Senate house screens 14, holds ministerial nominees over age, tax

The Senate, on Monday, commenced the screening of the 28 ministerial nominees forwarded to it by President Bola Tinubu last week.

14 out of the 28 ministerial nominees were screened by the Senate at a session governed by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio.

They were Abubakar Kyari (Borno), Abubakar Momoh (Edo), former governor Nyesom Wike (Rivers), John Enoh (Cross River), former governor Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Ambassador Yusuf Maitama Tuggar (Bauchi) and Hon. Nkiruka Onyejeocha (Abia).

Others were Bello Muhammad (Sokoto), Prof Joseph Utsev (Benue), Senator Abubakar Danladi (Taraba), Barr. Uju-Ken Ohaneye (Anambra), Hon. Olubunmi Tunji Ojo (Ondo), Betta Edu (Cross River), and Imaan Sulaiman Ibrahim (Nasarawa)

While some of the nominees had easy passage and were asked to ‘bow and go’ without much questioning, others, however, were drilled by senators.

At the plenary, nominees like Danladi, Utsev, Ohaneye, and Muhammed faced a bit of drilling by the lawmakers.

Three out of the seven other nominees grilled during the session were confronted with issues bordering on plausible age falsification, forgery, and perjury.

The three affected nominees were Senator Abubakar Danladi from Taraba State, Bello Muhammad from Sokoto State, and Prof. Joseph Utsev from Benue State.

Specifically, Danladi was taken up on an alleged court judgment banning him from holding public office for 10 years.

Though he spiritedly denied the allegation, the Senate President ruled that the issue would be looked into at the stage of confirmation.

There had been social media posts clamoring for Danladi’s disqualification over an alleged Supreme Court ruling that barred him from holding public offices for 10 years.

However, when asked to respond to the allegations, Danladi was it was not true.

He was, thereafter, asked to take a bow being a former senator by the tradition of the National Assembly.

On his part, Bello Muhammad from Sokoto State was taken up on his secondary school certificate.

The nominee,  as observed by  Senator Jimoh Ibrahim( APC Ondo South), submitted a secondary school certificate that does not tally with the grades contained in his resume.

Muhammed, in his defense, told the Senate that the certificate that has the grades noted in his resume was not attached but would be provided later

The Senate President, in his remarks, said, “Mr. Nominee, you will have to make available the certificate that has the grades stated in your resume. Forward it to the secretariat as it would be needed at the confirmation stage.”

For the Benue nominee, Prof. Utsev, his resume stating that he started primary school at the age of three and finished at the age of nine, was questioned.

The nominee,  in his certificate, stated that he was born in 1980 and finished primary school in 1989.

The error was spotted by Lagos lawmaker, Senator Tokunbo Abiru, who stated that something must have been missing.

The Senate President repeated that all issues of infractions on certificates submitted by the affected nominees would be thoroughly looked into at the stage of confirmation.

After answering questions about what he would do if made the Minister of Water Resources in the area of dams, Utsev was asked to take a bow and go.

Though the Ondo nominee, Hon Olubunmi Tunji -Ojo, was taken up by Senator Sadiq Umar ( APC Kwara North), on why he did his national youth service at the age of  38,  his clarification was accepted by the Senate.

The nominee, who was born in 1982 and served when he was 38, explained that he finished university in the United Kingdom in 2005 under the age of 30, making him do the compulsory National Youth Service in 2020 after returning to Nigeria.

Ohaneye was also questioned about tax returns but she illustrated that she was into philanthropy work which had excused her from tax payment.

The Senate President told them all to bow and go while a decision would be taken on them at the confirmation stage amongst the lawmakers.

Meanwhile, seven out of the 14 ministerial nominees that were screened by the lawmakers were told to ‘bow and leave.

’Take a ‘bow and leave’ is a term used by lawmakers to accord respect and honor to former senators, federal House of Representatives members, and members of state assemblies.

The APC acting National Chairman, Abubakar Kyari, being a former senator, was simply asked to take a bow and go.

 Wike, who is the only member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party on the ministerial list, also enjoyed the kingly treatment.

Addressing the Senate, Wike said, “I thank Mr President for nominating me. I believe, knowing how hungry Mr. President is to solve the problems of Nigeria, we have no choice but to give him that required support. And I can assure you, if I am corroborated in whatever capacity, Mr. President will not regret nominating me.”

The Senate President, thereafter, told him to take a bow and leave.

Edited by Damilola Adeleke

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