By Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Executive Wednesday said it was yet to be officially informed by the leadership of the Senate about the confirmation of 43 ministerial nominees sent to the upper legislative chamber last week Tuesday.
Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, told reporters that more than 24 hours after the confirmation of all the nominees, the Senate had not communicated the development to President Buhari.
According to him, the President is expecting official communication from the National Assembly to enable him inaugurate the Ministers-designate and assign ministries to them.
His words: “The President upon receipt of the communication from the National Assembly, will on a date he will fix and notify the screened and cleared nominees and inaugurate them as appropriate.”
He explained that the President did not assign portfolio to the list of ministerial nominees because the constitution of the country did not ask him to do so.
“You are saying that the President should have attached portfolios. I am sure from 1999 to 2019, this question has been asked. This means that the question has been asked for the past 20 years.
“The constitution says the President shall appoint persons as ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria subject to confirmation of the Senate. The constitution did not oblige the President or a governor to attach a ministry or a portfolio in his nomination to the legislature.
The reason is that the candidate is screened and cleared as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he is not cleared as a Minister of Education or Minister of Health or Industry.
“Portfolios may change and the structure of government may not be the same as it were. When a minister is screened and cleared, he is assigned a portfolio. It may arise in the course of his assignment, the President or the governor may decide to reassign him to another ministry at that time if you assign and the person is screened and in respect of that portfolio, that means the President may have to send the name again back to the Senate for screening or for confirmation.
“That is why the constitution did not make it mandatory to assign portfolio while sending it to the legislature. Therefore the President has not done anything wrong.”
Enang also revealed that the President had assented to two new bills including the Federal University of Agriculture, Zuru in Kebbi State bill and the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria Amendment bill According to him, “The (first bill) is converting the Federal College of Agriculture, Zuru in Kebbi State to a full fledged university with all the powers and authorities of a university, with all the principal officers of the University from the Chancellor down to the staffers and from the date thereon, there is now established the Federal University of Agriculture, Zuru in Kebbi State.
“The Architects Registration Council of Nigeria Amendment bill has also been assented to and what the bill is about is that it has increased fine or penalty from the N1000 it used to be to N500, 000 in appropriate places and generally enhanced the power of Architect registration process, so this bill is now law and it is an offence to go against it.”
The SSA also defended Buhari’s declining of assent to the upgrade of Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo to a university while assenting to the upgrade of the Federal College of Agriculture to a university.
His words: “When a bill is received by Mr. President, he looks at the content of the bill, he looks at the technical issues of the bill and if all is correct on the bill, he assents to it.
“When he doesn’t assent to a bill, he will state the reason that he has not. Some could be drafting issues, some could be question of duplicity in section of the bill, some could be questions of conflict with the constitution, some could be any question which is normally stated.
“Therefore the two bills I have mentioned, just assented to qualify on the basis of these technical reasons, others which may not yet be assented to something is being done to send them back to the legislature through an appropriate channel so that they can be attended to.”