By Yusuf Alli:
• Ogbulafor, governors hold
• Ex-ministers to declare assets
Acting President Goodluck Jonathan was busy all yesterday, putting finishing touches to his cabinet’s list.
The last-minute consultations, sources said, are meant to plug all loopholes.
Jonathan is likely to send the ministerial list to the Senate today. It is believed that he may reappoint about half of the former ministers.
“The nominees have sailed through security screening; so, the list will definitely go to the Senate by today or tomorrow,” a Presidency source said, asking not to be identified.
“The Senate has given assurances that they will expedite action on the confirmation of the nominees; so, we expect the confirmation to start this week,” the source said.
Among those at the Villa were PDP National Chairman Vincent Ogbulafor, Governors Akwe Doma (Nasarawa), Segun Oni (Ekiti), Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa) and Ikedi Ohakim (Imo).
Though they said their visit was not connected with the reconstitution of the cabinet, The Nation gathered that the issue came up in their talks with Jonathan.
Ohakim acknowledged that he was consulted, adding that as a governor he has the right to submit a list.
Ohakim, who spoke with State House correspondents after meeting with Jonathan, said: “I have been consulted. I am a governor of a state and I have the right to submit my ministerial list but that is not the reason I am here”.
On the kind of ministers expected, he said, the Acting President is a pragmatic leader who knows what to do at any given time.
He said: “the Acting President is pragmatic and forward looking; he knows what to do. He knows the country has been trekking and we need to run, we need to fast-forward governance and my mind tells me that he will look for key professionals, those who can run with the ideas and give them responsibilities of driving the activities of this country because we can’t wait forever. I know who he is and that he has what it takes. In the next few days you will be happy with what is coming out from the exercise.”
The governor denied any friction between Jonathan and governors, saying: “Friction, what? There can be no friction between the governors and the Acting President.”
The Senate has hinted that the screening of former ministers who are reappointed would be tough. The nominees will be grilled on their performance in office in the disbanded cabinet.
Speaking with our correspondent on telephone yesterday, Information Committee chair, Senator Ayogu Eze, said such nominees must be prepared to answer questions on what they did while in office.
“The screening will be as vigorous as it has always been. Returnee-ministers will be taking more questions based on their performance during their stewardship. Everybody will answer questions on what he or she has done or failed to do.
“Those who will be coming back will have the additional responsibility of answering for their stewardship while in office. That, of course, will be taken on board.”
According to Eze, nobody will get the preferential “bow and go” treatment.
The Senate may, however, defer to former senators or members of the House of Representatives nominated as ministers.
As former legislators, such nominees are deemed to have met certain minimum criteria, which are considered to be part of their screening, Eze said.
But if senators feel strongly about the conduct of such persons, they will be made to answer the questions appropriately and the decision to confirm or reject them will be based on how such questions are answered, he said.
Eze said the screening would be aired live on television to enable Nigerians judge the performance of the nominees. The Senate, according to him, will make its decision known during its Easter break, which is expected to begin on Thursday.
The break may be shifted to accommodate the screening, apparently to enable Jonathan have a cabinet to work with in good time.
There was suspense yesterday over the new cabinet list following last-minute consultations between Jonathan and the National Security Adviser, Gen. Aliyu Gusau (rtd).
Besides, former ministers have been directed to declare their assets.
Gen. Gusau made many trips to the Acting President on the list.
It was gathered that some ex-ministers were yesterday given the Assets Declaration Form from the Code of Conduct of Bureau by security agencies.
It is part of the exit checks being conducted by security agencies, a source said.
“I think these agencies served the forms to confirm a few issues on some of the ex-Ministers, who are being recommended for re-nomination.
“Some people have written petitions to oppose the re-appointment of some Ministers based on allegations of corrupt practices,” the source added.
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