By Yusuf Alli:

• Undergo final security screening
• Tough hurdles for Dagash, Aganga, Akunyili

Ahead of the beginning of the screening of Ministerial nominees by the Senate tomorrow, there are strong indications that the controversy over some of the would-be ministers may affect their chances of success. Some state governors, a few state chapters of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and some loyalists of ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua are reportedly unhappy about the choice of some nominees.

The Nation learnt that forces opposed to the nomination of Murtala Yar’Adua, the president’s nephew, and Dora Akunyili, a former Information Minister, are poised to scuttle their hopes of scaling the hurdle.

A source said: “Pro-Yar’Adua loyalists are bent on frustrating the clearance of Murtala Yar’Adua, who might have accepted to serve the nation as a Minister despite pressure on him to decline the offer.

“The battle for Yar’Adua’s clearance is shifting to the Senate if he remains adamant.” Akunyili may have to answer questions on why she wrote the knotty memo to the Federal Executive Council on President Umaru Yar’Adua’s ill-health instead of resigning, another source said.

“I think the President’s loyalists in the Senate are laying ambush for her. She is already aware of this plot but her impeccable credentials and ability to speak the truth might save her.”

Other nominees who are likely to have a difficult screening include Senator Sanusi Dagash(Borno); Olusegun Aganga(Lagos); Josephine Anenih(Anambra); Emmanuel Iheanacho(Imo); Jubril Martins-Kuye; Nojeemdeen Adewale; and Chairman of the National Interest Group in the Senate, Senator Bala Mohammed. A source told The Nation, “The PDP chapters in Lagos and Imo opposed to their nominees. Lagos chapter of the party has already petitioned the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and the National Chairman of PDP, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor.

In the petition against Aganga, the Lagos PDP claimed that he is from Sabongida Ora in Edo State and allowing him to scale through would amount to giving Edo State two slots.

“There are security reports of likely state-sponsored protest in Ogun State against the nomination of Martins-Kuye and Nojeemdeen Adewale because Governor Gbenga Daniel is not happy that his nominee was rejected. But the Presidency is on top of the situation.

“As for Bala Mohammed, his colleagues might take him up on why he has become a direct beneficiary of the NIG’s agitation for the actualization of Jonathan’s Acting Presidency.”

Contrary to speculations, Senate President, Chief David Mark and Senator Joy Emodi whose election to the Senate was quashed by the Appeal Court in Enugu on Thursday, have denied reports linking them with moves to have Professor Dora Akunyili’s nomination substituted with Emodi’s.

Mark, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Communications, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan dismissed the report as baseless and idle, saying that the President of the Senate has better things to do with his time than to engage in such frivolities.

Mrs. Emodi who also spoke with our correspondent on the phone yesterday denied any knowledge of the plot against Akunyili as she maintained that it’s not in her character to get involved in such scheming.

She described the report as an attempt by some detractors to blackmail her, apparently in an attempt to pre-empt possible backlash in the quest by some individuals to get ministerial appointments by all means

Meanwhile, the nominees have stepped up efforts to clinch the job as security agencies rounded off final security checks on them at the weekend. Some of them have raised lobby teams to prevail on the Senators to give them a chance Investigation by The Nation revealed that most of the 33 nominees arrived in Abuja at the weekend and reported at the Office of the National Security Adviser for documentation and final round of security screening

A security source who spoke with our correspondent said: “The nominees are going through the final stage of clearance by security agencies.

The Nation

learnt that of the nine old ministers who were re-nominated by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, only the name of Mr. Remi Babalola, a former Minister of State for Finance, has been sent for security clearance.

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