Screening: Senate sets tough conditions for would-be ministers

The Senate has set conditions for would-be members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), who are scheduled to appear for open screening at plenary on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.
One of such conditions is that the nominees must show proof of declaration of their assets. The Senate is insisting that each nominee should appear with his asset declaration certificate issued by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

According to the Senate ad-Hoc Committee Chairman on Information, Dino Melaye, the submission of assets declaration documents has become mandatory for the would-be ministers, especially those who had held political offices in the past.
He told reporters after the plenary yesterday that the decision was the outcome of the Senate’s executive session.

The demand for assets declaration certificates from nominees is a clear departure from what obtained in the upper legislative chamber since Nigeria returned to civil rule 16 years ago.
Melaye said: “Our meeting this (yesterday) morning was primarily to develop a procedure for the screening of ministerial nominees on Tuesday. We considered the approach for the screening and we shall be relying on Section 147 of the Constitution which state: ‘There shall be such offices of the ministers of the federation as may be appointed by the President.’

“This section shall be strictly adhered to by the Senate, meaning that there will be ministers from each state of the federation in compliance with the constitution.

“We shall also consider Section 65 which stipulates that only a person who is qualified to be a member of the House of Representatives can be qualified to be screened as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The Senate will not consider the screening of anybody who has held any public office except the person has declared his assets,” he said.

Melaye said that the Senate would insist on seeing the proof of assets declaration before a person who had held a public office could be cleared to be a ministerial position.
Still relying on its Standing Rule, he assured that former federal lawmakers among the nominees would enjoy preferential treatment.

Melaye said: “Although they will not be asked to simply take a bow and go, their screening will definitely not be as rigorous as it will be in the case of others”.
He said that the Senate would uphold its convention by insisting that two Senators from the state of any nominee must accept the nomination before such a nominee can be screened.
Melaye, however, said that he could not categorically say if that rule would be waived, stressing that “I cannot predict the future”,  explaining that the rule prescribing the endorsement by two senators was not cast in granite and that the rule could be subsumed under other weightier considerations.

The Senate spokesman said the constitutional provision, stipulating that each of the 36 states of the federation must have a representation in the Federal Executive Council (FEC) cabinet remained sacrosanct.
Based on this provision, President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to submit the remaining 15 nominees before the end of the screening, scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday.

The senator restated his earlier statement that the era of ‘bow and go’ was gone for good.
His words: “The Senate is not going to politicise the screening; there will be no provision for religion, tribe, ethnicity and other discrimination.

“All ministerial nominees must submit a minimum of 115 copies of their curriculum vitae to the upper legislative chamber on or before Monday Oct. 12,” he said.
The Senate has asked the President’s nominees for top positions in the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON); the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS); and the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to wait till the ministerial nominees have been screened and cleared for appointment.

President Buhari had forwarded the list of nominees for the three agencies to the Senate about two weeks before the first list of ministerial nominees hit the Senate President’s Office on September 30.

- Nation
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