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We will not allow some Ministers back, say Senators

By Emmanuel Aziken
Ahead of the submission of the fresh list of ministerial nominees to the Senate, Senators are raising serious hurdles against former members of the just dissolved cabinet. Indeed given the opportunity, many of the ministers in the immediate past cabinet would be thrown out on account of the strife that has shadowed the relationship between the Senators and the former ministers.

While a majority of Senators were dodgy on the issue of assessing the former ministers, Senator Joel Danlami, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce was unmoving in his submission that ministers who failed in their duties while in office would not be cleared by the Senate.

“If they bring them back, we will not clear them,” Senator Danlami told Saturday Vanguard in a telephone interview.

“Just take it from me that any minister who did not perform and we know them well because we did our oversight functions and any former minister who did not perform we will not clear him even if they bring him.’

Senator Danlami, however, did not mention any names when pressed even though he gave a qualified pass mark to Chief Achike Udenwa, the immediate past minister of commerce who he as chairman of the Senate committee on commerce directly had oversight duties on.

Senate in Session

But one name prominently mentioned by Senators who would not scale the Senate hurdle a second time is Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, the erstwhile Minister of Petroleum Resources. Reflective of Lukman’s rating in the Senate is his record as being the first Minister to have been   fined by either chamber of the National Assembly for failure to heed a summon by the National Assembly.

Dr. Lukman was charged N4,000 last year by the Senator Lee Maeba led Committee on Upstream Petroleum for his failure to honour a scheduled Senate hearing.

Lukman’s original clearance to be a minister in 2008 was itself a very difficult experience for him as the young Senators notably from the North accused him and other aged and experienced ministerial nominees from the North of doing little to boost the development of the region. One particular Senator from the North had asked him what value he expected to put into the development of the country that he did not put in the past during his earlier stints in public office.

Besides the questionable matter of age which some see as a drawback, many Senators would also be considering the matter of performance. On that score Senators who agreed to respond were divided with many preferring not to be quoted on record on the performance of the Ministers they related with as they were not willing to pollute possible opportunities of working together in future.

Also in the mind of Senators is the relationship the Senators had with the former ministers who many of the lawmakers accused of betraying their promises for official or non official perks.

“Before they were confirmed many of them were so humble but once they got into office they became untouchables,” it was noted.

Senator Adamu Aliero was particularly an issue on that regard. Though he proceeded to ministerial office from the Senate, the erstwhile Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was noted for failing many promises especially in the provision of land to Senators.

Aliero also had difficulties with some in the Senate over his perceived arrogance as reflected in his flagarant disobedience of a House resolution asking him to remove the well hated bumps from the city roads in Abuja.

The deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who used unusually hard words on him at one public occasion had promised that the Senate would not consider the FCT budget unless the bumps were removed.

Aliero’s perceived aloofness from his former colleagues was said to have been derived from his closeness   to President Umaru Yar‘Adua. However, once Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in as Acting President there were claims that he made efforts to reach out to Dr. Jonathan through a Senator perceived to be notably close to the Acting President.

While many Senators quietly urged not to be quoted on their views that the ministers that they had oversight on should not be recalled to the cabinet, Senator Joy Emodi, chairman of the Senate Committee on Education was an exception. Emodi who has held the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Education since 2005 when she entered the Senate and has related with as many as about five Education Ministers was unwavering in her approval of Dr. Sam Egwu easily endorsing that he should be returned in the same capacity.

“I think they should actually go back and conclude the work he started. He introduced this road map and started following it, there is need for continuity to see where it will end. The confusion caused especially in the Unity Schools were actually solved by him. So I think there is need for continuity,” Senator Emodi said.

Senator Emodi’s assessment of Dr. Egwu’s performance in office is perhaps against the background of the serious problems experienced by the sector in the period preceding Egwu’s advent when Aja Wachukuw held sway in the sector.

Before Wachukwu was Dr. (Mrs.) Oby Ezekwesili who Dr. Emodi had on one occasion rebuked for perceived insolence!

Dr. Sayaddi Abba Ruma, the immediate past Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources was a contradictory figure among Senators. While he was regarded as sometimes brazen and imprudent in his conduct with Senators, he was, nevertheless lauded for his focus on those issues he picked on.

Ruma, arguably one of the closest people to Yar Adua was known for his grandiloquent expressions which one Senator who dealt with him described as his façade for covering his arrogance.

Senator Bassey-Ewa Henshaw who also related with him described him as a friend who was often conciliatory in their discussions.

But Ruma became a near by-word for impudence when it was whispered among Senators that he kept a Senator waiting for him for up to one hour in his waiting room about two years ago.

The bitterness against some of the former ministers by some Senators is in some instances founded on perceived
indifference of the former


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