The Senate presided over by Ahmad Lawan has confirmed the 43 ministerial nominees appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, only 20 were actually grilled while 23 were confirmed without being asked a single question. This is a new record in modern Nigerian history. The 23 nominees, who were not questioned include Chris Ngige, Hadi Sirika, Muhammad Bello, Gbemisola Saraki, Pauline Tallen, Sharon Ikeazor, Lai Mohammed, Rotimi Amaechi, Timipre Sylva, Zainab Ahmed, Godswill Akpabio, Sa’adiya Umar Farouk and Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo. Others include Dr. Ramatu Aliyu, George Akume, Olorunnimbe Mamora, Tayo Alasoadura, Maryam Katagum, Abubakar Aliyu, Mustapha Shehuri, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, Emeka Nwajiuba and Maigari Dingyadi.
According to reports, the Senate tradition is that former federal lawmakers be exempted from questioning. Based on that tradition, only eight nominees ought to enjoy such a privilege and they include Ngige, Mamora, Sirika, Alasoadura, Akume, Nwajuiba, Saraki and Akpabio. The Senate President, however, extended the privilege of ‘bow and go’ to former state lawmakers, women and ‘special’ nominees. Some lawmakers, especially members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, had expressed concerns over the ‘bow and go’ syndrome as well as the manner in which some senators were showing public support and showering encomiums on some nominees.
During the screening exercise, Senate Minority Leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe, who observed the take-a-bow syndrome in the chamber, raised a constitutional point of order (Order 147)(2), noting that the exercise had turned out to be an endorsement screening. He said, “Mr. President of the Senate, this is a confirmation hearing and not an endorsement hearing.” Abaribe’s observation didn’t change the trend rather the caucuses of the Senate from different states of the federation continued to request their colleagues to allow their nominees to take a bow. Kogi-West lawmaker, Senator Dino Melaye, also questioned the refusal of the President to attach portfolios to the nominations and kicked against the attempt to make the Senate a “rubber stamp”. Speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme on Sunday, he said, “I will tell you categorically that Nigerians are not happy especially with the way the proceedings of the screening have been conducted and I can tell you that it is more of adoption than a screening. “I am not a presiding officer of the National Assembly, I cannot speak for either of them but as long as some of us remain there, our voices will be heard and we will always insist on doing the right thing.”