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WHO REALLY NEEDS A MINISTERIAL 'SCREENING'?

By NBF NEWS
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The biggest thing on national television this week were the live ministerial screenings. Even if you were not a politician and (even if you were) not interested, I doubt that you could have ignored or missed the three day screenings. Except of course, you are a fan of Barcelona Football Club who thinks that a 2-away goal draw is as good as a UEFA Champions League semi-final ticket. Or you are an unwavering Red Devil who's salivating at the bloody massacre of Bayern at Old Trafford, come the return match. Gunners, kwenu! Let's not go there.

I'm decidedly not doing sports (football to some people) today. Let's talk about the ministerial screenings, instead. Just to warn you, this is a Good Friday Special which means that you shouldn't take anything too seriously.

But is there any way to write about the screenings without sounding like a broken record? I mean the last time a ministerial screening was televised; it was a major story on this page, although it was written by a very angry young Nigerian man. He couldn't get over the seeming lack of seriousness in the way that screening was conducted. Many had prayed that the National Assembly would somehow be the last hope of the common man in that our elected representatives would, going with the general mood in the country, help us weed out undeserving appointees. So, what changed this time around?

It's not clear why we really like to hope against all hope. If people were expectant during the first half of this administration, even more was expected from Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, such that by the time he came round to dissolving the highly compromised cabinet, expectations that Nigeria was finally going to get 'good' ministers were at an all time high.

Then it dawned on all that the cabinet was likely going to be made from 'tired wood' although I don't agree with those who say we shouldn't have expected a miracle because Jonathan didn't get to power through some revolution or in the most transparent manner. After all, as Dr. Ngige showed in Anambra State, you can rise above any Okija shrine or electoral wuruwuru to become a hero. I'm sure millions of people thank God and Bola Tinubu for the AC primaries which left many AC governorship aspirants dissatisfied, but which thrust Fashola as governor on Lagos State.

Anyhow, with no help from the other side of Aso Villa, it left the senate in the role of the 'redeemer.' Beginning from Monday March 29, the Senate took the unprecedented step of sitting on a Monday and postponed their Easter break, just to conclude the screening of the ministerial nominees in time for speedy swearing in.

Unfortunately, I missed out on the juicy bits. I would've loved to watch the Akunyili 'Inquisition' which would make a nice Nollywood movie: The Nominee vs. The Cabal, directed by Teco Benson or Tarila Thompson. I have no need to repeat the 'You cooked for the first lady' and other gibberish. Especially because as at the time of writing this, Akunyili had been confirmed by the Senate as a ministerial nominee. And in any case, she's no pushover as she's capable of matching any roforofo, having showed that she may have been missing the adrenalin-pumping action from her former job as NAFDAC DG.

However, I have a few highpoints/observations even though I watched day two and three of the screenings in a hair salon which is not a bad place when you think of it. You'll get first hand reaction from fellow Nigerians, to begin with. Also, because it's not really that conducive, you may be saved from actually 'hearing' the more boring nominees.

In spite of the fact that one oversabi male patron insisted the volume had to be turned up because: 'I want to hear everything.' But thanks to PHCN which also acted as a nice moderator, light came on and off at sometimes very good interludes like when Miss Josephine Tapgun came on. An assistant director at the youth ministry, she came prepared to give a long boring lecture. Just at the right time, NEPA struck and before alternative power was restored, she had gone!

I was initially put off by the 'paddy paddy' atmosphere in the senate although I had to thank God my job didn't involve actually sitting through some of the nominees' speeches. Some of these people couldn't sell themselves! How will they then sell a ministry they've just got acquainted? And some had no idea of the real issues.

Otherwise, how could someone have said the problem in education was due to the youths' lack of interest in education? Do we have the capacity to provide adequate university education? What's happened to those who went to school against all odds only to end up with no jobs? I have a few direct relatives in this position to know. Yes, there are probably some young people who don't like reading and teachers who should be tapping palm wine in my village but in the position we are now, those are not the real issues, at least not what a minister should be tackling- right now.

Of course, there were those like Sanusi Daggash who was gungo-ho and had enough 'swagga' for the entire cabinet. He was very conscious of the fact that he was about to 'make history' simply because the same government where he was asked to leave was now inviting him back. Hmmm. He also said he 'knew 96 senators personally'… I'm sleepy as I write, so, bear with me.