By Tolu Ogunlesi:
Mrs. Yar’Adua’s subsequent confirmation by the Senate instantly took her into the history books, not only as the first ever Nigerian First Lady to simultaneously hold a cabinet-rank position, but also as the only Nigerian ever to be screened for a ministerial position in absentia.
The inclusion of the First Lady’s name in the list of nominees took the Senators by surprise, becoming known only after the final batch of nominees had been screened. Moments after Mr. Segun Aganga, the last of the candidates scheduled for Wednesday, took his bow before the Chambers, the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Mohammed Abba-Aji, was sighted making his way to the front of the chambers, where he spent minutes conferring with the Senate President.
While the conversation was going on, Mr. Abba-Aji handed over some documents to the Senate President, who broke into a smile when he browsed through them. When the Senate President finally addressed the Chambers, it was to make the surprise announcement – that Acting President Jonathan had, in a bid to increase the quota of women represented in the incoming cabinet, submitted the name of the First Lady for screening.
The Senate Chambers erupted in uproar, which took the Senate President several minutes to calm.
The Senate President then asked Senators to make an exception for the First Lady and screen her in absentia, taking into consideration the fact that her convalescing husband required her presence at his bedside.
There were a few voices of protest, but most of Senators agreed on a symbolic screening. The Senate President proceeded to announce Mrs. Yar’Adua, and then asked her to “bow and go in absentia.” This was followed by loud cheering spearheaded by the female Senators present.
With Mrs. Yar’Adua’s confirmation, the number of women in the incoming cabinet has risen to six, and the total number of screened nominees to thirty-nine.
The Yar’Adua family is also making history as the only family in recent times to have two nominees in a federal cabinet; as Mrs. Yar’Adua joins Murtala, her husband’s nephew, who was screened on Tuesday.
It is being speculated that Mrs. Yar’Adua will be assigned the proposed ‘Power Ministry’, which insider sources in the Presidency say should not be confused with the Ministry of Power.
Oh, it’s April Fools Day!
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