Set criteria for ministerial nominees confirmation, Coalition of lawyers tells Senate

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The Coalition of Public Interest Lawyers and Advocates (COPA) has urged the Senate to set a parameter or criteria for confirmation and rejection of ministerial nominees and others sent to it by the president, to ensure transparency.

The Convener and leader of the coalition, Mr Pelumi Olajengbesi, made the call on Wednesday in Abuja in a statement made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Olajengbesi said such criteria would guide the process and ensure fairness and patriotism during screening rather than the “take a bow” method granted to most of the nominees in the just-concluded exercise.

“The Nigerian Senate has just announced the completion of the screening and confirmation of the ministerial nominees and Nigerians are made to wonder if the Senate is aware of its onus as an important body vested with constitutional powers to carry out this crucial assignment.

“The entire screening process was a demonstration of disloyalty to the Nigerian people, promotion of nepotism in state affairs and a show of party loyalty as against the need to sieve off ministerial nominees who lack the requisite aptitude, and are with questionable antecedents.

“The senate should know that the institution is responsible to Nigerians, and as such, should be wary of actions that may cost it its legitimacy.

“While it is understandable that there is a rule of the Senate that allows former legislators or members of the Senate to take a bow and go, I hold strongly that such rule mitigates the essence of the ministerial screenings,” the statement quoted Olajengbesi as saying.

According to the COPA leader, it is the duty of the legislature to constantly monitor the activities of the executive to guarantee visionary leadership.

This, he said, should start from the appointment of credible ministers.

He expressed the fear that the 9th National Assembly could become a rubber stamp assembly if it continue to sacrifice competence and transparency on the altar of “take a bow and go”.

“Does it not sadden the heart that not less than half of the 43 nominees were generously told to take a bow and go?

“Meanwhile, the only time the lawmakers deemed it fit to actually screen a nominee, took the posture of a grievance against the nominee or his sponsor, while glossing over other key issues.

“As it is, the direct implication of this malady goes down to the citizenry whose hopes have again been dashed, losing interest in whatever the outcome of the governmental process is.

“The Senate has therefore, failed the Nigerian people in such a very early moment of this administration.”

He regretted that the youth who are the demographic majority and future of the country were sidelined in the nomination of ministers.

Olajengbesi noted that all efforts made to develop youths technologically and otherwise might be a waste if their ability were not harnessed.

“There is no gain saying that global rise in knowledge, technology and social awareness has boosted the capacity of our youths in the country.

“However, their ability to harness these assets effectively to drive national transformation will depend on the leadership opportunities available to them.

“While I know that being a “youth” in itself is not a qualification for leadership, it is in this context related to credible and competent young Nigerians within the required age.

“Is it not painful to see how young Nigerians excel outside Nigeria when they could have impacted same course into the Nigerian system if given the opportunity?

He therefore, urged the National Assembly to rise up to the challenge of 21st century and focus on the independent research of the British Council which said that “by 2030, youths, not oil, will be Nigeria’s greatest asset”.

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