TO THE 8TH SENATE: NO MORE 'BOW' AND 'GO'
The Nigerian National Assembly is currently on its annual recess. One thing that legislators know for sure is that as soon as they resume from their annual vacation, they will have to hit the ground running with fresh vigour to work for Nigerians.
Without any doubt, there has been lately both positive and negative reactions by concerned Nigerians on the length and purpose of the recess – which is billed to last for about 6 weeks. Since its commencement, the recess has however been filled with skeletal official functions, as well as standing committee meetings and inauguration of some Adhoc Committees. This has been in line with the promises made by the leadership of the upper legislative arm that despite the suspension of the plenary, the organs of the Senate will continue to work.
Given his prior statements, many Nigerians expect and hope that President Muhammadu Buhari will send in his ministerial nominations over the next few days. To raise the bar higher, analysts also expect that Mr. President will send his nominees to the Senate with their precise portfolios – as this will help the Senate screen the appointed individuals based on their professional callings, personal experiences and proven capacity. The goodwill that the incumbent administration currently enjoys from the Nigerian electorate can further be strengthened by this simple gesture.
Nonetheless, the era of the rather ridiculous 'bow and go' practice in the screening of nominations must be suspended, as this practice makes a mockery of the role of the legislature in ensuring the competence of nominees. Nigeria has moved ahead as demonstrated by the calls for 'Change', and while previous best legislative and government practices and traditions should still be encouraged, the nominees of the President must not be prevented or protected from answering precise questions on what they are bringing to the table – if the senate confirms their appointments as ministers, head of government agency, board chairmen or members.
Nigerian have shown that we have moved past the days when nominees are summarily bulldozed in undemocratic fashions by stifling the opposition to their nominations. The principle of fair hearing must be guaranteed, and people or groups that have reasons why any appointee should not be confirmed, must be allowed to voice their concerns. We must try as much as possible to avoid confirming nominees with questionable personalities or credentials as this would simply take us back to the stone age that we recently voted to get rid of in the last general election.
The Senate, under the leadership of the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, must rise on behalf of Nigeria to defend and encourage technical prowess over political biases and also meaningful ideas to move the nation forward over partisan prejudices. Nigeria and Nigerians are done with the age-long tradition of nominating a Medical Doctor to head the Finance Ministry, while an Economist – with absolutely no prior experience in human capacity development or police/military formations nominated to serve as the Minister for Defence.
As it stands, many Nigerians believe that the long search embarked on by President Muhammadu Buhari to fill his cabinet with upright individuals will also translate into these individuals being able to prove to the Senate, as well as Nigerians why they were selected in the first place. In view of this fact, the Senate must allow the screenings to be in line with the era of change that the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) promised Nigerians.
Written by ‘Demola Adeyeye.