AGAINST MINISTERIAL SCREENING
The mistake we all make in Nigeria is to assume that what works for other countries will equally work for us in Nigeria. As a result, we try to imitate these other countries, to adopt and impose their system on the Nigerian situation, believing that it will equally be good for Nigeria. But this never happens.
Take for instance, the practice of screening ministerial nominees and other high profile public officers by the upper legislative chamber of the United States of America, which Nigeria has adopted and incorporated into her own Constitution.
The idea is for these lawmakers to critically look at the past records of the nominees, to clarify issues where necessary, and to systematically grill the nominees, to determine their suitability or otherwise for the offices they are seeking and the great task that will be entrusted on them.
This is always done with utmost sense of responsibility and objectivity, devoid of political, ethnic or religious bias, while any of the nominees that failed the litmus test would be refused confirmation, and hence disqualified.
The screening exercise also helps these nominees to improve on the performance, if and when eventually confirmed, as they may draw inferences from the barrage of questions that were thrown to them and the comments that followed, when they were being screening.
But here in Nigeria, nothing is taken serious, while the screening exercise is virtually reduced to a mere window dressing, to fulfil all righteousness, a showmanship, mockery, or eye services. Sometimes, some lawmakers will even use the opportunity to try to curly favour or to seek special recognition from either the powers that be, or from the potential office seekers that were being screened.
For the past one week, we have all been treated with comedies, dramas, theatricals, and what have you, in the name of Ministerial Screening, when the forty-three privileged Nigerians who were nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari to serve as ministers in his cabinet, appeared before the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for screening.
Many Nigerians who tuned their television sets, eyes and ears wide open, watching and listening to what was going to be a tough encounter between the Distinguished Senators and the ministerial nominees, were totally disappointed when they saw many of these nominees being told by the lawmakers to “take a bow and go”.
There were no serious questions thrown at them on their past life, no report of their performances in the previous offices they had held, and no laying out of their future plans for improvement, etc.
Many of the ordinary public, and even the anti-corruption agencies, who previously had thought some of these nominees to be carrying excess baggage, believed that it would be much easier for the proverbial camel to pass through the eye of a niddle than for many of them to scale through the Senate’s screening exercise. Yet, our distinguished lawmakers did not see anything wrong with any of them, and accordingly, gave all of them a clean bill of health!
For me, I do not think that it is even necessary subjecting any Presidential nominee to Senate screening. Our President knows what is good for the country. He knows those who will serve the country diligently, and who will serve him better in his cabinet. Our President is a no nonsense anti corruption crusader, and he knows every Nigerian inside out. He knows those who are corrupt and who are corrupt-free, who are without spot or wrinkle, very clean, without blemish, etc.
So why do we now try to impugn on the integrity of our President, to doubt his sense of judgement, his honesty and sincerity of purpose, by thinking or believing that the Senate will in any way disqualify any of his nominees? It will never happen.
In any case, let us not forget that whether or not the Senate confirms the list of the nominees sent to it, it will not stop our President from going ahead to work with any of them that desires to work with. Remember the case of Ibrahim Magu, the EFCC boss, who was rejected three times by the Senate? Is he still not the EFCC helmsman? How about the other man that was rejected by the Eight Senate but who now has been hurriedly confirmed by the present Senate, or the head of the judiciary who does not know the meaning of “technicality” in law?
So what is the big deal about going to the Senate for screening? Why waste precious time, energy and resources in the name of screening. During our first attempt at democracy, when we practised the parliamentary system of the Westminster type, we never subjected the Ministers appointed by the Prime Minister to any screening. So why do we do it now, when we know that at the end of the day, we shall all arrive at the same conclusion, where all the nominees will be declared saints?
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