At last, Buhari sends ministers’ list to Senate

ABUJA — President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, sent names of the first set of ministerial nominees to the Senate for confirmation. The list, however, got to the Senate after the end of the day’s plenary, prompting the Red Chamber to declare that it was yet to receive the list from the President.

This almost resulted in a row between senators on the platforms of All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, but was quickly nipped in the bud by the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, who was only 24 hours earlier given a confidence vote by his colleagues.
Saraki on his Twitter handle, confirmed that he had received the ministerial list. The long-awaited list was presented to the Senate President by the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari and the Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate), Ita Enang, at 4. 59 pm, yesterday. The list was said to contain names of 21 ministerial nominees.


The ministerial list handed-over to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki (Left) by the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari (Middle), as Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang looks on. Wednesday, 30/9/2015
The ministerial list handed-over to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki (Left) by the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari (Middle), as Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang looks on. Wednesday, 30/9/2015
However, the Senate president has said the envelope containing the names would not be opened until Tuesday, when the Senate resumes.
The President had promised to release the names of the nominees to the Upper Legislative Chamber on September 30 to satisfy expectations of Nigerians.

Buhari, who disclosed this in his speech to mark the nation’s 55th Independence Anniversary, said the delay in sending the names to the Senate was informed by late submission of handing over notes by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

President Buhari’s confirmation of delivery of the list to the Senate came hours after the Red Chamber said it was yet to receive it from him, even as senators on the platform of APC pleaded with their PDP counterparts to exercise patience till midnight, following the anxiety that gripped senators over the issue. According to the President, subsequent lists of ministerial nominees will be forwarded to the Senate in due course.

Ministerial list: Impatience not a virtue, says Buhari

Speaking on the list, the president said: “Fellow Nigerians, there have been a lot of anxiety and impatience over the apparent delay in announcement of ministers. There is no cause to be anxious. Our government set out to do things methodically and properly. We received the handing over notes from the outgoing government only four days before taking over.

“Consequently, the Joda Transition Committee submitted its report on the re-organization of Federal Government structure after studying the hand-over notes. It would have been haphazard to announce ministers when the government had not finalized the number of ministries to optimally carry the burden of governance.

“Anyway, the wait is over. The first set of names for ministerial nominees for confirmation has been sent to the Senate. Subsequent lists will be forwarded in due course. Impatience is not a virtue. Order is more vital than speed. Careful and deliberate decisions after consultations get far better results. And better results for our country is what the APC government for CHANGE is all about.”

The list

However, after waiting patiently for names of the nominees to be reeled out by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, which were not forthcoming, senators were agitated, prompting the Senate to declare that the President was yet to forward same.

Chairman, Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Media and Publicity, Dino Melaye, who spoke to newsmen shortly after the day’s plenary, insisted that the Senate had not received any correspondence from President Muhammadu Buhari regarding the list.

He insisted that the list would be accorded expeditious treatment as soon as it was received and reiterated the resolve of the Senate to carry out a thorough screening of the nominees without recourse to political party, ethnic, religious and personal considerations.

Melaye said: “Let me confirm to you that so far, we have not received the ministerial list. We are still waiting for the ministerial lists, no need for agitation; September expires by 12 midnight.

“Like I said earlier, due process will be followed when we receive the list, we will carry out diligent screening and confirm only those who meet constitutional and moral requirements.

“The Office of the Senate President is open 24 hours and once we get the list, we would communicate same to the public through you (newsmen).”

Prior to Melaye’s statement, the non-delivery of the list to the Senate by the Presidency had prompted Peoples Democratic Party,PDP senators to seek clarification from the Senate President, Bukola
Senate minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, PDP,Akwa Ibom North West, had raised a point of order, under matter of urgent importance, to find out why the Senate President had not announced the President’s letter containing ministerial nominees.

Akpabio,who noted that the nation’s newspapers in the last couple of weeks had been awash with stories on ministerial appointments by the President, asked the Senate President why he received the list from President Buhari and was hiding it from his colleagues.

As Saraki attempted to answer Akpabio’s question, Deputy Senate Leader, Ibn Bala Na’Allah (APC, Kebbi South), raised another point of order, explaining that the day was still young.

He said since the day’s session would end by 12:30pm, there was still hope that the President would transmit the list of ministerial nominees to the Upper Chamber before the close of the session. He also said since the day ends by 12 midnight, there was hope that the list could come before the time.

But the Senate President did not provide an answer as he over-ruled Senator Akpabio, asking that the next item in the day’s agenda be introduced.

Full text of the President’s speech:

“October 1st is a day for joy and celebrations for us Nigerians, whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in because it is the day, 55 years ago; we liberated ourselves from the shackles of colonialism and began our long march to nationhood and to greatness.

“No temporary problems or passing challenges should stop us from honouring this day. Let us remind ourselves of the gifts God has given us. Our Creator has bequeathed to us Numbers – Nigeria is the ninth most populated country on the planet. We have in addition arable land; water; forests; oil and gas; coastline; and solid minerals

“We have all the attributes of a great nation. We are not there yet because the one commodity we have been unable to exploit to the fullest is unity of purpose. This would have enabled us to achieve not only more orderly political evolution and integration but also continuity and economic progress.

“Countries far less endowed have made greater economic progress by greater coherence and unity of purpose.
“Nonetheless, that we have remained together is an achievement we should all appreciate and try to consolidate. We have witnessed this year a change in our democratic development.

“The fact that an opposition party replaced an entrenched government in a free and fair election is indicative of the deeper roots of our democratic system. Whatever one’s views are, Nigerians must thank former President Jonathan for not digging-in in the face of defeat and thereby saving the country untold consequences.

“As I said in my inaugural speech, I bear no ill will against anyone on past events. Nobody should fear anything from me. We are not after anyone. People should only fear the consequences of their actions. I hereby invite everyone, whatever his or her political view to join me in working for the nation.

“My countrymen and women, every new government inherits problems. Ours was no different. But what Nigerians want are solutions, quick solutions not a recitation of problems inherited.

“Accordingly, after consultations with the Vice President, senior party leaders and other senior stakeholders, I quickly got down to work on the immediate, medium-term and long-term problems which we must solve if we are to maintain the confidence which Nigerians so generously bestowed on us in the March elections and since then.

“As you know, I toured the neighbouring countries, marshalled a coalition of armed forces of the five nations to confront and defeat Boko Haram. I met also the G-7 leaders and other friendly presidents in an effort to build an international coalition against Boko Haram.

“Our gallant armed forces under new leadership have taken the battle to the insurgents, and severely weakened their logistical and infrastructural capabilities. Boko Haram are being scattered and are on the run.

“That they are resorting to shameless attacks on soft targets such as I.D.P. camps is indicative of their cowardice and desperation. I have instructed security and local authorities to tighten vigilance in vulnerable places.

“On power, government officials have held a series of long sessions over several weeks about the best way to improve the nation’s power supply in the safest and most cost-effective way.

“In the meantime, improvement in the power supply is moderately encouraging. By the same token, supply of petrol and kerosene to the public has improved throughout the country. All the early signs are that within months the whole country would begin to feel a change for the better.

“Preliminary steps have been taken to sanitize NNPC and improve its operations so that the inefficiency and corruption could be reduced to a minimum.

“Those of our refineries which can be serviced and brought back into partial production would be enabled to resume operations so that the whole sordid business of exporting crude and importing finished products in dubious transactions could be stopped.

“In addition to NNPC, I have ordered a complete audit of our other revenue generating agencies mainly CBN, FIRS, Customs, NCC, for better service delivery to the nation. Prudent house-keeping is needed now more than ever in view of the sharp decline in world market oil prices. It is a challenge we have to face squarely. But what counts is not so much what accrues but how we manage our resources.

“We have seen in the last few years how huge resources were mismanaged, squandered and wasted. The new APC government is embarking on a clean up, introducing prudence and probity in public financing.

“At an early stage, the federal government addressed the issue of salary arrears in many states, a situation capable of degenerating into social unrest. The APC government stepped in to provide short-term support to the debtor states and enabled them to pay off the backlog and restore the livelihood of millions of Nigerians.

“Fellow Nigerians, there have been a lot of anxiety and impatience over the apparent delay in announcement of ministers. There is no cause to be anxious. Our government set out to do things methodically and properly. We received the handing over notes from the outgoing government only four days before taking over. Consequently, the Joda Transition Committee submitted its Report on the reorganization of Federal Government structure after studying the hand over notes. It would have been haphazard to announce ministers when the government had not finalized the number of ministries to optimally carry the burden of governance.

“Anyway, the wait is over. The first set of names for ministerial nominees for confirmation has been sent to the senate. Subsequent lists will be forwarded in due course. Impatience is not a virtue. Order is more vital than speed. Careful and deliberate decisions after consultations get far better results. And better results for our country is what the APC government for CHANGE is all about.

“I would like to end my address this morning on our agenda for CHANGE. Change does not just happen. You and I and all of us must appreciate that we all have our part to play if we want to bring change about. We must change our lawless habits, our attitude to public office and public trust. We must change our unruly behaviour in schools, hospitals, market places, motor parks, on the roads, in homes and offices. To bring about change, we must change ourselves by being law-abiding citizens.

“Happy Independence Celebrations. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”