Senate Withholds Confirmation of El-Rufai, Okotete, Danladi as Ministers over Security Screening

Senate Withholds Confirmation of El-Rufai, Okotete, Danladi as Ministers over Security Screening

•Confirms  Edun, Kyari, Umahi,  Keyamo, Alake, Betta Edu, 39 others

Sunday Aborisade in Abuja

The senate, yesterday, withheld the confirmation of Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Stella Okotete, and Senator Abubakar Danladi over security screening. But the upper chamber confirmed the appointment of 45 other ministerial nominees sent to it by President Bola Tinubu for screening.

El-Rufai is the immediate past governor of Kaduna State; Okotete, from Delta State, is Executive Director, Business Development, Nigerian Export-Import Bank; while Danladi was deputy governor and later governor of Taraba State.

The red chamber screened all the nominees, whose names were sent in three batches, in six legislative days.

Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, said the three nominees, who were not confirmed, had to undergo security screening from relevant security agencies before their appointments would be confirmed.

Those confirmed were Senator Abubakar Kyari (Borno), Abubakar  Momoh (Edo), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Professor Joseph Utsev (Benue),Senator John Enoh (Cross River),  Bello Muhammad (Sokoto), Mohammed Badaru (Jigawa), Ambassador Yusuf  Tuggar (Bauchi), and Uju-Ken Ohaneye (Anambra)

Also confirmed were Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo (Ondo); Dr. Betta Edu (Cross River), Imaan Sulaiman (Nasarawa), Ahmed Dangiwa  (Katsina), Chief Uche Nnaji (Enugu), Abdullahi Gwarzo (Kano), Simon Lalong (Plateau), and Bello Matawalle (Zamfara).

The upper chamber also confirmed Tunji Alausa (Lagos), Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun), Uba Maigari Ahmadu (Taraba), Lola John (Lagos), Dr. Isiak Salako (Ogun), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri  (Bayelsa), Dr Yusuf Sununu (Kebbi), Professor Tahir Mamman (Adamawa), Zephaniah Jisalo (FCT), Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe), Dr. Bosun Tijjani (Ogun), and Shuaibu Abubakar (Kogi).

On the list also were Senator Sabi Abdullahi (Niger), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Senator Alkali Ahmed  (Gombe), Dr. Mariya Mahmoud (Kano), Festus Keyamo (Delta), Hannatu Musawa (Katsina), Dr. Doris  Aniche Uzoka (Imo),  David Umahi (Ebonyi), Ekperipe Ekpo (Akwa Ibom), Nkiru Onyeojiocha (Abia), Dele Alake (Ekiti), Lateef Fagbemi (Kwara), Muhammad Idris (Niger),  Olawale Edun (Ogun), Adebayo Adelabu (Oyo), and Professor Ali Pate (Bauchi).

How Keyamo’s Past Threw Senate into Rowdy Session

There was uproar in the senate, yesterday, when the red chamber temporarily halted the screening of the Delta State ministerial nominee, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN).

Keyamo was accused of making disparaging comments on the ninth senate, and his attitude towards the National Assembly members was also queried.

The former Minister of State for Employment, Labour, and Productivity during former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration appeared before the senate for screening as the 48th nominee of President Bola Tinubu’s proposed cabinet.

He mounted the rostrum after President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, introduced him as an illustrious son of the Niger Delta.

During the screening, Kayamo started by explaining how he had spent his over 30 years at the bar to advance the course of democracy, rule of law, and human rights. He reeled off his educational qualifications and other official responsibilities he had undertaken at different levels of government.

He then told the federal lawmakers that he was surprised that he could still be considered for ministerial appointment, having prepared his luggage to proceed on vacation abroad.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) stated, “My appearance here today can only be by the grace of God and by the special benevolence of President Bola Tinubu and I wish to say special thank you to him for giving me this special opportunity to serve.

“On Friday (last week), when my name was announced on this floor, I’d already packed my bag and baggage. I was traveling with my family when all of a sudden I was told that my name had been announced. I was in Lagos and I started rushing back to Abuja and we have to cancel all our trips to go on vacation.

“Over the years, I have used the instrumentality of the law to advance the course of democracy and the respect for the rule of law. My struggle/battle for the respect for the rule of law also led me at some point to fight for the right of the senate and I am sure, you all know that.”

But his credentials and delivery seemed not to have impressed Deputy Minority Leader, the Labour Party senator representing Abia Central Senatorial District, Darlington Nwokocha.

Nwokocha recalled the public works programme of 2020, directly in the care of Keyamo and for which he was invited over for question, during which time there were hot exchanges between him and the lawmakers.

Nwokocha stated, “At that point, being a subject of controversy and public debate, which we wanted to know and, possibly, give him fair hearing about what happened to our constituents, so we invited him to come and tell us, what is the structure? What are the indices for carrying out this because our people are on our necks?

“When he was invited, what we are talking about is N52 billion appropriated by the National Assembly and the right of appropriation resides in the legislature.

“That is our right, the right of oversighting resides with us, whatever thing we are appropriating, it is our right and when he was invited he expressly told the public that we wanted to highjack his role, he blackmailed us that we were corrupt, that we wanted to highjack his role.

“I know that he midwifed the process, nobody is against that and it fell within his own area of operation, junior minister for labour and employment. Not only that, when he was asked which indices, he went to the public to say, ‘they are not from the moon’ because we were talking about what will help our people anything outside that I will walk out from the chamber.”

Nwokocha further said regarding Keyamo, “He has been running away from it. This thing has been subject of debate, what happened to the N52 billion? He is here and it is our responsibility to find out.

“I am of the opinion so strongly that he has to tell us what happened, but not here, we have to step it down a little bit then we can reconvene, because we would not like what happened in the last administration, when some people thought that the president was in charge and so many things were happening down there.”

President of the Senate put the motion to vote and the response divided the senators, which led to a serious shouting match in the chamber.

Senate Leader, Opeyemi Bamidele, then moved a motion for time extension and also for the senate to dissolve into executive session to enable them discuss the matter behind closed doors

The Sergeant-at-arms led Keyamo out of the chamber to enable the lawmakers determine his fate at a closed session. The closed session lasted about three hours and on resumption, Keyamo pleaded with the lawmakers to forgive him for his wrongdoing towards the National Assembly in the past.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Labour and Productivity in the 9th Senate, Senator Godiya Akwashiki, pleaded with his colleagues to forgive Keyamo and let him take a bow.

The senate president put the question and the senators unanimously agreed that Keyamo should be allowed to take his leave.

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