23rd January, 2014
Nigeria’s National Assembly will face a litmus test when it begins to screen the ministerial nominees President Goodluck Jonathan has just sent to it for approval. Recent incidents bordering on accusations of corruption, unethical practices, certificate forgery, impunity and financial recklessness against some ministers under the President Jonathan government are an indictment of the National Assembly which failed to properly screen those ministers before they were appointed. As things are, the love for self rather than sincere representation often overrides the need to reject ministerial nominees with questionable antecedents.
Among the twelve nominees the President recently sent to the National Assembly, some of them do not deserve such a lofty elevation. One of them was even indicted for gross corruption while he was a governor. We wait to see whether the National Assembly will give him the green light to proceed as a minister.
Part of the duties of the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, is the screening of ministerial nominees sent by the President to fill spaces in his cabinet. The Senate is supposed to handle the screening by testing the intellectual and physical capacity of the nominees to take up the challenge of contributing to the development of the country.
In the Nigerian situation, however, the screening exercise has shamefully been reduced to ‘take a bow and go’. The only time the lawmakers pretend to actually screen takes the posture of a grievance against the nominee or his sponsor. They gloss over other key isssues. This amounts to dashing the expectations of those they represent and further exposes the laziness of the country’s senators. This laziness that comes in the form of the exercise of privileges by the senators reflects in the failure of some of the ministers to positively assist the President who now seems more confused than the average citizen of the country.
The scandals involving Princess Stella Oduah, the embattled minister of Aviation is an instance where the Senate did not carry out a proper screening before she was endorsed for her ministerial job.
Apart from the scandal surrounding her alleged purchase of two cars at N255 million and her insistence that she did the right thing, the allegation of certificate forgery levelled against her which she has failed to react to, is a very serious slap on the National Assembly which screened her for the job.
Also, the overseeing Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, once vowed to make Rivers State ungovernable for Governor Chibuike Amaechi and the senators played the deaf and dumb. He is now carrying out his threat and Senator Magnus Abe is lying in the hospital after he was shot by the police in Rivers State.
Allegations of corruption against the Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke have been ignored by the senators. In view of all this, it is not surprising that Labaran Maku, the Minister of Information, once denigrated the National Assembly A Nigerian proverb says the thief is never as ashamed as his family when caught. Every right thinking Nigerian should be ashamed about what oozes out of President Jonathan’s cabinet daily.
The senators must brace up to their responsibilities as true representatives of their people and carry out thorough screening of ministerial nominees including background checks on all of them before people without integrity are appointed as our ministers.