Udo Udoma Shines as Senate Clears 10 Ministerial Nominees, Presidency Happy
For about five hours, thirty minutes starting from 11.45am Tuesday the Senate screened 10 of President Muhammadu Buhari’s 37 ministerial nominees in an exercise that was after all an anti-climax as the punches expected to be pulled by some senators never happened. The atmosphere was friendly but very business-like. It was an exercise in which the maturity of the Senate came to play and at the end of the day, the Presidency said it was happy with the way the Senate President Bukola Saraki went about the business of the day.
Some of the nominees were surprisingly spared the rigour of hard grill as was expected. The clearance was preceded by Saraki reading out the names of the 16 Batch ‘B’ nominees
Nominees screened yesterday were Senator Udoma Udo Udoma who may likely get the portfolio of Minister of Fianance; Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Chief Audu Ogbeh; Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu; Dr. Osagie Ehanire; Lt.Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau; Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the spokesman of the APC and likely candidate for Minister of Information; Amina Ibrahim Mohammed; Engr. Suleiman Hussaini Adamu and Ibrahim Usman Jibril.
During the exercise, Udo Udoma displayed deep knowledge of the nation’s financial system and called for a review of the tax architecture which he said hinders investors from taking the risk on Nigeria. Senator Udoma, who was the first to be screened was asked two questions. He said: “We have to look at the various policies for manufacturing. They have to be consistent because that is what investors want. To increase the investment rate from its current 20 to 30 per cent, we have to look at the issue of enabling environment, review our tax policies and I am ready to help redesign it being a child of the private sector.”
The Senate could not screen former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi on Tuesday. His screening was deferred to Wednesday when the Samuel Anyanwu’s report on his investigation will be ready.
The 16-man new list comprised Khadijah Bukar Abba-Ibrahim; Claudius Omoleye Daramola (Ondo State) Professor Anthony Anwuka, (Imo State), Geoffrey Onyema, Brig. Gen. Mansur M. Dan Ali (Rtd), Zamfara State and Barrister James E. Ocholi, Kogi State.
Others are Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed; Okechukwu Enelemah; Muhammadu Bello; Mustapha Baba Shehuri; Miss Aisha Abubakar; Heneiken Lokpobiri; Adamu Adamu; Professor Isaac Adewole (Osun State), Pastor Usani Usani Uguru and Abubakar Bwari Bawa.
President Buhari in the letter dated 12 October, 2015, read: “In accordance with Section 147(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, I have the honour to forward herewith the final list of ministerial nominees for Senate confirmation.
Before the screening began, there was tension in the National Assembly given the heavy presence of policemen and other security agencies who carried out thorough check on people entering into the complex.
A few minutes into Tuesday’s plenary session, the Senate immediately went into a closed door session.
A motion was moved by Senator Abdulrahaman Abubakar, Kogi East to adopt the Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, October 8, 2015. The motion was supported by Senator Rose Okon, Cross River North.
Soon after the adoption of the motion, Senate President Saraki at 10.32 announced that Senators were going into an Executive Session.
It was learnt that the closed door session was to appeal to senators who were still baying for blood. It worked because as soon as the senators emerged from the closed door session, there was heightened enthusiasm and camaraderie among them.
Former governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi challenged anyone to produce an invoice of 50 million naira bed he was accused of buying in the state house during his tenure. ”I challenge anyone to bring an invoice of a bed in the state house that is worth N50m” , he said in response to allegation that he was frivolous during his tenure.