Ministers : Senate Clears Allison-Madueke, Wogu, Orubebe, Five Others
The Senate on Wednesday confirmed the re-appointment of Mrs. Diezani Allison–Madueke, Mr. Godsday Orubebe, Prof. Ruqqayatu Rufai and four other ex-ministers, into President Goodluck Jonathan's new cabinet.
All the seven nominees screened by the Senate were confirmed fit to serve as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The others cleared by the upper legislative chamber are Mr. Emeka Wogu, Sen. Bala Mohammed, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, and Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade (retd).
The screening of the other 27 other nominees continues on Thursday (today). Jonathan had on Monday sent a list containing 34 names to the Senate for approval as ministers.
At the screening of the nominees on Wednesday, Wogu, a former Minister of Labour, told the Senators that the Revenue Allocation Formula was due for a review. He also said the N18,000 minimum wage already signed into law was implementable, but added that states could dialogue with the respective labour unions for agreeable positions.
“The country needs a new revenue formula. It is however the responsibility of the National Assembly to amend the Act,” he told the Senate.
Another cleared nominee, Orubebe, said development of the Niger Delta would be fast tracked if more funding was made available to the ministry in charge.
According to Orubebe, the East West and Coastal Roads were major projects that could transform the region.
“We have a reasonable peace in the region; the framework for its development is complete. What is needed now is funding,” he said.
Former Minister of Heath, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, who also faced the Senate screening, defended the National Health Bill recently enacted, saying that it would bring succor to the Nigerian people.
He argued that although some groups had issues with the bill, it would be necessary to allow the operation of the Act until such a time when amendments could be done on it.
“The bill certainly cannot satisfy everybody. It is my view that we should move on with implementing the law and we may subsequently amend those areas we find problems,” he said.
He blamed the travelling of notable Nigerians outside the country for medical treatment on the lack of facilities, skills, and incessant strike actions by medical workers.
The exercise is coming on the heels of protests against and criticisms of some of the nominees, especially from their home states.
In Lagos, a retired judge, Justice Ishola Oluwa, faulted the nomination of the former Minister of Finance, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, as the Lagos State's representative in the federal cabinet.
“The point is that, as it stands now, Lagos State has no representative in the federal executive council. Aganga is from Sabongida Ora in Edo State. He cannot represent Lagos State. I am not against his nomination, but he should not represent Lagos,” the 93-year-old Oluwa said.
The judge has an ally in the Lagos State Indigene Alliance which said that it had sent a petition to the President on Aganga's nomination. In Ondo State, members of the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party on Tuesday protested the nomination of Mrs. Mobolaji Johnson as the state's representative in the federal cabinet.
The party noted that Johnson could not represent Ondo because, she was “from Lagos by marriage.” The woman is married to the son of a former military governor of Lagos State, Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson (retd).
Chairman of the Interim Committee of the PDP in the state, Prof Olu Agbi, told journalists in Akure, the state capital, that the party had nothing personal against Johnson but that a well-known politician should be appointed from the state as a minister.
Agbi therefore urged Jonathan to appoint a full indigene as a representative of the state in the federal cabinet to “avoid the total annihilation” of the party in the state.