I’m imagining how exciting it must be to be approached and told that the President wishes for you to serve with him as part of his cabinet. Imagine all the congratulatory messages.
After that you prepare…researching, studying for long hours of screening by the Senate and then…you find out at the end of the day that you will not have a portfolio as minister. How would that feel?
Well a group of ministers designate are about to find out and its reportedly causing anxiety among all 36 of them.
President Muhammadu Buhari triggered this when he said, again, that the nation’s economy cannot support 36 ministers with portfolios.
Ok let me back up a bit and tell you how it all happened…
In an unusual step, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki personally delivers a list of nominees cleared by the Senate for appointment as ministers to President Muhammadu Buhari. This is breaking with past protocol that required presidential aides to exchange the letter.
In the past, the special advisers to the president on National Assembly submitted names of nominees to the Senate, and back to the president.
President Buhari was the first to ignore that procedure this time, choosing to send his list through his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, rather than his senior special assistant on Senate, Ita Enang.
Yesterday, after weeks of ministerial screening, Saraki submitted the list to Buhari at the presidential villa.
The two men later shook hands and posed for photographs.
President Buhari and the Senate president have not enjoyed the best of relationships since Mr. Saraki’s emergence as senate leader, against his party’s wishes. That whole drama played out right before our eyes like a soap opera.
The Senate president is also currently facing charges of alleged false declaration of asset and corruption though he insists that the charges are politically motivated. According to him all that wouldn’t be happening if he wasn’t Senate President.
So how did this meeting go?
He spoke to journalists after a closed-door meeting with the president and said the quality of ministerial nominees submitted by the president, made it easy for the Senate to screen and confirm them.
“You noticed that in some cases we delayed the number of one or two, it is all part of politics, of behind the scene, but at the end of the day we finished with them, that is all about give and take and eventually I am happy with what the senators have done,” he said.
He said the stage was set for the new government to kick off.
On concerns that some ministers may not be given portfolios, the Senate president said that was nothing new, as some could be ministers of states.
The important thing, he said, was being in the cabinet and being part of the government.
He pointed out that the country had more pressing issues
On why he personally delivered the list to the president, Mr. Saraki said he had other issues to discuss with Mr. Buhari.
He denied that the issue of his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal came up.
While receiving the list, President Buhari reminded us of his determination to block leakages and cut spending in the face of the current financial crisis. He said not all the 36 ministers would head ministries.
According to him, the Constitution said there must be one member of the cabinet from all the states but did not say he must have 36 ministries.
Referring to criticisms that trailed his recent statements while in India on the true state of the Nigerian economy, he said though accused of giving bad publicity and scaring away investors from the country, investors knew better.