Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
A lawmaker representing Ekiti Central Senatorial District, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele yesterday lamented that poverty was the root cause of kidnapping and killing in the country with 46.5 percent of the population living in extreme poverty nationwide.
Bamidele, however, disagreed that the seemingly lenient nature of the senators in the ongoing screening of the ministerial nominees at the Senate was a compromise of the exercise contrary to the position of some critics.
He made the remarks at a session with journalists in Ado Ekiti Saturday, noting that the two dominant parties in the upper chamber would continue to place national interest above primordial and other sentiments that could affect development.
At the session, the lawmaker urged the ministerial nominees to hit the ground running as soon as they are inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari and assigned portfolios.
He added that the ministerial nominees should bring financial discipline into their respective ministries, pointing out that corruption and material acquisition “have been identified as the main factors affecting the wellbeing of the citizens.”
He, therefore, lamented that over 46.5 percent of the country’s population was living in extreme poverty, which according to him, had been responsible for the high cases of kidnappings , killings and armed robbery across the federation.
He said: “We should know that poverty is fighting back in a hard way. All of us must coalesce efforts to embrace self censorship for all the menaces that are immersing our nation into global ignominy and contempt to be resolved naturally.”
He, also, explained that the decision to screen ministerial nominees without delay underscored unity in the ranks of the lawmakers of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
He said it would amount to delay in the constitution of the Federal Executive Committee members by President Muhammadu Buhari if the Senate failed to screen the ministerial nominees that had already met the Constitutional requirements.
He explained that the 1999 Constitution stipulated that whoever would qualify for ministerial position “must have a minimum qualification to contest as a member of House of Representatives.”
He added that whatever “gains Nigerians derive from President Buhari’s government would be for all citizens and not members of the ruling party,” saying unnecessary brick-batting over screening would not bring any dividend, but pains and anguish.
“In Buhari’s first term, it took him about five months to constitute his cabinet. But this time he had shown interest in ensuring that his ministers begin work as quickly as possible and this vision should not be thwarted because it will benefit all Nigerians.
“Do not forget that the ministerial nomination is a creation of the Constitution. Whoever will be presented must have been scrutinised by security agencies and known to be fit academically, mentally and physically before presented before us.
“Do not also forget that many of the nominees had held several positions as ministers, ambassadors, governors , senators state legislators in the past. Will it not be hypocritical for the Senate to have earlier found someone worthy of being nominated for such position in the past and now changing gear due to partisanship that such individual is no longer credible to be a minister?
He said the Senate “is not where people play politics. We think more of national interest and the cooperation and the seamless relationship between the two major parties on this screening exercise confirmed the credibility of the ninth Senate.
“It has not in any way vitiated the integrity of the chambers, because we think more about our nation and not parties.”