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MINISTERIAL SCREENING: WE WON'T SUCCUMB TO THREATS, BLACKMAIL

By NBF News
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Last Wednesday, the Red Chamber commenced the screening of nominees for the position of ministers expected to work with President Goodluck Jonathan to actualize his transformation agenda.

But before commencement of sitting, Senator Smart Adeyemi, representing Kogi- west, had alerted  the nation over purported plans by certain powerful forces  bent on fostering  narrow interests to frustrate proceedings and ensure that some  former ministers who made the list  did not scale through the hurdle of Senate  screening.

Adeyemi, vice-chairman, Northern Senators Forum alleged that the people championing entrenched interests have been deploying threats and blackmail to ensure that serving senators do their bidding.

Daily Sun was at the interactive session with Senator Adeyemi.

Excerpts:
We are under threats, blackmail
We have been under intense pressure by lobbyists and hired mercenaries to stop some nominees from being cleared or to disqualify some nominees by asking questions to embarrass them and stop them.

They have given many of us sleepless nights with offer of millions of Naira so as to discredit some nominees.

But to some of us, this will not in anyway affect the screening. The screening will follow the normal pattern. Once they scale through security screening which normally would have taken care of their moral and integrity, ours is to ask questions on their state of intelligence and plans to midwife the transformation programmes of the President.

We have also noticed that there are political opponents and those whose business interest is being threatened by the reforms are involved in this crusade so as to settle business score.

I believe that majority of the Senators that I have interacted with believe in President Jonathan's transformation programmes and will not allow any of us to be used. Those who are prepared to spend millions to disqualify some nominees or the transformation agenda of the President should invest their money in charity work and leave the Senate alone.

We can't be induced
Many of us will be very much at alert to make sure that money is not allowed to play any role in this screening exercise. We have been told that some people should not be allowed to pass through the screening simply because they effected or carried out reforms that will empower Nigeria rather than foreign interest.

In this crusade are some multi-national companies and their agents who feel that some re-nominated ministers, who were part and parcel of the reform programmes and agenda aimed at empowering Nigerians as regards local content in the process of industrialization, should be stopped in order to kill such reforms.

Even those of us that are perceived to be radical will not in any way make ourselves available for embarrassing or stopping any nominee except of course where such nominees display incompetence.

Lobbyists on the loose
To us as legislators, national interest comes first not foreign interest. The President, who had overwhelming support during the last election based on his transformation agenda must be given the benefit of the doubt because he emphatically told the nation that he is going to embark on transformation. As such, he must have meditated deeply and convinced that every nominee he is bringing, especially the reappointed Ministers must have performed excellently well enough.

None of all the re-nominated Ministers had any problem with their committees at least to the best of the Senate.

I speak this as a Senator, who did not miss one day of not being in the National Assembly but missed only four sittings due to flight delay. In essence, I had been part of every discussion, every issue in the last four years in the Senate. I had an idea of all the performance of these Ministers.

There is no gainsaying the fact that there is need for total reforms in the Transportation, Oil and Gas, Housing and Power Sectors and these sectors require highly intelligent and courageous Ministers and of course, some would be retained for continuity. Those whose business interests are being threatened should get to understand that the majority of my colleagues are aware of their scheme. Therefore, lobbyists are advised to steer clear of lawmakers or they will be exposed!

It is amazing and indeed shameful to see how selfish some Nigerian lobbyists are. Some of them do not mind mortgaging the future and economy of Nigerians in order to secure their own business interests.

Otherwise, what business does an individual have, with who becomes Minister or who is re-elected as one, when the pedigree of the nominees are not in question in the eyes of public and nominees possess a proven track record of performance.

We, at the National Assembly will vehemently oppose further attempts to lure us to stake the future happiness of the Nigerian masses by attempting to scuttle the confirmation of otherwise qualified nominees to fill ministerial slots, particularly ministers who have restructured their ministries in the past. We shall resist the temptation for the sake of the nation and the Nigerian spirit.

We must ensure Jonathan succeeds
In conformity with President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan's transformation Agenda, the need to select and appoint highly cerebral Nigerians with proven track records of excellence in their respective fields in order to drive home the transformation objective, cannot be over emphasized.

Nigeria has sat in the doldrums for too long. Therefore, the Nigerian government that celebrates mediocre while abandoning true patriots and professionals in the lurch, must finally be bade farewell, if the transformation agenda, which is truly engineered towards the betterment of the lives of Nigerians is to birth any positive result.

This objective can only be achieved by ensuring that appointments to service are based squarely on qualification and merit, I mean by putting round pegs in round holes.

Those sending petitions against Ministerial nominees to irregular bodies or  invest in publishing campaigns of calumny against their brothers on the pages of  newspapers ought to know that there exists committees on public petitions in both the Senate and House of Representatives divisions of the National Assembly, where their grievances should have been directed before now, not at the hour of screening.

Every Ministerial nominee must have passed through security screening before his or her name is sent to the floor of Nigerian Senate for screening. The duty of the Senate is then to consider security reports and the intellectual capacity of nominees before their confirmation as ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

However, it is disheartening to note that intense pressure is being mounted on some of us, lawmakers, who are perceived to be outspoken, in order to becloud our sense of judgment. The antics of lobbyists and horse traders have become unbearable lately as they have offered huge sums of money to some lawmakers in a bid to derail them from towing the paths of justice in the confirmation of nominated and re-nominated ministers.