The guid­ance of wise men

Daily Trust - - SPORT -

Ev­ery­day things are get­ting more in­ter­est­ing at the top while be­low, life for the ma­jor­ity of cit­i­zens gets harder and prospects more bleak. De­spite the fact that elec­tions are long since over, pol­i­tics rather than eco­nom­ics still takes cen­tre stage. The latest episode in the po­lit­i­cal drama of the 8th Se­nate com­mences this week with the screen­ing of po­ten­tial min­is­ters.

For­mer mem­ber of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Honourable Pa­trick Obahi­ag­bon of Edo State, renowned for his lo­qua­cious­ness re­port­edly said the list of nom­i­nees Pres­i­dent Muhammed Buhari (PMB) for­warded to the Se­nate is a, “mi­asma of a… haem­or­rhag­ing plu­toc­racy…with all the ter­ma­gant os­si­fy­ing pro­cliv­i­ties of a kak­istoc­racy!” Putting it sim­ply and sen­si­bly he is less than im­pressed.

It’s also been re­ported that “Na­tional Leader” of the All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC) Asi­waju Bola Tin­ubu isn’t happy. Ac­cord­ing to re­ports he wasn’t con­sulted on the choice of nom­i­nees from the South-West. How­ever he ap­pears to be busy tak­ing is­sue with the Se­nate Pres­i­dent rather than wor­ry­ing about min­is­ters.

Although many APC sup­port­ers are up­set that the list con­tains no young peo­ple, not enough women and also the names of Peo­ple’s Demo­cratic Party (PDP) stal­warts, there is no gain­say­ing that it’s the pre­rog­a­tive of the Pres­i­dent to send nom­i­nees to the Se­nate, and the con­sti­tu­tional job of the Se­nate to carry out screen­ing.

While there is quite ev­i­dently a need to thor­oughly screen nom­i­nees, a ran­corous process will ben­e­fit no one and nei­ther ap­pease nor re­as­sure Nige­ri­ans. There is an ur­gent need to get the con­fir­ma­tions over and done with be­cause cit­i­zens are anx­iously await­ing the change they voted for. Sen­a­tors must place the na­tional in­ter­est over and above their per­sonal and po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests, and en­sure that the screen­ing doesn’t turn into a cheap show for the gallery. Even be­fore the ex­er­cise has com­menced is­sues are be­ing raised and pe­ti­tions for­warded.

Many Sen­a­tors are say­ing that PMB must be screened if he wants to be Petroleum Min­is­ter. There are even ru­mours that the in­com­plete list will be re­jected on the grounds that the Con­sti­tu­tion pro­vides for a min­is­ter from each of the thirty-six states of the fed­er­a­tion and doesn’t sup­port ap­point­ing min­is­ters by batches. Sen­a­tor Godswill Ak­pabio the for­mer Gover­nor of Akwa Ibom State gave an in­sight into the mind-set of to­day’s politi­cians when he com­plained on the floor of the Se­nate that the “juicy min­istries” would be taken up be­fore the next batch of names is re­ceived.

Doubt­less he knows what he is talk­ing about hav­ing en­joyed the “juicy” of­fice of State Gover­nor for eight years. Sen­a­tors have been asked to re­ject the nom­i­na­tion of Amina Mo­hammed as min­is­ter from Kaduna State. Ac­cord­ing to them the for­mer Spe­cial as­sis­tant on Mil­len­nium de­vel­op­ment goals hails from Gombe State.

Mean­while the Rivers State gov­ern­ment has in­dicted for­mer Gover­nor Ro­timi Amaechi and in­structed the Sen­a­tors form the State to op­pose his nom­i­na­tion. Amaechi claims he is be­ing witch- hunted and he is right. When peo­ple are be­ing witch-hunted it doesn’t mean they are in­no­cent, it just means that jus­tice is be­ing used for ul­te­rior mo­tives. Be that as it may the ques­tion still re­mains that PMB said he waited so long be­cause he wanted hon­est peo­ple, has he got them now?

Se­nate Pres­i­dent Bukola Saraki says Sen­a­tors would put Nige­ria first and do a “thor­ough job”, Ac­cord­ing to him it will not be “busi­ness as usual” (what­ever that means) and the screen­ing would be done by the book, ac­cord­ing to the let­ter of the law and with a level of se­ri­ous­ness to en­sure that nom­i­nees are fit enough to be Min­is­ters par­tic­u­larly at this time. Rulers gen­er­ally hate it when oth­ers as­sert them­selves against their wishes, but PMB should be pre­pared for some names not to scale through.

While the process will be seen as de­fec­tive if cor­rupt nom­i­nees are ap­proved sim­ply in or­der to please “oga at the top”, if all nom­i­nees with chal­lenges ca­pa­ble of cre­at­ing an im­age cri­sis for the gov­ern­ment are dropped, it will be dif­fi­cult to find re­place­ments amongst for­mer of­fice hold­ers. The ques­tion of weed­ing out “bad eggs” isn’t sup­posed to arise. In­ex­pli­ca­bly the rel­e­vant back­ground checks were not done be­fore names were for­warded to the Se­nate.

Re­ports have it that the Depart­ment of State Se­cu­rity (DSS) sub­se­quently in­vited all 21 nom­i­nees for se­cu­rity checks which in­clude scru­tiny of ed­u­ca­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tions, and checks for any past pros­e­cu­tions. It beg­gars belief that with the in­or­di­nate de­lay in an­nounc­ing names all this could not have been done ear­lier. It will be re­called that the is­sue of fake cer­tifi­cates, sus­pect ed­u­ca­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tions and bloated CV’s isn’t un­com­mon amongst min­is­ters.

The Mas­ters’ De­gree of a for­mer Min­is­ter of Avi­a­tion who is now a serv­ing Sen­a­tor al­legedly came from an ed­u­ca­tional es­tab­lish­ment which never awarded post-grad­u­ate qual­i­fi­ca­tions, while her first de­gree came from an Amer­i­can Col­lege which no longer ex­ists be­cause it was closed down due to lack of ac­cred­i­ta­tion! Ex­pect­ing such peo­ple to screen oth­ers is ironic. In­deed there is noth­ing in the an­tecedents of the ma­jor­ity of Sen­a­tors to in­di­cate that they have the moral right to ques­tion any­one’s pa­tri­o­tism or com­pe­tence.

Def­i­nitely we should ex­pect un­der­the-ta­ble ma­noeu­vres be­fore the process is com­pleted. The con­ven­tion that two sen­a­tors from the state must ap­prove the nom­i­na­tion is quite silly and un­called for. In guid­ing the 8th Se­nate through the murky wa­ters ahead the Se­nate Pres­i­dent should be well ad­vised to keep in mind the im­mor­tal words the leg­endary French leader Napoleon Bon­a­parte who said “rules are made for the guid­ance of wise men and the strict obe­di­ence of fools!”

Se­nate Pres­i­dent Bukola Saraki

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