada answered question on the defunct Mass Mobilisation for Social and Economic Recovery (MAMSER).
When Dada, the Niger State nominee left the chamber, Senator George Thompson Sekiko raised objection that the CV he submitted was not clear.
Sekibo noted that if Dada was allowed to answer his question, he would have cleared some gray areas.
The Senate President countered that the copy of the CV he had was cleared.
Lawan added that he sympathized with the position of Sekibo.
Senator Alasoadura (Ondo) was the first to be screened.
Alasoadura who represented Ondo Central in the Eight Senate, chaired the Petroleum committee (upstream).
Before he was accorded the privilege of “bow and go” the controversial Petroleum industry Bill (PIB) came up.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, took some time to educate new senators who may not know that steps taken to pass the PIB.
Lawan recalled how the bill was duplicated that made it difficult to identify which of the bills was the correct version.
On the way forward for the bill, the Senate President noted that there was the need for stakeholders to meet to articulate a comprehensive PIB that the National Assembly would work with.
On his own, former minister of state for Power, Works and Housing, Mustapha Baba Shehuri (Borno) who read a prepared speech, was accorded the privilege to take a bow and go.
He was a former member of the House of Representatives.
Before he was asked to take a bow and go, Lawan re-emphasized the fact that the policy of bow and go for former MPs was still very much alive.
Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, seized the opportunity of the screening of the former junior minister to make case for specific schedule of duty to be assigned to ministers’ of state.
Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje countered that Muhammadu Buhari Presidency has a clear cut schedule of duty for the portfolio of minister of state.
Abubakar Aliyu, immediate past deputy governor of Yobe State, the home state of the Senate President promised to assist the government to take the country to the next level.
Senator Kabiru Gaya (Kano South) described nominee Aliyu as a gentleman to the core.
Gaya said that the Yobe State nominee should be allowed to bow and go.
Senator James Manager (Delta South) promptly seconded the motion that Aliyu should be allowed to bow and go.
According to Manager, the Senate has a tradition written and unwritten, some of them not known to the public.
He went further to remind his colleagues that “this nominee is from Yobe State and we have a tradition here. I will not go further than that.”
Lawan described Aliyu as a committed and loyal.
All the women nominees who appeared, Aliyu, Ahmed and Farouk, were asked to take a bow and go after introducing themselves.