Written by Taiwo Adisa:
FORMER ministers, who are angling to return to the federal cabinet, are set to face fresh hurdles in the Senate, as some of them may be rejected on the basis of their failure to work for the activation of Section 144 of the constitution to pave the way for the wholesale investigation of the true state of health of ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Sources in the National Assembly told the Nigerian Tribune that senators who met under the aegis of the National Interest Group (NIG) with members of the House of Representatives under the aegis of Nigeria First (NF) have resolved to collaborate on the need to drop any ministerial nominee who is seen to have worked against the interests of the people in recent times.
Sources said that the NIG had remained intact since it successfully won the battle for the inauguration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as acting president on February 9, 2010.
It was gathered that the groups at their meeting on Wednesday last week resolved to continue to give support to the emerging administration of Dr. Jonathan and to play a key role in ensuring “a credible cabinet” this time.
Although it was learnt that the group decided to leave the acting president to come up with the best names of those he believed could do good jobs in the emerging administration, the lawmakers were said to have resolved to ensure that any of the nominees with negative perception among the people would not be cleared.
A source told the Nigerian Tribune that the lawmakers had also been studying the proposal of some loyalists of ailing President Yar’Adua on the demand for seven key ministerial seats. Some NIG members said on Sunday that the proposal would be resisted by the group on the floor of the Senate.
It was also learnt that the group would insist on questioning all ministerial nominees on their roles in the political logjam that nearly consumed the nation’s democracy.
“We will insist that they answer questions on issues bordering on Section 144 and what their roles were in the heat of the argument. Of course, our members will not support any nominee who fails to convince us that he played a statesmanly role in the avoided logjam,” a source in the NIG said.
But it was equally learnt that some of the ministerial hopefuls who have got hints of their likely return to the cabinet had been making overtures to the leadership of the Senate to prevail on the senators to shelve damaging questions during the screening.
It was also gathered that the Presidency was interested in ensuring a safe ride for its nominees as sources said that the office of the acting president immediately set machinery in motion to pacify the aggrieved senators upon hearing of their plan to stop the clearance of some nominees.
A source said that the office of the acting president had actually sent words to the lawmakers to help ensure a smooth passage for the ministerial nominees and not to complicate issues during the screening exercise.
It was gathered that the acting president’s men pleaded that the senators should refrain from asking questions that could heat up the polity during the screening.
The President of the Senate, Mr David Mark, will get the list of the first batch of the ministerial nominees this (Monday) evening, sources told the Nigerian Tribune on Sunday.
Sources said that the Senate president, who is due to attend a PDP programme in Zamfara State, will get the document after returning to Abuja.
Apart from the ministerial list, sources said that Jonathan would continue to structure the new administration with further changes this week.
It was, however, gathered that the acting president was still keeping the nature of the expected changes close to his chest.
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