Written by Turaki A. Hassan:

Thirty three ministerial nominees whose names were sent to the Senate by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan last week as well as four others whose names were added to the list at the weekend are expected to appear before the full Senate this morning for screening and possible confirmation. While some of the nominees are expected to have an easy time at the screening, some others are expected to have a very difficult time and may not make it through to secure confirmation.

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan

Four members of the dissolved cabinet, namely Alhaji Ibrahim Isa Bio from Kwara, Mr. John Odey from Cross River, Mr. Remi Babalola from Oyo and Mr. Humphrey Abbah from Kogi had their names added to the nominees’ list at the weekend, bringing the total to 37. That leaves about 5 ministerial seats yet to be fulfilled.

From early indications, the most contentious screenings are likely to be for Professor Dora Akunyili and Senator Mohamed Sanusi Daggash.

Daily Trust learnt from a senator last night that the decision to scuttle Mrs. Akunyili’s confirmation was taken by senators immediately after Acting President Goodluck Jonathan dissolved the last Federal Executive Council. He said last Thursday’s sacking of Senator Joy Emodi from the Senate by the Court of Appeal Enugu division had nothing to do with their position on Akunyili.

He said, “Senate has already decided unanimously long before her re-nomination that we will not confirm her if she is re-nominated because of her recent utterances and behaviours which are unbecoming of a public servant. It has nothing to do with the exit of Senator Emodi and contrary to what other people are saying, it is not Northern Senators that are against her. It is the decision of the entire Senate.

“We knew that she wanted to be Anambra State governor. She went to the First Lady and begged, but the First Lady refused to interfere. We also know that she had been going to her to cook for her, and the First Lady took her as a daughter. When she visits Hajia Turai, Mrs. Akunyili would not even sit in a chair, she always sat on the carpet. But the moment she heard that President Yar’adua was incapacitated, she went out and continued to run her mouth, after which she went to Chief Tony Anenih and begged and apologized that she was sorry.”

Another reason why the Senate will not confirm Akunyili, according a ranking Senator, is because of her role in the crisis bedevilling the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra state. He said, “She went to Anambra and said she was the party leader and called a meeting, during which youths hurled water sachets at her and said they didn’t know her. So, with all these, you can see that she cannot escape, that is why we are saying that instead of Anambra State to lose the ministerial slot, let Emodi, who has been a very loyal party member, replace her. And let me tell you that, even the Anambra senators themselves don’t want her. That is the opinion of the Nigerian public.”

Daily Trust had reported last Friday that, shortly after Senator Emodi’s election was quashed, Senators began lobbying for her to replace Akunyili as the ministerial nominee.

Several senators also told Daily Trust that they had taken a stand on former Minister of National Planning Senator Mohammed Sunusi Daggash, with whom they had a very frosty relationship when he was a minister in the first Yar’adua cabinet.

Sources however said Daggash mounted a strong lobby at the weekend and visited most of the senators in their houses, with the help of one of the principal officers who urged his colleagues to forgive their former colleague.

Although he did not mention the names of those who might have visited him to lobby for his support at the weekend, Senator Adamu Garba Talba (PDP, Yobe South) confirmed that several nominees were at his house. “They have been lobbying, but you know it is normal in democracy,” he said.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information and Media Senator Simon Ayogu Eze (PDP, Enugu North) however denied knowledge of a Senate decision not to confirm Akunyili. He said, “Where did that happen? We will only confirm or not confirm a nominee based on his/her performance during screening. We cannot single out anybody from the list and say we won’t confirm that person.”

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