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Set standards for screening ministerial nominees – Lawyers tell Senate

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The Coalition of Public Interest Lawyers and Advocates (COPA) has urged the Senate to set a parameter or criteria for confirmation and rejection of ministerial nominees and others sent to it by the president, to ensure transparency.

The Convener and leader of the coalition, Mr Pelumi Olajengbesi, made the call on Wednesday in Abuja in a statement made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Olajengbesi said such criteria would guide the process and ensure fairness and patriotism during screening rather than the “take a bow” method granted to most of the nominees in the just-concluded exercise.

“The Nigerian Senate has just announced the completion of the screening and confirmation of the ministerial nominees and Nigerians are made to wonder if the Senate is aware of its onus as an important body vested with constitutional powers to carry out this crucial assignment.

“The entire screening process was a demonstration of disloyalty to the Nigerian people, promotion of nepotism in state affairs and a show of party loyalty as against the need to sieve off ministerial nominees who lack the requisite aptitude, and are with questionable antecedents.

“The senate should know that the institution is responsible to Nigerians, and as such, should be wary of actions that may cost it its legitimacy.

“While it is understandable that there is a rule of the Senate that allows former legislators or members of the Senate to take a bow and go, I hold strongly that such rule mitigates the essence of the ministerial screenings,” the statement quoted Olajengbesi as saying.

According to the COPA leader, it is the duty of the legislature to constantly monitor the activities of the executive to guarantee visionary leadership.

This, he said, should start from the appointment of credible ministers.

He expressed the fear that the 9th National Assembly could become a rubber stamp assembly if it continue to sacrifice competence and transparency on the altar of “take a bow and go”.

“Does it not sadden the heart that not less than half of the 43 nominees were generously told to take a bow and go?

“Meanwhile, the only time the lawmakers deemed it fit to actually screen a nominee, took the posture of a grievance against the nominee or his sponsor, while glossing over other key issues.

“As it is, the direct implication of this malady goes down to the citizenry whose hopes have again been dashed, losing interest in whatever the outcome of the governmental process is.

“The Senate has therefore, failed the Nigerian people in such a very early moment of this administration.”

He regretted that the youth who are the demographic majority and future of the country were sidelined in the nomination of ministers.

Olajengbesi noted that all efforts made to develop youths technologically and otherwise might be a waste if their ability were not harnessed.

“There is no gain saying that global rise in knowledge, technology and social awareness has boosted the capacity of our youths in the country.

“However, their ability to harness these assets effectively to drive national transformation will depend on the leadership opportunities available to them.

“While I know that being a “youth” in itself is not a qualification for leadership, it is in this context related to credible and competent young Nigerians within the required age.

“Is it not painful to see how young Nigerians excel outside Nigeria when they could have impacted same course into the Nigerian system if given the opportunity?

He therefore, urged the National Assembly to rise up to the challenge of 21st century and focus on the independent research of the British Council which said that “by 2030, youths, not oil, will be Nigeria’s greatest asset”.

NAN

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Buhari wins at election tribunal

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The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) has dismissed the petition by the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) and its candidate, Ambrose Owuru against the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in the last presidential election.

President Muhammadu Buhari

In a ruling on Thursday, a five-man penal of the court upheld the preliminary objection filed by Buhari (listed as the first respondent) against the competence of the petition.
The court held that not only did it lacked jurisdiction to hear the petition, because it talked about a referendum, but the prayers in the petition are also similar to what the petitioners sought in their pending cases before the Federal High Court on the same issues.

Justice Mohammed Garba, who is reading the lead judgment, held that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the petition and that it constitutes an abuse of court process.

He proceeded to dismiss it, a position other members of the panel agreed with.
The petitioners had sought to be pronounced the winners of the election on the grounds that they won a referendum, which they claimed was conducted when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the conduct of the presidential election.

The court, in another ruling, also refused the preliminary objection filed by the 2nd respondent, INEC) against the competence of the petition.

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I’ve no knowledge of Interior Ministry – Aregbesola

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The new Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on Wednesday said he has no knowledge of how the ministry operates.

Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola

He disclosed this when he visited the ministry shortly after he was inaugurated and assigned portfolio alongside other ministers by President Muhammadu Buhari. While speaking at the ministry, Aregbesola said apart from stories about the ministry on the pages of the newspapers, he had no idea of its policies and operations.

“My relationship with the ministry is distant. What I know about the ministry is what I read in the newspapers,” he acknowledged.

Aregbesola instructed Barr. Georgina Ehuriah, the Permanent Secretary, who had been in charge since the dissolution of the last cabinet, to continue running the ministry until Monday when he will formally take over.

“I will come to take over on Monday. I give the Permanent Secretary the grace to run the ministry till then. We will be ready by Monday to take on the huge assignment,” the former Osun State governor said.

Meanwhile, he has assured staff of the ministry and personnel of all paramilitary agencies under its purview of purposeful leadership.

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North condemns protest against Buhari

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A Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) Wednesday in Kaduna insisted that the north would not participate in the #RevolutionNow protest against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Reacting to the statement credited to the Joint Northern Action Front (JONAF), which on Sunday disclosed that plans were already in place for the north to join the Omoyele Sowole-led protest, CNG said the north could not participate in such a protest aimed at “overthrowing the current democratic government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
JONAF, in a statement, had said it was set to join the protest and plans were underway to mobilize its members in at least four northern states this week to join other progressives who are protesting against the All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari’s inability to tackle the socio-economic impasse in the country, especially the insecurity.

But addressing newsmen Wednesday at Arewa House in Kaduna, CNG spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, insisted that the north would not join the protest.

“The #RevolutionNow was politely rejected by the people in the north in view of its pronounced sinister intention of forcefully overthrowing the current democratic government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“It is therefore surprising and suspicious that any group of people should, for any intent and purpose, attempt to resurrect the dead revolution particularly in the north,” Abdul-Azeez said.

The spokesman also alleged that a northern governor was behind the protest in the north, adding that they might be forced to expose him.

Abdul-Azeez added: “We wish to remind the north of the expedience to retain its position as the bulwark of respect, integrity, dignity, decorum, tradition, decency, morality, civilization, etiquette, good behavior, politeness, accommodation, and other positive traits that include a civil approach to every situation.

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Afenifere, Ohanaeze carpet Buhari over new cabinet

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Afenifere and its Igbo counterpart, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, have condemned the allocation of ministries by President Muhammadu Buhari, with all nine ministers from the North-west receiving senior positions.

Afenifere’s Yinka Odumakin

Among the six geopolitical zones in the country, the North-west, which consists of Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states, has the highest number of ministers, all of which received senior portfolios.
The president hails from Katsina State in North-west.

The nine cabinet members from the North-west include Suleiman Adamu (Jigawa State), who was appointed Minister of Water Resources; Zainab Ahmed (Kaduna State), Minister of Finance; Muhammad Mahmood (Kaduna State), Minister of Environment; and Sabo Nanono (Kano State), Minister of Agriculture and Development.

Others are Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi (Kano State), Minister of Defence; Hadi Sirika (Katsina State), Minister of Aviation; Abubakar Malami (Kebbi State), Minister of Justice; Maigarai Dingyadi (Sokoto State), Minister of Police Affairs; and Sadiya Umar Faruk (Zamfara State), Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin, Wednesday described the appointment of the ministers as an act of “sectionalism on the part of the President.”

He said the appointment confirmed the position of critics who accused Buhari of nepotism.

“That is the next level of sectionalism in your face and incorrigibility.

“There have been complaints about all these things since the first term.

“Now, it has been done in a super way. So, that is the next level. Welcome to the next level,” he explained.

Also speaking on the issue, the National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Uche Achi-Okpoga noted that Buhari had repeatedly promised to give the North-West preference in his cabinet.

“It is not a surprise. We were not expecting anything less. We have a President that does not mince words.

“He stated it in his first tenure that he would not sacrifice those who gave him 97 per cent votes to those who gave him maybe five per cent. So, why should we be surprised that he gave juicy and senior positions to his kinsmen?

“He has demonstrated it in his body language, speeches, action and everything.

“He also said we should not expect him to change.

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