•Screens Saraki, eight others
•To take remaining three candidates today
Deji Elumoye and Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Senate will today ratify the nomination of former Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN); former Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi; former Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika; former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN); former Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola and 38 others as ministers after a five-day staggered screening of the nominees.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan said yesterday, shortly before the Senate adjourned plenary after screening nine nominees, that all the 43 nominees whose candidacies were sent to the Senate last week for confirmation would be approved today.
“Tomorrow by the grace of God, we will do the approval and confirmation of all the screened nominees,” he stated.
The confirmation of the nominees will hold after the Senate would have screened the last batch of three nominees namely Sabo Nanono (Kano); former Information Minister, Lai Mohammed (Kwara) and Saleh Mamman (Taraba) today to bring to 43 the total number of nominees screened between last Wednesday and today.
The confirmation by the Senate at a Committee of the Whole, chaired by Lawan, THISDAY learnt, would take the format of each of the nominees being subjected to a voice vote after which the Senate would communicate its decision to President Muhammadu Buhari in writing.
As at yesterday, 39 of the 43 nominees had been screened.
Those screened yesterday were Dr. Muhammad Mahmoud, former Senator Gbemisola Saraki, former Governor of Osun State, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola; Suleiman Adamu and Goddy Jedy-Agba.
Others were Fashola, former Minister of Water Resources, Clement Agba; Maryam Katagum and former Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama.
During yesterday’s screening, which lasted for over eight hours, Fashola, while fielding questions from the senators, said Nigeria urgently required N10 trillion to address its huge infrastructural deficit.
Also, Aregbesola, also at yesterday’s screening, canvassed payment of heavy tax by wealthy citizens as a way of bridging the gap of inequality between the poor and the rich.
Fashola, in an answer to a question on infrastructural deficit in the country, said the yearly budgetary allocations for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government depended on for fixing the infrastructure was not enough to redress the deficit.
According to him, capital components of budgetary allocations to the affected agencies for infrastructural development range between 50 and 55 per cent yearly, resulting into the deficit in the provision of infrastructure.
He said this informed why in the past, the federal government had operated deficit budgeting to pave the way for acquisition of loans to address the situation.
“To me, the approach has to some extent, helped in fixing some of the infrastructure, particularly through the Sukkuk component but the country needs a bigger pool of funds to address the problem holistically.
“In doing this, an infrastructural bond of about N10 trillion need to be put on ground by the government on the template of Public Private Partnership (PPP), which in itself will give room for thousands of interested Nigerians to have shares.
“The Sukkuk instrument alone, which is just N100billion, benefitted 286 investors not to talk of N10 trillion bond,” he said.
On electricity, Fashola stated that the focus of Nigerians should be on the regulator, which is the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), since the sector had been privatised.
“The Ministry of Power has ceased to be an operator of the sector by being restricted to policy and directive alone. NERC as the operator is the one in charge that must ensure that the sector gives Nigerians quality service of electricity generation and provision on daily basis,” he added.
He said contrary to the generally held view that it was only the federal government that could generate, transmit and distribute electricity, the various states government were also constitutionally empowered to do so.
On his part, in his response to a question on taxation, Aregbesola, a former Lagos State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, said for Nigeria to have a just taxation system, the rich must be specially taxed with a view to bridging the wide gap between them and the poor and in raising the revenue profile of the country for infrastructural development.
He said: “There is need to put in place privileged taxes for those who have huge resources as a way of raising revenues for the country and bridging the wide gap of inequality between the rich and the poor in the society.”
Oshiomhole: Nigerians Must Insist APC Govts Perform
Meanwhile, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday dismissed insinuations that most of the ministerial nominees are not credible, saying Nigerians should rather insist that APC government at all levels must perform effectively.
He told State House after a meeting with the president that the ongoing screening of the nominees presented Nigerians with the opportunity to know the stuffs that the nominees were made of.
He accused Nigerians of cultivating the habit of hastily condemning what they are yet to know, saying that despite serving in various capacities, there are still many Nigerians he is yet to know.
“How credible are some of those who are talking? The point is that I don’t know if there is a Nigerian who knows every Nigerian. Even as I can say that I have worked for Nigerian people at all levels, as a worker in a factory, as President of the (Nigeria Labour Congress) NLC, as governor of a state and now as a national chairman of a party, there are too many Nigerians I will never be able to know.
“The screening process is meant to enable Nigerians to see who these people are. But you will find that people started dismissing the list even before they saw it; just like some other things that Nigerians dismiss without knowing the meaning.
“So, what you and I should insist on is that in the president’s second term, in this next level, our party, our government at the centre, state and local government levels must deliver.”
Oshiomhole who described Buhari as a liberal politician, said the president was so magnanimous that even in a state where he did not get up to five per cent of the total votes cast, he appointed two ministers from there.
He was obviously referring to Anambra State where Buhari appointed Dr. Chris Ngige and Sharon Ikeazor as ministerial nominees despite his abysmal performance in the state at the February 23 presidential election.