By Henry Umoru, Dapo Akinrefon & Charles Kumolu
ABUJA—There are feelers from the Presidency that the remaining 15 names of ministerial nominees will hit the Senate early next week after what sources described as ‘laborious’ security checks and vetting of the prospective nominees.
The high-wire tension and expectations with which Nigerians awaited President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial nominees have been doused with his submission of names of 21 nominees to the Senate.
As of last night, the various security agencies were said to be working frantically to beat the new deadline said to have been given to them by the President.
Vanguard gathered that the security checks on the remaining nominees are being carried out within and outside Nigeria.
The President on Wednesday forwarded to the Senate, names of 21 nominees for confirmation, with a promise to send the others in due course.
Each state of the federation is, by virtue of the constitution, entitled to a ministerial slot in the federal cabinet.
Vanguard gathered, yesterday, that the Presidency insisted that more background checks be conducted on the nominees, especially against the backdrop of the need to avoid making mistakes in appointing the wrong persons into the cabinet.
It was further learned that the names of those transmitted to the Senate on Wednesday were those whose background checks had been concluded.
“It is not certain when the checks on the remaining 15 will be completed. This explains why the President, in his independence anniversary speech, did not give a time frame because it is dependent on when the security agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, will conclude their job on the nominees,” a source said last night.
The source said the 21 names already with the Senate had gone through the same process, adding that the issue had taken so much time because of the need to do a thorough job.
“If the President had his way, the process of appointing ministers would have long been concluded but the security people handling the checks pleaded for time to do a thorough job,” a reliable source told Vanguard.
Apart from the checks, Vanguard investigation also revealed that the cause of the delay in submitting the 15 names is the horse-trading still going on within the All Progressives Congress, APC, over their nomination.
It was further learned that there was no consensus yet on the choice of the nominees by leaders in their states.
Next batch hits Senate next Tuesday – Garba Shehu
In his reaction last night, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said the next batch would be sent to the National Assembly, Tuesday.
He said: “To be honest with you, I have been travelling in the last two days. I came in early today (yesterday). I am not privy to any list. However, every government from 1999 till date under this constitution, has not given the names of ministers from day one.
“They (ministerial nominees) have always been sent to the National Assembly in batches, this is nothing extraordinary. Where is the balance? I do not know. May be by Tuesday next week when they come back, they (National Assembly) will probably have the balance waiting for them but if it will take a longer period, the President will decide that.”
Although the Senate is yet to officially make public names of the 21 nominees forwarded to it by the President, media reports reeled out names, including Dr. Chris Ngige (Anambra), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Gen. Abdurrahman Dambazau, retd, (Kano), Aisha AlHassan (Taraba), Ogbonnaya Onu (Abia), Kemi Adeosun (Ogun) and Abubakar Malami, SAN, (Kebbi).
Others are Senator Sirika Hadi (Katsina), Adebayo Shittu (Oyo), Sulaiman Adamu (Jigawa), Solomon Dalong (Plateau), Ibe Kachikwu (Delta), Osagie Ehanire (Edo, Udoma Udo-Udoma (Akwa Ibom), Ahmed Isa Ibeto (Niger), Ibrahim Jibril, Audu Ogbeh (Benue), and Amina Mohammed (Kaduna).
I doubt the names reported by the media – Babatope
However,former Minister of Transport, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, said he doubted the authenticity of the list. He said: “I am not a member of the APC. What comment do I want to make on people who are not members of my party? I do not know them, I only know them by their names. All I can say is to wish them the best of luck when they are appointed. Anyway, they have not all been appointed. Buhari told us that he would be releasing their names piece-meal, so we will wait for the rest of the names. We do not know if the list is authentic because the President of the Senate said he would disclose their names on October 6, so, let us wait and see what happens.”
Be patient with Buhari – Ogunlewe
Former Minister of Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, appealed to Nigerians to be patient with the President as far as the ministerial list is concerned.
Ogunlewe said: “It is at the discretion of the President to send the names but we must first commend him. Why can’t we wait till October 6 because all these things we are reading are speculations.
“What Saraki said is that he has the list sealed and that he would not allow anybody access the contents until Tuesday. My suggestion is: Let everybody wait because we do not know the number of names on the list. We have to be patient with our government and reasonable. It is not every time we criticise, that is my own position.”
Buhari wants the best – Fasehun
Founder of Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, Dr. Fredrick Fasehun, said: “Probably the President does not want to over work the Senate. That is why he is taking his time in sending the names, making it to look as if he has embraced a piecemeal method. As a man with a vision of what he wants for the country, I want to believe that the President is not in a hurry to send all the list because he wants the best hands for the job.”
Also reacting, retired Police Commissioner, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, urged Nigerians to support the President in his war on graft, saying “we hope and pray that the corrupt and selfish elite will repent and give Buhari maximum support to take Nigeria to the next level.”
Nothing unique – Odumakin
National Publicity Secretary of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin said, yesterday, that President Buhari would have submitted the names of the ministerial nominees at Eagle Square rather than to the Senate.
Reacting to the speculated names of possible ministers, Odumakin, who noted that there was nothing unique about the list, said the President did not surprise anyone.
According to him, the names are not worth waiting for a period of four months.
“There is no excitement or surprise in the list. They are mostly run-of-the-mill people that do not warrant the nation waiting four months. Those names could have been submitted at Eagles Square on May 29.”
Buhari didn’t need to wait this long —Sen. Urhoghide
Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South) shared Odumakin’s views. He said it was not necessary for President Buhari to have waited this long before coming up with the list he made available.
According to Senator Urhoghide, the persons whose names were submitted have been around and known to the President, especially the nominee from Edo State, Osagie Ehanire.
Urhoghide, who noted that though the character and personality of the nominees were not in doubt, said what was paramount was performance as ministers.