By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi:

• Ebonyi, Taraba, S’ South, N’East Nominees Still Expected
• Sack Non-performing Ministers, Mark Tells Jonathan

A TOTAL 38 cabinet nominees were confirmed on Wednesday and, at the end of the exercise, Senate President David Mark urged Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to sack any of them who comes up short in the rejuvenated Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF).

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan (left) welcomes Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson to the Villa in Abuja ... on Wednesday. Photo : Tunde Olaniyi.

The Chamber did not screen Taraba State nominee, Umaru Aliyu, who would have been the 39th candidate.

And nominees from Ebonyi and Taraba States, the North East and South South are still being expected.

Thirteen Ministers appointed by President Umaru Yar’Adua made it back to the cabinet, among them Shamsudeen Usman (Kano) and Dora Akunyili (Anambra). (See table).

The 25 new members include Josephine Tapgun (Plateau), and Olusegun Aganga (Lagos).  (Also see table).

Mark reiterated at the end of the three-day screening that time is of the essence and, so, Jonathan should sack any Minister who fails to perform.

“We have spent several hours to screen and confirm the Ministers,” he said, and “it is our wish and hope that once they are allocated their portfolios and they resume, they will earnestly do what they promised us here.

“I think we will ensure that through our oversight functions they do precisely what they told us here.

“I will like to use this opportunity to ask (Jonathan) that any Minister who does not live up to expectation should not be spared. He should immediately be removed from office so that he/she doesn’t become a clog in the wheel of progress.”

In response to critics who have lampooned the speed with which the Senate conducted the exercise, Mark reiterated that, “We have done this in the interest of this country. We have done this because we want to move the nation forward as quickly as possible in accordance with our doctrine of necessity.

“We hastened up the screening of these Ministers. Ideally, this would have taken much, much longer. But in spite of the fact that it has taken a short time, I think we have done a thorough job and hope that when these Ministers are deployed, they would live up to the expectations of Nigerians.”

Mark refused to entertain objections raised by Satti Gogwim (PDP, Plateau), Grace Folashade Bent (PDP, Adamawa), and Felix Kola Bajomo (PDP, Ogun) on the premise that most Senators have grievances with the Ministerial list but chose to let the screening pass in the national interest.

A source narrated, however, that signals had come “from the Presidency during the screening on Tuesday that the screening of Usman be put on hold.

“That was why he was not screened on Tuesday even though his name was listed on the Order Paper.”

Several petitions against Usman had flooded the desks of Jonathan and Mark detailing why he should not be allowed to return to the cabinet.

“One reached the desk of the National Security Adviser, Aliyu Gusau, who drew the attention of (Jonathan) to it,” the source added.

A petition from Good Governance Initiative Group (GGIG) alleged that Usman abused his office, and demanded explanation on certain funds allegedly mismanaged by him.

Gusau got in touch with Jonathan who in turn urged Mark to stay action. Thereafter, Gusau contacted Usman, “who pleaded to be given the opportunity to personally respond to the petitions.”

Usman was granted his wish on Tuesday night.

It was decided at the end of the meeting with Gusau that the petitions were not strong enough to stop his nomination “and a signal was sent to the Senate that he has been cleared.”

Senate Spokesman, Ayogu Eze, explained to reporters on Wednesday that there were conflicting signals from the Villa concerning Usman.

“The signal was not clear as at Tuesday concerning his nomination. I don’t think we should condemn the press for the reportage,” he said.

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