Indications emerged yesterday evening that some ministerial nominees may not given be a clean bill, as the Senate begins screening today. This is even as President Muhammadu Buhari forwarded the second list of 15 names to the Senate in a sealed envelope.
Sources said the list may include the names of Chief Festus Odimegwu, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Prof. Barth Nnaji, Chief Ike Emenike, Alhaji Mohammed Bello and Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN).
Others are: Isaac Adewale, Anthony Anwula, Dan Ali, Okechukwu Enilamah, Cladius Daramola, Heineken Lokpobiri and James Ocholi.
The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang and his colleague in the House of Representatives, Abdurahman Sumaila, submitted the list to Senate President Bukola Saraki in his office around 4:24pm yesterday.
Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media, Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu, who confirmed this, explained that Saraki would not open the envelope until today during plenary when he was expected to read the list before his colleagues.
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions also postponed the ongoing investigation on the petitions submitted against the nomination of the former Rivers State governor Rotimi Amaechi and Mrs. Amina Mohammed.
Chairman of the committee, Samuel Anyanwu, explained that since the case is already pending before a court, it is in their rule not to entertain any matter before the court since it would be subjudice.
Mohammed who appeared before the panel, urged the committee to disregard the allegations: “I was brought up in Kaduna. My father lived there but I have no connection with Kaduna State. I am indigene of Gombe State and the assumption is that I would be representing Gombe in the cabinet.”
Anyanwu: “We just received only two petitions. One that concerns Rotimi Amaechi and the other one that concerns Amina Mohammed. So far, we have treated the two petitions and the committee is about putting down our report, which might be ready tomorrow (today) and if we cannot conclude it tomorrow, then we will move to the next day. “What we are saying is that we have a petition against Amaechi. And there is a letter from his lawyer that they have a pending case in the court. We also received a White Paper indicting him and we also received a Federal High Court judgement that says that Amaechi cannot stop the judicial commission from investigating him. He went to Appeal Court and the matter is pending in Appeal Court. And in our Senate Rule, once a matter is in court, we will not dwell into it. But what we are going to do is to package the documents, look at their natures and be able to do our report and send to the Senate by tomorrow or next.
In another development, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Buhari has no intention to be Minister of Petroleum Resources but would only supervise the ministry.
He said in a television interview: “He is not going to be designated as minister but will supervise the ministry. When former President Olusegun Obasanjo while in office supervised that ministry for six years, was he called a petroleum minister? No, he was not.”
“The president is going to supervise and maybe, he would have Minister of State to work along with him. I dare say, he has all it takes to supervise that ministry having been oil minister for three and a half years in the past.
Buhari would respect the constitution. And the constitution says ministers must be appointed from each state and that means there must be minimum of 36 ministers. He would respect that.
Adesina added that the age of the ministerial nominees does not matter to the president: “These people who have been nominated are qualified and are Nigerians. Talking of age, there is a saying that ‘age does not matter. It does not mind, if you don’t mind it.’ I don’t think that age is an issue. ”