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Wednesday, 14 October 2015
Amaechi, Fashola, others for ministerial screening today
The Senate yesterday began the screening of the first batch of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial nominees.
Similarly, the Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki, also read out the names of the 16 fresh ministerial nominees submitted to the Senate on Monday evening by the chief of staff to the president, Abba Kyari.
Those on the second batch of the list include Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Claudius Omoleye Daramola, Prof Anthony Anwuka, Geoffrey Onyeama, Brig-Gen M. M. Dan-Ali, Barrister James Ocholi, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Okechukwu Enelamah, Muhammadu Bello, Mustapha Baba Shehuri, Ms Aisha Abubakar, Heineken Lokpobiri, Adamu Adamu, Prof Isaac Adewole, Pastor Usani Usani Uguru and Abubakar Bwari Bawa.
The screening of the initial nominees, which commenced around 11am yesterday, lasted about six hours with senators grilling the nominees on various national issues.
Nominees screened yesterday were Senator Udoma Udo-Udoma, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Lt-General Abdurrahman Dambazau (retd), Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Mrs Amina Mohammed, Sulaiman Adamu and Ibrahim Usman Jibril.
Former Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi; his counterpart part from Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola and the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Taraba State in the last general election, Senator Aisha Al-Hassan, are among the 11 other first-batch nominees yet to be cleared by the lawmakers.
Senator Udo-Udoma was the first to take the stand yesterday during the ministerial screening. As a former senator he was asked to take a bow and go after the Senate president asked him few questions as is the tradition and convention of the Senate.
Former governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, during his screening was asked to render an account of his tenure as the chief executive of Ekiti State. He defended his records, adding that Ekiti is number 35 on the revenue list of Nigeria and with an average of N3bn from the federation account, with salaries alone standing at N2.4bn a month at the time.
He also disclosed that he built the Ekiti Government House with N2.5bn, the cheapest in Nigeria, and refuted allegations that he purchased a N50m bed.
The former Ekiti governor identified teacher quality problem and mismatch between career need and enrolment as the biggest problems bedeviling the nation’s educational system.
On issues of poverty, corruption and the Nigerian economy, Fayemi said: “Poverty is not indomitable; China has lifted her citizens above the poverty level. The major problem in Nigeria is that the gap between the mindlessly rich and the hopelessly poor is too wide and must be bridged.
“There is too much concentration of power at the centre; therefore, there is need for devolution of power in Nigeria. Corruption must be tackled head-on. The amount of leakages in our revenue system is unacceptable, and must be promptly addressed. We have to reduce our recurrent expenditure and increase our capital expenditure in this country; otherwise we won’t be able to develop meaningfully.
“We have to diversify our economy, and it is achievable. Our criminal justice system has to be revisited. People don’t get punished for committing crimes in Nigeria. Our prisons have been saturated by those who are denied Justice.”
On his part, APC chieftain, Chief Audu Ogbeh, a well-known farmer, was grilled on issues relating to agriculture and on why politicians easily move from one party to another.
In his responses, he explained how the government would revamp the agricultural sector and create millions of jobs for the youths, but he lamented that banks’ high interest rates were mitigating against the growth of agriculture in the country. He blamed lack of internal democracy as the reason why politicians find it easy switching political parties at will.
“The major problem of agriculture in Nigeria is bad seedlings. We have the worst seeds to plant. Agricultural extension workers should be engaged in the local government areas to teach farmers on the best seeds to plant to improve our agricultural production.
“Nigeria is facing great danger if our agricultural production continues to go down. We have to work hard to stabilize agriculture. The greatest problem facing the development of agriculture in the country today is the high and indeed outrageous interest rates being charged by the commercial banks in Nigeria,” he stated.